Tag Archives: UEFA

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.


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.