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Uefa, Scotland, Italy, Fifa, England: Football enters a period of total crisis

By Tony Attwood

You would not know it from reading the papers, and even less from watching TV, but football is in total disarray.    I’ll try and summarise just some of the issues that are facing the game at this moment.

1: Italy, Finland, Turkey…

Yesterday the Italian prime minister said,   “Football should be stopped for two to three years. It is not a proposal by the government but a question I am asking as someone who was passionate when football was still football.

“It’s a desire that sometimes I feel inside me: that it would really benefit the maturity of us Italian citizens if this game was completely suspended for two to three years. It’s particularly sad when a world which should be an expression of the highest values – sport, youth, competition, fairness – turns out to be a mass of foul play, falsehood and demagoguery.”
Tomorrow a tribunal begins considering cases – and they are certainly not waiting for the national team to finish in the Euros.

The top man on wanted list Tan Seet Eng, also known as Dan who is said to be involved in  match-fixing from Finland to the Baltic nations and in Africa, China and South America.

Players are groomed from an early age – and are given help in how to fix matches as required.  The model is that used by Wilson Raj Perumal who is now in prison in Finland for two years, having been convicted last year of fixing games in the country’s domestic league. Perumal and Dan have history.

Dan was linked to the fake Togo team that played against Bahrain in 2010; the two internationals in Turkey last year that resulted in six referees being banned and wholesale match fixing in Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile Juventus stuck their fingers up at authorities and any notion that match fixing was wrong by claiming that they actually won the two lost titles. The Italian FA did nothing to reprimand them.

2.  Scotland

Confusion is the key word.  No one knows what the Company Voluntary Arrangement of Rangers FC (CVA) will yield – normally if a firm goes bust and you are a creditor you know, and so can for vote or against.  It is just another bizarre twist in a crazy saga.

Yet incredibly it now seems likely that Rangers will survive, since they have just won a court case overturning a ruling in which the footballing authorities ruled that the club could sign no new players for a year.  Also all attempts by the SFA to suggest that Rangers might be relegated if they reform as a new club have now been thrown out because the rule book is faulty.  In short Rangers rule, not the SFA not the SPL.  And they will play in the SPL  next season without a licence.  Which raises the question – why bother with a licence?

The SFA introduced club licensing in 2006 and in order to be granted even the most basic licence clubs must have filed audited accounts with the SFA by March 31.  Rangers haven’t.

SPL secretary Iain Blair last night admitted that he and his colleagues cannot insist that their members must meet even the minimum conditions stipulated by the SFA, saying, “It is not a requirement of the SPL for members to be in possession of a licence from the SFA.”

I almost feel like writing that twice.  Just pause and think of the chaos that rules in Scotland.  OK I will run it twice.  “It is not a requirement of the SPL for members to be in possession of a licence from the SFA.”

Following on like little puppies the Scottish League confirmed that Rangers would be allowed to enter next season’s League Cup without the SFA licence.   And the SFA said Rangers can play in the Scottish Cup, even though licensing laws Article 35 say they should not.

3.  Euros
When Sol Campbell, the player who (as regularly documented here) has suffered more racist and homophobic abuse than any other I have ever seen or heard for any other player, with virtually no action taken against him by police or clubs, says that we shouldn’t go to the Euros because of the abuse and dangers, it is worth taking notice.
.
When one player threatens to kill people if they exhibit racist behaviour, it is probably time to dive for cover.
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The fact that it was Mario Balotelli who said this might make it seem laughable, but the situation is serious, and it is caused totally by Uefa.  Uefa consistently fines countries fees of around £20,000 when their is racist abuse at a match, a trifling amount.  This sends out a message that abuse of this nature is ok – as does awarding the Euros to countries where, as we saw on TV in England just recently, there are significant problems associated with football.
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4.  FFP
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Málaga qualified for the Champions League for the first time in their history, after becoming huge spenders in Spain, following the purchase by an oil rich investor.  PSG in France, also recipients of great investment came second in their league and are likewise in the Champions League.  Neither club would meet FFP requirements for last season if the FFP were fully in place now.
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Man City of course are a billion miles from meeting FFP and have no sign of a tactic that will allow them to.  And Chelsea, the club that claims that it help form the FFP rules after its owner approached Uefa on the issue, have now changed stance and are spending again without regard to the FFP.
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The feeling seems to be that if enough clubs utterly disregard FFP Uefa won’t dare imply sanctions on them all, as they will retaliate by forming their own break-away league.  So Uefa faces a crisis.  Almost certainly it will now back down or impose some more of its £20,000 fines.
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5. Fifa and the FA
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To say that Fifa has a crisis, is to state the obvious.  Matters relating to the award of the world cup to a country with precious few civil rights, whose temperatures are extreme, was bizarre – but expected given the number of corruption stories that are revealed each month.   But the FA consorts and sucks up to this body – indeed even attempted to bid for the world cup.  Since then there have been a few words about Fifa from the FA but nothing more.
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6.  The Premier League
Could the richest football league in the world be in crisis?  Yes, if you step back and look at the fact that the majority of clubs in the league make huge losses each year.  Yes, if you consider that no major media source other than the BBC has even started to consider the evidence surrounding odd behaviour by referees.
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Conclusion
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For me, it is not that there is just one crisis surrounding football, but that there are so many, all at once.  And I haven’t even mentioned the match fixing in Turkey.
——————–

32 comments to Uefa, Scotland, Italy, Fifa, England: Football enters a period of total crisis

  • Scott

    Anything that involves money will attract corruption.
    Look at the NRL…rugby league in Australia….as an example.
    Each clubs salary cap is less than plenty of footballers earn in a season individually.
    There are multiple clubs every single year beaching the salary cap,but they’re caught and fined.
    We’ve also had match fixing or itemised fixing….first point score,first try score etc,etc
    The reason I raised the dollars involved proves that even a sport that Involves a tiny portion of the dollars the PL turns over has corruption,so it would be very naive,even ridiculously stupid to suggest the PL is clean.
    What’s the answer,I don’t know,but I do believe a salary cap would be a good start.
    I’m not naive enough to believe clubs won’t try and succeed in getting around it,but at least it would say hey,this has gone far enough and it’s time to pull in the reins a bit.
    Why the hell should clubs be forced to either (a) spend megabucks and lose tens,if not hundreds of millions to win trophies or (b) run as a self sustaining business and run the gauntlet of incurring the wrath of the media and fans whilst not truly competing at the elite level????
    Get back to Football being a game,something to be enjoyed by fans as entertainment,and not an easy way to grubby agents becoming wealthy at everyone’s expense.
    Yes,I blame the agents for inflating wages,for making it impossible for great clubs such as Arsenal to run on an even keel and still compete,but I also blame fans for their unreasonable expectations,I blame egomaniacal owners for treating clubs as a plaything,and I blame players for believing theyre bigger than the club,let alone the game.
    I still love the game,and I will always love Arsenal,but if we ever turn into a Citeh or Chelski,you will not catch me waking up at 3 am on a Monday morning to watch them play.
    Rant over.
    Evening all…..

  • Steve Palmer

    Good piece Tony,
    Corruption in football eh.
    Why spend fortunes on players to win things fair and square when you can buy a ref or two or bung an FA official a few quid for favours, and think of the betting, knowing a result before its been played often ,but is it happening here you bet it is. Wealthy Owners are just waiting for the shit to hit the fans so they can breakaway and own their own authority expect to see a lot of football coming from the desert, shitloads of money and plenty of sunshine why have a closed season when the weathers good have football all year round how much could that make.I can see it now Emirate World League Authority.

  • Scott

    I didn’t know you spread your wings here Steve,good for you lol.
    Always a great read here.

  • Steve Palmer

    I thought i knew that hand Scotty 🙂

  • nicky

    @ Scott,
    “Anything that involves money attracts corruption”.
    Sadly you have never said a truer word.
    Ever since WW2 when moral standards in many aspects of human life deteriorated (as they do in war-time), there has been no real sign of a return to morality.
    The tremendous improvement, of much of the western world’s standard of living, has inevitably spawned sharp practice if not outright corruption, in much of business, in an attempt to achieve greater success.
    This has naturally spread to sport, including football, where, once there was gamesmanship, there is now outright
    corruption…….from the game’s legislators to the Clubs to the players on the field of play.
    When the extent of the crime is so well spread, it is difficult to foresee how it can be eliminated.
    Somehow, somewhere , there must be a means by which a “whiter than white” body can be born to put the world of football on a fair and honest footing and keep it there.
    No breaths need be held but a solution must be found to the crisis before the sport founders before our very eyes.

  • Scott

    Touché Steve!!!
    Micky,we must live in hope.

  • @Scott – Steve Palmer wrote the first comment on the first ever Ref Watch I did… and a very nice comment it was too. He’s been posting here since September 2010.

  • Scott

    Dogface,I’m a newbie…I’ve Only been posting here very recently and didn’t realise Steve was a regular….glad to hear it,he’s a good man.

  • Scott

    On,and sorry Nicky for the M!!!

  • Shard

    I’m sorry Tony.. I must beg to differ on the Sol Campbell statements. I thought they were in poor taste and not really something he should be saying. Depicting an entire nation (or two nations) as racist is not something that should be done. They may have problems with handling certain situations of racist behaviour. Their legal and social infrastructure MIGHT not be at the same stage as it is England. But blanket comments like these are not to be welcomed in my opinion. Besides, Sol has faced a lot of those racist comments in England. Does that mean outsiders shouldn’t visit England’s football grounds?

    As an aside, allegations of ‘widespread racism’ and ‘human rights’ violations only seem to arise in the Western media for places in the world which aren’t allied to their politics/economics. Iran, Syria, Russia, racist and human right violations. China & India, child labour, human rights issues, racism. Libya (post invasion), Iraq(post invasion) Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, UAE..silence.. Not to mention the goings on in the Western Countries themselves.

    I tend to take these sort of statements with a pinch of salt. Racism is a terrible thing. Combating it is much tougher and needs a much more nuanced approach than ‘alienating those who alienate others’,which leads to counter groupings, since most Ukranians and most Poles will feel they are unfairly being clubbed with the racist minority among them.

    Policing is necessary. But policing can never change racist thoughts. At best it remains hidden beneath the surface. The best way to counter racism, in my opinion, is to actually have interaction among people. Such as the Euros offer the opportunity for. The policing might need to be improved, but does anyone think the host nations would WANT a high profile event to be marred by such a thing? I bet they will be doing the best they can to not let it happen. Every concerned nation should offer them help. Not threats of being cast aside, or just dismissing them as unworthy of hosting events of this nature.

  • Shard

    Sorry.. But these sorts of issues in the media really bug me, because I think they mislead the public into thinking the problem bigger and more external than it is.. But for the rest..as regards the main point of the article.. I agree with you. Football is facing multiple crises. The people in charge of handling football not only are incapable of fighting the said crises, I think a lot of them thrive on it. The Italian PM’s suggestion is shocking, but I can’t help think how much a cleaner football world might emerge if football (at the professional levels at least) took a break of a few years. Of course, it might not. But it is a nice thought.

  • vernat1066

    I think that a salary cap is a good idea but i would go a step further and allow clubs to pay over that amount, but for every defined amount over the cap a tax is payable and that money is given to UNICEF or a Charity in a place where that money can do some good. People will try and break the rules so allow them and make sure that when they sped more someone really benefits with clean water, medicine etc…

  • Since I wrote this article, I have found that Uefa has kicked Besiktas of Turkey out of European competitions.

    This follows an analysis of their accounts in the second and third quarters of 2011 and ruled that they breached articles of the ruling body’s financial fair play regulations. Is this a first? And am I about to be proven utterly wrong (as usual).

    Besiktas will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

  • Shard

    Tony

    How many Besiktas fans around the world do you think there are? It doesn’t harm uefa’s tv revenues to not have them in the competition. When they kick out the likes of Chelsea, City, Madrid etc..then you can be confident they mean to enforce these rules.

  • Shakabula Gooner

    Tony @ 12.47pm.
    For the sake of long term sanity of football in Europe I hope that UEFA consistently proves you wrong over FFP.
    If moneybags are given free rein as we currently have it then, pretty soon:
    1. A club without a rich godfather will become the exception rather than the rule. Such a club, as with Arsenal today, will be extremely unpopular with its dwindling fan base as the clamour to sweek its own godfather will reach unbearable cresendo.
    2. Once majority of the clubs become the plaything of rich godfathers, the win-at-all-costs benefactors will have no qualms blatantly buying referees, opposing club players, drugs, etc to throw matches. That is when we shall all know what real financial bidding for trophies will look like.
    3. The whole youth development Program for new generation footballers will go out of the window and wrong values will be sold to upcoming youths that insist on making football a career.
    Surely, EUFA must be aware that the core of the entire football empire as a world brand and a thriving enterprise is at stake. Fewer people are interested in atheletics as a competitive sport these days on account of the blight of doping; it can happen to football too!

  • Paul

    Shard,

    Absolutely spot on! I myself was born and raised in the USSR – post USSR times, but I can truly say that the racism issue is not as big as all the media hype here in England portrays it. People back there are well educated and raised accordingly so they can respect others. When I was still a kid, racism in my home country of Lithuania was quite an issue, but nobody cared about it. The point here is that we didn’t have people of different skin colour living there, but it’s more like the fact that people tend to be bitter and try to blame others in terms of history and that mainly involved actual Lithuanians turning on the native Russians. Being Russian myself I’ve experienced the full on effect of it. But 10 years on and people actually settled and dealt with it, people of different ethnic origins come and visit nowadays and nobody really gives a fuss about what skin colour they are, as far as they behave accordingly, nobody will ever blame them for anything. This is where I come to my final part, panorama have actually targeted the exact minority of people in Ukraine and Poland so they can make a show out of it and prove the unproven. These minority are the exact morons that think that being white makes them stand out of the crowd, they are basically skinheads and guess what they do to have fun? Exactly, they attend their local football team’s games, gather in a small crowd and chant shit. Those are the same football hooligans with their racist believes that try and provoke other people just so they can have a fight. They’ve been there for years and believe me they target everyone, it doesn’t mean they are waiting for the Euros to start, so they can abuse people of different backgrounds, they simply always cause trouble. Dealt with them myself, even talked to some of them and I can honestly say their believes do not have any meaningful justification behind them, just utterly retarded crap of not being able to grow up and move on with their lives as normal human beings. The authorities in Ukraine and Poland have known about this for ages and will have to allocate funds to control them which they will do. England had the same issues back in the 50s and 60s, but now they grew over it, with Ukraine and Poland it’s going to take a while, maybe Uefa gave them a chance too early, but let’s what happens, because I don’t think that those few thousands of idiots out there can ruin a tournament which millions enjoy.

  • putnik

    Paul, that’s bs. Racism, bigotry and general superstitious idiocy are ripe in the former ussr. There’s more tolerance of ‘the other’ among australian bogans than among the ‘well educated’ moscovites. Having also grown up in Russia I find the whole racism issue quite embarrassing to be honest

  • Shakabula Gooner

    Paul,
    Your post belies complaints from Odewingwe, Samba and even Eto’o to name just a few…

  • Scott

    I was talking to a black guy,a professional Rugby League player a few months back.
    He spoke of the amount of times every game he was called a black ………fill in the word of your choosing.
    Now I didn’t even attempt to defend the fans in question,but asked him something to ponder.
    My question was this….have you ever been with a group of black mates and used the term f**king white …..(again,pick a name) before?
    He looked me dead in the eye and admitted he’s done it.
    No need to jump on here and deny it…it’s not an accusation.
    You all know whether you’ve done it or now.
    Quite often it can be a throw away line,like calling someone a pommy so and so,or fat such and such.
    Does anone believe or one second Balotelli has never done it….my hairy white arse,he hasn’t!!

  • Steve Palmer

    Racism is not a subject i like to talk about really. As a white Englishman i find that whatever i say seems to annoy somebody, My Mrs tells me that the Black man resents the word black and he also gets touchy with the word Negro don’t like being called coloured so best we just call them a c–t if they kick you i’ve been called that many times and i don’t get offended. Sol has had his fair share of abuse he has had bananas thrown at hime songs sung about him and even jibes about his sexual preferences but the worst one i ever heard was a spurs reject.

  • Shard

    If I wanted to make England appear racist.. Here is a news item I might run.

    “The minority race in England have traditionally been suppressed. This has led to widespread resentment, which found an outlet in last years riots on the streets of the impoverished, primarily black populated areas, of London. The riots kicked off with the police shooting one of the residents, but the complaints ranged from constant police harassment of black youths, to lack of opportunities of growth for members of the community. The administration meanwhile denies that race is an issue at all, and calls these youths troublemakers and opportunists, even resorting to pressuring the courts to hand out unprecedentedly harsh sentences. This follows incidents of certain religious groups being racially profiled for potential terrorist activities, as well as incidents of shooting of Asian youths by gangsters belonging to the white community. They routinely use demeaning words like ‘Paki’ or ‘Darkie’ when referring to people of Asian ethnic origin.
    This trampling on minority rights in the larger British population is clearly represented by the ever increasing vote share of the BNP, which propounds an agenda that some say is plainly racist, or at least xenophobic.
    Even Britain’s sports grounds are not free of this behaviour. Some of the country’s black footballers have faced reprehensible chants, while some foreign managers are also routinely subject to xenophobic abuse. In almost all these cases, no action is taken by the authorities, and the media also rarely mentions it. Britian also has a grave culture of violence associated with football with the Heysel disaster prominent among them. Most other countries have recognised this issue and banned several known football hooligans from England from entering their country during major tournaments over the last few years.Though the English claim they have solved this problem, riots last years during games between two traditional rivals in the city of Birmingham, have proved this to be just wishful thinking. There is much to be done if Britain is to gain credibility to be able to host a high profile tournament like the Olympics this year.”

    Now let me say.. I love Britain. I have been there a few times, and London is one of my favourite cities. I do NOT mean to say that England is racist.. My point is, the facts in what I’ve written above are all basically true, even if incomplete. News, by it’s nature mentions things out of the ordinary. So ordinary people aren’t mentioned. the newsworthy actions are also generally negative. (because the majority of people are basically good, and hence not interesting enough a story) If someone abroad got only such reports about England, over many months or years, it would be easy for them to conclude that England is a racist country, where the government doesn’t take action to protect the minorities..But rather subjugates them. I know this to not be true because I’ve been there. Be sure what you read in the news is what is actually happening before you pass judgments.. The ‘journalists’ don’t lie only about Arsenal. In fact, the reporting on Arsenal is unique precisely because it follows a pattern usually reserved for more political causes, such as wars etc. Propaganda.. All news is essentially that.. I would be willing to bet watching football in Krakow is no more dangerous than watching football in Liverpool… Again.. Sorry.. But reporting of this sort really does annoy me. It is meant to keep people apart. Poles, Ukranians are not inherently racist. Ignore Sol Campbell..Go to the Euros if you are so inclined (though watching the likes of Terry will hardly be worth it) I will be jealous if you manage to go. It should be fun.

  • Mandy Dodd

    I would not completely write off FFP Just yet. The behaviour of certain clubs suggests they know it will not be fully enforced, but if you read articles by the excellent David Conn of the guardian, he seems to suggest otherwise. One of the smartest , most powerful, and most ambitious football administrators going has staked his rep on bringing in FFP. Platini and his lawyers have categorically stated that EU Laws will NOT let these clubs off the hook.
    And if it is bought in, and Arsenal can remain competitive to that point, Chelsea and city will not be able to bleat about running in a sustainable manner having the potential to ruin them. Arsenal will be a very big elephant in that room when Chelsea and city protest to platini et al. Maybe that is why so many are against arsenal and city seem hell bent on destroying our team? not long to hang on, if we do, we may help change everything. Is this wengers ultimate quest and will this yet be his finest hour?

  • gooner murphy

    @ Mandy Dodd
    I hope & pray that the points you raised do indeed become the case, well said Mandy, and you could be on to something with the Anti Arsenal bais.

  • bob

    Mandy Dodd,
    Yes, we are the threat of a good example.
    I hope you read Arsene’s 2010 landmark interview where he’s spelled it all out to the amazed stenographers of the Times of London/Daily Mirror. I posted the link 4 times over the past 3 days and really think it’s the key to the animus against us (in direct line with what you say above as to why we are so targeted).

  • bob

    putnik, Paul,
    To your knowledge, on the pitch, do racist/fascist groups attend football matches in Russia (also in Ukraine) in any visible way and either sporadically or routinely have a go (verbally, throwing things, threaten) at dark-skinned/black/African players? If so, do the authorities turn a blind eye or otherwise allow such groups to get away with it? Also, is such behavior different from generation to generation, and is it improving or unchanged?

  • elkieno

    You can go on you tube and see videos if the skin head hooligans fighting each other in massive groups. Zenit fans are the worst I think, only they were ‘outdone’ by the Huns of rangers so didn’t hear much about them in manchester that final. There has been many articles written on the neo Nazi racists in Russia, I watched something like a doco on them, even x soldiers that fought against Germany were stunned that their grand kids are behaving like that.
    @Scott: agreed! salary cap rorting is terrible in NRL, I remember the bulldogs got pulled up for it and everyone was angry at them but since then, Jesus still goes on. I lost interest in NRL when my team was kicked out (bears) I then just focused on Arsenal and I thank the lord every day (or Murdoch). It’s funny cos of him I got to watch and fall in love with arsenal, now I hate him/them!!!
    I can’t tell you how honored I feel that my team is not like these oil barrens, if it were I would walk. 9weeks till the season starts, groooaan!

  • bob

    elkeino,

    oil “barrens” you say (did you mean the spelling? 🙂

    “even x soldiers that fought against Germany were stunned that their grand kids are behaving like that.” – this is completely stunning to anyone with a memory. Wow!

  • Mandy Dodd

    Yes Bob, certainly did read that!

  • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna

    Is it as dangerous as some claim for people of colour or different cultures to go to the Ukraine and see the Euros? As someone said , the authorities will do their best to prevent their respective country from being shamed by hooligans and radicals and in general, I believe Eastern Europeans will treat their guests very well. If, on the other hand, the experience for foreign spectators Is unpleasant due to racism and ethnic violence, then FIFA and EUFA will certainly castigate their FA’s for failing to protect spectators. Therefore, in all likelihood, they will protect their visitors like never before.

  • Adam

    I spend alot of time in Slovakia 30 miles from the Polish border and 30 miles from the Ukrainian border, Right up in the corner of Slovakia in a little village called Hrobov near Humenne http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humenn%C3%A9.
    My Son is English & Slavic. My own experience of the region is that of peace and freedom. More freedom than we enjoy in the UK, With the move away from communism and most land still being state owned you can go anywhere you want when you want. Life is hard there, A lean towards the self sufficient, No semi-detached houses- all detached houses with lots of land, Flats in the bigger towns (leftover from the Russian influence).
    I came across some Vietnamese when I was first there, And was surprised to find out a whole community of them had settled in the area due to an exchange programme when under communistic rule.
    Slovakia & Ukraine have only had their independence a short time. So how could they be as multicultural and tolerant as we in the UK (and we do have our problems).
    We have more issues and problems in the UK than Poland and the Ukraine.
    You will be perfectly safe out there just don’t go out there with a dominant attitude.
    These people through history have been the oppressed not the oppressors.

  • Ray from Norfolk

    Tony: Brilliant.
    The reason Juventus “celebrated” revoked titles is that the decisions then taken by the Italians were mostly directed against Juventus while other culpable parties were spared. So, it is the perceived double standard that the Juve faithful did not like. Oddly, back then, the Juve players were not guilty; it was Juve directors and players from other teams bribed to lose to Juventus.

  • Adam

    http://www.rt.com/news/ukraine-racist-media-british-893/
    Thought this may be a different spin on what the media is portraying.