Category Archives: England
As I watch the news and see the horrific tragedies happening around the World I can’t help but think how pathetic many football fans are. I would like to say it is the minority but it seems that this minority is either getting larger or just getting more media visibility, I am unsure which to be honest. Unfortunately I have, at times also mirrored some of the behavior which would put me in the category of treating football as a matter of life and death, which it certainly is not.
It has been a year since I last blogged and during that time I have watched the sport of football increasingly fool itself into believing it is the most important thing in the world. The truth is it is should be far lower on people’s priorities and not considered life or death for those who call themselves fans.
The saddest thing that I have heard in all my time as a football fan is the news of a Dutch linesman who was beaten to death by three players at a youth football match. Those players truly considered it a matter of life and death, they believed that the game was so important that they were willing to not only harm but kill another human being. What makes this even more tragic is that the linesman’s son was playing in the game. He watched his father killed on the field. It is remarkable how little coverage this has got, dwarfed by the fact that Messi has scored 86 goals in the past year, or the fact that AVB says Bale isn’t a diver. This guy was killed on the pitch and it is part of a bigger problem.
Whilst I am no fan of Rugby as a sport, you would never hear of anything like this happening. The players call the officials sir and if they even argue they receive a penalty and further chat and they are sent off. I did a quick google search for both “referee attacked in football match” and “referee attacked in rugby match” as you can imagine there was a big difference in the number of hits each search got.
I look around a football ground and see the vile insults being spewed and you would think that the opposition players were made up of murderers and rapists. If it isn’t distasteful chants about a tragedy the opposition suffered it is a personal attack on a player or manager. The recent hatred towards Rafa Benitez shocked me. Not the fact that there were those who disagreed with the appointment but that they felt it necessary to turn on someone because at one point in time he made fun of you, and also was the manager of another team. Imagine if you changed companies and as soon as you walked in the office everyone started shouting abuse at you… it is a preposterous notion but essentially that is what is happening.
Presumably the fan who attempted to confront Rio Ferdinand, once he had already been coined, had plans to attack him in some way, although the chances of him having some sort of plan are slim. I have heard people say that Rio shouldn’t have celebrated in front of the City fans, why not? Do fans have so little self control that the sight of someone else happy drive them to violence. I think fans need to have a long hard look at themselves and weigh up how important this game really is and to what lengths their disgusting behavior should be tolerated all in the name of club loyalty. Vincent Kompany said he was against netting because fans should not be caged like animals, well maybe if fans stopped behaving like them he would have a valid argument.
By Tom Gaunt
This was first published on Caught Offside
The World Cup is the biggest stage in world football and not only do players from all over the World come together to compete and perform but so do referees. With officials from every corner of the World you can expect some inconsistencies, however the decisions below are just outright ridiculous. This is a list of 10 of the worst refereeing mistakes in recent years. I have stuck to decisions that I have seen and have video evidence of, if you can think of anymore let me know.
10. Netherlands v Spain 2010 – Nigel De Jong Kung-Fu Kick
Howard Webb will probably want to forget the 2010 World cup final. It was supposed to be his finest hour but due to the Netherlands ugly tactics he was left with an impossible task. He brandished 14 yellow cards including a red for Jonny Heitinga, but he was actually very lenient letting Nigel De Jong commit what can only be described as a Kung-Fu kick on Xabi Alonso. If he had done that in the street he would be arrested, but Webb ultimately bottled it and just gave a yellow card. Read the rest of this entry
By Aaron Evans
I want to start this piece with a little disclaimer. I am in no way a misogynist nor do I have out dated views on both women and the empowerment of women. In fact I love women particularly their tits.
Over the last year we have seen some shocking behavior towards women in football, with Sky Sports stalwarts Richard Keys and Andy Gray unleashing their forked tongues over the airways. With the women’s World Cup under way I keep reading the same opinions, overreactions and views bubbling to the surface. Only today I was made to feel like a modern day Alf Garnett in pretty much all football media channels, why you ask? Because I don’t like watching women’s football.
I understand that this is a very delicate subject and I also feel women have the right and naturally the ability to play football, but not to the standard I am used to and expect. I am an Arsenal fan and we have the most successful woman’s football team in the history of the sport, however I have no interest – even at a time when Arsenal fans are desperate for some light at the end of a very long and dark tunnel.
No matter how hard the female strand of the beautiful game is marketed it never seems to bring in the punters – it’s an intriguing problem; it is after all the same game. Read the rest of this entry
By Tom Gaunt
With two minutes remaining in it seemed like England Under-21′s had exactly replicated the senior teams much derided World Cup campaign of 2010, a 1-1 draw against the best team in the group followed by an appalling 0-0 bore-draw with the group minnows and finally a scrappy win against a plucky side lacking in true quality, typical England. However this was not to be as Jan Chramosta and Tomas Pekhart put England to the sword in the frantic final minutes of an otherwise underwhelming match.
For the purpose of this article I will assume that the England players are quality players physically if not technically, with most having plied their trade at some point in the premiership, and the more experienced members having played a full season for their respective clubs. Whether or not the players are World beaters is a discussion for another day Instead I will be looking at what went wrong in Denmark if anything could have been done differently, with of course that priceless tool hindsight. Read the rest of this entry
By Tom Gaunt
Towards the end of last season Arsene Wenger stated that his English midfield prodigy Jack Wilshire could play for either the under-21′s or the senior team, but not both. On the face of it this seems fair, after all we do not want Wilshire burning out, especially with his rise to prominence in the senior team. In fact we should applaud Wenger for being so caring about the health of his young players, wanting them to have long, injury-free careers for both club and country. However if we dig a little deeper the picture of the caring nurturing manager changes somewhat. at the tender age of 19 Jack Wilshire has been played an extraordinary 49 times this season, hardly the behavior of a manager concerned of a young players health and more likely a manager so desperate for success that player health goes out the window. Maybe this is a little harsh, considering the fact that Arsenal did face severe injury woes this season, although nonetheless hypocritical to suggest England are taking advantage of him and overplaying him. Read the rest of this entry
By Tom Gaunt
Is it just me or in the last couple of seasons has refereeing of the game, analysis of decisions and more recently the use of technology suddenly become a weekly if not a daily debate. Now I am sure fans have been arguing these same points on terraces and in pubs since the game began – but recently it seems to have stepped up a notch. Is this because the referees are getting worse? Is it because there is more televised football than ever? Is it because there is more at stake in every game played? It is possibly a combination of the three. With Managers shooting their mouths off and getting bans weekly and teams losing millions because the referee has incorrectly awarded a penalty or not seen the ball cross the line – something has got to change, or has it?
For the purpose of this article I will not condemn referees for being unfit, or unskilled or suggest that the problems could be fixed with more officials behind goals, in goals or hanging off the crossbar – there will always be human error and whilst some refs are better than others they are all trying to do the best job they can.
There seem to be two schools of thought when it comes to the officiating of the game. There are those that believe that it’s all “swings and roundabouts” and decisions will even themselves out over the course of a season. Those who subscribe to the ‘playground’ theory also often like to suggest that this is what makes football so great, the debating of decisions in the pub after, or the chance these errors give to a minnow who with a slice of luck (or bad decision) sends a heavyweight crashing out of the cup. In the other corner are those who think that referees need more help, because that last minute penalty given against Blackpool on the final day of the season could send them down – and it needs to be 100% right, or at least 95%. I fall in to the second school of thinkers – we need technology to help referees because decisions are too important in the modern game to get wrong. I am sure most fans would prefer to be singing and dancing in the street because their team had justly won the cup than sat in the pub debating the fact that they should have had a last minute penalty and what could have been.
You will notice that Managers will swing between the two schools of thought depending on whether the decision went for them or against them. Arsene Wenger recently said that he thought Football should have the appeal system, first endorsed by tennis and now found in cricket. One argument against this is that it would slow the game down, however the maximum time it seems to take in cricket, where let’s remember they are trying to detect whether there was even the slightest touch of leather on willow from a ball travelling at 140 km per hour, is probably 2 minutes. It takes the same time for players to argue with the ref, then organise the wall, then wait as the kick taker goes through a lengthy routine of placing the ball and staring into the distance whilst the ref minces about telling anyone who will listen that they must wait for his whistle (whatever happened to the quick free kick). I just don’t think it is a valid argument. If you only have two appeals then I doubt you will waste it on a free kick or yellow card. I think there also has to be a framework so that possibly only Penalties, Sending Offs or allowed / disallowed goals can be appealed – but I am sure this can be worked on as the game gets accustomed.
Having said all of this the reality is that it is hard enough to get FIFA to even consider using goal line technology which as far as I am aware there is no argument against except that it is only 99.99% accurate, clearly Blatter and his lap dogs believe a linesman squinting from 40 yards away at a ball travelling at 100km per hour and with only a second to decide, is far more accurate. I think we are still 10 years away from bringing in technology which is sad as almost every other major sport now utilizes these tools and with no repercussions to date.
At the least I believe goal line technology must be brought in, and hopefully this would highlight the benefits and more importantly rectify some appalling and embarrassing decisions that not only the fans but the referees have had to endure. Many argue that technology would undermine the referee and his authority. However I am sure if you asked Andre Mariner and his assistant, the officials in question for the recent and controversial Chelsea v Spurs match, whether they wished someone up in the gantry looking at a TV screen had been able to see that Gomes had stopped the ball crossing the line I am sure they would have welcomed the help. This wrong decision could be huge for both teams this season and could so easily have been avoided.
Frank Lampard joked that he was owed one after his goal was disallowed against Germany in the 2010 World Cup, and no one would begrudge him that, although I am sure Spurs would have preferred his pay back to come at another time. We will all remember in that match Germany went on to thump England 4-1 so the attitude seems to be that it wouldn’t have mattered anyway, or maybe it would have, who knows? All we are asking is for a fair and level playing field so that there aren’t any what ifs.
The strange thing with the Lampard goal is that it should have raised the issue to a level where it was felt that something needed to be done, but it seems that because it was widely accepted that the decision was not decisive in the result, it was not as important.
I will leave you with the words of Ian Holloway commenting on the use of video technology:
“Let’s get every decision right and we’ll all be buzzing”
By Tom Gaunt
Following his 2 match ban for swearing in United’s recent 4-2 victory over West Ham many people have come to the defense of the “innocent” Wayne Rooney from players like Rio Ferdinand who tweeted in defense of Wayne who was apparently caught up in the moment, and also from more esteemed characters such as Gordon Taylor who argues that players should be made aware if there is a change in the rules regarding use of foul and abusive language. It was even debated on Radio 5 asking the question “Whats the big deal about swearing?” although that is a bigger question for another day. So is Wayne being made an example of unfairly or is this the type of punishment which will start to clean up the beautiful game.
Although I for one think that Rooney is a mindless uneducated thug I do agree with Rio’s sentiments. When on the pitch and caught up in the passion of scoring a goal you will see players shouting and screaming and probably not thinking about what they are saying. I am also going to assume that in most footballers vocabulary expletives feature regularly. I also agree with Gordon Taylor that if the FA are suddenly going to start banning players for using bad language on the pitch then maybe they ought to forewarn the players who, let’s be honest, have been swearing freely for many years without ever getting banned.
There are however problems with both these opinions. Firstly Rooney does not just swear in the way you might if you stub your toe screaming at the moment of frustration, pain or in Rooney’s case ecstasy – it is a good 30 seconds after the goal is scored and furthermore he actually seeks the camera out making a statement to the camera, much like he did famously after England’s 0-0 draw with Algeria. By seeking out the camera he is committing what was the biggest sin of all and what makes this such an inexcusable act, he was specifically communicating with the millions of viewers many of whom would be children with his vulgar and unacceptable language.
Now it is not that far-fetched to suggest that he could not make the connection between the TV camera and that picture and sound being broadcast across the world to millions of viewers – but sheer stupidity can no longer be an excuse for these ridiculously high paid sportsman, responsibility needs to be taken at some point. Whether they like it or not footballers are role models and it really is only the minimum levels of behavior that are being asked e.g. don’t get drunk and punch people, don’t go to brothels and don’t swear into TV cameras.
Now to Gordon Taylor’s point. Surely we should not have to inform footballers that they are not allowed to swear directly into TV cameras. When Eric Cantona kung-fu kicked a fan, I am not sure anyone suggested that this was acceptable because players had not specifically been told they were not allowed to do it. The next point I will raise is that the FA is not the first to ban a player for use of foul and abusive language to TV camera’s – I think we will all remember Didier Drogba throwing his toys out of the pram in the most spectacular fashion after Chelsea got knocked out of Europe by Barcelona, in this case the ban was 3 matches – maybe Rooney can consider himself lucky.
Mr. Taylor also raises the issue of swearing at referees which it seems he considers more of an issue than swearing at fans – but for this there is something that the recipient can do about it to instantly stop it, they can produce a red card. Fans do not have that luxury. Rooney has had his fair share of disciplinary issues and has for the most part got away with a fine or just giving an apology – so if “previous” is taken into account then the ban seems fair.
It would be interesting to know whether a player has ever been caught doing something similar and if it is Rooney’s status that has afforded him such punishment.
I for one would like football cleaned up and think that players should be cited for cheating and other undesirable behaviour. For example if Rooney is banned for 2 matches for his actions then surely when a player is caught swearing at an official on TV, which you probably see about 10 times every live match, then surely that should warrant a 1 match ban. Actually it is the referees job to cut this out which some reason they 90% of the time chose not to, preferring to book players for kicking the ball away or god forbid celebrating with their adoring fans when scoring a goal (probably the most ludicrous rule ever).
I hope that the FA’s actions will simply act as a reminder to players that they need to behave in a certain manner when on the pitch and not turn into a trend with every player seen swearing anywhere a TV camera is suddenly facing a ban.
The other solution would be to take off the mics which are picking the players voices when they are celebrating – so we are just left with the standard mics picking up the stadium atmosphere – but that may be a bit to simple.
Anyway, with important games coming up and the usual end of season fixture congestion I think the ban may have a silver lining and give Rooney an enforced rest, and needless to say i do not think him or anyone will be swearing into camera’s for quite some time.