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Thursday, March 16, 2006

"When I went to pick the ball up a couple of times, even the stretcher staff were making monkey chants."

Finally, FIFA has decided to do something somewhat serious about racism in football. Here's the scoop from Soccernet:
Clubs whose fans are guilty of racist abuse can be deducted points or even relegated under new regulations approved by FIFA's executive committee today.

The new penalties range from match suspensions to deductions of points; three for a first offence, six for a second and relegation if there are further offences.

FIFA have ordered confederations and member associations to incorporate the new penalties into their regulations, and have threatened to exclude associations from international football for up to two years if they fail to do so.
It actually sounds like the sort of thing that could make a difference, as long as the criteria for the penalties are clear and unwavering. If the Soccernet story is accurate, Zaragoza could face relegation if its fans behave similarly next year.

The question is, will the Spanish and Italian FA's stick to the letter of the law, or will they try to get around the apparent strictures Sepp has suggested? And Sepp, if you really manage to pull this off, all is forgiven. Okay, everything except the comment about women's uniforms. But seriously, everything else.


Well, you might as well call it the Former Soviet Bloc Teams Coming to Beat Your Ass Cup, but FSBTCBYA Cup doesn't have much of a ring to it (unless you're Bulgarian, in which case it's the name of this year's Eurovision song contest entry, "I Love You, Pass the Cabbage").

TDH will settle for Underdogs from the East Finally Arising, or some more appropriate nonsense. In any case, the message is clear: Levski Sofia! Zenit St. Petersburg! Rapid Bucuresti! Steaua Bucuresti! They're all going to get medieval on those soft, Western European pretty boys....

Okay, either that, or TDH will watch in astonishment on May 10 as pigs fly over Eindhoven and Boro take home a European trophy.


Anonymous jonathan said...

Ah, yes, Levski Sofia and their ilk. Teams from behind the iron curtain with romantic names and preposterous moustaches. In the 80s their allure was recognised by Liverpool's Half Man Half Biscuit, who had songs called 'All I Want For Christmas is a Dukla Prague Away Kit', and 'I was a teenage armchair Honved fan'. Both recalled childhoods spent staying up late to watch Sportsnight, with Liverpool pitting their own impressive moustaches against otic Eastern Bloc opposition. A pity these intriguingly-named outfits now have to content themselves with only UEFA Cup football- and yes, a downright tragedy if the utterly prosaic name of Middlesbrough is the one inscribed on the trophy come May.

12:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just wanted to comment on the supposedly confirmed 15 million pound bid for Torres from Newcastle. Putting 2 and 2 together and getting 5, does this indicate that Shepherd is expecting, if not resigned to, Michael Owen's leaving in the summer? My knowledge of European football is minimal (since it no longer really concerns us!) but my impression of Torres from Euro 2004 is that he has a similar poachers style to Owen. Maybe this is a way of placating the fans if Owen does move elsewhere. Could Torres and Owen play together?

10:21 AM  
Blogger the Maradona of Malawi said...

Its a moot point - given the choice of Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal and Newcastle, I somehow think he'll be in London. South London at that.

But he's apparently gone cold on the Premiership, no doubt after seeing the wonders its done for the careers of Reyes and Morientes.

but to address your point, I've not seen all that much of him, but my understanding is that he's a great finisher, with incredible speed and a phenomenal first touch - so Mikey five years ago.

11:20 AM  
Blogger The American Geordie said...

Well, you may remember that TDH first suggested picking up Torres on January 24.

He plays a bit deeper than Owen, and I'm not sure I'd be quite as effusive as Mara about his skills. He's definitely a good, quick finisher, though. The problem is, wouldn't you need a big man to play next to him in England?

1:32 PM  

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