Tag Archive: Association football

Swansea boss Michael Laudrup‘s comments that he sees nothing wrong with clubs offering rival teams money to win if it will benefit them – so-called ‘suitcasing’ and apparently commonplace in Spain – have quite rightly sparked anger amongst British football fans.

Laudrup has caused controversy by saying he doesn’t “see anything bad” in the suggestion that a third side can offer another in the league a financial reward, or incentive, to win a game that benefits them both.

To explain further, a hypothetical example would be Swansea players being offered an extra financial bonus by, say, Wigan for the Welsh club to beat, for example, Southampton, if that result would directly benefit Wigan in a relegation battle.

While these crucial occasions are not common and usually restricted to the final weeks of a season, the suggestion that it is ‘OK’ for this practice to go ahead is surely dangerous for the game – and for someone of Laudrup’s standing to offer his backing to it, quite frankly, shocking.

Laudrup said: “If Swansea play the last game against a team and a third team pays Swansea to win the game, I really don’t see anything bad about that.”

Online message-boards and phone-ins have been dominated by fans angered by his comments and they are quite right to object to what is a flawed wisdom which breeds and feeds an underground current and a totally unregulated culture that will unduly affect results and scores

It is a very dangerous and murky road to go down. If players are suddenly offered more money to win games then how long before others are offered more to lose a meaningless game? In truth, while it might not be technically illegal, it completely goes against sporting traditions and is a short sidestep away from blatant match-fixing – something we are thankfully not too familiar with in the Barclays premier league but an issue which remains a threat in other parts of the world, not least Italy, where an ongoing match-fixing scandal at the highest level continues to be investigated.

In the light of Laudrup’s naive and outspoken comments, the FA have reminded everyone they, of course, have clear rules to outlaw any form of bribery, match-fixing and corruption.

Some will say that Laudrup, brought up and used to football in another culture, was merely revealing what many know goes on ahead of certain crucial games in other countries and expressing his personal opinion that he doesn’t see much wrong with it.

But it is clearly a dark route for football to go down and, while it may be seen as ‘the norm’ in Spain, it is never something that should be tolerated over here.


Football…….who cares?

By Tony Alvarez
As I write this it has just been reported that Bolton Midfielder Fabrice Muamba is in a stable condition following his collapse on the pitch in his clubs FA Cup quarter final away at Tottenham’s White Heart Lane home.
The midfielder went down off the ball without a player around him and was being resuscitated on the pitch for 10 minutes before leaving on a stretcher to hospital where thankfully he was saved.

Continue reading

By Tony Alvarez

On Tuesday night in one of England’s forgotten tournaments for Football League sides the Johnston Paint Trophy (JPT) something happened that made players, fans, officials and everyone involved in Football unite and realise that some things are more important that Football.

 I am of course talking about the horrific head injury suffered by Accrington Stanley defender Tom Bender on loan from Colchester United, after a collision during the fixture against Tranmere Rovers, the players were ushered back to the dressing room whilst medics worked on the young defender which lasted for around 30 minutes as he lay unconscious.

Due to the prolonged nature of the treatment the game was suspended and according to all reports the fans and players did not argue with the decision or meet it with any dismay which is nice to see in a game which is often over filled with rivalry. Stanley manager highlighted this point by saying “Some football people think about the football result at all costs and to be fair their fans responded magnificently as did their players and staff.”
The whole Football world including those who had never heard of Tom Bender or Accrington Stanley came together as one to wish the player well; this would have been very evident for those of you on Twitter.

Thankfully Bender was yesterday released from hospital with not much memory of the incident but on the grand scale of things unharmed his father released a statement saying “’Tom’s okay. He’s in good spirits. He doesn’t remember too much about it but that’s nothing unusual….The medical care he got was absolutely superb. I’d like to thank everyone fromAccringtonand from Tranmere and the medical staff.”

I know we so often get wrapped up in winning and losing and the fortunes of our side or nation but it is refreshing to see that people remember there is a world outside of Football, this is not a criticism of Football I have often had arguments with people as I claim Football is as big as any religion but its good to be reminded that Football is not life and death.

To further restore faith in humanity and the Football world Accrington Stanley manager has offered Tranmere a goal start in their rescheduled fixture as Tranmere were leading at the time of Bender’s injury when the game was called off.

I know this is a break from this websites usual debate articles but I thought it should be highlighted that some things are more important than sport and also that when it wants to be the world of Football can be a nice one.

What are your thoughts? Has there been enough praise in the national press for the players/fans/ staff of Stanley and Tranmere? Why is it so rare that in sport we get an opportunity to praise everyone for coming together as one? Leave a comment and let us know your thoughts

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Also do not fear SFTS has not gone soft, we will be back to our usual work tomorrow.

By Tony Alvarez

A look at the latest FIFA World rankings will show England sitting pretty in fourth place, many followers of the England side and of course followers of Football in general will know this ranking is unjustified and there is no way we are the fourth best nation in World Football.

I am the biggest optimist when it comes to the English national side which leads to quite regular disappointment, this led me to asking: Why areEnglandso off the pace in terms of the leading international side despite having one of the best leagues in the World?

 Many are quick to blame the Premiership for having a huge percentage of players ineligible to represent the national side, personally I’ve never brought that excuse for me it just makes the top English players raise their game to try and be able to compete with the talents of the foreign players.

For me I think this should help our players there playing against top players, some even World class week in week out, I cant see how people honestly think our players would be better if they were playing against worse English players.

TheEnglandmanager would have a greater selection but of worse players, I would rather Mr Capello or who ever it is in charge have a choice from 30 top draw players than 100 run of a mill players.

Another common excuse for failure is the press and how they get on the national sides back and try to cause controversy within the camp, whilst I think the way the press act is poor it cannot be used as an excuse for under achievement, the players get as much criticism at club level in most cases and deal with it well enough to be selected for England in the first place, the press are not a major issue more an annoyance.

Although it has little effect on our national team our league system is so much stronger than other nations its laughable, for family reasons I visit Spain quite a lot, the local side to where members of my family live are in the league below the Segunda, the third stage of Spanish Football in effect our League One, despite being at least a mid table team if not promotion chasing they are awful, I play Saturday League in London for a side on the 16th stage of the English ladder, my side would run the Spanish side close, if they were to play their League One equivalents it would be farcical.

You may think I’m going off topic but I am highlighting that we have a system where we can loan out our younger players and they can get a good level of competition whilst gaining experience that is something that even the league of the World champions cannot offer.

After quite some time looking into the problems of our national team and why we “underachieve” at every given opportunity I think I cracked it yesterday.

As a sports coach I am often called into schools to do after school clubs, I happened to arrive early for my session and watched in on the last 20 minutes of a Football session for kids between the ages of 11-13 what I saw shocked and worried me.

As their session was nearing an end they were playing matches I assume the coach had already completed training drills but I don’t know, whilst watching the kids play their games I noticed not one of the kids knew HOW to play Football, don’t get me wrong the level of ability was quite high but the brains were non existent. There was no pass and move no finding the player in acres of space, everyone was cramped up in a tiny section of the pitch where the ball was.

Any time and space a player did find was not a chance for them to get their head up and find the killer pass but instead a chance to show off their latest trick or how they could nut meg some without any idea what was going on around them.

 It made me think back to my school days, my school team had two players who are now professional Footballers, no where near the international stage granted but still at a high level. One of them was the best in our year by a long way and had a natural technical gift, but he wasn’t flashy trying to show a new trick at every opportunity he realised that a goal was as big an embarrassment to an opponent that any thing else, in short he know how to play football along with the ability to do it.

The other boy now making a living form playing Football was not even a guaranteed starter for the school side he was not big he was not strong or the best finisher. What he did have was a amazing work rate and an understanding of the game around him, everyone grew up and the kids being picked because they were bigger no longer had their edge, not everyone developed a Football brain.

For me there lies the problem of the English national team not enough kids at a young age are taught how to play Football and think like a Footballer, some players get through who develop this side of the game on their own but were losing about 90% of players before any career has even started by not teaching them this side of the game, ability is not the only trait that makes a Footballer.

What are your thoughts? Are my assumptions correct? Is there any other reasons why England are serial underachievers? Leave a comment and let us know your thoughts

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Platini (above) and UEFA have come under criticism for the prices set for the Champions League final

By Laurie Fitzgerald

Michel Platini has come out and apologised for the extortionate prices being charged for this year’s Champions League Final at Wembley.

The UEFA President has felt it necessary to say sorry following a public backlash over the unrealistic figures set by European football‘s governing body.

The minimum price for a ticket on general sale for next month’s showpiece is a staggering £150, and that doesn’t include a ridiculous £26 admin fee.

Platini told the media on Wednesday afternoon, “It is not easy to decide the price of the tickets in the Champions League final. It was not a good communication and I apologise for that.”

While you can’t please everyone when it comes to setting ticket prices for a big event, there also needs to be common sense, and none has been shown by UEFA in this instance.

To make the general public pay a minimum of £176 to go and watch one of the biggest annual games in world football is nothing short of greedy.

On top of that, the prices for the clubs that make it to the final (Manchester United/Schalke or Real Madrid/Barcelona) has the cheapest seat of £84.

It’s going to be expensive for Manchester United fans when you consider they also have to travel down by car or train, or even via a short plane journey.

But imagine how supporters of Real Madrid and Barcelona are feeling; Spain currently has one of the worst unemployment rates in Europe.

How do UEFA expect the average Spaniard to afford the tickets to see their team in the final on top of the costs for air fare, as well as residing in a London hotel for one or two nights?

Most of Europe still find themselves in financial turmoil set by the recession, and unfortunately this affects almost everyone. Unfortunately for UEFA, this also means many football fans.

The money that the organisation generates on an annual basis from their premier club competition means that surely they could have been more reasonable when the final is being held at a 90,000 seater stadium.

However, all that is has led to is UEFA generating an enormous amount of money from the one game, leaving the public counting their pennies.

This is not to say that Platini is solely responsible for the set prices, and it is good to see that a family-category ticket may be introduced for the game.

But this should all have been done a lot sooner, and not after many have concluded that UEFA only care about the money they make instead of the fans that make the Champions League such a wonderful tournament.

Article source: BBC Sport

So what do you think? Is it too little too late when it comes to UEFA’s apology? Could you realistically afford to buy a CL final ticket based on the prices set by European football’s governing body? Let us know your thoughts. 

By Tony Alvarez

Another day another footballing controversy- The FA have announced that subject to appeal Wayne Rooney will serve a 2 match ban for “using offensive language” during his sides 4-2 victory at Upton Park on Saturday.

The title of this article is very deliberate because although he has been given the suspension for using offensive language I would be shocked if every player on the pitch did not swear in one language or another at some point during that football match Rooney was just stupid enough to do it in front of a camera.

I understand emotions were high he had just completed his hat trick and in doing that potentially won a game for his club and possibly proved a lot of doubters over his form this season wrong.

Should United choose to not appeal the ban handed to Rooney he will miss the fixtures at home to Fulham and the Manchester Derby FA cup Semi final.

Thankfully for them due to Fulham’s recent form a ban for Rooney should not damage the clubs title challenge too much, also its not as if United lack cover, with both Hernandez and Berbatov out scoring Rooney this term you would not imagine they will struggle to put the ball in the back of the net although his energy and creativity will be tough to replace.

The bigger miss will be for the game against City at Wembley, City notoriously defend deeply and as a tight unit against the bigger sides a spark of magic beat them at Old Trafford and United were unable to break down their rivals at Eastlands. This is where Rooney’s vision and passing ability could be a huge loss.

As the FA generally judge any appeal against a ban as frivolous thus gaining the appealer an extra game ban I doubt Rooney will appeal at the risk of being suspended for an extra fixture (Newcastle away) unless they decide to overturn the ban which would be highly unlikely as it was not a ban received from a red card but something the FA decided themselves Rooney will miss the Semi final against City anyway so no point in appealing.

Back to the question in hand should the ban of been received? As mentioned above everyone swears in a Football match fans, players and dare I say it officials, the argument I have heard is that he is a role model to young people so should not be seen to be behaving in such a manor, however up and done the country parents will have watched Football with their kids and swore. In most cases to a young boy growing up no one is more of a role model than their father.

I am all for camping down on abusing officials and other players but Rooney’s language was not aimed at anyone so there for as it can be seen as foul language but it certainly was not abusive.

I can certainly see why he was banned but I do sympathise with him some what, if a player was banned for 2 games every time he was caught swearing then there would be a suspension every week, as an Arsenal fan I remember Robin Van Persie scoring at Eastlands a few years ago and quite clearly swearing into the crowd in his celebration. It was caught on camera but not directly into the camera…..this seems to of been Rooney’s downfall.

What are your thoughts? Does Rooney deserve a ban? Should United consider an appeal? Will Rooney be greatly missed should he miss these two fixtures? Leave a comment and let us know your thoughts.

Will gay footballers ever follow in the path of cricketer Steve Davies (above) ?

By Laurie Fitzgerald

This week saw England cricketer Steve Davies publicly announce that he was gay. The 24 year-old wicketkeeper opened up about his sexual orientation to a national newspaper.

Davies deserves an enormous amount of credit, not only for being one of the few sportsmen to come out, but also to do it with so much of his promising career still in front of him.

But acts like this only lead us to wonder if we will ever see such courage shown from footballers who are too worried about revealing they are homosexual.

The Office of National Statistics revealed findings from a survey on the country’s sexuality just five months ago, stating that one per cent of the population was gay.

Considering that there are over 2,000 footballers in the Premier League and Football Leagues combined, there are statistically around 20 homosexual footballers playing in the top four divisions in England.

So why have we not seen any footballers revealing their homosexuality?

It seems to be a combination of three things; reaction from fans, reaction from fellow professionals, and previous cases of footballers announcing they are gay.

The only real example of a footballer doing this was in 1990, when Justin Fashanu came out, again in The Sun newspaper. Following his announcement, Fashanu was subjected to crowd abuse and reportedly the victim of malicious jokes from some of his team-mates.

In 1998, Fashanu tragically committed suicide, found hanged at the age of just 37.

Fashanu’s life was cut short purely because he felt victimised for who he was, not because of anything he had done. But how he was reportedly treated by fans and players may be a reason as to why others haven’t followed in his footsteps.

It must be incredibly difficult telling your fellow professionals about your private life, worried that their reaction can cause a negative impact on your career.

Davies told The Sun how nervous he was when meeting up with his England team-mates after finding out about his sexuality. He explained,

“I was so nervous. I got there really early, I was the first one there I couldn’t think of anything except what they were going to say and how they would react. In fact, everyone was great. They just said it wasn’t an issue.”

I remember BBC Final Score presenter Mark Chapman doing a documentary on homosexuality within football last year, and only one footballer was willing to be interviewed on the programme – Burnley defender Clarke Carlisle.

It seemed that footballers simply didn’t want to be linked with anything that looked into the issue, in case people associated them with homosexuality.

We don’t know what kind of conversations take place in the dressing room, so we cannot say for sure whether players refuse to come out because they know they will be persecuted by a minority of fellow professionals.

But the fear of the unknown, how each player will react whether it’s as a team-mate or an opponent, must leave a huge burden on those that keep their sexuality a secret.

Another fear is how fans will react. Society has made great strides over the past 20 years in accepting people whether they are gay, straight or bisexual.

There is no doubt that the majority of fans will not be bothered one bit whether a player is homosexual or not.

But there is always the minority, not only in all forms of sport but in all walks of life, that will rear their ugly head and make people feel ashamed of who they are, even though they are not different from you or me.

Knowing there is the chance that when you go out to play there will be that one idiot in the crowd that victimises you must be a huge mental obstacle to overcome.

Of course, the argument to this is that there is a reason why it is called a ‘private life.’ Not everyone wants to tell people about who they are because it doesn’t have anything to do with them.

But players should feel comfortable enough to make that sort of decision for themselves, instead of being conscious at how they will be judged by everyone within the game if they were to go public about it.

I’m certainly not saying that professionals or supporters are homophobic, but it would be nice for footballers to feel they can come out and do what Davies has done, and have the choice to admit who they are without fear of persecution.

So what do you think? Is it still a long way away until we see homosexual footballers revealing their sexuality? Would footballers have to deal with a large amount of abuse if they were to reveal they were gay? Let us know

By Tony Alvarez

Now it’s settled on Sunday February the 27th the Carling cup final will be contested between Arsenal and Birmingham, but this article isn’t about either of those sides.

    Arsenal have announced the news that they will receive 31,803 tickets at the time of writing this Birmingham have realised no ticket information for this fixture but it  would be safe to assume they will receive the same ticket allowance.

 Wembley stadium where the final will be played holds 90,000 people if Birmingham do receive the same amount of tickets for this fixture as Arsenal the two clubs combined will receive 63,606, leaving 26,394 tickets for who.

I know the answer is corporate fans and all the people the FA want to entertain but how can the FA justify entertaining nearly as many people as either side has fans in the ground.

Many sections of the media are often claiming that the clubs forget Football is about us the fans and without us none of these clubs would be able to exist and non of these players would receive anywhere near the wages they do.

 But in this instance I think its the FA need to remember that without fans they would also not be in business. If they continue these one off fixtures that are the pinnacle of their tournaments will be nothing but corporate events that fans will not care about, the Carling cup has already been belittled in recent years I just don’t think the FA are helping themselves by stopping real fans going to see the show piece.

It seems to me that the FA are guilty of being a little bit greedy, from England fixtures where they take 100% of the profit you would never see them give away nearly a third of the grounds capacity, with this fixture where the profits are shared they seem to be happy to use this to entertain some customers.

 Now I understand the FA do not give out all 27000 odd tickets and the sponsors get some, but how many people will they realistically entertain, the teams should reveive atleast 40,000 tickets each.

 Arsenal have around 40,000 fans that go and see them week in week out and now the club will have to tell some of them fans that they cant go and see their side possibly lift silverware because the FA have not allocated enough tickets.

The above is not being biased I’m not for a second suggesting Arsenal should get more tickets than Birmingham because they have a bigger fan base, its just an example.

I am also fully aware that this is not the first time this sort or scenario has happened and many clubs have suffered from it in the past.

What do you think? Is this a problem or am I blowing it out of proportion? How could the FA fix this problem? Do you think the FA are taking the fans for granted? Let us know and leave any other thoughts you may have.

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