Posts Tagged ‘UEFA


FIFA and UEFA’s plan to tear down club football

At 16 years and 177 days, Cesc Fabregas became the youngest player to ever feature for an Arsenal first team, playing in the League Cup match against Rotherham United. Less than two months later, in just his second appearance for the club, he scored a goal, in the 5-1 thrashing of the Wolves, again in the Carling Cup. In fact, Wenger’s record of using the Carling Cup to “blood” numerous young players has been the cornerstone of Arsenal’s recent success and would have been the cornerstone of future success. Youth players all want to play for Arsenal, because there’s just no better footballing education in the world right now: Fabregas proves that.

But jealousy, hindsight, and nationalism have conspired in the form of FIFA and UEFA to rob children of their right to have access to that world class education. Yesterday, FIFA and UEFA announced that there will soon be a rule that will forbid anyone under the age of 18 from signing a professional contract outside of their home country. Imagine an agreement made by world tennis that forced youth to only play tennis in their home country. Imagine an agreement made by some educational governing body that would deny children the right to attend university outside of their home country, just because they aren’t 18. This proposal stinks, it’s bad for clubs, it’s bad fot players, and it’s bad for world football.

Clubs like Barcelona have always been angry that Arsenal “steal” their young talent, develop them, and sell them back on the market for hundreds of times the value that Arsenal paid for them. But it wasn’t theft, because teams like Arsenal take extraordinary risks bringing a 16 year old into the academy. Risks that Barcelona admitted they wouldn’t have taken. Since Arsenal took the risks, since they played Cesc when he was just 16, they deserve the reward.

The player too took a risk, he left the comfort of his homeland, learned another language, braved the English weather, the food, the Martin Taylor’s, and came to a club with just the slim promise of maybe playing football — if he worked hard enough to warrant it. It’s only jealous hindsight that a team like Barca would be angry over the signing of Cesc Fabregas; after all, if they wanted to take those risks, they could have signed him. So, FIFA and UEFA are hoping this proposal will pass by playing up clubs’ jealousy and hindsight.

But, in order to get the fans on board and in order to get each country’s national directors of football on board, they are also wrapping this whole disgusting proposal in the tattered flag of nationalism. What a disgrace; dragging the corpse of England’s Euro 2008 campaign out as the example of the system gone awry. Who cares what England did or didn’t do in Euro 2008? Is it because some fans and directors need to wrap themselves in the Union Jack, paint their faces with St. George’s Cross, and re-live some nationalistic dream of beating the “dirty huns” or the “Japs?” Is that why they are susceptible to the way this plan holds promoting “national football” out as the goal?

This is not about how well your national will team do. FIFA and UEFA don’t give a rat’s ass how well a particular team does. What they care about is enriching their coffers at the expense of club football. That’s what this is about; glorifying FIFA at the expense of club football and club football players. They see the wealth generated by the multicultural, multinational corporation that is the EPL and are using everything in their power to destroy that in order to put “national” football back in the driver’s seat. They want their piece of the pie back.

What will the outcome of this fevered plan be? I suspect that nations with well developed footballing schools will get immeasurably better and nations without such schools, immeasurably worse. The rich will get richer, the poor poorer. FIFA and UEFA don’t care, as long as they get richer.

Brazilian children who have little hope to escape the poverty of their homeland will be stripped of the hope of a great education at a team like Arsenal. American children will certainly get worse; having to play in “challenger leagues” here, or hold out hope to go to college and play college ball. This scenario will be repeated over and over again in small countries with underdeveloped football infrastructure.

In short, world footballing opportunities just got worse, not better. Make no mistake, national teams will suffer as well because players get better as they are introduced to a diversity of playing and teaching styles and forcing kids to play one way, with the other kids they grew up with is stultifying to say the least. I hate to sound like George W. Bush, but freedom is what’s best for the players, the clubs, and ultimately the national team and this proposal is authoritarianism at it’s worst.

Let’s all hope that some 16 year old brings a law suit as soon as this plan is implemented, because there’s no court in the world that would uphold such a ridiculous proposal.


The quiet man

Someone\'s gonna get an owie

In a sense he’s been a dream signing — small noise, big impact. It was not a big transfer by today’s standards but he’s shown that he can be a big player. He has impressed everyone with his quality and enthusiasm. He has huge potential and can play in several positions. What I like is that he’s arrived here and adapted to new challenges with the minimum of fuss. — Arsene Wenger on Bacary Sagna

Back in July, when everyone was hoping Wenger would sign a replacement for Thierry Henry, Le Boss shocked everyone by signing a 3rd right back. At the time, Arsenal were using Eboue and Hoyte in that capacity and so, rightly, most Arsenal supporters wondered aloud why Wenger signed this strange looking man and his Venus Williams beads?

No fan now would question that signing. He’s only scored that one goal against Chelsea but he’s managed six assists in all competitions — which is one more goal and four more assists than his wing partner. He’s also kept his nose clean, with three yellows on a stingy 25 fouls. These stats paint the picture of a defender who is solid, challenges well, keeps his head, and goes forward when it makes sense but isn’t reckless.

But Bacary Sanga wins a place in my top 5 not for just being a solid player but for doing it in his first season, and for doing it from day one. The quiet man may one day have us all saying Emmanuel who?

On to the news!

Injury news ahead of tomorrow’s game: no one has recovered. Which means that Sagna, Rosicky, Eduardo, and Almunia are all expected to be out. Only Almunia is “questionable” on that list and faces a fitness test today, which if he fails, might see Lehmann in goal.


You know, I loved Lehmann, no matter how bat-shit insane the man was, he was endearing to me. But some of the stuff he’s been reportedly saying has really tarnished his Arsenal image. I don’t know. I guess this is his last chance to play in front of an Arsenal crowd — sigh.

If he plays I hope he has a really great game and fans ought to give him a standing ovation. After all, he was a huge part of the invincibles.

UPDATE: Lehmann is starting tomorrow as Almunia has failed to recover.

In other news Sepp Blatter plans on circumventing EU rules and UEFA’s wishes and impose an affirmative action quota for Englishmen. Since he doesn’t have any authority to make laws like that, he’s seeking a “gentleman’s agreement” among clubs. I can’t see it happening.

UEFA, on the other hand, wants a much more tenable and sensible approach; set a quota of locally trained players at clubs without any discrimination based on nationality, but even this won’t work. Chelsea, Liverpool, and Man U’s entire business model would collapse if that policy became law.

No, I think that the market is going to have to sort this out. Either that, or Sepp and Michel can get locked in a room and fight it out to the death. Hmmm… I like that option best!

Speaking of UEFA, they have promised to crack down on dangerous play and dissent at Euro 2008. Also, diving, pushing in the penalty area during corners, unruly coaches, mass confrontations, and the people who don’t take a shower before the match and then sit right next to me, I HATE THAT. Seriously, I am playing wait and see with this one. They all sound like good reforms on paper but how they implement them could be disastrous.

And that’s it for today. Tomorrow’s blog will be LIVE FROM DOYLE’S!!! The kickoff is 7am even though the actual match is on Setanta at like 2am or something — what happened to the 3pm kickoffs??? — so, if you’re in town, come on down and meet the bloglebrity in person. That’s me. A bloglebrity. No?

Also, player #4 will be revealed on Sunday, since the game day blog takes up all my energy.

Ok, see you tomorrow.


Platini’s Modest Proposal


UEFA President Michel Platini is a man stuck in the 19th century. I say that with reservations because it might actually be fair to say that he’s stuck in the 18th century.

Yesterday, Platini gave an extraordinary speech in which he claimed to have asked the “European Commission” to ban the transfer of minors.

I have told the European Commission that we should ban the transfer of minors. The first contract a player signs should be with the club who trains him. Minors shouldn’t be seen as a machine that can be transferred for the benefit of agents or clubs.

I’m not exactly sure how this new proposed rule would work. It probably would legally bind a player to a club for a set number of years (probably 2) after they sign their first professional contract. Then after their 18th birthday they could move freely around Europe. Platini wants to implement this because, he says, it’s the only way to ensure that local talent stays local and thereby increases the local fan base and, in his mind, helps the national team. Because for Platini, the way to ensure that England has the best talent is to huddle all the English players together in the rain and make them play against each other.

But how does this idea benefit the footballers? After all, they are the ones who must take the pitch in whatever strip they might be wearing — team or country. If the footballers aren’t getting the best training in the highest competitions how will they be able to play their best football?

I don’t think that it does benefit the players and I don’t just mean monetarily. Players get better when they play against and compete for spots with the best players in the world. If teams are forced to recruit only locally (probably within 30 miles of the club) the ability to pit youth against other youth in a competitive environment that will raise the level of competition across the academy is extremely limited.

And then there’s the idea that the team that trains you, owns you. Isn’t that’s some sort of 18th century indentured servitude? I can see all kinds of problems arising from this plan. Imagine a 14 year old who is a bit of a troubled youth and doesn’t get along with his coach, but he’s a tremendous talent. So, AS Nancy snatches him up at age 14 and until his 18th birthday, his ass belongs to AS Nancy. They could destroy this kid’s career. Let’s say he has a falling out with the management. Oh well, sit on the bench kid.

How does that make players better?

Or worse. Imagine if Fabregas had been forced to stay in Barcelona. He would never have had the opportunity to train with Wenger and he may never have been given the opportunity to play for Barcelona’s first team. Fabregas is a special talent, and I’d like to think that he would have been successful regardless, but you cannot deny that Arsene Wenger is one of the best youth coaches (if not THE best) in the world and thus that he has had a profound effect on Cesc’s career. And for me that’s the “coup de grace.”

Wealthy people send to their children to the best schools in the world in order to help ensure their future success. Why shouldn’t some poor kid from Barcelona be allowed to go to the best footballing school in the world? Why shouldn’t some poor kid from Barcelona be given the opportunity to play against and showcase his talent amongst the best players in the world? Because of where he was born? That’s not helping football Michel, that’s stultifying the development of the game by limiting the opportunities for talented youth to fully explore and exploit their talent.

Of course, this plan is not just about educational opportunity. This is about money. Platini is proposing that a team owns you once they start training you. With that kind of legal power teams will be able to set extraordinarily low wages on players because the player has no freedom to negotiate. All of the power goes to the corporation and none of it to the individual.

Platini spoke of teams treating the players like “machines” to be bought and sold, in essence, he’s saying we need to humanize the youth in football. But freedom, Michel, freedom to move, to disagree with a coach, to get paid what you’re worth; freedom humanizes us. Your plan would do nothing more than empower the AS Nancy’s of the world to dehumanize players through a system of ownership straight out of the 18th century.

Your plan would not help football.  Your plan will not help footballers.  Your plan would not increase the talent pool for England.  Your plan would merely enrich and empower small clubs at the expense of young men.

It’s a modest proposal indeed.

RSS My Google Reader

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

Flickr Photos


Arsenal Community

Arsenal News

Arsenal News

June 2020