Archive for the 'FIFA hates the EPL' Category

01
May
09

Friday Pre(i)sser

Bit of a different format today, owing to the deluge of news that always happens on a Friday so let’s get stuck in, shall we?

Injury Update

Eduardo and Silvestre are both out for Saturday. Dudu is being rumored to be out for the rest of the season with his  groin strain while Silvestre will be a late test for Tuesday. I had wondered why Eduardo was such a late sub on Wednesday and I think now it’s clear: he’s never really been fully fit since ‘recovering’ from Martin Taylor’s horrific tackle. And that makes sense. He needs time to get the tendons and muscles back into shape. More rehab, more light practice, rest, recovery, etc. I don’t know a single Gunner who isn’t proud of the courage that Dudu has shown this year and would gladly wait to see him fully fit at the start of next year. Get better Eduardo, we’ll wait.

Robin van Persie is another who’s going to have a late fitness test to see if he can play on Tuesday.  Either way, I doubt he’ll start and instead will need to reprise the super-sub role he played against Cardiff. I know, Man U are not Cardiff, but I mean get a goal, like he did against Cardiff.

Gallas and Rosicky remain out for the season, and the boss is now saying Clichy will be out for three weeks as well. That basically means that Arsenal are without Eduardo, Clichy, Gallas, and Rosicky for the rest of the season.

Fabregate

Cesc has spoken out about the FA charges against him saying that if he should be suspended then 8 others who came on the pitch should be similarly suspended. The FA responded by basically saying, it’s not that you came on the pitch it’s how you acted.

With that said, I am now confident that Fabregas will get a 3 match ban here, the same amount that Martin Taylor got for intentionally breaking Eduardo’s leg.

Because those two things are equivalent.

Maybe next time he should come out and break a player’s leg. At least then he’d deserve the ban.

Transfer News? In April?

The papers are all reporting that Wenger will sell Adebayor and buy Roque Santa Cruz.  The selling point in this story?

Wenger has been an admirer of the 27-year-old for some time. He had Santa Cruz scouted and is particularly impressed by the player’s work-rate after studying his ProZone statistics.

Well, Wenger is a lover of hard work, how do you think Bendtner keeps getting a shot?

Speak of the Devil

Bendtner is featured in this week’s free video on the dot com. A word of warning: clicking that link caused my browser (Firefox) to crash. Actually, that’s about what I’d expect, even Bendtner’s videos suck.

Almunia for England

And finally, the big story of the day is that Fabio Capello would not rule out Almunia should he get an English passport when he becomes eligible in July.  Legally and morally, I don’t see how he could exclude him.

First off, my name is Tim. I’m an American, and I’m a Gooner. I’ve been a Gooner now for 10 years. I’ve seen matches at Highbury and the Emirates and I fly every year to see my beloved Arsenal. I also support France in world competitions, rather than the U.S. team, because, well, because I want to. And so I think I have a bit of a unique perspective on this Almunia situation.

Whether Almunia wants to become an English citizen or not is about choices and not about birthplace. That’s just the way the world is today. The old days of nationalism are dying slowly and people now have more freedom than ever before to choose the country they want to naturalize in. Personally, I’d like to see it be even more open. I have never understood why capital could move freely from one country to another but people were restrained by quaint old notions of borders. So, if Almunia wants to become an English citizen and renounce his eligibility to play for Spain, knowing the stick he’s going to get from xenophobes and nationalists, then I say more power to him.

Moreover, the old notions of “identity” that surrounded certain things, like being a Gooner meant that you were probably from North London, have changed radically as well. Now, you have millions of Americans, Indians, Chinese, Africans, and Spanish devoted to following English teams and thus the identity of English clubs are no longer associated with place. When you have millions of Africans wearing Liverpool shirts and identifying with Steven Gerrard it both takes a bit away from that old identity as “scouser” and adds something new to their identity. Again, you can wring your hands about this, you can jump on the Platini xenophobe bandwagon, and you can scream about how your identity is being taken over by Yanks and the Africans. But unless you are willing to stop broadcasting English games around the globe and shrink the English game back into something provincial and small (something that will never win a world championship) then you’re going to have to deal with the fact that football is a global sport with a global following. And that means that clubs now have global identities. And more radically, that national teams now have global identities.

Other countries have already accepted this change and I have no doubt that Croatian fans love their Brazilian born striker.  It’s time for England to let go of the old, small way of looking at football and join the modern world. And time for fans to embrace their future England Number 1; Manuel Almunia.

Tomorrow’s Match

Right, so that’s it for today. Tomorrow’s match kicks off at 7am (PST) is being broadcast on FSC. I’ll try to do a quick update before kickoff and then do a liveblog of the match. If you’re into that sort of thing, join us here at about 6:30.

See you then!

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26
Feb
09

The Full English costs £133m

East Stand 2006

Ugh… remember that lady behind me on the flight back from London? The one who was coughing her lungs up mere inches away from my face? Well, I think I got her cold. I feel miserable today, worse than yesterday by far and yet I absolutely must go in to work today. It’s not fair to my coworkers to come in while so obviously sick but I have a Calc test today and I can’t miss that so I might as well bring my diseased ass in to work. The worst part is that this cold comes from overseas so they won’t have any immunities to it. I’m calling it the London Flu and me bringing it to work makes me “London Flu Timmy.”

Speaking of sickness, the press are making a big hoo-doo of some report that was released today claiming that FIFA’s 6+5 rule would not be illegal. It’s even prompting some reporters to make outrageous claims like

With the proposed 6+5 Fifa rule being ruled legal by the EU courts, we might have to see a return to more homegrown talent being fielded.

Let me make this absolutely clear: this is a report compiled by a FIFA hand-picked organization (INEA) which basically skimmed through the law looking for arguments that FIFA might make to the EU Court and found that while the rule is very clearly discrimination, it’s only “indirect discrimination.”

The EU ministers and the EU courts are firmly against this rule, and given that FIFA’s hand-picked report proves that this would be a form of discrimination I can’t see how they will get any ruling past the courts. No, the Bosman ruling still stands and will continue to stand. Which I think is good for football.

The INEA also repeats FIFA’s preposterous claim that having foreign players in the EPL stunts the growth of the Full English players. This argument is so prima facie ridiculous that I hardly feel the need to attack it, but let’s take a look at how it goes. Basically, they argue that foreign players “take the place of” local players in academies and thus there are supremely talented Englishmen out there who just never got a chance.

Bullshit.

Look at the youth academies of Arsenal and Man U. Both clubs have reached the finals of the Carling Cup with basically their academy sides. And though Arsenal get all the press for their academy I think this Man U class is actually better than the Arsenal class. But the important thing to look at is the fact that both of those teams have tons of English players on them.

Thus, this is far from the case that English talent isn’t being nurtured, rather that English talent is being fostered in a competitive atmosphere with the world’s most deserving players. These clubs are making English players better.

Make no mistake, the 6+5 plan will never be implemented and if it is, the Arsenal’s and Man U’s will still have the best academies, they will still produce the best talent, and the big clubs will continue to dominate the markets for these players. What would happen is that the overall level of play would be reduced significantly. All you have to do is look at Liverpool and ask yourself who should start at right wing: Pennant or Kuyt?

The second big story that fell out like the lung of a disease ridden airline passenger is that Arsenal released their mid-season financials. This year’s numbers look incredibly good: profits up £4.5m over last year, match day turnover up, television profits up, and even some profit made off the Highbury square development. The total before tax profit reported is £24.5m. That is truly an incredible number for a half season.

But there are some worrying signs; the £133m that “The Group” owe the banks for the Highbury Square development looks as if it’s come due as “The Group” are busily trying to re-finance that loan.

Moreover, whereas last year Peter Hill-Wood categorically assured supporters that the Highbury development was accounted for apart from the operations of Arsenal FC, this year he is equivocating, saying:

The financial arrangements for the group’s property activities are separate and largely operate independently from the financing of the football business.

The truth of the matter seems obscured, but I suspect that one reason Arsenal have maintained such large cash reserves (£90m before this half-season’s £24.5m profit report) is that they need the money to flood into the Highbury development should the loan come due and banks are unwilling to refinance this apparent lode stone on the club’s profits.

The other worrying aspect of the profit report is just how important being a top club is for our financial health. Television revenue, match day revenue, Champions League revenue, all are dependent upon the club competing at the top, top level.

Arsenal are certainly making money right now, but losing 4th place combined with the financial downturn and the collapse of the high end housing market could prove devastating to this club and has me a bit worried about the future for the first time as an Arsenal supporter.

We have to trust that the board will get this all ironed out. After all, they’ve not let us down so far.

All right, got to get into work and get some things started before my exam today so that’s your lot for the day.

See you tomorrow.

11
Feb
09

Let’s give a red card to the internationals

Lampard should see red every game

Of all the problems plaguing modern football the biggest, and the first that I would change, is international football. No more World Cup, no more Euro Cup, no more Under 19, Under 16, Under 3, nationalistic pointlessness, I’d get rid of it all. It just seems like a holdover from when Europeans used to kill each other over a line in the forest somewhere. For example, there’s an Andorran national team. A country the size of the city I live in, with half the population is fielding a national team in all of these competitions. And what are they playing for? Andorran pride? What’s that some kind of veiled racism or pathetic nationalism?

More than any spectacular football, the international breaks signal a chance for horrible people like Michel Platini to bleat on about quotas, for fans to display their racism, for football associations to propose preposterous rules changes, for players to give interviews, to watch some really crappy football, and for the specter of injuries to raise it’s ugly head.

Yes, the internationals, what a great idea. Let’s whip people into a nationalistic fervor over a pointless game so that players and associations like UEFA can have a platform to change the game I love while extracting the very last Euro out of the average fan’s wallet.

As the links above show, this break is no different than any other. We start off with the FA’s announcement that they are looking into a “homegrown” quota system. Basically, it takes Platini’s horribly racist idea of forcing clubs to check passports before they field a team and waters it down by allowing  teams to simply follow the current quota rules for Champions League qualification. Which is to say that no matter where you were born as long as you were educated at the club, you count as “homegrown.” Actually, I’m fine with this, mostly because I think it will shut Platini and the English nationalists up about Arsenal’s academy.

These homegrown plans always make me wonder why UEFA and FIFA and the FA refuse to deal with problems like Spanish racism before they start worrying about the passports of players on a club like Arsenal? I’ll tell you why! Because the line between the nationalism they are peddling in the guise of “International Football” and outright racism is more permeable than the Maginot line. You need look no further than the fact that a club like Zenit can openly discriminate against blacks and still be allowed to play in UEFA tournaments or a national team like Spain has so many openly racist supporters that the English team needs 500 cops to protect them from the Spanish supporters to see that there’s a serious problem brewing here. How can those organizations let those teams play unless the reality is that they need those racist fans? Surely not every Spanish fan is racist but a large enough number are that these organizations have to play this balancing act between nationalism and racism.

From “homegrown” quotas we move on to the Irish FA recommending a “sin-bin” for yellow carded players. I understand where this comes from because in a sense it is unfair that a player who gets a fifth yellow is suspended for the next game but there’s just two minor drawbacks to the sin bin idea; the referees seem to have a problem getting calls right, and the referees seem to have a problem getting the calls right. Now I know that technically those two are the same thing, but they seem important enough to mention twice.

On the face of it, it seems like a good idea, like if there was a sin bin maybe Bolton wouldn’t be as quick to tackle. But the problem is that you only need to look at the last game against Bolton to see what would happen: Arsenal got as many yellows as Bolton did! The sin bin idea isn’t going to stop a team like Bolton from kicking Arsenal off the pitch because the refs let teams like Bolton get away with more before they get a yellow.  No, it won’t make the game better, it would just give as all another reason to bitch about the refs.

Not to be outdone by the executives in charge of the game, players too use the international break as a soapbox on which they can give their opinion — and for us Arsenal fans that usually means some disgruntled (former) employee. This time it was the exception that proves the rule and Gilberto gave a very respectful, thoughtful, and even-handed interview about Arsenal’s struggles since he left. Just one quote from the interview should remind us all what we loved about Gio: he was a selfless, hard working, respectful player who did everything asked of him out of love for the club.

It’s a big period for Arsenal. Since I was there they haven’t experienced a situation like this. Now they are out of the Champions League places which is very uncomfortable but I’m sure they will pick up points and get back and qualify for the Champions League like we expect. They’ve got quality and a good manager, Arsène Wenger, will do a good job with them.

♬ Mister, we could use a man like Gilberto Silva again… ♬

And if you’re able to stomach all of that and sit down to actually watch a match, well then you’re likely to be treated to a display of football futility like the goal by Bischoff linked above. I’ll concede that you might catch a beautiful goal or two, I guess Robinho had one yesterday against Italy, and you might even get a good match every once in a while, but the vast majority of these matches are just dross. No one, not players, managers, fans, no one on earth wants to see the Malta first team play; much less their U21 (yes, they have a U21).

Given all that, I say down with the internationals! Instead, let’s give hard working footballers a week off and let them travel to Malta to enjoy the sandy beaches without the added pressure of giving an interview, or having the ignominy of being booted out of some pointless tournament at the hands of the mighty Maltese FA.

What am I saying? They’ll never give up on these tournaments. There’s too much money to be made off the suckers who watch them.

11
Jul
08

The other news

Typically I only do the one blog a day but I just wanted to follow up on the folly that is the Sepp Blatter and Christiano Ronaldo Slavery Sideshow and I didn’t want to sour the post about Nasri signing for Arsenal. Since there are some new developments, you get a second blog.

Anyway, yesterday Ronaldo did an interview with Portuguese television channel ITV in which he outright fully agreed with Sepp Blatter’s assessment that earning £120,000 a week and being asked to play football professionally is tantamount to slavery.

I would, at this point, normally go off on a tirade but there’s no need when pretty much every thinking person in the free world sees this for what it is: a crock of shit.  And while the free world is reeling from the idea that the head of FIFA and one of the world’s richest sports stars have the temerity to call honoring a contract “slavery” good ole ‘arry Redknapp was busy putting things into perspective, as usual.

It’s rubbish, isn’t it? You can sign somebody at a football club who turns out to be a disaster. He might not be playing, might be no good, but you have to pay him for four years. So when somebody does fantastically, you’re supposed to just let them go? It doesn’t work like that. You sign a contract and it has to be mutual agreement, if the club receives a good offer, that’s how it works. It’s not slavery, is it? That’s absolute nonsense.

No Harry, contract labor is not slavery, you are correct as usual.

Another bizarre development that’s hitting all the  blogs was briefly mentioned in the same article that I got the picture above from; Sepp Blatter is an honorary member of Real Madrid.  I did a little digging and sure enough, there’s a press release on the FIFA.com website that confirms his status.  I too am looking for a reason why Blatter made his unusual statement but really his honorary membership isn’t it.  The “Gold and Diamond Insignia” is just something that Real Madrid give away to any and all politicians that will accept it and I think Blatter took it more for the photo op than anything else.  It’s not like Blatter is secretly a member of the board or anything, he just got an honorary membership.  It probably entitles him to 10% off at Denny’s or something.

No, I think this is just more of the same stuff; Sepp Blatter has a stick up his ass about the Premiership and is using any opportunity at all to stick the knife in and turn the blade.  Who better to knife than the club that is one of the most emblematic of the “problem” of foreign transfers and all the other myriad issues that Blatter has on his agenda.

Don’t be surprised when he calls the Arsenal/Adebayor transfer saga something asinine (sharecropping?) in the next few days.  Arsenal have to be next up on his hit list.




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