Handling the Problem…

20 11 2009

The whole Thierry Henry/handball/Irish thing continues to rumble on days after the match finished amid high emotions. The trouble is, everyone is looking to blame somebody. For me, Henry cannot be blamed. Yes, he handled the ball, and if the referee had blown up then he would have been caught and he wouldn’t have made a fuss about it. The handball is within the new spirit of the game, win by any means, even if it means cheating (be that in the form of a dive, a handball or any other means). Henry cannot, in all reality, have been expected to give up the chance of his last World Cup when it was apparent he had got away with his act. Nor would he have been able to show his face in his own country any time soon had France gone on to lose. Henry did what any other player, across the world would have done, he carried on. Neither the English nor the Irish can have any complaints as both know that they would have done the same had the situation so arisen.

The referee is most obviously to blame, both he, and his linesman failed to spot the handball. In their defence, they were both hampered by bodies in the way. Yet they failed to do what they are being paid for, and as a consequence, will probably not go to the finals. Much like Ireland, their opportunity was taken away when the decision was missed.

Some have sought to blame FIFA, and personally I think that their late decision to seed the play-offs was a disgrace. Once so called ‘big-guns’ had failed in the qualifying rounds, FIFA acted to ensure that the countries that would bring in the most money from TV rights etc were aided as best they could be. Portugal and France qualified, Russia, despite this help, failed. I cannot help but wonder if the same decision would have been made if it had been, for example, England instead of France. I somehow doubt it. I personally think Sepp Blatter is a fool who is destroying football rather than developing it, and the actions of FIFA in this instance leave a bitter taste in the mouth.

Amidst all this, England are struggling to maintain a serious bid for the 2018 World Cup. With their heirarchy in apparent disarray and the bid still stalling (apparently), I’m not too sure that any British bid is likely to be successful whilst Blatter is at the helm and anglophile Platini is involved in UEFA. Whilst the clowns are in charge of the circus, the show falls to the ground. International footballing bodies need to take a good long look at themselves, and then those in charge do the honourable thing and step down, so that people who understand the sport can save it from sporting ignomy.


He’s at it again…

7 05 2008

So my least favourite footballing bureaucrat is at it again. Today the muppet that is Sepp Blatter has come out with this nonsense. As I’m aware of the situation, there has to be a set number of English born players in any given Champions League squad already. Blatter has identified a ‘problem’ that there has been too many English teams in recent Champions League semi-finals and finals.

For the past three years there has been an English finalist. This year there is two. For Blatter, that is too many. It apparently does not show the strength of the English game in comparison to other leagues, but shows that English teams are too dominant because they are reliant on foreign imports. Blatter seems to ignore the period in the late 90’s/ early 2000’s when Real Madrid pretty much bossed the competition because they had bought the best players in the world for outrageous fees. That isn’t his concern. His concern is sticking his nose into English football to limit it’s potential on a European stage. This really annoys me.

I think the concern should be not with limiting the impact of English clubs, but instead with improving the quality of the game in other countries. Blatter, in his limited wisdom, thinks otherwise. People across the world rate the Premier League as the best in the world (even allowing for a club like Derby), the nature of the league, with its fast pace and competitive spirit I believe is second to none. Looking at the top leagues in other European Countries and I’m not so sure the same can be said. Italian football, now back on our tv’s after a long absence, is watchable, but lacks the blood-and-guts passion of the English game. Spanish football likewise seems a tad, well, pedestrian. The less said about the generally poor state of German football the better. Greece (the reigning European Cup holders) have a league, which, if we are generous, is on a par with our Championship.

To me it seems everywhere else has got the problems, but not in England. Our football is so strong that there was three Championship sides in the FA Cup semi-finals. Now how much our strength is down to foreign imports is a matter of much concern, and I think this is the issue Blatter was trying to combat. I disagree from a club perspective. Foreign imports are a necessary part of our game, if only to encourage development of better English players. Theo Walcott, a rising star of Arsenal’s team, was taught by the best player in the world at the time, Thierry Henry. Foreign players serve to strengthen the leagues, and limiting their numbers would only detract from the game at a time when more and more money is being pumped into it by fans. They want to see good football, and paying the prices that they do, care little of the nationality of the players.

For me, Blatter has got it wrong. His concern should not be with limiting English clubs potential, but instead with improving foreign clubs potential.

Chitter Blatter…

9 03 2008

Right, now I dislike Sepp Blatter. A lot. I think he’s just another suit in the world of football.  He frequently looks completely out of his depth, yet he still insists on sticking his nose into lots of different affairs.

Including the Martin Taylor affair. Now I stand very much on the side of Taylor here. I think it was a freak accident which broke Eduardo’s leg. I think he is genuinely remorseful about the whole affair. And I think he has his punishment, along with the guilt for the next 9 months or so. Basically, I would imagine that Taylor will not be able to escape his guilt until Eduardo is back playing and scoring goals for both club and country.  Taylor has apologised to Eduardo personally, he has apologised through the press. His manager Alex McLeish has apologised for the tackle. The Arsenal players (including Adebayor) have stated that they are willing to forgive Taylor for the tackle, accepting there was not the intent to break Eduardo’s leg. I think even Arsene Wenger has accepted it was just a freak accident. This, I feel, should be the end of the story.

Not though, if you are Sepp Blatter. Oh no.  Blatter, with another one of his great pearls of wisdom has decided that this isn’t the end of the matter. He thinks FIFA should intervene and impose a longer ban on Taylor.

Here are just some of Blatter’s comments:

“You have to have respect and what we witnessed there has nothing to do with football” 

“This is to destroy another player, and that is not the aim of our game” 

“Such players should not only be suspended for a certain time, they should be banned until they have realised they have done something absolutely wrong” 

 Blatter is keen to point the finger at Taylor and make an example of him. However I feel that he is jumping on the witch-hunting band-wagon. To me, the last quote is the worst. I firmly believe Taylor knows he has done something bad. I believe he is genuinely sorry for it.

With all due respect, Blatter doesn’t appear to know what he is talking about. At all. He spouts off about people and situations when he doesn’t know the full picture. To accuse someone of deliberately trying to injure someone else in that manner is digusting. And it is why Wenger retracted his post match statement.

For me, Blatter needs to look at himself and ask two things. Firstly does he believe that Martin Taylor actually went out onto that football pitch with the intent of seriously hurting Eduardo? Secondly does it do any good for him to stick his oar in and reinflame the situation as it looked to be dying down?

I think the answer to both questions is no. Blatter, however, does not seem to realise this.