For something a bit lighter. It’s good that the USMNT are playing Spain immediately before the Gold Cup campaign, which is of far greater importance. As the ESPN article suggests, the US will be rotating and resting their key players in this friendly, thus do not expect a result similar to the last time the US played Spain, the stunning 2-0 victory in the Confederations Cup from two years ago.
It appears that Sepp Blatter’s cunning ploy succeeded. Mohamed Bin Hammam has pulled out of the race to serve as FIFA President, leaving the field about as competitive as a number of US House seats (though Blatter himself is now also under investigation for corruption). Refreshingly he didn’t pull out to spend more time with his family, but rather to prevent the sullying of the FIFA name.
However, in the wake of Chuck Blazer’s apparently well evidenced and documented allegations last week, FIFA still have some ‘splaining to do. Tory MP Damien Collins has launched the charmingly named “International Partnership for the Reform of FIFA“. As its blog suggests, this is an embryonic organization. It’s not clear to me just what leverage such a body, or the politicians from among Germany, Australia, and the United States that constitute it, can have to encourage or force reform of FIFA. The most effective play that they can make is trying to convince member associations to leave FIFA and set up a new governing body. This is a long shot at best, though Collins has not rejected such a move. The mere threat of withdrawal may convince FIFA to reform from within in order to save its role in the sport, especially if one of the regional associations (e.g. UEFA) goes along.
With Bin Hammam out of the way leaving the election uncontested, I doubt there will be any substantive reform from within; indeed I fully expect Qatar 2022 to go ahead as insanely planned. Likewise, any movement for reform brought on exogenous to FIFA lacks the leverage necessary to effect change from without.
I hope I’m wrong, but optimism eludes me.
In other soccer news, there was a small match in London yesterday, where Barcelona owned Manchester United. I didn’t shed a tear, but then I’d root for the New York Yankees against Man U.
I still believe that this is an admittedly risky tactic that Blatter is using to ensure his reelection, and once that’s secured normal business will resume (FIFA is not corrupt! How dare you imply otherwise!) but there remains an outside chance that Qatar will be stripped of the 2022 World Cup.
This hasn’t really been picked up by the media, but according to Prost Amerika Soccer, FIFA is entertaining the possibility of overturning Qatar’s sensible victory in hosting the 2022 World Cup. Slightly more here at The Guardian. Of course, refusing to rule out a re-vote is likely a ploy, given that current FIFA chief Sepp Blatter is being challenged by Mohammad Bin Hammam, from . . . Qatar. Bin Hammam was “heavily involved in lobbying for his nation to win”, hence if corruption existed, he was likely aware. Anything that tarnishes Qatar’s bid conveniently undermines Blatter’s opponent.
The 2022 selection vote was between Qatar, the USA, South Korea, Japan, and Australia. Presumably a re-vote would exclude Qatar, and neither South Korea nor Japan ought to receive much attention as they recently hosted it in 2002. Among the existing bids, it would be between the US and Australia; with Australia only receiving one vote in the first round of voting, the USA should be favored. A new entrant or entrants is possible, but with 2018 being held in Russia, a European bid would be ruled out (sorry, England).
Blatter, shockingly, is on record as denying that corruption exists in FIFA.
In soccer news not involving corruption, the rise of AFC Wimbledon is good story. I’ve been loosely following their rise since their founding in 2002. After five promotions in nine seasons, AFC Wimbledon are now in the Football League proper, promoted to the fourth tier of English soccer.
UPDATE (5/24): Qatar play the “disgruntled ex-employee” card to dismiss the allegations of corruption, pointing out that said allegations are “completely unsubstantiated and false”. Of course.
I arrived back on the island where I am currently based “yesterday” morning (January 11). I slept seven hours “last night”, awaking at 11pm (GMT). I lecture in two hours or so. I’m sure it will go well indeed, once I work out just where and when I am.
While the social science on a relationship between what passes for political rhetoric in the USA and the events in Tucson is understandably mixed, it is safe to say that the right wing are not the victims. Unless, of course, you’re Trent Humphries, co-founder of the Tucson branch of the Tea Party International, who believes that “The Democrats are using this opportunity to bludgeon their opponents.”
Oh, if only we were that organized. It shouldn’t take too much political moxie to work out that the best way to approach this if you’re on the hard right is to point out that Tucson was a senseless tragedy, that violence has no place in society or even politics, and maybe that some on the right have turned the rhetoric up perhaps a little too high on the inflammatory scale. What you wouldn’t want to do is claim that you, too, are victims. But at least he recognizes that guns are likely taking a back seat in politics for the time being: “I’m pretty sure that for a little while yet you won’t be seeing any politician holding an AK-47 or an M16. I’m pretty sure that’s going to go away, and the last place that would go away is Arizona”.
In this review of the right blogosphere, the narcissism stretches far. (h/t John Emerson and Mark Devlin).
UPDATE: I was wrong. It’s really all about Sarah. ”Blood libel” will henceforth enter the lexicon.
In different news, USMNT center back Oguchi Onyewu has moved on loan from AC Milan to FC Twente Enschede, the defending champions of the Dutch Eredivisie (and also located right across the street and rail line from my old office at U. Twente).
I’m recently “returned” to Oregon from a week + in Kitsapland, hanging out for five days with my partner’s family, followed by an impromptu three-night stand with my fleet of cousins. The latter was a non-stop holiday gala with excellent food, political debate, and, oh yeah, soaked with alcohol of all sorts (and at all times). Beyond my phone I was well off the grid, literally, figuratively, metaphorically.
As predicted in Revelations, England retained the Ashes for the first time in 24 years in imperious fashion. This now seems so long ago. Whether or not this is a sign of the promised apocalypse I can’t say, but as the sun is currently shining in Portland, Oregon, I’m not making any long term plans.
In my other home, the third tier “professional” soccer team, Plymouth Argyle, are insolvent. In American sports, this wouldn’t matter; when was the last time a major league baseball, football, or basketball team was allowed to go bust? In Britain, it can, and does, happen; the most recent example being Scottish club Gretna FC who folded in 2008. Argyle need at minimum something around £750,000 by February to pay their tax bill to the Inland Revenue, otherwise they appear to be done. Indeed, Argyle face three concurrent “winding up orders” and require between £3 and £4 million by February to clear their immediate debts. The board is in chaos, the staff (including the players) haven’t been paid on time for the second straight month, gates are significantly down from last year due to their relegation to the third division and their (charitably) mediocre play in said division, are under a transfer embargo by the league thus preventing them from so much as retaining a decent player on-loan from Chelsea, and they will certainly be forced to sell their two best players this January in order to possibly stay afloat. In addition to selling off their best players, thus enhancing the probability of a second successive relegation, there’s talk of selling the stadium to property developers.
UPDATE: less than 24 hours after writing this, a bid has been accepted for winger Craig Noone. As he’s in his final contract year, and the bidding team is fellow League – 1 side Brighton, the transfer fee won’t clear the tax debt.
Matt Slater at the BBC has the most comprehensive overview on the causes of what could be the end of a 124 year-old club. Fans have taken matters into their own hands by setting up a supporters’ trust, in part organized by my student and friend John Petrie. Ironically, Argyle’s Devon rivals Exeter City were saved from liquidation in 2003 by a similar trust, so there might be hope yet. (Of course, it should be noted that when Exeter City drew 0-0 with Manchester United in the 2005 FA Cup at Old Trafford, the £675,000 cash infusion from the 67,000+ gate did not hurt City’s chances of financial survival).
Back in April, I posted here about how Argyle were officially relegated following their 0-2 loss to Newcastle United at Plymouth. I had experienced a couple promotion seasons in Plymouth, that was my first relegation season. Now, being relegated following a match against Newcastle United, or even Huddersfield Town, looks a lot more enticing than experiencing a rare, entirely possible, liquidation season.
And finally, there’s the small matter of my alma mater, the Oregon of the North, playing in the much vaunted Holiday Bowl in San Diego against 17th ranked Nebraska, tomorrow. I’m certain that Nebraska are all aflutter with the privilege and honor of playing Washington. I’m equally certain that Nebraska’s 56-21 victory in the third game of the season has absolutely no bearing on the outcome of the bowl game.
Umm, go Huskies.
Some fabulous work from the LGM readership; two teams in the 99.9th percentile:
|1||greller49 1, A. Greller||22||20||24||32||32||130||99.9|
|1||tnpsc 1, v. las vegas||22||20||24||32||32||130||99.9|
|3||I Sure Hope I Win This!, D A Lempert||20||16||24||32||32||124||99.1|
|4||gj manatees, b. junge||19||16||24||32||32||123||98.9|
|4||wang1870, D. Sessoms||19||24||16||32||32||123||98.9|
|6||timeagan101 1, T. Eagan||23||16||16||32||32||119||98.1|
|7||US Cottagers, D. Brennan||18||20||16||32||32||118||97.8|
|7||Jersey Burkers , J. Theibault||18||20||16||32||32||118||97.8|
|9||wizardpeople 1, D. Noon||19||16||16||32||32||115||96.9|
|10||Smarter Than Yuo, S. Fleury||21||20||16||16||32||105||94.5|
A. Greller wins by virtue of having a closer “total goals scored” number. Excellent work. If Mr. or Ms. Greller would please contact me, prize delivery shall be arranged…
Oh, and congrats to Spain as well, I guess.
Not that anyone cares anymore…
|1||johnbparker1 1, J. Parker||19||24||24||0||0||67||99.7|
|2||greller49 1, A. Greller||22||20||24||0||0||66||99.5|
|2||bobby lenarduzzi, d. loveland||22||20||24||0||0||66||99.5|
|2||tnpsc 1, v. las vegas||22||20||24||0||0||66||99.5|
|5||PALGOLAK, p mac||21||20||24||0||0||65||99.4|
|6||NJLandfill1 1, K. Hannigan||21||22||20||0||0||63||98.6|
|7||paul8462 1, P. Inselmann||18||20||24||0||0||62||97.9|
|7||Eccentripity 1, E. Cerevic||22||16||24||0||0||62||97.9|
|7||The Hypnotoad, D. Raskin||22||16||24||0||0||62||97.9|
|7||bourbon renewal, h. hjklhljkh||22||24||16||0||0||62||97.9|
|7||Europa05 1, m. allen||22||16||24||0||0||62||97.9|
As I’ve said before, I can’t stand important games being decided by any kind of penalty shooting, although true aficionados of football will tell me that the nature of the their sport makes them the least bad alternative and I admit I don’t really have a good answer. (For hockey, there’s no excuse.) Under these circumstances, though, the team I’m rooting for suffering the arbitrary loss isn’t nearly as bad as usual.
I was going to write something about this, but . . . no. I’ve grown addicted to my monthly “paycheque”.
The quarter final brackets for the World Cup are . . . unbalanced. Look for yourself:
I’m going to boldly predict that the final will include the team that wins the Netherlands v Brazil match and the Argentina v Germany match. This should not be taken as a disparagement of Spain, the reigning European Champions, but they haven’t really appeared all that sharp, especially with a blatantly unfit Fernando Torres playing in every match.
As I am now happily ensconced in Oregon, catching up on research that I haven’t had the time to work on back in Plymouth (goal for the next month: three new articles sent off, and two book proposals in the can by September. no, really!), I’ll be waking early to go visit a friend’s house to watch the Netherlands v Brazil match. Since the USA were eliminated, I’ve transferred my allegiance to the Dutch. Ironic, considering the only tournament held during my three years in the NL, the 2002 World Cup, didn’t feature the side at all.
This will not be one of the Holland Brazil matches of yore. Both sides have adopted the more circumspect, cautious football that everybody save for the English have managed to master at this level (which in part may explain the relative paucity of goals at this tournament). Both sides line up in what traditional nomenclature would refer to a 4-5-1 or a 4-3-3, but both formations are more nuanced than tradition allows: it’s really a 4-2-1-2-1. England, of course, stay wedded to the tried and true (and outdated) 4-4-2. It worked in 1966!!! But then, they also stay wedded to the tried and true Single Member District / Plurality electoral system, but I digress.
Realistically, one has to like Brazil to win this match, but I am holding out hope for De Oranje, as Brazil have a few niggles and suspensions, whereas Holland manager Bert van Marwijk has an injury and suspension free 23 to choose from.
For those interested, I’ve read a few excellent books on Dutch football. Indeed, I’ve found the quality of insightful writing on football soccer to be excellent at times, and both of these blend football with broader observations of Dutch politics and society:
as well as the brilliant Simon Kuper‘s Ajax, the Dutch, the War: Football in Europe during the Second World War.
Kuper also wrote the excellent Football Against the Enemy, which includes a chapter on the 1974 World Cup final between the Dutch and West Germany if I recall correctly, as well as coverage of the same two sides match in the finals of the 1988 European Championship. I have several other suggestions, but, alas, my library is in England, and I’m in Oregon.
LGM World Cup Standings following the Round of 16…
|1||bourbon renewal, h. hjklhljkh||22||24||46||99.4|
|2||Meinong’s Jungle, J. Brown||20||24||44||98.4|
|3||johnbparker1 1, J. Parker||19||24||43||97.7|
|3||wang1870 1, D. Sessoms||19||24||43||97.7|
|3||1buddhacat 1, R. Vaidya||19||24||43||97.7|
|3||welloiledmachine, S. Rockhold||19||24||43||97.7|
|3||AlSu, A. Berry||23||20||43||97.7|
|3||Great Russian Dinosaurs, M. Jeffery||23||20||43||97.7|
|9||Delawhere, J Sellers||18||24||42||96.2|
|9||greller49 1, A. Greller||22||20||42||96.2|
|9||bobby lenarduzzi, d. loveland||22||20||42||96.2|
|9||tnpsc 1, v. las vegas||22||20||42||96.2|
|9||brokenax16 1, D. Collins||22||20||42||96.2|
|14||Automatic Ballpoint, G. Jenkins||21||20||41||94.2|
|14||Smarter Than Yuo, S. Fleury||21||20||41||94.2|
|14||With the Russians Too, D. Merrill||21||20||41||94.2|
|14||PALGOLAK, p mac||21||20||41||94.2|
I’m currently tied for 82nd…