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June 2021

Passing the interlull with thoughts that the world cup might not quite happen as planned.

By Sir Hardly Anyone

I notice Alexis scored the winner for Chile to keep them in with a chance of qualifying for the Russian World Cup.  Chile has moved up to third in the South American league having beating Ecuador 2-1.

And with little else to talk about following some rather unexciting football in Europe the media desperately trying to fill its spaces by having a peek at Liverpool, which much of it rather confirming that our old idea of always writing the club’s name as “Liverpool!” is no longer valid.

There are of course some big world cup stories looming in the background both in relation to Russia and Qatar, but there’s a fair amount of effort to find other tales to keep these worrying interlopers way down the list of news stories.

Indeed a headline such as “Two years of Klopp – but how far have Liverpool actually come?” (the Independent) is now more commonplace than the previous raves over how the smiley chap will take Liverpool back to the top of the league.  (If the media are getting a downer on Liverpool they really are scraping the barrel.)

What I found interesting however was that apparently 15 of the players Klopp has used this season were actually with the club during the Rodgers period which was deemed a disaster.   But just as with Rodgers, signings have there been many but success has there been only a modest amount of.  Yes the club has got back into the Champs League but of the ten major signings made by Klopp only one seems to have been an outstanding success (Sadio Mane).

It does make the interesting point that when commentators criticise Arsenal signings for not being good enough, and for Arsenal having a transfer window which was chaotic, little attempt is made to compare the comings and goings with those of other clubs.   Stand out players are named of course but only for a while.  So no one today is noting what good business it was of Arsenal to get Alexis in the first place, only what bad business it is to have let him run down his contract.  Historical context is not what they do in football reporting.

Although to be fair the non-transfer of Virgil van Dijk has been covered quite a bit largely because that was seemingly such a palpable own goal.

Meanwhile Liverpool has recently been under attack from human rights campaigners over a deal it has done with a Hong Kong based company that bottles mineral water which (the company claims) comes from a Tibetan glacial spring.  The complaint centres on alleged human rights abuses in Tibet.

“While a deal with a company based in Tibet might sound like an attractive and exotic opportunity, the reality for the Tibetan people is very different,” said John Jones, who also said that many other groups were also critical of Liverpool and indeed anyone associating themselves with China in relation to its occupation of Tibet.

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The article I saw covering the issue was on CNN’s web site, but I felt it lost a little focus when it stated that “Liverpool is one of England’s most successful teams, with a history of winning major trophies both at home and in European competition. It also has a big following in Asia.”

In terms of historic success it is true that Liverpool are England’s most successful team in the European Cup, and have also won the league 18 times.   But the last time was 27 years ago in the league – and it made me wonder how far back one goes to count these things.

Anyway it seems Liverpool signed the sponsorship deal with Tibet Water in July and as part of the pact, Tibet Water gets social media support and access to Liverpool players, a club statement said.   According to “Free Tibet” Tibetans have been given no say in how natural resources like water are used.

But of course the news these days is not all Liverpool.  There is also the talk of the notion that as one headline put it, there is an “Increasing chance of Qatar losing the World Cup tournament because of ‘political risks’.”

The risks in question centre not around the heat nor around the numerous deaths of slave workers working on the new sites, but rather the fact that Qatar is suffering from a blockade by some of its neighbours: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

Of course organisations like the FA and the UK government, normally very keen to speak out against terrorism, are not saying a word about the fact that the reason these countries are blockading Qatar is because of what they say is Qatari support for terrorism.

Management consultants Cornerstone Global have done an examination into both the current crisis and the infrastructure building project in Qatar and it claims that the country’s £153bn programme is a “high-risk project”, before concluding that it is “far from certain” Qatar will host the tournament.

“Western diplomats have privately stated they do not know whether or not the tournament will take place as planned,” according to the report.   “The reasons for this are many and include open allegations of corruption – both in the bidding process and in the infrastructure development.    Qatar is under greater pressure regarding its hosting of the tournament… the current political crisis has seen – or at least raised the possibility of – a Qatari opposition movement emerging.

“This means an increased risk for those working on, or seeking contracts for World Cup 2022 infrastructure… with a risk of non-payment and no realistic ability to enforce any legal contracts.  Given the current political situation… it is certainly possible that the tournament will not be held in Qatar.”

Still, I am sure the FA will step in and offer to run the show if Qatar backs down.

And there are even increasing concerns over the next world cup – the one occupying countries’ minds this weekend as the headline “England fans in danger of ‘extreme violence’ from Russian hooligans at World Cup, warns police chief” shows.

Elsewhere, as for the story we carried the other day about Arsenal having to play on Christmas Eve, it seems that the idea is catching on with TV companies with the notion that the game between Leicester City and Manchester United is also fancied to be move to 24 December.

Listening to the fans?  Not much evidence of that.

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8 comments to Passing the interlull with thoughts that the world cup might not quite happen as planned.

  • Damilare


    Alex Iwobi, he just loves playing against Zambia. 2 goals in 2 matches against chipolopolo of Zambia. His goal tonight takes the Super Eagles of Nigeria to WC in Russia. Congrats Iwobi and Nigeria

  • nicky

    @Sir Hardly,
    Your implication that Qatar may not hold the 2022 World Cup has considerable merit.
    That country’s hostility by its near-neighbours, its reputation for cruelty towards its foreign workforce and above all, the smell of corruption which surrounded the award of the World Cup to Qatar, justifies either a rethink by FIFA or a few withdrawals by senior footballing nations….even at this relatively late stage. 😉

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    I think the 2017 Commebol WC table that I saw on the internet as I was browsing showed Chile are in 4th position in the latest table while Argentina who are in 5th are in danger of missing out on th Russia 2018 world cup if they fail to win their last game at away. But Chile too are not totally sure of qualifying for the Russia world cup but they will do if they get a result in Brazil. A win by Chile in Brazil will guarantee them a place in Russia.

    The good news for Nigeria is we are in the in Russia 2018 WC this evening through the only goal scored by Arsenal Alex Iwobi late on in the 2nd half in the qualifying match between Nigeria and Zambia played at Uyo. But the Zambians will feel undone by the linesman flagging their striker offside after he collected a long range pass and beats Leo Balogun, the Nigerian centreback to score. But TV replays showed he was onside when he collected the pass. I watched the match live on my TV set.

    Brazil have already qualified for Russia 2018. But for pride, they’ll like to win their last match of the qualifying at home against the visiting Chile. But for the sake of Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal and because he’s Arsenal, I want to see Brazil lose the match to Chile with Alexis scoring the winner. Sorry Brazil, you are the 2nd national team that I am supporting in the world with Nigeria my country being the 1st and England the 3rd. But this time I can’t help it to watch Alexis on the losing side but on the winning side going to Russia. I don’t know Alexis before Arsenal signed him. I’ve never heard of him before he came to Arsenal from Barcelona. Even if I had watched him played for Barca before when I watched their matches against Real Madrid, I didn’t take note of him playing in the Elclasicos which are mostly the Barca La Liga games that I watch. I think Alexis should extend his contract at Arsenal if they give him another improved contract offer to extend and continuing playing for us. We love to see him stay at our club and helps us to win titles.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Qatar should never have been let near a World Cup, on so many levels.
    Talking about the World Cup, seems like the international community has caught up with the inadequacied of our refs, that is not to say their colleagues from other countries are much better

  • Steve Vallins

    Mandy great link about referees it’s slowly slowly organisations are realising the English FA referees interperate the laws of football totally different to the rest of the world (Lacazette’s recent remarks)
    Whether referees will change to protect players time will tell

  • blacksheep

    BBC talking this morning (Sunday) about the lack of quality or inspiration in the England team despite early qualification. Suggestions that it is a lack of preparation rather than a lack of individual quality. Also bemoaning the pressure on the players that makes it hard for them to perform.
    On the last point whose fault is that but the media’s? They spend every waking minute telling us its ‘do or die’ and taking every opportunity to have a go at a manager (‘turnip head’) or star players (Beckham, Rooney…) and then expect them to be world beaters.
    Personally I couldn’t care less about the national team or the world cup. I hardly watched any of the last one, didn’t watch much of the Euros and won’t bother with much of the Russian tournament. You can’t hold an international festival of football in a nation which excuses racist violence and invades its neighbours nor (in Qatar) which has such a dreadful human rights record. International football is a farce nowadays and I wish we would all just ignore it for a few years in the hope that it would die a death.

  • nicky

    I agree with much you say about the decline of interest in the national side. For some years now, I seem to have noticed the switch of support towards club instead of country. The breaks in league football in order to accommodate international games has been met with frustration and boredom.
    The fact that Wembley will always have a near full capacity is misleading. It’s the country’s national stadium and will attract many purely due to the venue.
    I wonder whether the present riches of our top players has played a part in many poor performances by our national side. Once upon a time, in order to succeed and increase their income and transfer value, players were desperate to be selected at international level. Now, that incentive for big money no longer exists.
    To use a boxing term.. “A successful boxer needs to be a hungry one”. Our top footballers are no longer hungry.

  • Nitram

    blacksheep and nicky

    I’ve just posted on the above thread alluding to the exact same thing.

    The media are undeniably complicit in the abject failure of this Country to produce anything like the quantity of quality players required to create a competitive, let alone successful, International team, and they just cant see it.

    It’s everybody else’s fault.

    The media: A bunch of hypocritical, self serving morons.