Keep your filthy hands of our players!

By Walter Broeckx

This has to stop. Somewhere, someone, anyone but this has to come to an end. What? Those stupid, meaningless, irrelevant, international fixtures in the middle of the money time of the regular football season.

What good is it that players now have to leave their natural environment and go to play far away from home some matches under managers who are only interested in themselves and who have no interest at all the wellbeing of any of the players they stole away from the clubs. Or the interest of these clubs.

Once again for the umpteenth time we face the probable loss of a few important players because they had to play for their national side.  Aaron Ramsey and Danny Welbeck are the ‘lucky ones’ this time.

I must say I feel angry, pissed off, could throw with all things that I can lay my hands on towards the head of those individuals who invented these silly internationals last weekend and this week.

Because let us not forget that ‘the fun’ isn’t over yet. Oh, no….. We still could lose a few players between now and next Saturday.

If people really want to paint the flag of their country on their face, fine for me. If people really want to support their country and think that they are better off when their country wins a friendly match against ‘Whocaresijan’ be my guest. Enjoy it. But not during the regular football season.

Still legendary are the days when we lost our traitor-to-be each and every time when he went to Holland to play for them. If he was only out for four weeks after such a match we would jump up in the air in joy. Most of the time he  was out for at least four months.

What I find strange in this is that in football the laws are very strict about employment.  You can only have a contract with one team. And when that team loans you to another team you cannot play against the team that owns you. This is to prevent a clash of interests where a player could harm or decides not to harm the team that owns him.

If as a player you sign a contract for two teams at the same time, you are in trouble and you will be banned from playing football for a while till the whole contract issue is sorted out.

A player can only be owned by one team. That is how it is and how it should be.

But yet that player can still play for another team. Even without permission of the club that owns him. Whenever Fifa or Uefa is saying: this date national team can play matches, the whole rule goes overboard.

The national team can do what they want when they takeover that player.  If they would say we want that player to train for five days a week for ten hours a day while on duty for their country there is nothing a club manager can do. Except hope and pray maybe.

We have seen how Vermaelen’s career was ruined by negligence of the Belgium national team who played him not once but on several occasions with an injury that went from bad to worse after having played for them. His Achilles injury, his back injury, his thigh injury…all from being played for Belgium with a little niggle.

And yet when fit he hopes to play for them again. I have met him personally and he didn’t seem to be a footballer of the really dumb specimen. And yet he will risk his body again and his career if he gets the chance. Thinking back at it …he isn’t as smart as I thought he was.

Now I know that there are some people who like international football. And in a way I don’t want to take away their fun completely. But why on earth can’t we put these international matches together in a few weeks after the regular season has finished. If you take out the usually four weekends of international football we have now in a season we could finish the season around 4 weeks earlier.

And then players could play another four weeks for their national team and play six to eight matches in qualifiers for a tournament in whatever brown envelop country that has given most to the big boys at the top of Fifa and Uefa.

That would mean that their season would end around the end of May or halfway June if one really wants it. Then they could have one month off before the training for the new season starts with their clubs.

And if they get a minor injury they could even be fit before the start of the new season.  Ok, if they get a serious injury they could still miss the biggest part of the coming season but then the club would know this in advance and can take counter measures.

Now you can have a situation where the transfer windows ends on 31/08 of the calendar year and a few days later in the silly internationals weekend a team can lose half its team for the rest of the season with bad injuries.  And then they don’t have the chance to correct it! At least not till January.

This is completely unacceptable.

And even if the injuries from Ramsey and Welbeck aren’t too bad and they can play again even next weekend I still stand with this. Enough is enough for me and I want it to stop. If an Arsenal player wants to get injured, let it be by playing for Arsenal. Of course I would want no Arsenal player to get injured at all but then I can accept it.

Now I have to once again start fearing for this and that player and for those who still have to play for their country this week.

Hey Mr. Platini and Mr. Blatter, keep your filthy hands of our players!


Today’s anniversaries: three cup semi-finals

31 March 1906: Arsenal played in FA Cup semi final for first time.  Prior to this they had never gone beyond the second round, and spent most of their time in the qualifying rounds.

31 March 1971:  Arsenal reached the F.A. Cup Final by beating Stoke City 2-0 in the semi-final replay with goals from Graham and Kennedy.  It took Arsenal to their first Cup Final in 19 years.

31 March 1979: Arsenal beat Wolverhampton W (managed by John Barnwell) in our 14th FA Cup semi final

33 Replies to “Keep your filthy hands of our players!”

  1. I could’n’t agree with much of this other than the clever idea of removing international matches completely from the football season. That might actually work..
    I’m a big fan of the England side and used to enjoy being in a pub along with Chelsea & Liverpool fans chanting “Rooney, Rooney”, or “Theo,Theo”.
    You just don’t get it Walter!

  2. I have never supported my country in football. And never will. I’m not interested in it. I only hope that in an international tournament the team that plays the most attacking football wins it. Whoever that will be.
    I think you are right Tailgunner, I don’t get it 😉

  3. I’m with you Walter, no interest in International football at all, never have done … I’ve been to games, (not just England ones), but it’s not the same as club football, (and I’ve seen games in all four English pro leagues as well as lower and the Arsenal Ladies too) ….

    I always see the England team as the FA’s team and that’s never going to work for me !!! (That’s where Brendan Rodger’s went wrong last year … if he’d have got Sterling or Gerrard to start biting Chelsea players the FA would have blustered that the ref had seen it and they couldn’t act …)

    Oh for the day when the European clubs get out of FIFA …

  4. Once upon a time, whenever commentaries on England matches were broadcast on steam radio, a vast listening home audience was assured.
    The advent of TV allowed the country a sight of its heroes in the flesh, which was better still and satellite TV then provided global coverage.
    But over the past decade, things have changed dramatically.
    The tribal support for individual clubs has largely superseded that for the national side. Many fans now regard international matches as an unwelcome and irritating
    interruption to the various league battles in which their clubs are involved.
    More importantly, there is always the chance that long-term injuries are being sustained by members of the national side, which inevitably have an adverse effect on the domestic progress of the parent club responsible for paying their wages.
    Full attendances at Wembley are misleading. The national stadium will always attract 80,000 or so throughout our land in order to watch England play any sort of reasonable opposition. It would be interesting though, to discover the extent of the TV audience on these occasions
    Facts speak for themselves. Since 1966 when England won the World Cup on home soil, the national side has not progressed particularly well. In fact we have achieved nothing.
    The rest of the world has improved greatly in style,technique and determination while, for whatever reason, our
    country has lagged behind.
    Some say that the comparatively recent influx of foreign players hasn’t helped. Others feel that the vast improvement in the standard of living of our top class players has reduced their ability to perform at the highest
    In boxing parlance it was said that “a good boxer is a hungry one”.
    It may be that our footballers are simply not hungry enough.

  5. Totally agree. The golden age has gone, international football is corrupt, shit, boring, irrelevant and damaging. Would add RVP to the comments about Vermaelen. Jack , Theo or Ox could seemly be next. The funny thing is, Wenger gets the blame for half of this, and this, I right despite being openly in the ” not sure ” camp on Arsenals injuries.
    Wonder how the media would report it if man of the moment Harry Kane did his cruciate against Italy? Bet you could compare and contrast how they would write about Jack in the same circumstance.
    Per had the right idea, he retired at the top. What will Santi Cazorla really gain from continuing to play for Spain, where he may, or may not be a first choice player in the next tournament? Cannot the excellent Monreal be delighted with his form at Arsenal rather than trying to get back into the Spain team?
    I completely get the players strive to play for their country….reluctantly, but unless they have the protection……sorry, injury record of the likes of Rooney, and maybe Gerrard and Lampard in their day, they really should look at the bigger picture. It is a short career, and at Arsenal now, we are in the enviable position where competition means that if a player loses his place, he may not get it back

  6. I largely share Walter’s view of international football. I do not care much for it, but I understand that many people do value it.

    The idea of scheduling international matches outside the League season is a good way of accommodating both viewpoints.

  7. Shortage of opportunities for kids in this country to play football must be a factor in the team’s international performance.

    I mean sell offs of school playing fields, closure of some leisure and sports centres and rising costs of using others, paring youth services of local councils to the bone, charging money for nearly every activity children take part in at a time when wages have stagnated or even fallen.

    We run twice a week sports activities in our community hall for 8 – 18 year olds. Organized by Arsenal in the Community, but we still have to get funding for it. Luckily at the moment a charity is funding it so we don’t have to charge the parents, who are mostly amazed that it is free.

    It makes me angry to see money wasted on building yet another ugly pointless office skyscraper a couple of miles away when that money could be spent on giving children enjoyable and healthy things to do.

  8. I enjoy all sport at every level, but I think Walter has a very valid point. International /FIFA led football is in direct conflict with the workload of professional players. This should be fitted into the end of season so that it does not impact on teams competing for financial reward. This impact can destroy clubs and the game eventually.

    There is a benefit for those who do not get called up, they can rest!! I feel that we will not be able to impact the current practice unless we as fans withdraw our support from International matches & paid TV.

    My hope is that we come out of this period with uninjured players & continue towards the success that we are due.

    Up the Arsenal!!

  9. At least qualifiers have meaning. We know their purpose. It is the ‘friendlies’ that I absolutely hate, especially during regular club football seasons. What is the point?

    Instead of playing friendlies and qualifiers in the international windows (like the current one), why not play 2 qualifiers during every window? This will at least reduce the international workload of players by 50% and national FAs can have friendlies in the clubs’ off season if they so desire.

    Although I prefer club football, I also love international matches APART from friendlies that are played in-season.

  10. Of course there are some inconsistencies that occur in this are too. How, for example, did Ryan Giggs get a special dispensation not to play for Wales whenever SAF chose! Yet more favours for certain people.

  11. I used to be a keen fan of England but as I got older I got less and less interested. It brings about nationalism and xenophobia, which I detest, and the players are not exactly a bunch that evoke much sympathy. And the style of play is persistently awful! And the large number of games against very weak opposition… not to mention the 75% pace friendlies.

    While I love watching the World Cup I am no longer terribly bothered when England go out.

  12. Sorry off topic but just to add to today’s anniversaries, RIP Rocky, 14 years ago today.

    “Remember who you are, what you are and who you represent”

  13. …and the last England game I saw live was in 1997 (lost 0-1 at home to Italy. Zola scored fairly early at which point fights started breaking out around me.) I used to go regularly – saw all the Euro 96 games at Wembley.

    I was offered free corporate tickets for the Lithuania game – but declined them. Didn’t even know what day the game was and didn’t even bother watching on TV – there was a decent film on.

  14. Agree, Walter. The clubs invest in the development and training of players (shit from the FA) and the national team take them off who knows where and why. @Bootoomee’s points are on the money as well. Every fan of every club hates to lose a player to injury. But for a ‘friendly’? Unacceptable.

  15. So agree Walter.
    This makes so much sense across the board to reschedule the international matches.

  16. Dont agree walter and to most of the posters.

    I think country comes first and ahead of the club.

    I am amazed that Walter you do not care if your country wins or not.

    if one is not faithful to his country i will question his patriotism.

    No offense to above posters.

  17. Rosicky, I think there is too much blood on most flags. Too much killing in the name of Any king, president or whoever controlled the masses and media

  18. Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini claims Juventus and
    Arsenal have lodged bids for Paulo Dybala and stated that
    the highly rated forward is keen to remain in Serie A.He told Radio Marte: “Juventus and Arsenal have already
    made offers for the boy.
    “Pierpaolo Triulzi, his agent, will be in Italy on Friday. I’m
    asking for more than €40 million.
    “He would prefer to stay in Italy, he still wants to play in
    Serie A. Of the English teams, Arsenal is the first choice,
    because of the way Arsene Wenger’s team plays.” Source :

  19. NB:I apologize for not actually making a comment relating to the article, bt I agree totally with what Mr Walter proposed – I hope it gets more coverage beyond here. Just wanted to highlight the last sentence which shows how Wenger and his teams are perceived as opposed to the armchair pundits, aaa n lazy-don’t-really-know journalists. I can’t wait 4 Saturday to come.COYG

  20. I agree to some extent with Walter. Players are employees of the clubs and interest of the clubs should come first.

    I mean, I can dream about Bosnia winning the international tournament one day but these days I think much, much more about what will happen with Ramsey than what the outcome of the match in Vienna tonight will be. I would never recommend a poor Bosnian player for Arsenal because I don’t want anyone who’s quality is below the level of Arsenal to play for our club. Begović, Bešić and Pjanić are those that I would welcome at Arsenal, provided that they can find consistency. Begović should work on how he deals with long-distance shots, Bešić should control his temper and Pjanić should forget all those stories about Barcelona coming for him to replace Xavi because he – at this moment – wouldn’t be able to find the way to Barcelona B. Džeko is our (Bosnia) best player but he is already 29 and we (Arsenal) have Giroud.

    However, some players love their national team more than anything else – if, say, Arsenal come out with a ban for international matches of any extent, Alexis Sánchez would probably be the first one to request transfer. We can say whatever we want about the international teams – I was close to destroying myself as one half of me wanted Özil, Per and Poldi to win the World Cup while the other one wanted Germany to lose early so those three would return in London ASAP – but it makes us proud when we take a look at our team and see a real world champion like Özil or Mertesacker while, say, Liverpool fans could only see their (former) best player experimenting with Italian food on the pitch.

  21. Patriotism is not a good thing and only helps to divide up the world even further. How people can be proud of something like the British empire, i’ll never understand.

  22. @Jammy J, some might say that The Gooners are, in fact, patriots of The Great Arsenal Empire. 🙂

    Whilst I agree with both you and Jammy J that flags have been dirty of blood, patriotism can be good as long as it’s not aggressive, blood-thirsty and full of hate towards anything different. I like the jokes about the Bosnian people as much as I like those about other nationalities.

  23. Jammy J

    Perhaps we cant take ‘pride’ in the British Empire but I do get a bit annoyed at the way we are constantly made to feel ashamed.

    Of course there was a lot to dislike about it but you have to put things into perspective because it was a far less enlightened World back then, and there have been far far worse ‘Empires’, starting with the Assyrians over 2000 years ago.

    The Persian empire

    The Roman Empire

    The Russians

    The French

    The Chinese

    Empire building has been part of human history for Millennia but it seems it’s only us Brits that are supposed to feel the shame.

    Just saying.

  24. To Josif…sorry to go off topic but still.think about the Serb attacks in 92 to 95? Just read about it for the first time. now finding it difficult to get to sleep.

  25. @jambug

    Of course the British Empire is something about which we should not be proud. However, that is not actually what I am currently ashamed about.

    What I despise is going abroad and hearing ‘two brain cell Brits’ shouting at the indigenous population if they don’t speak English and calling them names with the implication that they are “thick” when many of them actually speak better English than the people who are abusing them……sadly, it is my belief that a disproportionate number of England fans are among that number.

  26. @nasser – well, I still remember very well what happened and some of my cousins were murdered as well as my 10-year-old friend after the shell hit the building 20 yards away from me. I was nine when the war started and twelve when the war ended. I still remember what sort of a feeling is, when you listen to the news that suggest tanks are about to break the defence of your place and start counting bottles in your place so you would know how many Molotov cocktails you could make before their tanks arrive. I read a lot about the brave fight of the Soviets during WW2 so I was pretty sure I would be able to fight if that was needed. Luckily, the siege of my town was broken and I never had to find out how much damage my Molotov cocktail would make to Serbian T-55…or to myself. 😉

    In war, however, one can learn how stupid and dangerous weapon media can be.

    That said, I don’t hate any national, racial, religious or ethnic group. All people in Bosnia have the same problems regardless of the category they belong to.

  27. Goonermikey

    Having lived in Spain for a couple of years I can sadly testify as to the embarrassment I often felt at the behaviour of the English tourist.

    Sad to say, in my experience, it was indeed often the ‘Football Crowd’ that caused the most embarrassment.

  28. can’t agree with you less, Walter
    1. no internationals means i would have to support every single team where a player i saw grow up happens to be employed currently
    2. there is only one team you can watch with all your local friends and relatives and that is the team of the country where you were born
    3. moving all qualifiers into a single time slot is not an option because no one would be able to travel across Europe every couple of days for a month, though a new league-like format is being discussed, and it’d be interesting to see if it improves the current situation
    4. friendlies are important because how else are you supposed to train a team that you only see two months a year, in competitive matches?
    5. i’m not sure if injuries in international games are more frequent than in the league, especially now that even the slightest knock in pre-game scan will cause the national side doctors to send the player back, do you perhaps have any stats of injury rates in internationals vs league?


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