Tag Archives: FIFA

A hoof, a shoe, and a leg... Things that Sepp Blatter puts in his mouth

Lost in the Wilshere flap is the fact that the FA wanted to tap up Januzaj

As I said yesterday, Wilshere’s comments were not controversial. At least not the tautology that if you’re English you’re English and only the English should play for England. They were exactly the kind of anodyne remarks that we come to expect from our modern sportsmen. But where people, myself included a bit, got sidetracked is in the debate over identity. The question of what makes someone English is really as difficult to define as the BBC’s presentation on the subject here (hint: wheelie bin angst and baked beans on toast).

But what shouldn’t be difficult to define is whether the English FA should be tapping up young talent who have no connection to England and trying to get them to play for the English national team. Which is exactly what they tried to do with Adnan Januzaj and exactly what led to the reporter’s question to Wilshere about whether Wilshere thinks Januzaj should play for England and why he gave his response the way that he did: to paraphrase Jack, Januzaj ain’t English, why are you asking me this question?

Even if we take the simplest definition of eligibility and say that anyone who has a passport can play for that national team (there are many more rules than that) then Januzaj doesn’t qualify to play for England. Under the more complicated rules, Januzaj won’t qualify to play until 2018, after he’s lived in England for the requisite 5 years past his 18th birthday. Why is the press asking Jack Wilshere his opinion about a player who isn’t eligible to play for England for another 5 years? That question should give everyone great pause.

As Chris Coulton pointed out in the comments here and as I heard several reporters make clear on The Game, the Times Podcast, the fact that the FA is looking at Januzaj is the real problem. What are they doing trying to persuade an 18 year old to give up the other international teams he qualifies to play for? If powerful and wealthy football asscoaitions are allowed to run around collecting the best world talent and put them on their teams then international football is meaningless. I already tend to think that it is meaningless and see this as a tacit admission from the governing bodies than even the faux nationalism they wrap themselves in is up for sale.

Lost in all this is how Januzaj feels. Perhaps he really identifies as English and has always felt like in a previous life he was King Harold’s chief eunuch? But somehow I doubt it. From wht I’ve read, it was the FA who are feeling out Januzaj and not the other way around. So, this looks a lot like the English FA shopping around looking for kids to play for England. No matter how you feel about international football, if that’s true, that’s pretty disgraceful.

Why aren’t the English press making more of that?


Your winnings Mr. Blatter

FIFA and UEFA threaten to turn football into Kayfabe

Here are some facts I can say for certain:

There have also been convictions in other sports, such as the NBA, baseball, hockey, rugby, boxing, and cricket. All of which is to say that corruption exists in sports. And it has been that way since the first athlete took a dive in the first Olympic games.

The problem is these scandals are becoming more common place every year, the investigations more superficial, and the money at stake exponentially larger such that it threatens to undermine the very belief in football. To turn it into what professional wrestling refers to as “kayfabe” or just a show, a suspension in disbelief.

It’s already so bad that we have started wondering out loud whether certain things that happen on the pitch and in the halls of the FA, UEFA, and FIFA are the actions of corrupt officials. To be clear, I am not accusing anyone of corruption but who among you has not heard from numerous sources various questions about the governing bodies?

For example, how many people believe that Qatar bribed their way to host the World Cup? Few will say it in print, because they are afraid of repercussions, but I’ve had plenty of conversations with plenty of people who will say it outright in person and who may even say it here in the comments on this blog. I’m not saying that Qatar bribed FIFA to host the World Cup. What I’m saying is that the belief that they did matters, because it means that a significant number of people don’t have faith in the authorities who are charged with policing our game.

When it pours it Rains

Baseball suffered a series of match-fixing scandals from the later part of the 19th century up until the infamous Black Sox scandal of 1919. Corruption in baseball was widespread in that period and it took some harsh rules, harsh punishments, and an iron-fisted commissioner to stamp it out.

Kenesaw Mountain Landis was elected commissioner of baseball in 1920 and immediately enacted a rule whereby no player is allowed to gamble on baseball, ever. Moreover, any player or official who is even approached must report immediately to the authorities or suffer a lifetime ban from the sport. If a man like Kenesaw Mountain Landis was head of FIFA would Antonio Conte be a manager right now? I don’t know, but I do know that he is tipped to be the next manager of Chelsea. In so doing, he would bring a scandal-ridden career to the English Premier League. Exactly the kind of thing that should never be allowed to happen.

And for the average fan, there’s always the suspicion that a referee has it out for your team. For example, Mike Dean’s record refereeing Arsenal games is, bar none, the strangest record I have seen in professional sport. In the last 20 times Mike Dean has refereed an Arsenal match, the Gunners have only won twice and have never been awarded a penalty despite many clear-cut fouls in the area. Surely this is just coincidence but even still, the League’s refusal to introduce technology such as Instant Replay officiating, or change the Laws exacerbates a public perception that officials are influencing games. And whether that’s through corruption or bias is irrelevant.

In addition to the weak ways that FIFA and UEFA deal with allegations of corruption among coaches like Conte and the way that they refuse to bring the game into the 21st century, there’s too much room for error in the way the laws are written: the offside laws are bizarre, these ideas of “intent” and “aggression” are antiquated, the way that advantage is handled is one of the easiest ways that an official could cheat, and officials are afforded far too much protection post match. FIFA, UEFA, and the FA need to re-write or at least re-jigger the Laws of the Game.

I’d start by banning gambling, the nexus from which all of this corruption spews. Any player, coach or official who gambles on any football match is banned for a year; anyone who gambles on their own team is banned for life; anyone who is approached by anyone to throw a match and refuses to report it is also banned for life.

Then I’d fix the offside rule. Simplify it so that even Tony Pulis can understand it. This active/inactive stuff just confuses everyone and while I understand the intent of the rule, the implementation is just disastrous. Why are we arguing over whether a player is inactive? Why is a player allowed to be offside at all? To increase scoring? Well, then why have an offside rule?

So too with whether a player “meant to do” something. Who cares if Taylor meant to break Eduardo’s leg? He lunged, studs up, over the ball, and did break Eduardo’s leg. Surely that’s a red card. Why is this not codified somewhere? And I don’t mean in the mealy-mouthed way that it’s written now.

Similarly, the advantage rule is the one rule that I feel gives referees too much leeway in terms of effecting games. Arsenal, for example, are often gifted “advantage” when the opposition fouls an Arsenal player in the middle of the park or even in their own defensive third. That “advantage” almost never turns into a goal because it’s not an actual advantage. Conversely, the same official will almost always stop play for the same infraction when Arsenal commit a foul against a long ball team, regardless of where the infraction occurs because stoppage of play actually does gift that team an advantage. Advantage should only be given when the attacking team has a clear chance at goal.

An finally, Major League Soccer introduced post-match refereeing of games last season and it has been a success. If you refuse instant replay because it will slow the game down then at the very least you have to do what MLS has done and look at the tapes of all games and punish players retroactively for red-card offenses.Officials get things wrong, it’s OK to admit that they are not Gods.

With the unveiling of Europol’s incredible allegations, World football is suffering from it’s very own Black Sox scandal and it is teetering on the edge of being about as believable as Professional Wrestling. What football needs is a time machine to get itself out of the 19th century in regards to the Laws of the game, technology, corruption, and gambling. It needs a Kenesaw Mountain of a man to lead the game into the new era. Sadly, it has Platini and Blatter.


Fuck yeah!

ACN + UEFA + FIFA + Olympics = A Maniac Copies Fluffy

After the Africa Cup of Nations last January, UEFA Euro 2012 this summer, and the Olympics erm… also this summer, we here at 7amkickoff were getting worried that we might not have any international football to look forward to this erm late-ish summer and fall. But fret not comrade and bust out the flags! Because if you haven’t gotten your fill of Nationalism this year you will still be able to dance a jingo on August 15th.

That’s right! Just three days before the start of the Premier League season, football will get off to a bang with an officially sanctioned FIFA friendly match day. That’s just 4 days after the Olympic Men’s Gold Medal match on August 11th!

It’s almost as if FIFA and UEFA heard the criticisms of club managers and fans who want their highly paid athletes to play for the club that pays them instead of some corrupt gang of thugs erudite gentlemen who take bribes the best bids and simply replied: “oh you want less international action? how about FUCK YOU, there’ll be MORE international action!”

And if you haven’t had your fill of nationalism by January, there’s always a second helping of the Africa Cup of Plenty (of Tournaments) because they need to move that tournament to an off year that doesn’t conflict with the UEFAFIFAOLYMPICS.

Has it been suggested yet that we just abandon this whole “club system” and just hold international tournaments year round? No? I don’t know why not. Think of all the money that could generate for FIFA officials national schools to teach poor kids soccer. They could be held in new and cool places, like the a gulag in Siberia, a desert, or Mars — if the Martians can get a good enough bribe bid package together.

This has been such a great year for FIFA football.