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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Argentina 1 England 0 And More World Cup Thoughts

Good to see Carlos Tevez and Gary Neville doing their bit to improve Argentina - England relations. No love lost between the two countries, either in the football sense or politically, but I have to say that Carlos Tevez certainly came out best in that little contretemps.

Speaking to ESPN Argentina, Tevez is quoted as saying:

"He [Gary Neville] acted like a complete boot-licker when he said I wasn't worth £25m, just to suck up to the manager. I don't know what the hell that idiot is talking about me for."

Let's be honest, we've all thought the same about Neville at one time or another. 1-0 to Argentina, methinks.

Back in the 'ridiculous World Cup bid ambassadors' file, we have the news that David Ginola is backing England's 2018 World Cup bid.

Has no one noticed that Ginola is, er, French?

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posted by mark_s at 1:01 PM 0 comments

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

No Suspension For Henry...But FIFA's Rules Look Ridiculous

It was to no-one's surprise at all that FIFA chose not to suspend Thierry Henry for the handball that saw France through to the World Cup Finals at the expense of the Republic of Ireland.

The FIFA Disciplinary Committee could not suspend Henry because handling the ball to help your team score is not a 'serious infringement' of the rules and therefore cannot be punishable by suspension.

Fair enough, you might say, until you look - like the Huffington Post's Gabriel A Feldman chose to do - at the FIFA Disciplinary Code itself.

Feldman notes the ill-conceived, inconsistent absurdities of the Code, pointing out that punching a player only merits a 2 match suspension, while spitting at an opponent gets you a 6 match suspension.

More pertinently, he observes that a one match ban will be imposed if a player is found "denying the opposing team a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball."

Feldman asks the obvious question here: From the perspective of disciplining a player, is there a real difference between using your hand to score a goal versus using your hand to prevent a goal?

And, as usual, FIFA have no answers.

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posted by mark_s at 3:21 PM 0 comments

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

This Is A Local Team...For Local People

South Africa's Brazilian coach, Carlos Alberto Parreira has come out and said that the South Africa World Cup squad will be largely made up of locally based players.

He is quoted as saying:

“The team that will play in the World Cup will be made up by 65-70 per cent of locally-based players. This is largely because the overseas-based players are not regulars in their teams. But the door will always be open until the final camp,”

So, it's not because there really aren't very many South African players playing outside of the country, then, Carlos?

And that number of 30-35% of overseas based players? This couldn't possibly be approximately the percentage of players that are actually playing abroad, could it?

A quick check of Wikipedia reveals that 9 of the current 24 man South African squad play outside the country. A percentage of 37.5%.

So I guess what Parreira is actually saying is this:

"we'll play all the players we can from outside of the country. Unfortunately, because this is only 35% of the total number required for the squad, we'll be forced to use local players. Sorry about that."

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posted by mark_s at 2:35 PM 0 comments

Monday, January 18, 2010

Could This Be The Reason Africa Doesn't Do That Well At World Cups

I found this extremely interesting article on how African nations use over-age players in tournaments. The author thinks this is preventing the development of players and could be the reason why African countries seemingly underperform at major tournaments.

The argument he puts forward is that: because African nations use overage players in Under 21 and Under 18 tournaments, they are not challenged sufficiently by playing against players of their own age group. Consequently, when they do come up against such players at things like the World Cup Finals, they are easily outmuscled and outplayed.

I'm not sure I'm 100% in agreement with his conclusions, but it's a thought provoking piece, so I suggest you check it out

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posted by mark_s at 6:20 PM 0 comments