Monday, January 7, 2008

Sepp Blatter Said Something Stupid Again: Country Before Competence

Critiquing Sepp Blatter quotes is like shooting fish in a barrel. Have you ever shot a fish in a barrel? It's a lot of fun.

Today, Blatter condemns the F.A. for hiring someone competent to manage England.

"I have never seen Italy, Germany, Brazil or Argentina with a coach from another country. In fact, most of the best teams have a coach from their own country."
Sepp, a few problems:
a) England is not "most" teams. It is just one team.
b) England is not one of the "best teams".
c) Most of the worst teams also have native coaches.
"I would say it is a little surprising that the motherland of football has ignored a sacrosanct law or belief that the national team manager should be from the same country as the players."
The idea that a league or a national team should be purely domestic is as cute as it is silly. It's just another variation on the standard goodoldaysism, like assholes who reminisce about how players had to work second jobs in the offseason (because the owners didn't share the spoils with the employees) and they played harder because they did it for the love of the game (they didn't, and they didn't).

Seriously, there are few people I hate in sports more than the idiots who retroactively attach some virtue to the way things were (which very often sucked).

Players didn't stay in their own countries and national teams weren't coached by their own countrymen because of some "sacrosanct law" that Blatter just made up last week. They stayed where they were, partly because they didn't have the cross-border travel and communication that we have now, and partly because of xenophobia (thank goodness that's done away with).

But you know what they did have in the old days? They had Di Stefano and Puskas ditching, respectively, Argentina and Hungary, to suit up for Spain. That's some sacrosanct-ass shit, right there.
"When you talk about being a football nation and you look at the big clubs in the Premier League it is not the English or British game that is represented…

"… one has to question whether this success has been for the benefit of the game, and not just in England but elsewhere, because the example of football's motherland is important."
Let's just drop the canard that globalization in soccer is (a) the cause of England's crappiness, and (b) bad for soccer as a whole.

England has been many things for the past 20 years, sometimes good, sometimes unlucky, sometimes bad, and sometimes really bad, though never great. But the "really bad" (between 1992 and 1996) happened to coincide with a time when the domestic league was still feeling the effect of the European ban and was just starting to blend foreigners into the mix.

On the other hand, Italy managed to win a title or two, despite having foreigners in their midst for decades. Germany won the 1990 World Cup with a core of Inter players. France wouldn't be as good as it is if its players were limited from playing in Serie A or the Prem, and that's not to mention the leap African teams have made, in large parts because French clubs had to deal with the talent drain and turned to the former colonies. Japan and Korea overachieved in 2002 because of the discipline that only foreign coaches could instill.

Granted, care needs to be taken so that young players and clubs in third-world nations aren't exploited, and loopholes, like the one allowing Arsenal to pick up Fran Merida and Cesc Fabregas for nothing, need to be closed.

Otherwise, all evidence suggests that infusion of foreign talent has benefited England and the rest of the footballing world. But that's neither here nor there, since Blatter has never been concerned with reality.

1 comment:

JT said...

This post is very Fire Joe Morgan-esque, and I like it. More please!