Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Johansson's idle proposal

UEFA President Lennart Johansson should be making positive steps to enable women's football attract better sponsorship, instead of idling with a silly idea.

"There are so many companies who could make use of the fact that if you see a girl playing on the ground, sweaty, with the rainy weather and coming out of the dressing-room, lovely-looking, that would sell well," said UEFA President Lennart Johansson, after watching the semi-final between Sweden and Norway in the semi-final of the European Women's Championship 2005 in England.

Since Johansson is the President of Europe's football governing body, you would expect that he is a professional spokesperson who speaks to the media in an official manner, rather than airing his personal and off-handish viewpoint over the direction of football (albeit women's football).

However, he has said what he has said, and there is no turning back, so let the following be said: women's football should continue to be about football, because if men want to look at women who are appealing to their sexual desires, there are other mediums, such as magazines and the internet, in which they can be fulfilled.

Rather than resting on this idle, negative, and indecent proposal for women's football to attract better sponsorship, Johansson should be taking positive steps to increase the profile of the women's game having UEFA invest money into the game.

For example, why not take small amount of money out of their coffers (I hear that the Champions League prize pool has cash to spare) and invest it in developing women's football, which would eventually increase the quality and attraction of the game, inevitably attracting better support and sponsorship?

Not much money would actually be needed to develop such a fledgling section of the world game, and any such investment that strengthens the women's game would have a decent chance of being paid back in the future.

Aloisi-mo!

No. 7 is proud of the fact that "his man", John Aloisi, has shown his worth for the Australia national team during the Confederations Cup campaign so far.

For a long time now, I have wanted Australia national team head coach Frank Farina to give Spanish-based Osasuna striker John Aloisi a proper chance to prove his worth on the international stage, and that has finally happened in the Confederations Cup in Germany.

Farina has preferred to play Viduka and Kewell as a forward partnership or Viduka up front as a lone striker for a long time now, giving the 29-year-old only fleeting chances now and again, along with other fledgling players, which has hardly allowed him to properly stake a place in the starting eleven.

The reason why Aloisi has been pushed out of Farina's plans for a long time is puzzling, considering he has a record of 21 goals in 34 international caps, compared to the three goals in 25 caps by Viduka (Australia's very own "Emile Heskey") and the five goals in 17 caps by Kewell (Australia’s very own “no-show”).

You would think that having a much more superior record than the first choice forwards is very good for the resume and enough to justify a regular place in the starting eleven, but Farina has rarely taken any notice, for reasons unexplained, although the six-footer was hampered by injury earlier in Farina's reign.

At any rate, what Aloisi really needed was a run of matches in the starting eleven, and so you could probably imagine my delight at his playing a part in Australia's Confederations Cup campaign, thanks to the absence of injured Kewell and the need to ease Viduka back into the starting eleven after months of injury.

An even sweeter sight was seeing the ex-Portsmouth and ex-Coventry player take the first two matches in his grasp by scoring two goals against host nation Germany and then another two goals against South American giants Argentina.

With four goals in two matches in this tournament already, Farina should already have made up his mind that Aloisi has booked his place for the World Cup qualifying two-leg playoff against the South American fifth-placed team in November.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

A champion solution

Any solution that leads to Liverpool's UEFA Champions League qualification for next season while not compromising Everton's place is the correct solution.

Liverpool will find out within the next two days whether they will be given a UEFA Champions League place for next season by the Union of European Football Associations executive committee, since they are European champions yet in the ridiculous situation at the moment whereby they cannot defend their title due to finishing outside the qualifying places in the English Premier League.

As far as I am concerned, Liverpool deserve to be given a qualifying place, but not at the expense of Everton, because every English club was under the notion of that the top four placed received Champions League qualification, which also means the blue side of Merseyside should not go through any silly qualifying play-off against fifth-placed Liverpool or anything of the sort.

Allowing five English clubs into the 2005/2006 UEFA Champions League would be the ideal solution, and by all means the fairest.

Chelsea: the club that everyone will want to hate

No. 7 is back after an absence of two weeks to rant about Chelsea's arrogance. And no, he does not have an opinion of Blackburn manager Mark Hughes' decision to put promising striker Jonathan Stead on the transfer list... at least one that he wants to share with us.

I must profess that I do not see anything wrong with arrogance. It is a wonderful thing to see the likes of Graeme Souness ask a referee whether he is barracking for the opposition team, or Sir Alex Ferguson complain that his team is persecuted by the referees.

It provides an entertainment value to the beautiful game and it is quite fun combing over the news and opinion articles for displays of arrogance, and especially letters to the editor. No ladies and gentlemen, I do not have anything against arrogance.

What I do have a problem with is when an identity will supersede mere arrogance with numerous displays of rule-breaking that not only seriously undermines the credibility of the whole dynamic of relations in transfer dealings, but also sticks the middle finger up at everybody else involved in the process. Step in Chelsea.

If Chelsea is not the club that everyone loves to hate at the moment, then they soon will be at the rate they are going. Of course, Blues manager Jose Mourinho's low blows are usually quite enough to make any neutral football supporter to get sick in the stomach, but Chelsea's latest dealings in the Frank Arnesen and Ashley Cole sagas is the finishing blow to the head.

The latter Colegate (not to be confused with the brand of toothpaste) saga is the one which has made all the media headlines, and perhaps the most blatant of the two. Before I do discuss this topic, it is important to note that I also think it important to note the evil of agents, but further discussion the role of agents is perhaps for another entry.

What I do want to concentrate on is Chelsea's role in this whole sorry saga, because they approached (tapped-up) a player (Ashley Cole) in January who was under contract at another club (Arsenal) and had more than six months to go on his contract, clearly breaking Rule K3 (which prohibits a club making an approach to a player under contract without obtaining permission of his club), of which they were found guilty last week. The player himself did not have permission to speak with any other club as part of a transfer deal, nor did his contract stipulate any such thing.

This is a spurious act in itself by Chelsea because it transcends the way in which the world of football works. What makes this an even more shameful is that they did so in a hotel restaurant in full view of witnesses from the public--they did not even have the conscience to disguise the meeting that would have appeared strange to onlookers... an obvious and conscious approach by Chelsea and a conscious approach by Cole is not something that happens on a regular basis.

And what was the conclusion of this meeting? Arsenal now have an unsettled player on their books who refuses to sign a new contract with his current club because they refuse to be intimidated by an engineered interest and give in to paying an extra £5000 a week. Chelsea might not have got their man, since it would look absolutely farcical if Cole were to be signed by Chelsea now, but they have unsettled a very important first team player who plays for their English Premier League rivals.

The punishment that Chelsea received was very fitting--a £300,000 fine and a three-point suspended deduction (to be taken away if Rule K3 is broken again)--although I do think that Chelsea should enter the 2005/2006 season on minus three points. Some might argue that the penalty was not harsh enough, that more money and more points should be taken away from the Blues, but that does not hold up with me, because what if a club like Portsmouth were found guilty at a later date? It would seem far too harsh.

Now that I have lowered the temperature for one paragraph, let me add more fire and brimstone to this article again by mentioning Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck. This silly fool had the audacity to accuse Arsenal of having an "agenda" by reporting Chelsea's conduct to the Premier League.

Well, he was right, Arsenal certainly did have an agenda, but why stipulate it as a damning accusation? Most would agree that Arsenal had every right to protect themselves from hostile tapping-up of their players from a rival club.

Furthermore to this, Buck went on to state that Chelsea's view was "that it breaches the rules if you make an approach with the intention of entering into a contract with the player. But we had no intentions of doing that and we made that clear to Arsenal." No Buck, Chelsea did approach an opposition player with the view of signing them (why would your club do otherwise?), and Arsenal were certainly not aware of Chelsea's lack of intention of signing the player, much less the meeting, until after the headlines hit the streets.

And to top all of this ridiculousness off, we are now subjected to the accusations of Tottenham Hotspur sporting director Frank Arnesen being tapped-up by Chelsea, and if they are found guilty of doing so, they face a deduction of three English Premiership points (unless their appeal against the punishment is accepted, in which case they will probably lose no points). What was wrong with going through the right channels to approach Arnesen is anyone's guess.

So what is the moral of this article? We thought that Manchester United was bad, and that they would be the only club that everyone would ever hate, but how very wrong we were.