It’s all the fault of the fat cats, they always cause the trouble which brings the house of cards crashing down. In this instance, it was Chuck Blazer’s cats who getting fat at the expense of the IRS and whilst they lapped up the cream, Chuck forgot to pay the taxes. Al Capone thought he could get away with murder and he did; tax evasion proved one step too far and Blatter’s henchman is suffering a similar fate.
The arrests yesterday were cathartic for football in the sense that the wheels of justice were seen to be served. The separate intervention by the Swiss authorities appears to be a good back-up plan but I’m not holding my breath. I don’t recommend you do either because these guys have allegedly been skimming off the top for so long that they will afford the best legal representatives to fight their corner.
The corruption at the top of the game has been known about for years. There’s been no action before because the threat of suspension from FIFA-sanctioned tournaments was deemed to be too much of a price worth paying by national associations. It’s rubbish; FIFA would never take on one of the big FA’s – the Spanish, English, German, French or Italians for example – for their own fear of breakaway leagues forming. That concerned them more than any chastisement from a sponsor.
And certainly more than any government investigation until now. Their response was always to marshall the troops so that miscreants got punished in other ways, e.g. the abject failure of England’s 2018 World Cup bid. The problem anyone has in trying to reform FIFA is that the corruption is so deep-rooted in the culture that it will be a long time before it is eradicated, if it ever can be.
Getting rid of Blatter offers the symbolism of cutting the head off the snake but the body will continue to wriggle for years to come.
A final thought. More of a wish or a desire, I suppose. Can someone tell prosecutors, attorneys of all ilk and anyone vaguely connected to the case, that using the phrase “Issuing FIFA a red card” is a criminal offence in itself. That stops now.
The gnomes ducking for cover in the back garden distracted from Arsenal’s media day ahead of the FA Cup final. Arsène was polite about Villa, confirming that he didn’t rate Tim Sherwood as a player and that Danny Welbeck wasn’t going to make the trip to Wembley. He didn’t confirm anything to do with the team selection to the chagrin of everyone present and the only Vidal he admitted to liking was Sassoon since he has gone off Silvikrin because it was leaving a tide mark on his jacket.
Welbeck’s absence was trumpeted by all at the weekend when Arsène first floated the notion that the England striker wouldn’t be fit for club or country until next season. It’s no surprise and having been absent for several weeks, makes no difference to the starting XI.
Wenger did say that he would be leaving “some top internationals out of the squad” as a way of highlighting the choices he had to make. Immediately it was assumed the Walcott and Wilshere would fall to the bench with Giroud and Ramsey rewarded for their performances over the course of the second half of the season. That you could interpret Arsène’s words to fit the case for Ramsey and Giroud being on the bench. Indeed, Wenger was keen to point out that he will be looking at the bigger picture,
What is important is that we do not make too many individual cases before the cup final. It’s the whole team who can win it.
Before teasing us with,
I don’t know who will start yet and it’s not important because it’s just on the day in the FA Cup final. What is important is that you bring the trophy back. It’s always a concern for the whole squad.
I bet you do, Arsène. I bet in your mind’s eye, you know exactly who the XI will be, what scenarios you be making changes when 60 minutes pass (chasing a two-goal deficit) or the more usual minutes later in the game. It’s not a case of if but when.
Walcott needed that big performance because before that, he hadn’t made a case for being thought of as a central striker. There’s some revisionism going on about how well he was playing in that role before injury struck but it was only a game or two, it’s not like he had been given a significant run in the side as lead striker. His movement on Sunday was refreshing to see and in stark contrast to Olivier Giroud’s style. With the Frenchman’s goal drought, a hat-trick tends to cloud matters.
It depends on how much of a risk Wenger sees excluding Giroud is. I think his over-riding sense of loyalty to the player will win through and the ‘usual’ Arsenal line-up will prevail.
The manager wouldn’t be drawn on who the goalkeeper will be but the more you think about it, the harder the case of Szczesny’s return becomes. There’s no logic in selecting a player who has not performed for the first team since the semi-final, especially as your last line of defence. Last year was the template with Fabianski selected at Carrow Road ahead of the Hull final and Arsène has previously chosen a goalkeeper throughout the tournament only to select his first choice when the 2002 final came around.
That’s harsh on Szczesny but his saving grace may have come in Ospina’s nervous performance after the Albion goal. Perhaps there is a case for Pole, particularly as Villa possess an aerial threat in attack. The last two goals conceded have come from that route and the reason Ospina played is because Szczesny looked sharp in training.
You can give yourself headaches just thinking about it all.