The not so beautiful game – The treatment of Sulley Muntari

Yet again football in Italy has failed to properly deal with the racism issue. This time Pescara midfield Sulley Muntari was the victim in a Serie A game between his club Pescara and Cagliari. Having received abuse, the Ghanian and former Portsmouth player went over to the fans who he had identified as those ones shouting racist chants. Having confronted the racists, I chose not to call them fans as decent football supporters don’t result to such levels, Muntari spoke to the referee. Thinking that the referee would deal with the matter, he was surprised to be on the receiving end of a yellow card. What was he given the yellow card for? dissent. I mean come on, if a player gets punished for reporting racism to a match official, then we are in trouble. Naturally the player walked off the pitch letting the game carry on.

It is appalling but yet not surprising to see the Italian FA failing to deal with the racism problem once more. We have seen time and time again that the racism problem raises its dirty head once more. Another example of failure to deal with racism is the treatment of Mario Ballotelli. The football enigma has been often a victim to the disgusting racism with the n word and monkey taunts. On one occasion was seen to be crying whilst on the bench having been on the receiving end of abuse. The response by his manager, Clarence Seerdorf and his players? Nothing to do with racism, but his passion for the game causing him to get upset.

What it needs is for a ban of some sort by either UEFA or FIFA on the Italian Football Association to make them realise that they need to take things more seriously. Handing out fines will simply not do.

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World Cup to 48 – No thanks

 So the reality of an expanded World Cup moves ever closer. FIFA voted on Tuesday 10th January for a 48 nations in 2026. If you thought Russia and Qatar being handed the World Cup Finals was a crazy idea, then expanding to 48 seems one step too far. Of course it will all be about making it more profitable and making more money. It is all very well making things profitable if the actual product improves. Sadly it is very unlikely that the football will improve. The  reality is that the teams from Europe and South America will continue to dominate whilst African nations keep their toes dipped in the pool as it were. It is very unlikely that other than Japan, South Korea or Australia,the Asian teams or even those from Oceania (should they qualify) will be nothing more than adding numbers to the loss column. There were five options available for the member nations to vote for but it seems

  • Keep The Existing Structure
  • Expand to 40 ( 8 Groups of 5)
  • Expand to 40 (10 Groups of 4)
  • Expand to 48 (16 Groups of 3)
  • Expand to 48 (Opening 32 play off round)

As you can see there are five options. The first one is the if it aint broke dont fix it option, you then have the increase to 40, this was an idea that the former UEFA man Michel Platini had suggested, which could have been bearable and then finally the 48 option.

It is one thing to make the World Cup bigger but to choose the most ridiculous option of 16 groups of three is just bordering on pointless and with two going through. The last time the World Cup finals saw groups of three was when Spain hosted the World Cup in 1982. Back then it saw just the group winners make it into the next round. That idea seemed to have been quickly thrown away as the following World Cup finals format returned to group then knockout rounds. If the idea of three team groups was a bad idea then, why in gods name does anyone think it’s going to be better in 2026. I guess in the post Qatar fall out anything might seem bearable.

The Scottish FA seem to support it, I guess anything that enhances their chances of qualifying can only seem good. That said they dont seem to be able to make headway in a group that contains Slovenia, Slovakia and Lithuania. I guess though anything that keeps the Scot’s somewhat happy. The not so happy people included the European Club Association, who opposed it and called it regrettable and merely for political reasons. The Spanish La Liga are also against it.

There may not be any reversal in the decision, but one can only hope that before the competition has reached it’s centenary year, the tournament may have seen its enjoyment tarnished.

All too late? – Fifa’s move for change

Fifa appear to be finally learning from the mess that has engulfed the organisation and brought the end of Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini. They have appeared to decide to make a U turn on the decision not to have fixed terms along with more stronger checks on how the organisation is run.

 Fixed term appointments are not a bad thing, but they should have been put in place years ago. Had this been done, we may not have been in this position to begin with. Hindsight though is a wonderful thing.

In my opinion though the whole of the FIFA executive committee should be scrapped and started again. As it stands the Executive committee consists of one president, one Senior Vice President, seven Vice Presidents, sixteen members one Co-opted member for Special Tasks and the General Secretary.

Frankly that seems a ridiculous amount of members in the role of Vice President on an executive committee. Does FIFA actually require seven Vice Presidents? Im not sure it does to be honest. They should instead have one outright president, one deputy president and two Vice Presidents. The members should consist of three members from each of the Associations. An equal balance within the associations would mean equal balance and fairness in FIFA.

Openess should have always been the case with FIFA, especially with such a big organisation. In 2015 it should be the norm without hesitation. Whilst it is is positive, it is very much shutting the door after the horse has bolted.

Notably with the recent events, the changes in FIFA, may require investigations within the other affected to root out any possible issues. Trouble wont be sorted with just an investigation at the highest of the organisations. It needs change all over. We shall though have to wait and see.

Time For Genuine Change – FIFA needs more than just Blatter gone

Despite the election then resignation intent of Sepp Blatter, it is going to require much more than just his resignation to get the organisation back to where it should be. In theory FIFA as we know it, should be shut down and a new organisation set up with fair impartial elections a brand new committee to drive the organisation forward in a positive manner. Ultimately it would see the removal of Russia and Qatar as the 2018 and 2022 World Cups respectively.

The removal of Russia and Qatar as hosts of the World Cups they were selected for, may to some seem unfair. In reality though it is the only thing to be done. Whilst Russia could have claimed  legitimate reasons for hosting the World Cup, their stances on certain aspects, would make it difficult for an enjoyable competition. 

In the case of Qatar, there is no justification for the country to be hosting the prestigious tournament. There is no football heritage, there is no proper football history or decent football set up. How can a nation whose summers are far too hot, no World Cup history, socially backwards, even be genuinely hosting a World Cup. There was talk that the competition could be moved to the winter to enable reasonable conditions. No bloody chance. UEFA with a backbone would kick up a fuss.

With the investigations picking up, word would appear that there were allegations that both Russia and Qatar bought votes, the possibilities of FIFA stripping the current 2018 and 2022 hosts of their award are becoming ever more realistic. The rightful thing would either be to have a new process or award it it to one of the nations that had missed out before. The 2018 World Cup could come to England and the 2022 World Cup could go to Australia.

Until Blatter has departed and the many of the remaining officials removed, we may not get to see what the fans truly deserve, the beautiful game being enjoyed for the on field delights and not the off field nightmares.