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FOOTBALL should be an ART. The Untold Banner is unveiled tonight at the Emirates Stadium

By Tony Attwood

BANNER 20150918_140927_resized

On a day when yet more illegal activity swirls around Barcelona (even more than I managed to cover last night in what I thought would be a full review of their activity – as Gord pointed out in comments on yesterday’s article), and on a day when we play a club whose owner and president stands accused of  being involved in and directing a criminal organization, aiding and abetting blackmailing, aiding and abetting explosion and fraud and is currently banned from any football activity, only able to walk the streets because he could pay €200.000 bail and has to report to a police station every 15 days, we are going see the Untold Banner at the Stadium.

(Sorry that’s a long sentence, what I meant was, we are playing a club riddled in accusations of fraud, on the day when we will see our banner on display for the first time).

And I think this is important, not just because Blacksheep had the idea, liaised with the club and saw the whole thing through, but because the slogan put on the banner stands out against all corruption, and stands in favour of playing the beautiful game – something long since forgotten by many managers and much of the media.

But before we get to today’s game, perhaps I may take in the latest on Barcelona’s long list of corruption charges and illegal dealings.  For we now know that Javier Mascherano has been charged with two counts of defrauding the Spanish tax authorities of a total of more than 1.5 million euros.  The allegation is that he sought to conceal earnings from his image rights by using companies set up in the United States and Portugal. defrauding the authorities of 587,822.01 euros in 2011 and 968,907.76 in 2012.

Mascherano like others before him in this long and seemingly endless series of cases this month paid the money owed plus almost 200,000 euros interest.  Lionel Messi has been there, Neymar is very much there at the moment and the President and Ex-President are awaiting to see what the judiciary does to them.

So as corruption spills out across football in Spain and Greece, our banner will stand there representing (in my view, and as always in my ramblings, it is just my view), a really positive statement about football.

As you will probably know, the statement comes from a phrase of Mr Wenger’s that we have quoted for years on the home page: “I believe the target of anything in life should be to do it so well that it becomes an art.”   It’s the philosophy I’ve always had and as many have pointed out with my spelling and grammar on this site generally failed to live up to – but there’s no problem with keeping on trying to reach the ideal, in my opinion.

Incidentally, looking sideways for a moment, it is also interesting to reflect on this morning’s headline in the press

Fifa Blatter and Platini deny wrongdoing over £1.35m payment

In the words of Mandy Rice-Davies, who died last year and who is still described wonderfully in the media as a British model and showgirl,  “Well he would say that, wouldn’t he?”

Ms Rice-Davies was speaking at the time when we began to realise the British government was riddled with dirty old men and their “showgirl” chums.  Only later did we find out that what they were up to was probably much, much more appalling.  But that’s a different matter.

Actually, speaking of headlines, I must throw in this one

Leicester City are invincible no longer

That is on the Independent’s web site today as one of the things we learned over the weekend.   I am not sure that “learned” is the right word here.  “Bleedingly obvious” might seem more to the point.  But that’s journalism for you.

So back to Greece.

Picking up details of corruption can sometimes lead to people writing back in saying “you shouldn’t believe what you read in the press” and “he has been proven innocent” or whatever – and of course I am not an expert on Greek football.  So if you would like to disagree please do, but some sources for your information (preferably written in English) would be good.

The scandal started in April this year when the prosecutor in the case Aristidis Korreas’ revealed his findings which basically said that telephone tapping operated by the National Intelligence Service of Greece since 2011 had been used by the owner of Olympiakos F.C  along with other members of the Greek Football Federation who had become effectively a criminal organization within football.

Their aim was obvious – to gain total control of Greek football via blackmail and fraud.   To do this they were able to use the rules of Fifa and Uefa which demand that football be a self-governing unit within the national states.  This is how the utterly inept and possibly corrupt Football Association in England is allowed to continue unmolested and untouched by our feeble backwater government, which is even now trying to get money out of the Premier League, because of the FA’s gross inability even to pay its own bills and its own abject failure to support grassroots football.

In June 2015 the suspects in Greece were questioned and in July a list of players, officials and owners who would be tried was presented.

Match fixing of specific matches has been alleged for some years and the 4 February 2015 match between Olympiakos against Atromitos was particularly questioned following Panathinaikos F.C. football director Takis Fyssas’ testimony that Atromitos coach at that time, Ricardo Sá Pinto, had informed him that the club had been told to drop certain players for a specific match.

However the trial has not yet happened and so Uefa has agreed that Olympiakos will keep their place spot in the Champions League for the time being.  This was confirmed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.   However there have been allegations since then that the General Secretary of Uefa’s involvement in giving the spot to Olympiakos was itself improper and needed investigation because of family connections.  Uefa, it is said, has not responded.

So quite a moment for our banner to be unveiled with all this background.   A statement about the beauty of football and the ideal it should retain, on display as we play a team mired in corruption.   Which come to think of it, was the same with the team we played in the last match in the Champions League.

I’ll come on to the match itself in the lunchtime post.  I won’t be able to cover the under 19s game, as I will be on my way to the game, but maybe someone can drop in the score to the discussion.

The full story of the Untold Banner, and the list of everyone who contributed to make the banner possible is given on the Untold Banner page.


Two of today’s anniversaries

  • 29 September 2004: Rosenborg 1 Arsenal 1 (Ljungberg).  Arsenal had already beaten PSV Eindhoven and looked set fair for the next stage. They made it but not quite how with the victory that they might have hoped for.
  • 29 September 2007:  Top of the table Arsenal made it a perfect September beating WHU 1-0.  Arsenal had beaten Fulham, Manchester City, Portsmouth and Derby at home, and Tottenham away and drawn away with Blackburn.




39 comments to FOOTBALL should be an ART. The Untold Banner is unveiled tonight at the Emirates Stadium

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Nice work guys ! Lets not sit on our laurels and get on with the job of putting another one up .

  • Andrew Crawshaw


    I’m going to the U19 game this afternoon, will try and post thoughts at half time and again at the end via comments. The game is being shown live on Arsenal Player for those not able to get to BorehamWood in person. It’s going to be tight for me to get there in time for kickoff so reports might miss the opening minutes.

  • nicky

    Your erudite post, Tony, reminded me once again of Arsene’s excruciating (IMO) phrase about “doing anything in life so well that it becomes an art”. I’m sure he now regrets the all-encompassing “anything”.
    Untold’s banner at least restricts the aim to “football”. 😉

  • Interesting that Gunners got two teams with corrupt owners! Hopefully the Greeks will not have been able to buy the refs as happened in the first game.

  • apo Armani

    Many of the regulars here on UA will recall I had made a few comments regarding corruption in Greek football.

    I currently live in Athens, and have been following the issue as there is one journo (a real investigating chap) who has had a series of televised programs (every monday night) for the past couple years! No stone has been left unturned by him. His guests vary from program to program – all covering corruption, the refereeing abnormalities, Olympiakos and all the phone tapping, the suspect games (which are MANY over several seasons), Mr Marinakis and what he stands for in society and in football!!!

    This is nothing new for Olympiakos…they are the most corrupt by far and have been for years. They will go to any length (legality is not of any concern) as long as they win!!!

    They have no where to hide, and so this could get VERY dirty – some talk of people who may ‘disappear’ is out there!!!

    This is what Olympiakos stands for!

  • apo Armani

    September 29, 2015 at 9:17 am

    Bas Nijhuis (NED) is the ref for our game tonight – who knows!

  • serge


    so presumably if there are any judgements against Mr Mrinakas during the time span of this current CL group stage, then all results involving matches against Olympiakos will be voided.

  • Minesy

    Unfortunately, too many people running football have seemingly made corruption “an art” !!!

    Looking for ward to seeing the banner at the game tonight 🙂

  • Wolfgang

    Tell Wenger to win at all costs against MU. Football is about winning and nothing else.
    That’s why the last ten years have been frustrating inspite of the cup wins.Brentford have just sacked their boss after 8 matches.
    Managers have been fired after losing big against their fierce rivals. I need not elaborate.
    That’s why the so has a point about Wenger having no pressure.

  • serge

    Is the banner now a permanent feature at the Emirates? If so then it represents good value.

  • Georgaki-pyrovolitis

    Ok Wolfgang I’ll let Wenger know

  • Andy Mack

    The ‘Art not corruption’ idea is good but misses the fact that the art world is one of the most corrupt of all businesses.
    The bottom line is that AFC is run correctly and many others aren’t, and one day we’ll benefit from effort put in to do this in the right way.

  • Sally Pally

    A lot of the implications here are quite dark, if you follow them through. I started to write a post and realised that I was writing an indictment of (male) human nature, money always leading to corruption and on and on blah blah blah…. It was leading nowhere fast.

    So, I did some reading and a link from a post I can’t remember led to two more and then this Gem of why Arsene Wenger is in many ways the embodiment of all the values everyone in football talks about but no one else seems to be able to achieve. This is pleasing reading for Arsenal fans and reinforces why Untold is the true supporters hangout. This ‘anonymous’ guy is obviously working along the same lines as Untold and deserves huge credit. There are many good articles on this site as well. Apologies if anyone has linked to this article previously it is a few weeks old now.

  • Actually I think the banner should say;

    “in life the aim is for anything you do to be done in a way that any external observer, in any inertial reference frame could or should considered, from any philosophical cultural or religious view point to have been actualized with such a level of skill, passion, commitment and beauty that the only word possible to adequately describe it would be Art”

  • nicky

    Sounds as though you are a spokesperson for the Revival of the Lancashire Cotton Industry. 😉

  • para

    No room to fit all that on it 🙂

  • Haha nicky how did you know? AMazing!!

  • apo Armani

    September 29, 2015 at 9:37 am

    I would imagine that if all charges stick…then regardless of where they are at the time in group stages will mean zero, and they would have to pack their bags!

    Regardless of that; I look forward to us doing the job tonight and be done with them!

  • proudkev

    Ignore ‘Grover’ Wolfgang, he’s just after a rise.

    Anyone know why the PGMOL is Northern biased? Thsi is a serious question based on the stats about our referees. I am not suggesting referees are cheats or deliberately biased but just asking the question: Should they be more spread out regionally?

    Of the 17 referees in the Premier League, 15 are from the Midlands or the North. The only Southern representatives are from the South West of the Country, Swindon.

    Anthony Taylor lives in Manchester, yet he is awarded the Manchester United game at the Emirates. This may be to save expenses, so he can travel down on the Manchester Utd team bus, who knows. BUT. I am not suggesting Anthony Taylor is anything other than impartial. However, what i am suggesting is that it seems bad decsion making to appoint a referee for a game involving their home town club. He lives in Manchester and is therefore subject to local media news and sports, which will have a biased swing on their local clubs. His neighbours etc will be Mancunians and if he awards a contensious decison to Arsenal, it is possible their could be local repercussions.

    It just smacks of a bad decsions. Especially in view of Liverpool fan Deans performance at Chelsea.

    Why has this game not been awarded to one of the referees from Swindon? Or one from the Midlands or Yorkshire? Why a referee from Manchester?

    Finally, whey are there no Southern or London based referees on the select list?

    I am sorry but I find Yorkshireman Mike Rileys decison baffling, especially in view of his record with Manchester Utd. Thsi smells horrible to me, I hope I am completely wrong on this.

  • proudkev

    *sorry, I didnt check spellings before hitting post!!

  • Ajinkya

    Congratulations to Untold!

  • apo Armani


    Unfortunately it makes no difference what we all can ‘smell’ (fish comes to mind); we will be served whatever the PGMoB want!

    Frustratingly sad!

  • Gord

    Some coffee in system (it’s only 6am here), and some news from Google. On the corruption front, Jack Warner has now been banned for life (seemingly breaking news). And I guess late yesterday, the septic one again told FIFA staff that he has done nothing illegal (I’m clean, I’m clean).

    And a bunch of articles questioning which players Arsene plays, and his record.

    Evening Standard had an article about the referee from Holland. Apparently he jumped for joy when given this fixture. Let’s hope he does a good job.


  • finsbury

    A. Taylor, The Apprentice. The Lesser Dean.

    He graduated to the higher echelons of the pgMOB with his performance in N5 against Sunderland.
    The two blatent calls against Ashavin. Arshavin’s comments in the aftermath of that charade were interesting. Very interesting.

    Taylor’s problem is he’s just not as smart as Master Dean. Not even close. And old Deano was not exactly subtle at the best of times. Whoops, it’s only a broken ankle for Wilshere as he was passing the last man, therefore Deano must play an “advantage”: An absolutely ludicrous call, who did he think he was kidding? And yet Dean/Gollum is supposed to be subtle!)

    Well. At least A.Taylor has the right haircut.
    He must be doing something right.

    Being a home game for the arsenal, following on from Gollum’s performance, will the pgMOB have a cunning plan and reward poor afc with a draw for this upcoming league fixture in conjunction with the redemption of the pgMOBs reputation.

    Shall i head down the bookies and put my chips down on a draw? what are the odds?

  • Kenneth Widmerpool

    MTLM-Im not sure that’s possible, all is relative,even any idea/experience of Absolute has to be relative-Absolute for us to experience it.So objectivity(because its relative) is a not possible, especially in the face of universal flux. Our enjoyment or objective understanding of anything that we call an “art” has to be subjective and relative.
    That doesn’t mean that Objectivity or Absolute doesn’t exist, it just means with our minds we cannot experience it other than in a relative manner.
    How can the relative meet the Objective/Absolute in its Objective/Absolute form?Only by not being relative.
    The boys at CERN are still searching for nothing(how is that possible?) and trying to find a way of being an objective observer, even when they are always going to be part of the experiment.To find “nothing” would be beyond human imagination, even if we found “nothing” it would still have to be “relative-nothing” for us to understand/comprehend it.
    Then, if we try to discover what Arsène meant by “art” (def:technical skill and imagination?-but since the 20th C thats been shattered and re-examined)then we are opening the old hoary chestnut “what is art?”.But thats a road for those who wish to sit around and imagine “where does infinity end?”.All is art, all is in the eye of the beholder, the authority of “what is” only those who make/invent/cause can bestow, and those who view can only but judge/challenge.And all is still relative.And endlessly arguable.However im sure that AW`s reference to “art” had nothing to do with the way Joke City and the band of Orcs play!

  • Pete

    I did ask a former PGMO referee once why nearly all the refs are from oop north. He avoided answering the question, although did acknowledge it was a good one…

  • Dazza64

    @ Wolfgang 10:02am If “Football is about winning and nothing else” why bother supporting a team at all?

  • Andy Mack

    Most of them are northern because Mike ‘The Twat’ Riley like refs that let the game be played over-physically, rather than technically skilful.

  • kenneth

    Ofcourse we live in a world free of absolutes, absolute truth, absolute morals and of course absolute beauty….

    All is relative to the observer as Einstein said. Kip thorne said “My time is a mixture of your time and your space; my space is a mixture of your space and your time”

    So objective values placed on what is beautiful are by their very nature personal to the observer…. SO yes you are right, from any inertial reference frame something could be considered art by one and trash by another… depending on velocity of course!! ;)….

    But really though, what you are saying is Einstein says it’s OK to think chelsea play beautiful football?, in fact not only ok but as true as saying arsenal does, or for that matter my local sunday league team>?

    ps. there’s nothing wrong with wondering where infinity ends, because infinity taken at face value is no better than a God concept…… Push the boundaries…… where ever they lay , and what ever they may be

  • Menace


    That is exactly what is on the banner.

  • Menace

    September 29, 2015 at 12:25 pm
    The reason is geography. If geography says that Israel is in Europe, & Lebanon is not, then all the referees in PGMO are from Europe. This just happens to be Art – Dark Art.

  • Kenneth Widmerpool

    MTLM:”But really though, what you are saying is Einstein says it’s OK to think chelsea play beautiful football?, in fact not only ok but as true as saying arsenal does, or for that matter my local sunday league team”.
    Einstein or those who worked it out before him; yes.No there’s nothing wrong with wondering about where infinity ends,good luck to those searching for it, I just think its like the “what is art?” question (all and not all), better to be avoided as the boundaries are potentially infinite-unless somebody finds the limit to infinity, in which case was it infinity in the first place?

  • Pete

    Andy – Yes, that was more or less what he did say! He said that southern referees tend to be more technical while northern referees are more focused on game management. In other words they let a lot of the physical stuff go and keep their cards in their pocket. He didn’t elaborate why the northern style is currently preferred – although I think he and we all knew…

  • proudkev

    “Most of them are northern because Mike ‘The Twat’ Riley like refs that let the game be played over-physically, rather than technically skilful”.

    There is actually truth in this. I cannot recall who the player was but he was saying that teams always discuss the referee they have and how that impacts on the way they play. He said that with certain referees, they knew they could get physical with Arsenal.

    The fact that we have had so many horor injuries like Eduardos,Ramseys, Diabys etc should prove that point.

    Mike Dean remember was also referee last season when Jack was done by McNair. That was a very late tackle that dislocated and broke Jacks ankle, yet Dean didnt even think it worthy of a foul!!

  • goonersince73

    Regards Taylor: We’re fucked, no doubt in my mind. It ticks all the boxes, i.e., MU stays top of the table, Arsenal get fucked & Riley throws Mourinho a bone. Sad but probably accurate.

  • Menace

    proudkev – Dean is a cheating corrupt bastard. He has selective vision that is tuned to Rileys pocket. I don’t think stopping one of these evil bastards from officiating in our games is enough. The whole PGMO should be drowned & a new supply of referees created within the FA. The selection process should be open & random. If a referee is not suitable for a match then he is not suitable for football. PGMO are not suitable for fair honesty.

  • Goéland

    The depths to which the media will sink just to lash out at Wenger and Arsenal will never cease to amaze me. If the press really acts based only on the last results and “momentum”, an idea which has been advanced by some to deride the idea of a bias against the Gunners (alleging that the problem is due to the fourth estate´s infinitesimal memory span), then after the always-significant win against Tottenham and the convincing and exciting win against Leicester City, why are there so many articles trying to convince the public that Arsenal are just a failure waiting to happen, especially on the day of such an important fixture as this Champions League game?

    I just had the misfortune of encountering two of those on the same site, one naysaying´s Wenger´s insight when it comes to the decision to trust Walcott as a striker, saying in essence that the latter´s current good form is baffling and thus unjustifiably saving his manager´s bacon, the other one declaring that Alexis is in a “downward spiral” which will see him fall short of his Barcelona form forevermore. These are just abysmal arguments for anyone with even a semblant of logical rigour and more importantly intellectual honesty, and yet this is the kind of drivel that is out there distorting people´s minds and expectations. Outrageous and tragic, really.

    COYG and prove those hacks wrong!

  • apo Armani

    September 29, 2015 at 5:49 pm

    Spot on!!

  • menace

    On my way home from a bad game. We were terrible for no reason. We tried but no joy. Now for Sunday roast. Love you Arsenal.