The Bully Pulpit

Blatter and Platini congratulate each other

I am dead tired of hearing from Blatter and Platini about how much they hate the EPL.  Unfortunately, the Euro 2008 tournament has afforded both of them ample opportunity to spout off.  Blatter started the whole thing off on Thursday by taunting England for not qualifying for Euro 2008.  He is absolutely, 100%, determined to push through his 6+5 rule: he doesn’t care how much it will hurt struggling football associations in Africa, Asia, or the USA.   He is only interested in tearing down what the English Premier League has built; a successful, multinational, diverse football league with a world-wide following that generates billions of dollars and which produces the finest football and footballers the world over.  He wants to stop the EPL because prior to their rise, the only decent football anyone outside of England, Italy, France, and Spain could watch was the World Cup.

The cat is out of the bag, though. Fans are not going to be satisfied with just the World Cup or Euro Cup every two years.  Players are not going to put up with this form of nationalistic discrimination. And owners are going to spend a lot of money to fight this.  So, even if he does get the exception he’s looking for I suspect that the rule will quickly be challenged and overturned in the courts.

And what happens if it holds up in court?  Well, there will only be two choices; the world’s top clubs follow the rule or they break away and form their own association.  If they follow the rule, then we the fans will lose out and I suspect that some other league will rise to prominence, threaten FIFA, and they’ll have to come up with some other law to put them down.  If the clubs form their own “super league…”  uh… well, I haven’t given that much thought but it seems awfully drastic and potentially permanently damaging.

Platini, not really caring too much about FIFA’s problems, seems to have given an interview while wasted.   I swear he had to have been drunk to say that he likes divers.  He actually admits that he was a cheater and thinks that cheating should be rewarded, saying “When I was a player I simulated to help my team win.”  But it was his stance against the retroactive bans of two French players who clearly cheated that really gets me.  This is the head of the organization that banned Dida for two matches because of insane dive and stretchering off against Celtic.

That was clear simulation, Dida was absolutely unsporting (actually disgraceful) to collapse like that.  Dida’s dive was a humiliating episode for everyone involved and only served to reiterate the constant criticisms that Football is nothing more than a bunch of “grass divers” as they say here in the USA.

For me, though, I see absolutely no difference between Dida’s dive and a player like Ronaldo who gleefully will say “I feel contact, I go down.”  Both are an attempt by the player to gain an advantage via the referee by cheating.   CHEATING.  In fact, I have said here before that I think the Ronaldo type dives are more problematic than the Dida type dives because they are harder to ferret out, more difficult for a referee to call properly, and they can (and are) done much more ubiquitously.  I think the Ronaldo type simulation has actually done as much, if not more, damage to Football’s reputation than the Dida dives.

And here, the head of UEFA, the governing body of European football, is saying that not only is he a cheat but that cheating is OK?  How drunk was he?  And then, of course, in the same breath as he embraces the diving cheaters, he decries Man U and Chelsea as cheaters because they have so much debt.  You almost have to laugh, right?

But like I said, I’m getting tired of talking about these two clowns.  I really wish they would just go away.

Adebayor watch

The boss said that Adebayor is not for sale and neither is Cesc Fabregas.  Still, Arsene, if AC Milan offer £32m for Ade, I say you take it.  I love the guy and all but come on!

Also, please note that Wenger is not saying that Hleb is not for sale.  Which must mean that he’s going to Barcelona!

And finally…

Wenger loves Spurs new signing Luca Modric but not nearly as much as he loves Cesc Fabregas’ intelligence.  It almost seems like a backhanded compliment, but the boss said that despite Cesc’s slight frame he’s got the best football brain in the world.  Or something.

That’s it for today.  I’m tired after my first week back at work, so I’m going to take a nap today!  See you tomorrow.

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