Friday, September 25, 2009

It's a right, not a privilege (#8)

Spain National Team Home Jersey

David Villa - Fo
rward (Valencia)

Spain is my favo
rite World Cup team, of the major contenders, and, hands-down, David Villa is my favorite Spanish international. The dude is nasty. Look for a future post on my World Cup inclinations.

Photo(s): Spain Je
rsey, David Villa

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A note on racism. . .

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a rather cynical, ill-conceived rant concerning the Emmanuel Adebayor incident involving his behavior at the Mancheser City vs. Arsenal match. In this overtly condemning post, I stated that Adebayor should have been punished for both his "stamp" on Arsenal's Robin Van Persie, as well as his pitch-length celebration following his goal.

Since publishing, I've become increasingly aware of both the details of the incident, as well as gained a clearer understanding of the football climate and cultural context. While I still firmly believe that the FA was correct in punishing Emmanuel for kicking Van Persie, the punishment for his celebration seems increasingly inappropriate -- Adebayor was issued a three-game suspension.

There have been a few recent events which have encouraged my change in attitude:

1) Craig Bellamy's actions at last weekend's Manchester derby featuring Manchester City and Manchester United.

As seems obvious, at least to me, Bellamy struck a man, who was IN CUSTODY at the time, in the face. Originally, the FA announced that they would look into the matter and the Manchester Police said they would launch a probe as well. However, this morning it was announced that the Manchester Police had dropped the investigation and the FA would not pursue any punishment. The FA claimed that they decided against charging Bellamy with improper conduct because "referee Martin Atkinson told FA officials that he would not have sent off the Welsh star had he seen the incident. (EuroSport)"

2) Gary Neville's bench behavior at the Derby.
I searched for footage of the incident, but couldn't find anything. Neville ran the length of the pitch along the sideline, toward Manchester City fans, to celebrate following Michael Owen's 97' goal, and, once arriving in front of the fans, he seemingly realized what he did and returned to the bench, acting as if he had just been warming up--in the 97 minute of a match that should have been over after 95 minutes. Today, the FA announced that Neville would receive no punishment.

3) Allegations of racism surrounding Blackburn forward El-Hadji Diouf.

As told by Diouf, during his team's defeat of Mersyside, he went to retrieve an out of play ball when a ballboy innapropriately threw the ball back towards Diouf ("The ball-boy threw the ball at me like a bone to a dog"). T major allegations made are by the ballboy, who claims that Diouf exerted -- for lack of a better term and with foreshadowing symbolism in mind -- "reverse racism" on him in his verbal harassment.

Further, Diouf is now claiming that Everton fans threw bananas at him in his most recent match after the allegations of verbal abuse surrounding the ballboy incident. Everton has since denied the "fruit throwing" allegations after they were unable to find any bananas on the pitch following play and, further, are demanding an apology from Diouf.

4) Blackpool's Jason Euell subjected to racism by Stoke supporters.

Bellamy's actions were more severe than Adebayor's -- Adebayor merely incited aggression among Arsenal fans while Bellamy physically struck a Manchester United fan; Neville's celebration was as ill-conceived and virtually identical to Adebayor's -- minus the fact that Neville didn't score the goal himself.

With regards to celebrations, I've matured in a Terrell Owens; Chad Ocho Cinco; Tiger Woods fist pump riddled culture. To me, if an athlete wants to take a moment to, in moderate, celebrate following a goal/score, then he or she is most certainly entitled to, while using an ethical judgment. Entertaining, creative celebrations are just that; entertaining. Context is important, as it was in the Adebayor incident where his celebration resulted in fans throwing objects on the pitch, but if celeb
ration's are seemingly part of the football culture, then it's difficult to deduce when a celebration crosses the line. What is comical and enjoyable to one football fan is another man's temperamental catalyst.

Using the four aforementioned incidents as a contextual framework to look at the Adebayor incident, there seems a fairly prevalent juxtaposition in the significant cultural and contextual elements: race.

I'm not going to claim that either the FA or Arsenal fans in attendance of the match are inherently racist. Nor am I going to claim that the media are. But, it must be noted that the climate surrounding Adebayor was unusually hostile and the aftermath was not typical and seemed unnecessary. Just as it has been accused of playing a di
rty role in current American politics surrounding the unusually critical and insidious environment surrounding President Obama, it seems as if race is playing a role in the Adebayor situation, at least in a contextual framework.

There is an unmistakable racist element to football, particularly English football. Not only has the fan culture perpetuated this claim, but the very acts of the administrations and institutions has as well.

I recently charged the FA with implementing a policy with nativist, protectionist, racist elements to it.

While this post isn't exclusive to English football, the
re is a clear divide in media coverage and international acceptance when it comes to English football; an international press largely dominated by individuals with a particular investment in English football/culture clearly affects the sports media coverage. It does seem however, that other leagues, (ie. Italy Serie A) are combating racism on a stricter level than the FA currently is.

Wherein sports are seemingly an egalitarian exercise where individuals are forced onto an even playing field, an environment without status quo restraints, a place where the proverbial David can feat the Goliath. Yet, the institutional framework of sports carries with it a tendency for an old-boys-network of ownership, corporation, and conservative policies. As is seen in the rigorous vetting of owners in the premiere league (as is similar in American sports leagues) as well as the stereotype of the "great white hope" footballer, the underlying parliamentary, conservative ideologies and beliefs of British society are carried into the countries national pastime.

r more information read an online copy of "The Changing Face of Football: racism, identity and multiculture in the English game" (Here)

I also came ac
ross an organization dedicated to combating racism in football, Kick it Out (Here)

Stay democ
ratic . . .


re is an excerpt from an article I wrote on the American sports media and its racist tendencies:

"While our memories of Michael Jordan collapsing over gold trophies, or
him silencing a crowd and ruining dreams with final moments of greatness
25 times in his career; or a young, charismatic Tiger Woods strolling
victory laps Sundays at Augusta National or his descend into emotion
crying in his father's arms may stand as great moments in sporting
history; a black glove solute by Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the
1968 Olympics, a conscious objection by Muhammad Ali in Houston in the
spring of 1967, or Jackie Robinson stepping to home plate in 1947 exist
as critical moments in our lives today.
. .
"Although the racial atmosphere in sports has changed dramatically in
recent history, today the media stands as the most scrutinized
perpetrator of racial generalizations, stereotypes, and ill-commentary
in the sporting world. In the age of ESPN, ESPN 2,, and the
BlackBerry, sports fans are increasingly able to develop relationships
with their favorite stars and are, unfortunately, subjected to mounting
doses of cattiness and vernacular cruelty from sports writers and

Continue reading . . .

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hughes looks to change the entire game. . .

Sorry for the recent absence, but water + Macintosh = bad.

This weekend's Manchester United vs. Manchester City derby classic proved worth the all of the pre-match conversation. Not only has controversy surrounded the match outcome, the behavior of the players, but the conversation to follow the match as well.

For those who missed the outcome (recap here), United substitute Michael Owen scored in the 97th minute (some say 96') to edge out a 4-3 victory. Earlier in stoppage time, Craig Bellamy scored his second goal of the match (somewhere between 90:45 and 91:25). The issue that has arisen is why the match lasted for 97 minutes when the referee only showed that four minutes of stoppage time would be added.
Beside for the outcome of the match (I hate both teams anyways), this incident has stirred some conversation concerning the use of stoppage time and, perhaps, the addition of a fourth referee, as suggested by Manchester City manager Mark Hughes. As reported by ESPN, Hughes has alluded that he would support a policy similar to that of the rugby union: where the clock is paused for stoppages, rather than the addition of stoppage time following the completion of play.

Fulham manager Roy Hodgson commented that:
"That would move us away from football as we know it and into the realms of ice hockey and American Football."
"That [time-keeping system] suits America because the adverts come in every time there is a stoppage. I would be disappointed if football went down that route. Of course I have great sympathy for people like Mark Hughes. When you have played well and you think you have got a great result it is awful to lose a game in the last minute, whether that is the 89th or 98th."

"You just have to learn to live with it. I am of that very old school that believes referees must be given the right to referee the game and make decisions. It is not an exact science. For me, referees are the arbiters and we have to abide by their decision."
Perhaps what most separates football from American sports is the absence of a sponsor driven, endorsement riddled culture. While yes many of the premiere footballers today do have endorsement deals (Nike cleats, etc.), while yes football teams have a major jersey deal and, in some cases, secondary endorsements as well, while yes football pitches are often bordered by sponsorships, there is a significant difference between endorsement support of football(ers) and a commercial endorsement arrangement that changes the very nature of the sport.

Today, NFL games are divided into 12-minute quarters where commercial breaks occur after every score and after every possession change (with the exception of the 2 minute warning). DirectTV features a tape-delayed airing of NFL games where all "stoppages" are removed: what begins as a 3 1/2 hour death-march of testosterone and coaching, becomes 30 minutes of action.
On the other end, football is 90-100 minutes of action, nonstop, with a 15-20 minute break halfway through the match.

Is it possible that football's worldwide popularity is (partially) due to the ease of watching due to only a roughly two hour commitment?

While it's unlikely that we'll see any changes to the time-keeping system in the future, it's unquestionably improper to criticize the very system of the game. It's one thing to criticize an individual referee or an isolated incident, but it's entirely another to use inadequacies in the system as an excuse for a loss.
Ultimately, Mark Hughes is trying to blame the system of football for his team's loss, rather than the fact that his team let a last minute goal occur, when they should have had 9 men playing fullback/corner back at that point in the match anyways.
Hughes recently called on the media and football commuity for "less hysteria" in Manchester City stories (ESPN Here). Well, if he wants less hysteria then maybe a) he shouldn't have broken football ranks and spent so much offseason transfer fees that the FA had to enact a rule change, b) Emmauel Adebayor shouldn't have instigated violence amongst Arsenal fans, c) Bellamy shouldn't have punched a fan in the face, and d) Hughes should keep his mouth quiet in the media.

Quotes via ESPN

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

It's a Right, Not a Privilege (#5)

Chelsea F.C. 1972 Track Top

Jackson 5 - I Wanna Be Where You Are (Via: Armed Snobbery)

Good morning fellow Zinedine Zidane-esque headbutters;

Lots of action in UEFA Champions League yesterday and today. Look for a recap of select 2-round matches after next week's second leg.

If you're able to find it, check out F.C. Internazionale Milano take on F.C. Barcelona at the San Siro in UEFA Champions League action later today. Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be making his first return to Milan after leaving Inter this summer for Camp Nou and, similarly, Samuel Eto'o will face F.C. Barcelona for the first time after swapping clubs in the same deal. F.C. Barcelona sent Eto'o and 40 million euro to Inter for Ibrahimovic.

Enjoy the sun if its around, keep FOX News off the TV, and relax with my lady-friend Aretha.


Read an excellent column from ESPN's Harry Harris in which he frames Chelsea's recent troubles with EPL's recent policy implementations (HERE)

Read BBC's Chris Jardine's editorial on the recent Emmanuel Adebayor incident (HERE)

Also from the BBC:
"Manchester City striker Emmanuel Adebayor appeared to recreate his controversial celebration from Saturday's 4-2 win over his old club Arsenal after scoring in training on Tuesday. The Togo striker . . . smiled as he ran and slid to his knees in front of his team-mates." (Via BBC)

Check ESPN Soccernet for recaps of yesterday's UEFA Action (HERE)

**(UPDATE) Emmanuel Adebayor accepted his three-game ban from FA (BBC HERE).**

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Monday, September 14, 2009

English Premier League....Protectionism & Nativism at their finest

Today, Barclays English Premier League chief executive Rich Scudamore announced:

"As of next season clubs will be required to have a squad named of up to 25 players, of which no more than 17 can be over the age of 21 and not home grown."

A home grown player is "any player who has played for an English or Welsh club for three years before their 21st birthday. (ESPN)"

The EPL's new exclusionary policy seems, at its heart, to directly contradict the notions of international professionalism and premier football. From what I can discern, this policy aims to a) maintain a high class of football in the English National program, b) maintain a high presence of english footballers among England's premier professional club teams, c) limit the extravagant transfer spending and high wages that accompany competing for widely-desired international talent, and, perhaps most importantly d) encourage the fan/footballer relationship among both english fans and the footballers themselves.

In actuality, it is likely to a) distort salary wages between international and english players in an effort to keep the premiere English talent while filling international talent into fewer available roster spots, b) worsen the overall caliber of EPL play, and, ultimately, c) worsen the overall face of the EPL throughout the international football community.

This policy is snobbish and elitist; an attempt at buoyancy, a last stand by a fearful and sinking football superpower. Racism, ethnocentrism, and nativism are woven throughout the policy, as is economic protectionism in its definition.

In America, as an American sports fan, I've never experienced or been privy to the notion of losing national stardom to an international league -- in most instances, international talent comes to America (NBA, NFL, PGA Tour, etc.). Within the context of soccer (sorry, ugh), our rare national talent has traveled to international leagues (often unsuccessfully), but, nevertheless, it's not as if I, or anybody for that matter, was hoping they'd play in the MLS -- in every instance its benefited the nation's soccer program as a whole.

While I admit that I lack context in collecting my thoughts on this issue, I do feel a certain relevancy in terms of the merit of professional club football. Most consider the EPL to offer the highest class of professional football in the world and the EPL certainly broadcasts themselves within that proclivity.

I dislike the policy because it is exclusionary and protectionist, it will worsen the caliber of team skill in the EPL because it discourages an international marketplace approach to the game where players are sought out of need and adequacy and then promptly forced out due to inadequacy and need. My fear as a fan is that other countries and their respective leagues will reflexively adopt or strengthen existing policies, hence lowering the overall caliber of professional football.

This policy sounds very Republican. . .


There are other financial elements to the policy which I don't understand (see BBC article (HERE) for a comprehensive report).

Quote taken from ESPN Soccernet (Here)

It's a Right, Not a Privilege (#3)

Jozy Altidore (Forward - USA/Hull City)

Hull City Jersey

Emmanuel Adebayor. . .Stamping what? Inflammatory celebration what?

For those who missed it. . .
It's ironic that only days after I spoke of my loathing for nihilistic football (sports) fans, only days following my condemnation of club supporters who consider fan-hood an entitlement rather than a luxury, Manchester City F.C.'s new star Emmanuel Adebayor (Forward - Togo) disgraced himself, his club, his city, and the sport in his childish antics in Manchester City's 4-2 victory over Arsenal this weekend.

(Watch Video Footage Below)

For those unaware, Adebayor spent four seasons with Arsenal before signing to Manchester City this summer for 25 million pounds. Since his signing, Adebayor has ruthlessly criticized Arsenal and his former fans. In the days leading up to the match, it was obvious that there could be a potential confrontation between Arsenal (fans) and Adebayor.

As it appears, Adebayor consciously "stamped" on the face of Arsenal's Robin Van Persie (Forward - Netherlands) following a Van Persie slide tackle. Van Persie sought medical treatment, before returning to play and, in keeping with both his football skill and athletic character, scored a goal later in the match.

On the official arsenal website, Van Persie issued the following statements:

"He set out to hurt me. I do feel lucky that I have not received a greater injury."

"I have not received an apology from him, there were no words exchanged afterwards. He had his own agenda today and that is bad for football. It's bad for the game we all love."

Adebayor told reporters:

"I was trying to kick the ball. I see him tackling and I don't have time to take my feet back because I'm trying to kick the ball."

"My feet touch his head. I feel sorry for him and even straight away, and at the end of the game, I said sorry."

As for the second part of this story, following Adebayor's head-in goal ('80) he sprinted the length of the pitch and maliciously taunted Arsenal fans, for which the referee issued him a yellow card. Adebayor's celebration infuriated Arsenal fans to the point where they hurled objects on the pitch; one such object incidentally struck a steward, who needed to be taken to a hospital for treatment.

Obviously, the FA are looking into the situation and most rumors are saying that Adebayor will receive a multiple game suspension.

Since starting with Manchester City, Adebayor (and other transfer season signing Carlos Tevez) have made a huge impact. Manchester City is currently third in the Premiership table, but have played one fewer game then the other four top teams. Adebayor has four goals scored in four games played.

I've been a huge fan of Adebayor's talent since becoming a Premiership follower, but his temperament and character is clearly questionable. While I'm routinely quick to give athletes a lot of moral leeway when engaged in competition, athletes often broach a point where playful taunting becomes insidiously disrespectful, where displays of self-pride and inner-celebration become boastful moments of profligacy.

While I do agree with Charles Barkley that athletes don't need to be role models, they do need to be aware that in certain instances, at certain times, athletes themselves transcend their sport, while their sport simultaneously transcends itself. Sports, at times, become more than just a sport, as we all now. In the make of the West Ham United/Millwall anarchy, Adebayor should and needs to be more consciously aware of the repercussions that inciting aggression among football fans can have.

Adebayor's actions were, at best, immature.

Adebayor's punishment should be at two distinct levels: 1) he should be suspended 2-3 games (Manchester City plays 9/20 vs. Manchester United, 9/23 vs. Fulham (Carling Cup), and 9/28 vs. West Ham United) and 2) the Premiership should force Manchester City to, as Juventus had to, play a match behind closed doors -- hence losing ticket revenue for a match.

While its often said that sport builds character, it can be equally discerned that sports are character revealing even at the most elementary of levels. Whereas aggressiveness, egotism, gamesmanship, and, well...cheating, have a place and time (Michael Jordan's foul) in sports, the fabric of sports often exists primarily within the moral compass that it is founded on, that it is played under.

My initial response portrays Adebayor as the sole instigator of the situation that erupted on Saturday, improperly so. It should have been more duly noted that the Arsenal fans behaved similarly childish and are responsible for inciting Adebayor's response. While he clearly escalated the incident to that beyond the acceptable confines of gamesmanship (both among players and fans), the actions of the Arsenal players was disrespectful and disappointing as well.


Footage of the "stamp" in question and Emmanuel Adebayor's goal and subsequent celebration:

See BBC Football story (Here)
See ESPN Soccernet story (Here)

Quotes taken from BBC Football Story

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Feliz Saturday. . .

Good morning boppers.

I woke up and saw a can of PBR on my nightstand. . .

So. . . listen to this:

Bill Withers - Lovely Day (DJ Eleven Remix) Via: Armed Snobbery

And watch this:

*Notice how this is all in one take. . .

I'm going to watch Liverpool vs. Burnley on ESPN2 and drink coffee.

Stay nice,

Friday, September 11, 2009

It's a Right, Not a Privilege (#2)

Olympiacos FC, home jersey

Didier Domi - Midfielder (France)
Picture shows 08-09 Jersey

Thursday, September 10, 2009

(HERE) for a quality essay on the Chelsea transfer ban

A note on Hooliganism. . .

It is unfortunate in that hooliganism--an act of intolerance and anarchic disobedience neither short of prejudice nor ill-content--is so closely associated with a sport that has so often transcended the simple notions of a game; rather, it has been a facilitator of cultural competency, understanding, and social hospitality.

Whereas a club team can feature internationals from feuding states/nations, whereas a match may feature two teams with a history of war, how can fans who share everything besides team allegiance also share a loathing for each other?

What is it about this sport that makes fans nihilists?

What is it about this sport that can turn what should be an exercise in pride and celebration into violence, international humiliation, and immaturity?

All too often, Americans look at soccer (sic) within the frame of hooliganism, pint glasses, and scarves. While I questions the morality of NASCAR (HAHA) fans--also stated as Republicans--more than that of football hooligans, where in the football manifesto is hooliganism prescribed?

I'm the first to recognize the enormous global popularity of football and respect the international sentiment it poses, yet I'll always be quick to question the overriding character of the football fan. What is it in football that causes its escalation into something worth assaulting over? Something worth killing over? (See Honduras & El Salvador ("The Football War"))

It often seems that the radicalization of fans--referring clearly to hooliganism, but on a broader spectrum, as well, to describe those whom seem so soulfully attached to the fate of those teams they feel a right, rather than a privilege, to root for, to describe those less-than-able individuals that seem to despise those superstars whom they live vicariously through, yet despite of--is facilitated by their own failures of athletic prowess, their general disdain for those capable of successes and athletic feats that seem merely dream-worthy.
Now there is clearly difference in an alley bar-fight between feuding 21-year-olds from Iowa State and the University of Iowa and an escalation of violence between grown men where broken bottles, knives, and other metal objects are brandished. More so, the expectation of such violence furthered by the organization of violence poses an entire separate and graver problem. If players for a club, say West Ham United, aren't willing to fight (scuffle or elbow aside) with the players from an opposing side, then why do fans--mere consumers of a product--feel a need to do so with opposing fans?

If there is a sentiment within man that demands of him a need to struggle for his beliefs, attachments, passions, then there surely are more comendable acts displaying significantly more honor (HERE or HERE or HERE).

Otherwise, stay peaceful.


Footage of West Ham & Millwall riot from August 25, 2009:

BBC Story on August 25th West Ham/Millwall incident (Here)

Story on history of West Ham & Millwall supporter violence (Here)

Documentary style footage of the 1985 incident between Manchester United and West Ham firms (source unknown):

USA 1 - 0 Trinidad & Tobago

On a lighter note, the USA beat Trinidad & Tobago last night in FIFA World Cup qualifying.
The US squad had a lackluster performance again, but fortunately Tim Howard (Keeper, FC Everton) was positively awesome and Ricardo Clark's (Midfield, Houston Dynamo) goal was nasty. Sidenote, T&T's Kenwyne Jones was awesome. At first glance, his size and athleticism may be something the USA squad is missing at the forward position. I'm not sold on the tandem of Charlie Davies and Jozy Altidore in the dual-striker position, although I love them as individual footballers. (ESPN Recap HERE).

Highlights from last night's match:

It's a Right, Not a Privilege (#1)

It's my distinguished pleasure to announce a new running post-series at Taming Posh Beckham: "It's a right, not a privilege." In this series we will focus exclusively on the funkiest, nastiest, most sexually appetizing football gear on the planet. In today's addition, I bring you Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden - FC Barcelona).

Zlatan Ibrahimovic - Juventus Jersey

Ibrahimovic Ajax Jersey

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

USA vs Trinidad and Tobago FiFA World Cup Qualifying Preview

USA vs Trinidad and Tobago
FIFA World Cup Qualifying
Hasley Crawford Stadium
Port of Spain, Trinidad
09/09/09 6:30p.m. EST
ESPN Classic &

Game Notes

As I correctly predicted they would be, Jozy Altidore and Charlie Davies were awesome Saturday night against El Salvador in Utah.

Although the US scored two goals (Clint Dempsey '41 and Jozy Altidore '45) in the first half and ultimately won the game, they did once again concede an early goal to El Salvador (Cristian Castillo '32).

USA holds series lead with Trinidad & Tobago at 15-2-3 (since 1982)

USA is 3-3-1 on the road in 2010 FIFA qualifyings

USA Key Figures

The guy continues to prove why he's the premier USA footballer. His lone goal allowed Saturday night (Video Here) was caused by poor defense and he was solid throughout the second half.

As much as I dislike him, he's the general of the offense and one of the team's most physical defenders day in day out.

(Maryland / Hull City) -- (New Hampshire / Sochaux)

The guys have chemistry. Jozy continues to establish himself on a course that may lead him to be the American soccer star we've never had, while Charlie's continuing improvement and ceiling-less potential make him a potential star striker.
*Note: A yellow card for Jozy tonight suspends him for the next qualifying match.

Dislike him; always have, but I need to give him a shout out. He plays well virtually every match and is always capable of grabbing the occasional headdie goal (like he did on Saturday).

Onyewu returns after a one-game suspension. He'll most likely be charged with containing Kenwyne Jones (see below), as well as his return should let Bocanegra move to left back. I'd rather see Spector there because of his size and speed, but. . .

Trinidad & Tobago Key Figures

The stereotypical modern big athletic striker, shutting down Jones is clearly the game plan for the US. Jones is 6'2" and a big 187lbs. While this year's numbers aren't impressive (2 goals, 2 assists in 9 games), he's only had 3 shots on goal and 9 shots total.

Don't know too much about this guy; I've heard he's a speedy winger.

ESPN Soccernet Video Preview (Here)