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November 2012
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England run by idiots, players arrested, racism untouched. Just another day in football.

By Tony Attwood

Sepp Blatter of Fick Fufa claims that English football is “run by idiots”, according to Sebastian Coe.  Commenting on the first England 2018 meeting he said, “I had been truly shocked by the vituperative nature of the meeting I had just witnessed. There was thinly disguised contempt around the table.”

This is quite a change in stance, because previously Coe has blamed the  British media for having the temerity to point out the wholesale corruption that dominates Fufa and running TV programmes and the like pointing out how disgraceful the organisation is.  Now he says, “I am less willing to lay the blame at the media’s door.  Ultimately the fault, I believe, lies with the awful dysfunctionality of the English game, its personalities and politics.

Certainly on this point I can agree with him.  Dysfunctionality reigns supreme from the FA, via the clubs who exploit the huge financial potential of their owners through the Premier League and onwards.   No one trusts anyone, and the latest Chelsea attack on a referee shows that the situation is getting worse.   This is not me trying to judge the issue – of course I don’t know what Clattenburg said, but the fact that the case is happening shows how utterly dysfunctional everything in football is.

Some of Coe’s rhetoric however is weird.   Try this one…

“As president of the international federation Blatter sees the unwillingness of English clubs to release players for international duty. He sees the purchasing power of the English game – big-name clubs buying up players from all over the world.”

Of course we don’t want to release our players, because the country managers will simply play them when injured and leave the clubs to patch them up just in time for the next round of internationals.   What the hell do you expect us to think?

And meanwhile the British government is in touch with the Serbian government which is trying to arrest some English under 21 players and a coach ( Steven Caulker, Tom Ince and Steve Wigley are the names being discussed)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said, “Serbian police have announced that they have submitted charges against two England players and an assistant coach to the public prosecutor following an incident at the Under-21 football match in Serbia. We are investigating the full details of these charges before considering our response.”

So what does England do now?  I have argued so many times that the outright corruption of Fifa and the failure of Fifa and Uefa to deal with racism at matches held under their authority, and the insistence of Fifa and Uefa at locking up people who try to advertise the wrong products, makes them utterly unsuitable organisations to deal with in every way at every level.
What does the FA think we should do?  Ignore the racism and the £20k fines and continue to play Serbia knowing that nothing is changing there?  Allow the whole team to be arrested on the pitch next time?
In 2007 Serbia were fined all of £16,000 by Uefa for racist chanting from fans.  That is less than John Terry earns every two hours (or less than he earns every hour he is awake, if you want to calculate it that way).  But maybe if the FA is so weak that it won’t dare to pull out, the clubs should.   I doubt they ever will, but I still think they ought to.

Yes, Michel Platini has said Serbia could face sanctions if found guilty of racism.   So what does that mean?  Next time they will be fined what John Terry earns in 3 hours?   The current position is so far away from anything sane that there isn’t even the start of a conversation.

Alex Horne, the FA general secretary said recently, “No football team should be asked to play in any environment where racial abuse, violence and threatening behaviour is prevalent.”   So Mr Horne, it is easy.  Very easy.  Just stop the games.  Stand up.  Take a moral position.   Say, “we are out, and any other nation that wants to play football in stadia where any racism is punished by exclusion of the country for 3 years, can join us.”

Only then, at that moment, would we see if there is any morality anywhere at all in football.

And supposing the rest of the world says “no, we quite like racism – at least we prefer racism to pulling out of Fifa” what would we have lost?  Nothing.  We would have gained our dignity and our moral position.  Maybe for most people they don’t count for anything any more.  Maybe it is just me.

So is there nothing good to say about football and Arsenal?

The best that comes to mind was the performance of Walcott in the league cup game.  With Gervinho injured for the next few weeks, and with his recent form Walcott ought to be getting games, and ought to be able to play an alternating central and wide roll.  If so, maybe he will sign a new contract – and that would cheer me up a bit.

But overall, for football, I despair.


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You can support Arsenal or you can walk out.  One of these is better for your health.


The books…

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What to make of Clatternburg; what to make of Chelsea? Where on earth are we going?

By Tony Attwood

Graham Poll, in his book, tells the tale of how in 2007 Ashley Cole accused him of once saying that Chelsea needed bringing down a peg or two.  The offence of Chelsea at the time in what passes for a mind within A Cole was that he had sent off John Terry.  He also did not allow a Drogba goal in a game against Tottenham.

John Terry then joined in and said that the referee had altered his account of the sending off in order to cover his own back.  The FA then stepped into the muck and charged John Terry with improper conduct and fined him £10,000.  Terry was invited to apologise to the FA and Graham Poll and refused.

Since then we have had the racism trials, we have had the 2009 saga of Terry taking cash in return for a tour of the Chelsea training ground.  (Mind you the fact  that it was the News of the World which claimed that Terry took a £10,000 payment doesn’t help the story).  So it goes, although stories regarding Chelsea need little help after A Cole took an air rifle to work and shot a trainee player.

Who knows what Clattenburg said to two players during a recent game, but perhaps the Chelsea case is not helped by the fact that Terry didn’t play last night because he is suspended after what he said to Anton Ferdinand a year ago.

It is said in some quarters that if nothing else, that tells us that Chelsea has now entered a new level of siege mentality.  Us against everyone is an ok approach (I have always had the feeling George Graham did this) but there has to be a limit somewhere.

Of course it is one of those things on which everyone has an opinion.  Neil Warnock even had an opinion.  “I’m on Mark Clattenburg’s side. They are trying to kill him and I don’t agree with that at all.”

That is worthy of note because when Leeds United’s manager was Dennis Wise he accused a ref of much the same sort of thing in 2007.

There’s another thing however that I can’t work out.  Is Chelsea making a complaint or are they just throwing muck around the place?  If they do make a complaint, then they need evidence.  If they don’t then by making the original complaint they are now guilty of bringing the game into disrepute.

The FA has already had a go at Chelsea of what it saw were problems within Cole’s evidence in the Terry hearing.  If they get Chelsea before them again, presumably there will be another fine which raises the question: can you count fines as expenses when calculating if you are in the FFP guidelinese?

In our review of Clattenburg last season we found him to be one of the better referees with a below average level of bias.  But here’s an interesting point from that review:

“The only game he did from Manchester United was the derby against Manchester City when United got beaten by 1-6. And even though Clattenburg was rather biased in favour of United in that game he never got another United game since that day. Is this a coincidence?  Remember he is a Fifa ref so… well rather strange…”

And a bit later…

“The only question remains: why didn’t he get to do another Manchester United game after their defeat against their local rivals? I remember from that review he did all he could to not help Manchester City. He refused to give a blatant penalty for City. But for some reason it looks as if a certain person didn’t like the final result, and thus didn’t like the ref who allowed this to happen…and he never came back.”

If Chelsea are trying to influence referees and stop them doing any more of their matches, all one can say is that they are a lot less subtle than Manchester United.

But perhaps most of all what we can say is that this is getting totally out of hand.  Racism and inappropriate remarks must not be part of football – surely everyone agrees.  But, when a club makes complaints about refs in this way – complaints which are going to be very hard to unravel, where on earth do we go next?

When George Graham’s team were docked two points after a match at Manchester United, my recollection is that Arsenal did not appeal or say anything, no matter that to my Arsenal coloured eyes the punishment was bizarre – why suddenly two points?  Why not a fine?   But the matter was let go and Arsenal proceeded to win the league.

Times, it seems, have changed

Last story: 

You can support Arsenal or you can walk out.  One of these is better for your health.


The books…

The sites…