“I Can’t Wait to See the Back of Football”

England's Danny Rose walks past jeering Montenegro fans
England’s Danny Rose walks past jeering Montenegro fans

These are the words of England International, Danny Rose in response to the recent racist incidents in football.

I can’t wait to see the back of football.

When countries get fined what I probably spend on a night out in London, what do you expect?

How I programme myself is that I think I have five or six more years left in football. There is so much politics.

I can’t wait to see the back of it.

– Danny Rose

The game has become greatly hampered by people who seem to just now see the skin colour of their favourite players.

Euro 2020 Qualifiers

Some of England’s star players who played during the international break against Montenegro were racially abused, causing Raheem Sterling to speak out yet again.

Sterling has become a voice of reason and a sort of ambassador of equality in football.

Racists chants were reportedly directed at a number of England players, with defender Danny Rose subjected to monkey chants towards the end of the match, when the Tottenham player was being shown a yellow card.

Speaking to Sky Sports in the mixed zone after the match, Sterling said:
“All of us know what skin color we are so they’re not saying anything new.

“It’s 2019, I keep saying it, and it’s a shame to see this keeps going on.

“We can only bring awareness and light to the situation. It’s now time for the people in charge to put a real stamp on it. You’ve got to punish people a bit harder, you’ve gotta do something that makes them think twice.
“If you can’t play in front of fans then that’s going to make them think harder. Me and the FA can only do so much, we’ve got to leave it to the people in charge to make a proper stance on it.”

Raheem Sterling celebrates and puts his hands to his ears during England's 5-0 win over Montenegro
Raheem Sterling celebrates and puts his hands to his ears during England’s 5-0 win over Montenegro

On Monday, England manager Gareth Southgate described the incidents as “unacceptable” and “very sad,” especially as Callum Hudson-Odoi who had an amazing international debut was not asked about the experience, but rather about the racist comments of fans.

Callum Hudson-Odoi
Callum Hudson-Odoi
On Monday, England manager Gareth Southgate described the incidents as “unacceptable” and “very sad.”

He told reporters: “We had an excellent performance and have an 18-year-old [Callum Hudson-Odoi] being interviewed after the game having to respond to what’s happened when his evening should be about the joy of his full debut.

“It’s 2019, I keep saying it, and it’s a shame to see this keeps going on.”

What’s Going On Ole?

Manchester United suffered yet another embarrassing defeat yesterday at the Molineux, the home of the Wolverhampton Wanderers.

This is the second game played away at Wolves this season and United still managed to be beaten by two goals to one.

It’s Ole’s first defeat as official manager of Manchester United, and it seemed that the Reds did not want the three points as much as Wolves did.

With Romelu Lukaku and Jesse Lingard both missing clear headers from close range and captain Ashley Young sent off after a messy tackle on the Wolves goal scorer, Scott McTominay’s early efforts to score a goal were effectively cancelled out.

United played about an hour with only ten men and against a very good opposing No.1, Rui Patricio, in Wolverhampton’s team who blocked McTominay’s two other attempts.

A strike from Diogo Jota and an own goal from Chris Smalling handed Wolves the three points on a silver platter.

Understandably, the United gaffer was confused and disappointed that his side could not convert their chances.

“They scored with their first chance after the sending off, about 20-25 minutes after the sending off. So, the boys have done exactly what they’re meant to but we conceded goals from sloppy mistakes and we didn’t score ourselves.

He continued, “Of course, it’s three points [dropped] and we knew that we’d have to have 15 points probably to get that position [fourth]. We’ve still got 6 games to get them 15 points. So we’ve just got to look forward and dust ourselves down, because [it was a] disappointing result, but a very good performance.”

Had United won this match, they would have moved straight to third place on the Premier League table with 64 points, however, it was not to be.

Now they’re out of the Champions League group of top four teams, will they be able to struggle their way into fourth?

Huddersfield Relegated

In yesterday’s “Goal Rush” Saturday, Huddersfield Town sealed their relegation fate as they lost 2-0 to Crystal Palace.If the other low placed teams had not won their matches yesterday, their relegation would have still been up for debate. ( Yesterday’s scores: Leicester City 2- Bournemouth 0; Brighton 0- Southampton 1; Burnley 2 – Wolves 0; West Ham 0 – Everton 2; Manchester City 2 – Fulham 0)

However, with only 3 wins and a goal difference number in the negative 40s, it seemed quite unlikely that Huddersfield would play in the Premier League next season. With 6 games still left for them to play in the English Premier League, they matched the record of Derby County who also sealed their relegation fate in the 2006/07 season with 6 games to spare.

After two years in the Premier League the players certainly feel disappointed but the only way to move forward is to build on the past failings.

In other Premier League news, Ole Gunnar Solskjær showed the board of his former club made a good decision by appointing him long term manager. He continued the club’s winning legacy with a 2-1 victory over Watford.

Although Manchester United’s display was definitely less motivated and impressive than their visitors, two main strikers Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial found the net, giving them their 3 points, and goalkeeper David De Gea kept the Watford goals to a minimum, placing the team in 4th place with 61 points, the same as 3rd placed Tottenham.

However, the table will soon change with today’s games, especially the game between Liverpool and Tottenham.

Cristiano Charged for Copying a Celebration

34-year old Serie A star, Cristiano Ronaldo, has been charged with improper conduct after his crotch grabbing celebration in front of the Atlético Madrid fans last Tuesday during the second leg of their Champions League clash.

This ‘inappropriate’ celebration was in imitation of Diego Simeone’s, which he showed to the fans during the first leg Champions League match back in February.

The Atlético Madrid manager claims the celebration was to appreciate the “balls” shown by his players in their 2-0 victory over Juventus as well as his ability to make tough decisions when it comes to making selections. He was fined £17,000 and escaped a touchline ban.

Ronaldo’s case is going to be dealt with at the next meeting of the UEFA Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body on March 21.

Juventus will play Ajax in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final in Amsterdam on April 10.

The Juventus star may miss that match so it’s fingers crossed for him right now.

Punches and Shoves in place of Passes and Shots

Yesterday was an impactful day in football history, what with Arsenal ending Manchester United’s 12 game unbeaten run with a 2-0 defeat at the North London Emirates Stadium. But that isn’t all that went down yesterday.

The game of football is a well known contact sport and those who cross the red line of friendly tackles get warned, booked or even sent off. So that’s the players taken care of. But what about when it’s the fans?

There has been an increasing amount of racist behavior and violence on the part of fans. It has now gotten so serious that players actually fear for their lives.

Raheem Sterling has previously complained about the racist taunts from a Chelsea fan during a game this season, and even the way he is represented in the media, that is, with a strong racist undertone. A Tottenham supporter even threw a banana at Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Manchester City's Raheem Sterling taunted by Chelsea fans.
Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling taunted by Chelsea fans. Credit: Sky Sports
Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has a banana skin thrown at him by Tottenham fans
Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has a banana skin thrown at him by Tottenham fans. Credit: Getty Images

Now things have gotten even more serious. Yesterday evening, during Arsenal’s match against Manchester United, a fan of the North London club ran on the pitch and shoved United defender Chris Smalling before running with his arms wide open towards the Arsenal players. Smalling was unharmed and the man was arrested, but it does not detract from the gravity of the situation.

Where were the match stewards? Surely they should have expected this to happen during a match between two club’s with a long history of rivalry.

An Arsenal spokesperson said: “We utterly condemn the behaviour of the individual who ran on to the pitch and approached Chris Smalling during today’s match.

“We would like to apologise to Chris and Manchester United, and are pleased that [the spectator] was apprehended and arrested. We will be working closely with the Metropolitan Police in their investigation.

“The individual will also be banned from Arsenal matches home and away. Our matchday staff receive ongoing training on managing incidents such as this.”

Shortly after the match, a statement from the Metropolitan Police said: “A man has been arrested on suspicion of common assault and pitch invasion following an incident during the Arsenal v Man Utd game at the Emirates Stadium today.

“He is currently in custody at a north London police station.”

Arsenal boss Unai Emery said the incident was something he “did not want” to see and called on all fans to show “respect”.

Now, this incident came only hours after a more serious one, also on the pitch.

During Aston Villa’s derby match against Birmingham earlier yesterday, Jack Grealish, an Aston Villa midfielder was assaulted by a Birmingham fan just 9 minutes into the game. The man, who has been identified as 27-year-old Paul Mitchell, evaded the match stewards, ran on to the pitch, and punched Grealish from behind, knocking him to the ground.

He was quite calm about the whole thing, although both Aston Villa and Birmingham City players went after him.

Grealish went on to score the game’s only goal in his side’s 1-0 victory and said there was “no place” in football for the type of incident he had to endure.

“I was walking into position and then just felt a whack around the side of the face. Obviously, there’s rivalry and stuff in football, but I don’t think there’s any place for that.”- Jack Grealish, Aston Villa Midfielder.

Birmingham now face the threat of a stadium closure or even a points deduction as the FA began an inquiry into this unprecedented incident in English football.

The club have apologised to Grealish and pledged to ban the supporter for life.

Some supporters in the Tilton End actually applauded Mitchell as he was escorted from the field by stewards before being immediately arrested by West Midlands Police.

Ashley Young, the United and England defender, says players could be “in danger” and has called for change.

“It is the third time that a fan has managed to get on the pitch,” he said. “What if they are carrying something? The players will be in danger. It is definitely something that the FA, Premier League and Fifa [need to look at]. It has to be done. Maybe extra stewarding. It is a concern with the one earlier today [Grealish] and the one on Chrissy [Smalling]. Something has to be done.”

The ‘third time’ refers to is Friday’s incident. On the 8th of March, Rangers captain James Tavernier was confronted by a 21 year old man at Easter Road.The man attempted to kick the ball away from Tavernier as he moved to pick it up to take a throw in.

Police lead James Tavernier away from the scene with the fan
Police lead James Tavernier away from the scene with the fan.

The two then laid hands on each other before the fan was led away by police. The man attempted to kick the ball away from Tavernier as he moved to pick it up to take a throw in. The two then laid hands on each other before the fan was led away by police.

Hibernian chief executive Leeann Dempster said that “nothing is off the table” after Rangers captain James Tavernier was confronted by a man at Easter Road. She added that the man will be banned and that she will personally apologies to Tavernier.

This incident also comes six days after Celtic’s Scott Sinclair was almost hit by a glass bottle thrown by a Hibernian supporter last week.

The game's referee picks up the bottle thrown at a player
The game’s referee picks up the bottle thrown at a player.

It’s happening in the Premier League and in the Scottish League and it’s happening all over the world. Football has gone beyond being a friendly game with no more than a few altercations between players or even fights at bars, pubs and viewing centers. Now the fans are getting bolder and much more vocal and physical, what with the media and all.

These incidents take the word ‘fanatic’ to a whole different level.

Emiliano Sala: Is there still hope?

Emiliano Sala. An Argentinian football player who has definitely been in center stage in the football world.

The 28 year old was bought by Premier League side Cardiff City for a club record fee of £15 million (€18 million) in January 2019 from Ligue 1 team Nantes but has been missing for nine days now.

On 30 January 2019, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch reported that they had found two seat cushions, which had washed up on a French beach, that were believed to be from the missing aircraft. This gives new fire to the investigation.

Sala returned to Nantes after completing his medical in Cardiff to say goodbye to his former teammates and to get a few belongings. He was to return to Cardiff on 21 January to attend his first training session with his new club the next morning.

Sala with his Nantes teammates before leaving for Cardiff.
Sala with his Nantes teammates before leaving for Cardiff.

On 21 January, the aircraft he was on, a Piper PA-46 Malibu, went missing off Alderney. He was the only passenger in the plane with 59 year old pilot David Ibbotson.

The aircraft’s pilot David Ibbotson requested permission to descend before losing contact with air traffic control completely, having taken off initially from Nantes airport.

This was the same aircraft, which he had travelled to Nantes in two days earlier and had been arranged by football agent Mark McKay.

On 23 January 2019, Channel Islands Air Search said there was “no hope” of finding any survivors in the water, because of the rough waves, strong current and low water temperature.

An audio message allegedly sent by Sala to his friends through WhatsApp from the plane was released by Argentine media outlet Olé, in which he can be heard telling them:

Hello, my brothers, how are you? Boy, I’m tired. I was here in Nantes taking care of things, things, things, things, things, things, and it never stops, it never stops, it never stops. Anyway guys, I’m up in this plane that feels like it’s falling to pieces, and I’m going to Cardiff. [It’s] crazy, we start tomorrow. Training in the afternoon, guys, in my new team… Let’s see what happens. So, how’s it going with you guys, all good? If in an hour and a half you have no news from me, I don’t know if they are going to send someone to look for me because they cannot find me, but you will know… Dad, I’m scared!”

On 24 January 2019, at 15:15 GMT, after a “very thorough and extensive search” including 80 hours of combined searching undertaken by three planes, five helicopters and two lifeboats, Guernsey Police announced that they had called off the search for the plane or survivors.

This decision led to people all over thw world asking for the search to continue, which included numerous other footballers, including fellow Argentine players Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuaín, Sergio Agüero and former player Diego Maradona, Premier League and Ligue 1 players, managers and fans and of course Emiliano Sala’s family.

The president of Argentina, Mauricio Macri, stated his intention to issue a formal request to the British and French governments for the search to resume.

An online petition for the search to continue amassed over 65,000 signatures and Sala’s family later announced their intention to fund a private search. Over £280,000 has been raised for a private search on GoFundMe started by Sports Cover, a sports agency that represents Sala. The funds enabled the search to resume on 26 January, with two boats being launched, led by marine scientist David Mearns.

On 28 January, plans were announced for an underwater search to begin “within a week”, depending on weather conditions, by using an unmanned remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) to search an area of seabed north of Hurd’s Deep.

On 29 January, Cardiff City included Sala on the team sheet for their game against Arsenal, with a daffodil next to his name in place of a squad number.

On 30 January 2019, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch reported that they had found two seat cushions, which had washed up on a French beach, that were believed to be from the missing aircraft.

Unstoppable Liverpool?

The Reds hosted Arsenal yesterday, Saturday December 29th at their home, Anfield Stadium.

For a team that traveled about 177 miles (285 kilometers) to play an extremely anticipated match, the Gunners definitely got a surprise.

Liverpool have certainly been in extremely good form recently, winning matches in no simple fashion. With 20 games, 17 wins, three draws, eight goals conceded, 48 scored, 54 points, Liverpool is currently standing 9 points clear from their closest title contenders, Tottenham Hotspur.

This, in terms of points per game, is the best calendar year in the club’s history; 88 points from 37 league matches. However, manager Jürgen Klopp believes they have not even begun to show their amazing abilities.

Their quick, attack-focused style of play is enough to intimidate any team; including the prestigious ‘Top Six” teams.

With their dominating style of play so evident in a recent match against close neighbours, Manchester United, the fixture against Arsenal promised to be an interesting one.

However, Arsenal have not been doing badly either. With 20 matches played, 11 wins, 5 draws, 30 goals conceded, 42 goals scored and 38 points, they currently sit in 5th position on the table; and 16 points away from Liverpool.

Arsenal scored the first goal of the game, with youngster Ainsely Maitland-Niles scoring in the 11th minute. Liverpool did not stay behind for long though, as Roberto Firmino scored a goal in the 14th and then 16th minute. Sadio Mané scored in the 32nd minute, followed by Mohammed Salah’s penalty at halftime. The Brazilian number 9 scored a penalty sealing the fate of the Gunners.

Roberto Firmino became the third Brazilian to score three goals in a single Premier League game behind Afonso Alves and Robinho. This was also the first match this season when all Liverpool’s front three (Firmino No.9, Mané No. 10 and Salah No. 11) scored goals.

This is the sort of title race fans like to see. Its definitely no fun when just one team dominates a league, so when you see strong teams like Manchester City stumbling and fumbling, newcomers and underdogs like the Wolverhampton Wanderers winning a match against second-placed Tottenham Hotspur and ones like Manchester United undergoing serious renovation, everyone is on the edge of their seats, waiting to see what will happen next.

Well, Liverpool goes into the new year top of the table and if they are able to beat Manchester City in their next game, they will definitely have an easier ride for the rest of the season.