The debate over the number of games footballers are being made to play is heating up, with FIFA and the players’ unions heading for a good old-fashioned showdown.

Rumblings that soccer stars across Europe are going to be taking full-on industrial action are growing louder by the week.

Well, I am not going to get into pros, cons, merits or otherwise of this argument for now but I will say this: if the footballers are looking for support and sympathy, their representatives may need to choose their words more carefully.

Speaking last week, Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive Maheta Molango, one of the key men in this battle, had this to say:

“I can tell you a situation not even 10 days ago where I went to a dressing room directly affected and I said ‘I’m happy to bark a bit but ultimately it’s down to you. How far would you like to go?’

“Some of them said: ‘I’m not having it, we may as well strike.’ Some said: ‘What’s the point? Yes, I’m a millionaire but I don’t even have time to spend the money’.”

Wow! I don’t know about you, but those words don’t exactly make me burst into tears on their behalf.

If footballers want our sympathy they should stick to more relatable arguments, like injuries, burnout and health

While it may be true that they don’t have a lot of time to spend their vast riches, that is hardly a nightmare for people who generally quit work when most of us are just getting going. At the end of the day, most of these guys will retire in their early to mid-30s with several million in the bank, fully paid homes and fleet of cars to keep them company.

That gives them another 30 or 40 years to enjoy the fruits of their labour while ensuring, with a little intelligent financial management, that their children and children’s children are set up for life.

Do they think if they offered us mere mortals a similar deal – work hard for 10, 15, maybe 20 years, then enjoy the rest of your life without a worry in the world – we wouldn’t snap their hands off?

I said ‘work hard’, which is not quite right is it? Let’s not pretend being a footballer is the same as being a firefighter, doctor, nurse, soldier, or any of the other hundreds of jobs that is really hard and stressful. It’s doing a lot of running, eating properly, kicking a ball, hanging out with your mates and travelling the world in five-star luxury.

If footballers want our sympathy, if they want us to take their complaints that they are playing too many games seriously, and if they want the fans on their side, then they should stick to more relatable arguments, like injuries, burnout and health.

Complaining that playing football doesn’t leave you enough time to get down to the Bentley showroom is not going to get the average Joe on their side.


The Kompany you keep

Even though I have had ample time to comes to terms with the concept, I’m still struggling to process the reality that Vincent Kompany is the new Bayern Munich manager.

Did I miss a memo or something because I was always under the impression that in order to get a job of that magnitude you had to be a proven winner with trophies and triumphs under your belt.

Kompany may have potential, and he may well turn out to be a superb manager in the future, but his track record hardly suggested he was in line for one of the top jobs in European football.

He’s only been in management for a few years, the first couple of which were spent failing to do anything massively remarkable at Anderlecht. Then it was over to Burnley where he followed up a good season that ended in promotion to the Premier League with an awful one that ended in relegation back to the Championship.

And it’s not as if Burnley were unlucky to go down. Despite spending large amounts of money on players, they barely put up a fight. The only reason they didn’t finish rock bottom was because Sheffield United were so diabolical.

It’s not a coaching record that screams out “Hire me! Hire me!” especially when you are talking about one of the most successful and iconic teams on the continent.

Yet here we are.

As I said, this may turn out to be a masterstroke by Bayern. But right now it is still very much a WTF moment.


Poor old City...

Manchester City are suing the Premier League. For discrimination.

Let’s all take a moment to let that sink in, shall we?

Well, I tell you what. If the Premier League is discriminating against Manchester City in some bizarre and twisted attempt to scupper their chances of success, it isn’t going very well.

The club has won four titles in a row and been the dominant force in English football for the best part of a decade. As victims go, they don’t make very convincing ones.

Anyway City, backed by a team of lawyers that would probably fill Luton Town’s entire stadium, are arguing against the rule that says sponsorship deals with ‘related parties’ need to be checked by an independent panel to ensure they are at market value.

This rule exists to stop mega-wealthy clubs – and let’s not forget City are owned by one of the richest countries in the world – the United Arab Emirates – using inflated sponsorship as a way of pumping excessive money into the club.

For example, instead of charging unrelated brand X €10 million a year to have their name on their shirts, City could get a ‘friendly’ UAE brand to give them €100 million a year for the same sponsorship. And that way, more cash gets injected into the club without it coming directly from the owners, which is categorically against the rules as well.

How they can possibly say this is discrimination is beyond me. The rule exists purely to stop the very fabric of football from collapsing because, without it, some clubs – particularly those owned by countries – would be able to spend without limit.

It obviously isn’t a coincidence that this case against the Premier League has been brought by a club that is facing 115 charges of spending irregularities, with some people suggesting that if City win this lawsuit, those cases will collapse and the Premier League as a competition would be destroyed.

The Premier League itself as an institution was born out of greed and the desire to attract and earn limitless money. Wouldn’t it be ironic if that same money ended up killing it as a competitive contest...?



Twitter: @Maltablade

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