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2016: The year many of us realised football was utterly broken but the media continued to deny reality

By Tony Attwood

It is oh so easy to make a list of all the things wrong with football in England.  But thinking that it was appropriate to write a piece about the major problems in English football for the end of the year, I started out considering a list of five problems.  Quickly that became a list of ten major issues.   That became 15….

Is it just me and a few readers of Untold who, in the face of all the happy chatty approach to football on TV, radio and in the newspapers, felt that we are being fed a diet, not just of gibberish but downright lies?

Well, even if there is only a few us, I remain utterly convinced that football it totally broken, and it has been primarily broken by the media which has conspired to give us a Post Truth version of football which has nothing to do with what is really happening. At the end of 2016 I reach the conclusion that football is utterly broken.

As I write this Sky are showing an interview with the appalling, manipulating, cheating goalkeeper Foster of West Bromwich (working under the lying Pulis), and in the piece there is not a single mention of the way in which WBA tried to manipulate the rules with the compliance of the referee and the media in their match against Arsenal.  Nor even of Foster’s yellow card.  Of course not, because that would be the media reporting on the perfidious nature of the media.  It doesn’t happen, it won’t happen.  Foster has been recreated as the hero of the hour.

But worse, what we have is a retaliation by Sky against our commentary that Foster was a conniving, cheating, cynical player who would do anything, legal or illegal – and here is Sky not just talking him up, but more than that denying the reality of the way the keeper ceaselessly cheated and finally got a card (even in an environment where the media is bound to manipulate the reality in order to make the game look more positive than it is) for his cheating behaviour.

Worse they are even talking up the offensive Pulis.  No mention that the man has been found in court to be a liar and a cheat, no, this man is to be commended.  A hero.

Which is why on my list of all that is wrong with football, as 2016 comes to an end, the media is top.   Here’s the list.  As I say it started at five, but grew, and grew…

1: The Media.  They have been so used to creating their own reality that it just seems part of the scenery now.  But it is insidious, it is happening more and more, and we need to keep up the fight.  There are tiny signs that show that we are having a little success – as with this morning on Radio 5 on the BBC, there was an open admission that they are repeatedly guilty of taking the view of a handful of supporters and expressing this as the view of all supporters.  They will continue to do it of course, but even the admission is a tiny step forwards.

2: PGMO.  What more can I say?  They control refereeing via a hyper-secretive organisation based on the style and approach of Italy during its most corrupt era in football.  And no one in the media questions this.  Why?   I can think of a couple of answers, primarily the fact that the media are part of the corruption.

3: Child sex abuse.  What is the biggest news?  Who Arsenal will or won’t sign, or the fact that countless children have been abused by employees of football clubs, while the FA, Premier and Football Leagues who have had control over the issue have done nothing, and now are doing little more than wringing their hands.

The media of course could make this, the most disgraceful story in the history of football since the cover up of the Hillsborough tragedy and the behaviour of Liverpool fans at Heysel, their daily headline.   But try finding it anywhere in the papers or on broadcast media today.  Fifa have said they are “monitoring” the situation.  All things considered I would prefer it if they said, “we are utterly incompetent and are not looking at it at all”.

4: FA.   The UK government could bring the FA to an end tomorrow by removing their state subsidy, as each of the last sports ministers has threatened to do; but they do nothing.  The money wasting, incompetence and ineptitude continues.  The media could bring pressure, but no.  Of course not.  That would be… a challenge to the status quo.

5: Fifa. Do I have to say anything at all?  Ever since Untold started we have been pointing out what is going on, and we were right.  We even forecast how they would be brought to their knees by a change in the Swiss law, and the national newspapers failed to spot the event, or pick up on our predictions.  You might think that Fifa could actually maintain decent standards but teams are not even punished for the failure to pay their players. FIFPro, the trade union, says over 40% of professional soccer players have experienced late payments in the past two seasons.

6: Tax evasion by senior players.   We don’t have enough information to make accusations, but at least the Spanish authorities are following the issue up, and there are more court cases yet to come.  Men who earn more in a week than any of us do in two years are then avoiding paying tax; and the UK media just reports it in passing and then lets it go.   Thank goodness for Wikileaks and the European commentators.

7: Child trafficking in Spain.   The cases roll on and on.  The denial rolls on and on.  At least Fifa got off its backside to ban Barcelona and Real Mad from making transfers for a while, but such a punishment is meaningless given that the clubs had enough warning that they were able to stock up their squads before hand.

8.  Child trafficking in England.  Manchester City have been reported to Fifa after being accused of the attempted “trafficking” of a schoolboy they beat Manchester United and Barcelona to sign.

Vélez Sarsfield of Argentina confirmed they had lodged a complaint over Man City’s recruitment of Benjamín Garré, in July. Vélez claim City tried to purchase Garré from them when he was still 15 saying, “They offered ­money to take a 15-year-old child who is in the middle of his stage of development. We don’t know what they ­offered the father and the child in order to convince them.

9: Kick offs moved around.  When is the match on?  What day is the match on?   Who knows.  We, the people who actually pay money to go to games, have got no chance of organising anything else in our lives when matches can be changed at a whim.  #

It doesn’t have to be like this of course; the games could all kick off at 3pm on a Saturday and could all be on TV.  Or they could be spread out, but all announced in advance before the start of season.  Those of us who go to PL games to support our clubs are now being treated with utter contempt.

10: Transfer rumours.   No one ever admits to being the source of the rumours any more – each rumour monger cites another rumour monger, and another and another.  And none of them happen.  So over 20 players were reported to be leaving Arsenal last summer and 110 were transfers in the making.  99% inaccuracy – and yet the idiots are back at it again.

11: Managerial transfers.   Bring in a new manager and the chances are he will do worse than the last manager.  That is how it goes.  And the result is,…. managers get kicked out and replaced faster and faster and faster.  It is like saying that “here is a system that doesn’t work.  Let’s do more of it.”

12: “7 Things we learned this week”.   Total bunkum.  No one learned anything, because learning is normally defined as introduced knowledge that affects subsequent behaviour, but in football nothing but nothing ever changes.

13: Evidence is not needed.  We actually had a person write in to Untold claiming that “if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck…” should be the basis for making judgements in football.  On which basis if the sun seems to move across the sky, and the earth beneath our feet appears to be stationary, the clearly the earth is not spinning and the sun does indeed revolve around the earth.

14: One defeat and it is all over.  No matter how stupid this obviously is, it is the fundamental approach of a vast number of journalists and their camp followers.

15: Match fixing.  The evidence is widespread, but it is not even considered a possibility by the media because it might injure the enthusiasm for the game.
16: Failure to remember the past.   Chelsea manager Antonio Conte served a four-month ban in 2012 for failing to report match-fixing while at Siena.  You might not be aware of that or have forgotten that.  But it might be worth remembering next time you spot a comment about some dubious decisions.
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17:  The anti-racism was a task force that Fifa used to have.  It has been disbanded on the grounds that there is no longer a problem.
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18: West Ham and Everton have taken out unspecified loans as recently as August 2015 from JG Funding, a company that provided funds from Mousehole Limited, which Bloomberg alleged in 2014, is controlled by “a single anonymous investor” and which has recently made loans to Atletico Madrid, Espanyol, Getafe, Valencia and Hertha Berlin.   BCR Sports, provided funds for the purchase of 23% of shares in Everton is registered at the address.  That proves nothing, of course, but it would be nice to know someone had checked out what is going on.
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19: Flares.  Still not being dealt with anywhere.  Still liable to cause serious injuries.
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20: The habit of kettling fans (pushing them into an area from which there is no way out, and holding them there) is growing.  The argument of the police is that it is the only way of handling the situation – but the reality it is attempting to solve an impossible situation.
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Wembley is one of the worst offenders in this regard.   After a game fans are pushed into a small area and blocked from exit by a line of police in front of steep steps at one end, and on coming crowds at the other.  It is profoundly unsafe.   It may be the only way to handle the situation, but if it is, then the answer is to stop using Wembley until proper exits for fans can be arranged.
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So positive expectations for 2017 in terms of football?  No, I am sorry, none.  It is only going to get worse.   It is not a very happy prospect.  I am sorry to be so negative on New Years Eve, but in honesty that is how I see football at the moment.
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If you have been, thank you for reading Untold in 2016.  I hope I have not depressed you too much, and I hope that you might come back and read a little more in 2017.  And indeed join us by making a comment or two.  Or, should you feel so moved, even writing an article.
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Have a good New Year’s Eve, if you have not already had it, and please do come back for more. I am going dancing tonight in Nottingham, and then tomorrow will be off to the match.  And maybe that is the problem with football.  No matter how much the media and its allies among the crooks, the FA, the money lenders, the fantasists and the cheats work to destroy our game, we’ll continue to support.  We’ll be there, no matter what, because ultimately, it IS our game.

14 comments to 2016: The year many of us realised football was utterly broken but the media continued to deny reality

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    Tony,

    Have a good evening and enjoy the dance. I’m on a steam train tomorrow with my wife meaning my grandson will be at the match tomorrow – his first Arsenal game!

    I hope for a good performance and three points.

    As for the rest your points, I fear that you are correct.

  • porter

    Hard to disagree with any of your points although I would have put number 9 much higher possibly 4 or even higher. I will not be at the match tomorrow and was not at Boxing Day either due to family commitments . Getting to matches is becoming harder every passing season . The temptation to stop grows every year but after 59 years of seeing games live , it is hard to call a halt.

  • Peter Kemp

    Bet you feel better now you have got that off your chest!! I do agree with most of your points …… BUT i still love our Club and it will not stop me following then COYG 🙂

  • Mandy Dodd

    Can only agree with this pessimistic outlook, and yes, I am sure the media are a huge problem with covering up aspects of the game.
    As for our refs, hopefully,the Chinese can get hold of them, and we can recruit some decent, unbiased refs from abroad who don’t give a flying what our media or pundits think, unlike the refs …..say…Tottenham seem to get at the moment.
    Things will get found out in time, someone….maybe a disgruntled party will break ranks, someone , perhaps a publication from abroad will want a story. English football is on a bit of a knife edge, there are people jealous of this league and its money who would love to knock it off its perch
    But What will 2017 bring….as you say, probably more of the same or worse. Child abuse scandals will not go away, nor will the dementia issue, no matter how much the powers that be would cover both up.
    As for Arsenal, Until Mr Wenger signs, guess there is always at least the possibility of major change,I certainly hope he does sign, but if not, I wish the club the very best of British in finding a replacement for this giant of the game…..they are going to need it, but a worry for another day I guess

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    OT.
    Liverpool 1-0 Man City a result that was not too long concluded a while ago is a good result for Arsenal if they beat Crystal Palace at the Ems tomorrow to move up in the table to 3rd position behind Liverpool in the table. This is a progress Arsenal if they move from 4th to 3rd.

    Arsenal MUST beat Crystal Palace tomorrow to move up to that 3rd position in the table. Therefore, the Gunners should please appoint us tomorrow and not contemplate any disappointment whatsoever for us in there match against Crystal Palace.

    Let all we the Arsenal fans be calm and not to worry about Chelsea currently riding high to sit on top of the PL table and Liverpool closely riding high behind them in the table too. But let the Gunners focus totally on their game against C Palace tomorrow and not give in to any kind of distraction that can constitute a distraction distracting their total mental concentrations on the match before and during the playing of the match.

    I believe as from tomorrow after they’ve beaten C Palace, Arsenal will start gaining ground inch by inch in the table and finally get to the top of the table and remain sitting on top to the very end of the season and lift the PL trophy to the disbelieves of their critics and title rivals.

  • para

    Samuel
    We all wish that but it is beginning to look bad again. Yet we are only half way so many many things can change.

    What pleases me, is that we have players coming back in the next 2 weeks, raring to go.

  • Mandy Dodd

    https://mobile.twitter.com/SMignolet/status/815285355125637121?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Etweet

    Liverpool players posting selfies after a win…..but not a trophy….let’s hope the ex Liverpool pundits and the media in general are as harsh on them as they are on our boys when they do the same thing, if they are not, they open themselves to the accusation of bias and hypocracy, surely traits that can never be applied to the Brit media?

  • Harry

    The media love football so don’t really want to upset their meal ticket. The fact that they ignore what is actually happening could also be said of this site and readers when it comes to Wenger. You should still be able to express an opinion about the managers flaws and not be thrown to the lions. Blindly following and only complaining about external influences is a bit hypocritical.

  • marios

    what was it they used to say football reflects society

  • Harry, this site is set up for people who support the manager and the players and the team. There are many many sites that have other objectives and so people can follow them. We use evidence, rather than opinion to back up our views. I can’t see the hypocrisy in setting up and running such a site and being utterly open about who we are and what we feel.

  • Football is broken
    Yet more of us go to watch it
    And pay more money to do so

    So who are the fools then ?

  • WalterBroeckx

    Excellent article Tony!

  • Gooneress No1

    I agree with Walter Excellent article Tony.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Nice article Tony , cannot really disagree with all the points you have raised . But I am optimistic that there will be changes . Maybe not really that we would like . But enough to derail the best laid plans .
    After all The Donald’s election shows us not to take things for granted .Somewhere out there stupidity will again rear its fickle head again ! Am waiting for the fun to begin.