Rise Of The Machines
It is definitely a rarity during an international window for this site to actually discuss international football; even more so for me to make it the topic of an article. Recent rumours,however,suggest it is a topic well worth a mention-and one which should be nipped in the bud ASAP.
Let there be little doubt about it,anytime anyone in a position of power in football thinks about the game,their thoughts are driven by the amount of money available. This is the case when a player is discussing a new contract with his club,or an agent manoeuvring his client out of one club and into another. The same applies when clubs are wondering how to maximise their income via ludicrously tenuous sponsorship deals or floating the idea of new competitions.
And then there is FIFA,possibly the most corrupt organisation in the game for almost fifty years,ever since the arrival of Joao Havelange. Sepp Blatter took things to an entirely new level,enabling that corruption into each of the continental federations,and we were encouraged and heartened as grass roots football supporters when he was finally charged by both the Swiss and US authorities for his actions over the previous seventeen years of his reign.
Word to the wise-if you must be corrupt,do not use the Yankee Dollar as your preferred medium of kickback. That pulls in A LOT of powerful organisations in the US Government,who do not like their currency being maligned. And the Swiss are very protective too about their international financial reputation,so corruption while heading up a Swiss-based international organisation is just asking for trouble.
Havelange pretty much got away with it. To be honest,so did Blatter-though he is still suspended from all footballing activity till 2028. Many members of the international federations were not so lucky,and were made an example of.
Good-oh,and we all hoped for better things when Gianni Infantino was elected as supremo of FIFA. At the very least,we were unlikely to see the likes of Qatar being “awarded” a World Cup. And in fairness,he has largely been squeaky clean to date-even if only by comparison!
And then there is the latest plan being widely leaked,which is for The World Cup to move to a two-year schedule instead of the four-year schedule which has been in place for nearly a century,with the added bonus that The Euros will be “permitted” to move to the same schedule in the interim years.
And when I say it is being widely leaked,it is actually being openly discussed by one of the most respected-till now?-figures in the game over the last quarter of a century.
On Friday, Arsène Wenger, Fifa’s chief of global football development, outlined proposals that could see a World Cup or European Championship being staged every summer. He also hinted that qualifiers could be held throughout the preceding October, rather than over an 18-month period, and said he hoped everything would be decided by December.
I mean,really? Is this the same Arsene Wenger who,as manager of Arsenal,complained vociferously about the amount of international football his players were forced to undertake? And which includes plans for a total shutdown of domestic football each October and March in order to facilitate those qualifiers?
Surely not,as Arsene knows full well the probability of burn-out when players aren’t able to get proper down time during the summer. How many times did he bemoan the lack of same when players returned from international duties every two years,frankly fit for eff all due to their efforts in the summer? And he wants it to happen every year? And at a time when top players are being asked to play over sixty games a season as it is?
We all shudder when we think of the paucity of caps that The Lisbon Lions got-and with good reason. But Denis Law was practically ever-present for Scotland from the age of 18 to 34,at the 1974 World Cup. He was the record cap holder for Scotland for years with an impressive 55 caps in those 16 years.
Ronaldo is two years older,but also made his international debut at the age of 18. He has 180 caps!
That means that every season,Ronaldo is playing three times as many games at international level as Denis Law did-because there are three times as many bloody internationals!
And Wenger and FIFA want to increase this burden?
This isn’t just wrong,it isn’t just madness-it is plain and simple greed. It must,as I said earlier,be nipped in the bud. To play at the top level nowadays requires a footballer to be a supreme athlete,we all know that. The sheer speed of the game nowadays is breathtaking-even if some of us think Paddy McCourt is the most talented Celtic player in the last ten years!
But they are not machines,and they are not cash cows. They deserve their downtime,they absolutely NEED their downtime. That for too many,that downtime is only a biennial occurrence is bad enough.
The Wenger/FIFA proposals will deny them even of that.
At the moment,I suspect it is a bit of kite-flying. They know it won’t happen,at least not now. But the intent has been made plain,and they are like as not working to a ten year plan. After all,the 2030 hosts haven’t been announced yet. UEFA and the other continental federations need to be united on this,and tell FIFA where to shove it-in perpetuity. The national associations need to back them up. And the players unions worldwide need to take a stand too.
Stop it before it gains a head of steam.
Above article by BMCUWP