Capello’s First Point of Order

Fabio Capello (pr. Kah-Per-Lo), the new England football manager, may or may not have serious intentions in getting the team with a trophy or another.

But if he does, there is one clear thing he needs to impose to change the squad’s attitude: a complete alcohol ban for any player willing to represent England.

Otherwise, Capello’s tenure will end up like Eriksson’s and any other manager’s this side of 1966.

England’s football system is large enough to guarantee that a team of 11 average alcohol-free players can be put together, and they will have an enormously higher chance to win than highly-paid drunks.

If Italy made it in 2006…

——————–

I am not just saying players should stop drinking before matches, or during major competitions. Of course they should, and to do otherwise is a clear sign of foolishness.

But if I were Capello, I would ask for players to not drink any alcohol at all in any moment of their day. Ever.

A player’s career in the national team is usually short anyway, seldom lasting more than 4 or 6 years. If anybody cannot resist that short a time as an absolute teetotaller, in exchange for the possibility of winning the Cup in South Africa 2010, that person must have a serious alcoholism problem. And he should be sent for some basic detox, not to play for his Country.

——————–

Of course there’s always another solution: change nothing, pretend it’s all about football schemes, play on, and just wait for next abysmal failure…

…while going from one rape allegation to another, of course!

ps Is it important for Capello to learn how to speakka goode Englisch? Maybe not. He’d better spend some money to buy a large amount of wild dogs, to unleash against any player showing signs of drunkeness (or just slacking).

Football: Support Maurizio for the Top England Job

(1) Won’t do worse (can’t)

(2) Won’t stand underneath an umbrella when the players are out in the rain

(3) At only £300k/year, I’ll be a bargain

(4) Achingly boring private life will ensure newspapers concentrate on the football instead of girlfriends and meet-ups with dodgy, super-rich people

(5) Highlights of press conferences will be geeky, controversial remarks on global warming

(6) I promise to move footballing strategy beyond age-old “kick the ball forward and run

(7) I can speakka Inglisch (other candidates cannot)

(8) As an additional bonus, after retirement from competitive football, aging players will be able to work as Murex IT Consultants

Top 10 Positive Things About England and Euro 2008

From the most likely to the least likely…

1- Hosts Switzerland and Austria have no chance of winning

2- HM Revenue & Customs won’t be able to lose the details of the 25 England players selected for the tournament

3- Relief for the New York soccer fans as top star will be available

4- Fewer chances for the Government to bury bad news

5- A good English goalie will finally be discovered, perhaps in Third Division

6- Free-to-air matches as no broadcaster will compete to buy them

7- Opportunity for an England-Scotland friendly in early June

8- Beckham’s haircut won’t be considered relevant to a football tournament

9- Due to lack of WAG pictures, plenty of newspaper surface available for serious discussions

10- European friendship ties strengthened with English supporters cheering for France, Germany or Italy

======

ADDENDUM: Support Line for Beleaguered English Fans

Call 688 63 3876 08 for help in these difficult times.

You will be presented with a selection of teams to cheer for in June 2008:

Press (1) for France
Press (2) for Germany
Press (3) for Italy
Press (4) for Croatia
Press (5) for Russia
Press (6) for Turkey
Press (7) for Argentina if you’re really that desperate
Press (0) for Scotland. Or Ireland. Or Wales. Or Belgium

What Hope for European Soccer?

The soccer/football season in Europe has just started, but violence is already in full swing both off and on the pitches.

With fans too ready to misbehave with knives in the best of circumstances, players to kick each other rather than the ball, managers to whine, and referees and football authorities clueless if honest, there is almost absolute certainty of several persons dying for nothing really, outside the stadiums.

Can it get any worse? Let’s just hope no footballer will get killed on live TV.

Rotten (Italian) Football (and Inept Police)

First let me place the blame squarely onto the Police for the homicide of Chief Police Inspector Raciti in Catania on Friday night, by a group of football “killer” fans.

I am not saying the police personnel on the ground had any fault. My anger is at those in charge of managing public order, from the local Police Chief up to the Italian Home Minister.

They knew well in advance where, when, how, by whom and against whom, fans of football club Catania were going to strike: and still, they let the situation degenerate, to the point that large numbers of people had no qualms in assaulting the Police

Crowd control is based on instigating fear to prevent problems, not in becoming sitting ducks for rocks and home-made bombs. 

Police people that find themselves in a situation like Friday’s are like a bank that gets robbed after having been told all the details of the robbery; or a surgeon that is surprised to find in the patient the very tumor he or she diagnosed.

For me, the lasting impression of Saturday’s incident will be of a State that cannot bring the Rule of Law within a couple hundred meters of the stadiums

================================

Commentators keep repeating that violent fans are no true football fans. It is hard to believe them anymore, having heard the same mantra for decades.

Perhaps it is much nearer to the truth to say that “killer” fans are part-and-parcel of contemporary Italian football.

Its whole structure has in fact plenty to blame itself for having let the rot overcome any good it had had inside, becoming a “Sleaze&Aggression” ensemble that rejects violence only in words.

And so club presidents and managers lament conspiracies only to join any they are made privy of. Players busy themselves tricking the referee either by diving untouched, or by committing hard-to-see fouls without any sense of fair-play.

Referees develop embarrassing relationships with football clubs (and I don’t mean of a sexual variety).

After the football league’s previous managers had been found asleep if not worse during the Summer 2006 match-fixing scandal, the new ones proceeded to water down any punishment, not to mention claiming the miracoulous occurrence of having lowly Reggina manage to collect more guilt than multiple championship winners, powerhouses Lazio and AC Milan.

(I am not angry at “sport” journalists: more, at “normal” journalists, forever oblivious of ongoing scandals)

================================

Is there a dark side to Football? For some reason, other sports such as Rugby Union do not attract any fan violence.

Perhaps, because they don’t inspire any.

There is indeed something very wrong in the very game of Football: ambigous rules on when and how to stop the opponent; the injustice of having a team with a single good player win over a team with a single bad player, perhaps thanks to a single penalty dubiously rewarded by an all-too-powerful referee; the exceedingly strong link to the city or village a team is named after, making the players akin to the local militia of ancient times.

It’s all part to a “temptation to violence“, like semi-transparent clothes that subliminally “inspire” whilst pretending not to.

All in all, Football (like Basketball, like Waterpolo) is inferior to Rugby Union or Volleyball, because one can bring the family to follow the latter group more or less everywhere around the world.

It’s for these reasons that I don’t believe that, were Football to be banned in Italy from tomorrow, its “killer” fans would simply move their violent instincts elsewhere. There would be lots less violent instincts.

================================

Fact is that Football defects’ outlined above compound with other typical Italian issues: a weak sensibility for the Rule of Law, sometimes in the Government itself; a weak State when confronting the Mafias; way too many examples of people getting rich by dubious means; rampant sleaze and corruption in some kind of collective delusion where everybody else is stupid.

================================

What shall we do then? Wait for Italian society to change inside out? Petition Platini and Blatter to change Football by outlawing all physical contact (or by allowing it freely), and by introducing instant replay for the referees?

For the time being all I’d wish is for the economical interests of all the “actors” of the Italian Football Circus to be severely dented by the latest uproar. Perhaps that’ll inspire them into doing something better about their game than throwing it to the dogs.

In the meanwhile, let’s not kid ourselves: lasting changes there will be none, at least not until clever idiots keep zooming forward at the sight of a red light.

WC wisdom

a. if you cannot score you cannot win

b. if you beleve your midfield is the strongest in the world, it isn’t

c. it is easier to simulate than to suffer a foul

d. if you want to fall it is far more convenient to do it in the opponents’ penalty area

e. putting a defender at just one of the goalposts is not enough

f. defending by using the offside rule depends on all the defenders being awake and aware of their surroundings

g. it is better if your goalkeeper has previous familiarity with the rounded thingy everybody else is kicking around

h. lots of goals against a weak team are no evidence of greatness

i. referees’ influence on the result cannot be underestimated

j. if Blatter speaks in the morning against touching the ball with one’s left hand, use the right one

I’ll be cheering Mexico during the World Cup

1. Italian football is too rotten to deserve participating, let alone win this year. I only wish they'd retire the squad now

2. I can't root for England. They'd be boasting about a World Cup win for the next 2,000 years

3. I can't root for Brazil. It's just too simple for them to win everything

4. I like Mexico

5. Mexico have a slim, remote non-zero chance of doing something good this year

6. The Mexican flag has got the right colours 8-)