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November 2020
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International managers are like car thieves. And football’s fake news

by Tony Attwood

It was Arsene Wenger who once said (and was then severely censured by Uefa for saying it) that international managers are like car thieves.  They take your vehicle, use it however they want, in ways that are often completely unsafe, and then hand you back the wreck with orders to have it ready for them again in two months.  At which point they repeat the episode.

But even by the appalling and disgraceful standards of international football and Fifa, the events of the international break has been so awful, that any sport managed or overseen by even semi-decent chimpanzees would start thinking about what it is doing, and should it even exist.

For now we have had the story that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and the rest of the Gabon team arrived in Gambia just before midnight and were  forced to spend the night sleeping on an airport floor before a game  because of an “administrative problem”.    They were not even taken under armed guard to a hotel, but left in a desert of an airport lounge.

No reason was given for not allowing the team to exit the airport and head to their hotel after arrival, and even by previous standards of gamesmanship in African football, this was pretty unusual.

The trick however worked as the result of the game was Gambia 2 Gabon 1.  It left the league table standing at

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Gambia 4 2 1 1 8 6 +2 7
2 Gabon 4 2 1 1 5 4 +1 7
3 DR Congo 4 1 3 0 3 2 +1 6
4 Angola 4 0 1 3 2 6 −4 1

Aubameyang tweeted “This will not demotivate us but people need to know and CAF need to take responsibility. (It is) 2020 and we want Africa to grow but this is not how we will get there.”

Meanwhile Mohamed Elneny has apparently now tested positive for coronavirus after being exposed to it on international duty.

As the ill-treatment of players has continued for years (including of course playing injured and unfit players, secure in the knowledge that the clubs will then have the job of resting and restoring the fitness of the players in time for the next round of games) there can be little doubt that nothing will be done about it.  If anyone suffers it will be the players and their clubs, never the administrators or international managers who organise this chaos along with the international organisations.

In a different report the Premier League said that “between Monday 9 November and Sunday 15 November, 1,207 players and club staff were tested for Covid-19. Of these, there were 16 new positive tests.”

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That is a 1.25% positive rate.  Which is equivalent to half of all the cases in the UK which we have had since the pandemic began in March, all happening in one week!   It is an extraordinarily high rate of infection, which in any other industry would have every alarm bell ringing continuously.

If it were replicated across the whole country it would give us a current infection rate of over 800,000 people.  The actual number in the UK is 23,000.

So why are players so susceptible to coronavirus symptoms?  Obviously sleeping on an airport floor doesn’t help much, but primarily the main reason must be that they are playing and training, and thus in physical contact with each other.

Which is a very good reason why international matches should have been stopped even if matches within individual countries continued.

Anyway, after the ten days isolation, most of these players will be deemed free of the virus and return to normal work.

Now rather curiously, given all the above Football.London that most curious of websites, run by the Daily Mirror, has the headline “Arsenal and Mikel Arteta could get Mohamed Elneny boost for Leeds trip after Egypt announcement.”

That seems very unlikely.  How on earth could he?  Elneny has tested positive.  He has to isolate.  What boost is available?

Ploughing through the article there is little about this until we get to “It had looked like he would miss the game at Elland Road on Sunday – but there is still a chance he could play.”

OK that doesn’t tell us how, so lets read on…

It then tells us that Mohamed Elneny will fly back to London together “in an attempt to be passed fit for their respective matches this weekend.”   OK, they are coming back to London but that doesn’t mean they have found a miracle cure.

“Both players will be tested on arrival back in the UK with hopes that they may record negative tests.”

So it is just hope.  However after that it says

“Yet it remains unlikely that Elneny will be able to feature against Leeds. Premier League protocols dictate a player must quarantine for 10 days after an initial positive test, with a retest on the 10th day needing to be negative in order to allow a return to action. With Elneny’s first negative test coming on Monday, the Leeds game would fall within the 10 days of isolation period stipulated by the Premier League.”

So in effect no chance.  The headline was totally fake.

Football.London running a totally fake headline … whoever would have imagined that?   Whatever next?  “Princess Di found alive and well living in Tierra del Fuego,” maybe.  Oh no I think the Star ran that last year.

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