Posts Tagged ‘Racism in football


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.


Racism and Ramsey runs riot over the press

Good morning kickers, we had a greenlight on yesterday which always results in a ton of clicks and a few new readers. If you’re one of those new readers, welcome. Today’s big stories are Cesc has something to say about racism and Aaron Ramsey is the new Walcott.

Cesc Says Spain’s Not Racist

Us Americans like to believe that we live in a post-racist, or even racially transcendent culture. We see stories like what happened in Spain in 2004 with Sean Wright-Phillips and shake our heads in disgust. “That would never happen here,” we like to say.  But it does, Bethel School district, here in the glorious post-racial northern paradise of liberal Washington state is awash in racism. The simple fact is that racism exists in America, just like it exists in every culture.

But just because there are racial incidents doesn’t mean that we are all racists. If Bethel School District has a race riot with 2% of their student population participating it doesn’t mean that the whole school district is racist, does it? No and I think that’s what Cesc was getting at when he sort of mangled the quote that’s making all the rounds today

I don’t know if racism is the word, I wasn’t in the team when that match was played, but one of my team-mates was playing for England and he felt a little upset. They see us as racist, but I don’t think that we are. That is a bit extreme.

This is a tough topic for someone erudite to write about much less for a Spanish footballer, who feels the need to defend his country, to speak about off the cuff so let’s give Cesc a little room here and agree that what he was saying is “even though there have been incidents, not all Spaniards are racist.”

In a sense, I agree with him, what really counts isn’t the reaction of the 1% of fans who are racists but the reaction of the leadership of the team, school district, or other organization. If the leadership doesn’t do anything about it, then it’s pretty safe to say that the whole system is corrupt.

In Bethel, the administration has been working with the teens through education and, if needed, expulsion in order to try to put an end to this. That’s where it gets sticky with Spain. I haven’t seen the type of concerted effort to stamp this out that I’d like to see. First, what has anyone done since 2004? I mean, the FA (who should have been on this issue from day one, demanding change) the Spanish FA, UEFA, FIFA, team hierarchy, etc, what have they been doing for the last 4 years to stamp this problem out? Nothing. It’s a disgrace to see them suddenly refusing to play at the Bernabeu when the problem has been boiling for the last 4 years and very little was said and even less done about the problem.

And now, along comes UEFA and they want to take strong action against Athletico Madrid for their racism. You’re joking, right? This is the same UEFA who allowed a Zenit St. Petersburg to play in and win the UEFA cup even though the manager publicly refuses to hire blacks because the fans won’t have them.

I’m sorry but $30,000 fines and threatening to make teams play in a neutral place (it’s not a done deal yet) is just putting lipstick on a pig.

So, while I agree with what I think the sentiment was behind Cesc’s statement I completely disagree with his analysis. As far as I can tell, given the combined (non) actions of most of world football’s governing bodies, racism is not only very alive and well, it’s basically condoned. It is the shame of the modern game that such sentiment exists and it should be stopped through points deductions if necessary.

King Ramsey the First

Stuart Pearce has said that Arsenal youth, and soon to be Welsh full international, Aaron Ramsey is worth his weight in gold because he makes little tiny shirts out of whole cloth, or something. Meanwhile, some blogger at Setanta also feels like Arsene’s keen eye for talent may have spotted the best player of his generation on the evidence of that same England-Wales game which saw Rambo’s team lose 3-2 and yet him pick up man-of-the-match honors.

I’m happy for the kid that the press have caught on to his obvious talents. Now, his job is to keep his head down, ignore those press clippings, work hard, and help make Arsenal’s midfield of Ramsey, Wilshere, and Walcott the envy of world football. With Wenger’s patient guidance, I have no doubt this will come to pass.

Transfer Rumors, That I Made Up

The Mail is linking Arsenal with Sochaux cum Turkey striker Melvut Erding. I can’t see any credibility to this though, because Arsene has publicly stated that Arsenal have all the strikers they need (RvP, Ade, Bendtner, Vela, Walcott, Eduardo, and all the kids he’s bringing through).

No, the transfer rumor that I’m starting is that either Yaya Toure or Xavi Alonso are going to surprise the world and come to Arsenal in January. Both players have been linked to Arsenal before and both players are making no bones about their desire to leave their current clubs. The speculation in the press is that the two teams will do a straight swap but that seems a bit crazy if you ask me: both teams would have cup-tied players in that case. Unless there’s something seriously wrong with one or both of those players (so wrong that you wouldn’t play them in the Champions League) why would you intentionally cripple a crucial part of your team?

No, if either player moves on, it’ll be to a third party, like Arsenal. Then they could use the money to buy a non-cup-tied player. Come on Alonso — you could rule England at Arsenal with Cesc at your side!

Stephen Appiah is the other player that Arsenal has been repeatedly linked with but again there’s something not right with this story and I am going with “player wants too much salary and/or isn’t really fit.” Last month, he said that he was going to be signing with a team any day now and since then the story has changed pretty drastically from “I was going to sign, but now I’m looking to Italy” to now the wire has gone completely dead.  Since then West Ham have signed Tristan (a forward) and Arsene has publicly downplayed signing anyone else. Sorry kickers, as much as I’d like to think that Appiah would have rode in upon his steed and slew the dragons ‘oop norf’ I can’t see anything but the end of his career at this point. He did play 85 minutes for Ghana on the weekend and talked of being able to play again the next day but I’m sceptical about his fitness to be honest.

And finally, the Thomas Rosicky injury sideshow rolls on for another week. My loyal reader knows that I think his career is done, the injury he’s sustained is so unusual and in such a critical area that I cannot see him recovering (I hope I am wrong). And now, his agent has picked up on the rumor mill and is stating that Rosicky’s recovery is going along just as planned, his career is NOT over, and oh yeah, he’s even got another specialist working with him. Maybe he will play again. I’m not a doctor but I do know that January will be his one year anniversary of fitness. That’s a hell of a long time to be out. Good luck Thomas, yo’re going to need it.

Ok, well, that’s it for today. Until tomorrow.

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