Tommo’s Ramble – FIFA and Other Things

October 2015

Despite being an ex-footballer I have tried to avoid writing about the unfolding mess at football’s governing body, FIFA. However, it seems that every day more and more top ranking officials are being suspended amid reports of corruption at the very top level of the organisation that is supposed to protect the world’s most popular game.

As I write this, I have just read that FIFA are to investigate the transfer of Mangela from Porto to Manchester City in 2014. Now, ordinarily, I would think that this is a good thing, FIFA investigating a transfer to ensure that all rules have been adhered to with regard to third party involvement. What I actually find myself thinking is why on earth should we trust their findings? Why should we believe anything right now that has the slightest involvement of FIFA?

The trust has all gone.

Michel Platini was touted by many, including our own FA, as the knight in shining armour, who, if elected as the new President would reform FIFA and restore our faith in the organisation. He has now been banned from football, along with Sepp Blatter, for six months pending an investigation into (amongst other things I am sure) a £1.35 million payment he received from FIFA in 2011. He claims this payment was for work carried out on FIFA’s behalf between 1999 and 2002. We are expected to believe that the payment was not made in 2002 because of FIFA’s “financial situation”. This seems strange for such an incredibly wealthy organisation, and even more so when you consider that Mr Blatter spoke at a special Congress session in 2002 about how strong FIFA’s financial position was.

We wait to see how the FA will react having publicly declared their backing of Platini to become the new FIFA President. Perhaps we have reached the stage where you have to back the candidate that you consider the ‘least corrupt’!

From the outside FIFA appears to be rotten to the core, and it will be an unenviable task for the new president to try and rebuild people’s trust in the governing body of the game they love and support unequivocally.

I must congratulate Wales on their qualification for the European Championships next year in France. You cannot help but feel a little sorry for former Welsh greats who never quite managed to propel their home nation to a major finals. Ian Rush, Mark Hughes and Ryan Giggs would surely have graced such a tournament. My only hope is that the man who has almost single handedly got them to France, a certain Gareth Bale, does not get injured between now and the tournament kick off next summer!

Wales qualification for Euro 2016 has further highlighted the ridiculous FIFA World Ranking system that currently operates. This week we have learned that, despite being ranked ahead of England, Wales will be in the lowest pool of seeds for the tournament. Also, that Belgium are set to be named as the new number 1 ranked team in the world. Yes, that all conquering, trophy winning machine, Belgium. Is FIFA involved in anything at the moment that makes any sense at all?

I am really enjoying the Rugby World Cup despite England’s early exit at the group stage. Being in the ‘group of death’ and the weight of expectation ultimately proved too much for England in the end and the predictable inquest into what went wrong has opened in the media.

There are fine margins in sport between success and failure. England were heavily criticised for going for the win in the closing stages against Wales instead of kicking for the three points needed to secure a draw. If things had played out differently the media would be applauding their bravery and will to win attitude. It was always going to be difficult to beat the Australians in our next game and the score line suggested a heavy defeat, however, we more than matched them in all areas and aspects of the game. Australia were at their ruthless best  with their possession in key areas and their tries were brilliantly executed.

I will now be supporting New Zealand for no other reason than the black boots that all of their players are wearing. What a refreshing change from the trend of the ‘glow in the dark’ footwear we see most other players wearing these days. I hope it is a sign of things to come and maybe we will also see footballers wearing traditional black and white boots again in the future.

Not being a Chelsea fan is allowing me to enjoy the current situation at Stamford Bridge. Not so much Chelsea’s results, more listening to Mr Mourinho in his post match interviews. Love him or loathe him, you certainly cannot ignore him and his seven and a half minute response to one question was pure gold. Mourinho has had so much success over the years, it will be very interesting to see if he has what it takes to turn around the current champion’s season, if he is given the chance of course.

Liverpool have parted company with Brendan Rodgers after a disappointing start to the season, and a disappointing eighteen months since they finished runners up in the Premier League.

I often wondered if Rodgers would have what it takes at a big club like Liverpool. His appointment, at such a young age for a manager, came on the back of limited success at Swansea, playing in an entertaining fashion largely inherited from the previous manager, Roberto Martinez. No disrespect to Swansea, but expectations there are vastly different to a club of Liverpool’s stature who are desperate to rekindle their glory days of the 70’s and 80’s. I am always surprised when a big club opts for a young, unproven manager from a smaller club who hasn’t served his full apprenticeship in management. It is a bit like giving the local corner shop owner the top job at Tesco’s and then wondering why it hasn’t worked out!

Manchester United tried a similar thing with the appointment of David Moyes, when that did not work they went for Louis Van Gaal, a man with a wealth of experience with top clubs, internationally and more importantly, handling top level players and their considerable egos.

Liverpool have now turned to Jurgen Klopp, the former Borussia Dortmund manager, who guided them to consecutive Bundesliga titles in 2011 and 2012. Time will obviously tell whether they have made the right choice, however, rather befitting the crazy world of football, he has signed a three year contract and spoke when interviewed of a four year plan to win the title. Work that one out!

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