25 July 2011

Knowing..

By Dr3







Seeing and Knowing


I’ve been trying to measure my words for this subject. For the last time, I will mention or dedicate anything, intentionally, to Calciopoli.

People construct arguments grasping at whatever factoids they can to substantiate their beliefs and their ‘knowledge’, as fact. As if Calciopoli was not ‘smoky mirrors’ enough already, allegiances and disgruntled fanaticism have led to all sorts of ‘truths’ and watertight alibis that still manage to contradict one another. The only new “truth” that has emerged from the second trial for me, is that Juventus were ‘in fact’ the target of a witch-hunt in 2006.

But what does that mean?

I knew that with the original trials, transcribes, punishments and immediate widespread resignations that took place, that everything was right with this world. Justice was served; at last. The thieving Old Lady, in constant collusion with a mobster was finally caught. Legally. There were no tears shed for Juventus. No one defended them. And only one man vowed to fight for his contextual “innocence”. With the publishing of the transcripts that were part of the investigation in the newspapers, it became abundantly clear that conspiracy theorists had been vindicated. With the swiftness and harshness of the penalty, the justice system had appeased a public shamed by the scandal; the justice system works. Lazio fans knew it. Inter fans knew it. Smaller teams felt it. But now the world knew. The subdued voices from Juventus, suggested that the verdict reached was correct, because everyone knows an innocent man speaks up, right?

But then came the revelations. The Inter-relations of the prosecution team became the talk of the Juventus fans, gaining belief from their knight in shining armor. As time went on Moggi had all of the egregious charges brought against him dropped, and it meant that people began to know of something fishy. In some circles, people knew that the first trial was a complete farce. Forgetting the transcripts we read, needing validation of our judgment we started over. In the final twist of the plot Moggi’s lawyers embarked upon the resurrection of some details, somehow overlooked as immaterial in the first trial; knowledge is power the say. It became clearer that many other teams could, and should have been found guilty of the same charges that were stuck to Moggi/Juventus; insipid and ambiguous communication and unsportsmanlike charges. The trials in Naples gave ‘more’ information to the public, and bred new life into the cry of foul from the Juventi.


At this point Stefano Palazzi enters our minds, throwing a wrench at our knowledge. We know that it is said that he has released a 72-page dossier. Somewhere. We know that he has publicly said that “Inter would have been found guilty of sporting fraud too”. But what do we really know?

There has been a lot of talk about the distinctions or lack thereof between the allegations. There has been a cry for parity citing this new evidence. But what evidence? All that we know is that there is a 72-page dossier. Where are the transcripts that were made available to the public as done before with Moggi? What is it that was said on the wiretaps that would prompt a man to go public with an allegation before any verdict, or before making this evidence available to the public? Is that the same process?

Moratti both justly and cowardly has spoken only of the unacceptability of defaming a dead man, sort of playing a dead-relative card, to which Agnelli has spoken up about the intentions not being to defame, but rather to seek parity in judgment. But how could this distinction really exist? How could it be separate if unlike Moggi this man cannot defend himself and be cleared of any allegations? With all the mention of Article1 violations being the only thing that Juventus were found guilty of, it is interesting that no mention is being made that Moggi was in fact cleared of other violations. Not that they were not alleged at all. What we know is that a man has made a supposition. We know that a man who is dead cannot stand. As such an allegation is being touted as truth, as if it is a verdict. As if, even if there was a verdict, that it would represent truth. We supposedly know now, that Inter were just as guilty, just as we knew before Moggi was cleared, that he was too.

We knew that due to a flawed system that the case was passed its statue statute of limitations. Yet we callously promote scandal with factoids and ambiguity that the FIGC should do the right thing. Illegally. We knew the date on which the verdict would be delivered. We also knew that the date in which this verdict would be delivered was the day that the accused-dead-man was born. We know that this was a coincidence though. We also know now that Juventus will seek truth and pursue this case to its full fruition.

In regular life there’s a cliché that says that the more you know, the less you don’t know. In Calcio, the opposite seems to be true. All we have now is a series of innuendo. A belief system tempered by blind allegiances. Grievances with the system when it fails, yet validation when it works; for “us”. How could the same Juventi that chastised/chastises a system as being fraud, now rejoice in a non-verdict declaration by the same system as proof? How could the same Nerazzurri that rejoiced when justice was supposedly served now recoil in disgust when the magnifying glass is on them?



True knowledge is in knowing that you know nothing


This is not about demonizing Juventus. My ‘hatred’ for them is not the one that rejoices in Fulham defeats, or spends all day responding to "Inter Merda". What I hate is the supposed truth that they are of all things, being painted as victims. That there is “new truth”. I can only speak of what I “know”, while accepting that I know nothing. What I believe can be substantiated, but it still does not constitute truth. I know, knew, and will always believe that Juventus were the cheatingest team that I had/have ever seen in football. I didn’t need the courts to tell me that players getting penalties for fouls outside of the box represented unfairness. Neither did I need them to tell me that phantom disallowed goals against Juventus were the workings of some sort of syndicate. My memory of the uproar in Italian newspapers even before the trials concerning Juventus’ cheating is not and will never be gone. I do know though, that Juventus through an illegal/shady process were the targets of a “victimless” witch-hunt in 2006. Victimless because the teams who were cheated by them, mine included, were vindicated. Victimless because fans that pretend that there is absolutely no cheating in their favor deserve no pity; at least not mine. I used “victimless” though, because I do respect the Juventus players, who have stayed and honored their club, and even those who have left or joined since.

I know that the Scudetto of 2006 is a poisoned chalice, but I resent any of Moggi’s insinuations of “everyone is guilty”. Not just because of the results, but because it would mean that I was watching scripted football-reality-TV. I know that a team that is cheating and changing refereeing structures, and committing sporting fraud wouldn’t be a perennial 5th placed team like mine was. I also know that based on what I read, the SIM cards, the car "gifts" and the verdict that was reached for Moggi (only article 1), that the courts mean absolutely nothing. I won’t pretend or hide behind some cloak of infallible impartiality, such that my beliefs are only guided by some divine truth. But I won’t dismiss what I saw on the basis that I have a favorite team. Moggi can wheel and deal, and find technicalities and alibies from all of his friends forever. He may also now classlessly make jibes about Calcipoli, sort of like OJ Simpson making ads for gloves. He can never though, change the fact that I know what I saw.


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19 July 2011

The Fiddler on the Roof

By Bourbon




In May, one world ends, and you realise that another exists.

Some see it as a nuisance. Some see it as necessary. If left up to some managers, they would have their players wrapped up in cotton wool awaiting pre-season training. Some managers hope that this gives their players a chance to increase their market value (more on that in another article). But the question still is...what’s the point of international football…really? Most international managers position is as
precarious as a fiddler on a roof; trying to play a tune, without falling off.

Terrible gulf in quality. The strong always will be strong, the weak will always be weak. As pedantic as the day’s
sunrise and sunset. Some anomalies may occur but by and large the average holds true. Who could honestly say that a clash between Honduras and Grenada would make one clear their schedule? What were the odds on the final being anything other than USA vs Mexico?

Except when one looks at the sub stories, one realises things were not so cut and dry. USA qualifying second in their group? Being beaten by Panama? Yes upsets happen, but still who banks on those?

The Copa America always promises to be a spectacle but thus far flattered to deceive. Oh the horror: Argentina and Brazil are out before the final. December 21st 2012 must really be happening.

Except Columbia and Venezuela proved their mettle. Chile as well.[Edit: Well gargle my gonads! In between me typing this and posting it you know Chile got knocked out?] Nothing really could be taken for granted in football.

Yes the same football that women play. Twenty years ago USA would have been the odds on favourite to win any women’s tournament. Ten years ago even. But as the tournament showed, the gulf is closing. The standard is improving. Soon, maybe the Women's Champions League would get more coverage.

Same with the U-17. Holland with their intensive youth football setup earning only 1 point and ending up last in their group? Japan qualifying higher than France AND Argentina?

I love it.

Its football untarnished by inflated transfer fees, agent haggling, and all the other things that make you wonder if the football world has gone mad. The perfect example of playing with the cards you were dealt. Where size does not necessarily relate to success (Compare Brazil’s 80 million to India’s 1 Billion). Where history counts for something but ultimately counts for nothing at all. Where a team gets better by the way I personally respect: with a long term vision in mind. (And don’t try to use the
“Barcelonification” angle, since its pointless having a youth system and you still see no issues even considering spending 30, 40, 50 million for 3 seasons straight on one player.) Where it’s a matter of luck and chance for naturalisation, where still Brazil is an exporting market, its not perfect. However It does have its merits.

And its downfalls.

Given the international schedule, minimal time is really available for national teams to develop tactics. Batista had the outlandish notion to get “Argentina to play like Barcelona” so Messi can shine. Well that obviously didn’t work out too well. Public pressure and outrage is easy to experience, witch hunts are common, excuses abound. Pundits pontificate, opportunities missed, and everyone gets a chance to say what should have been done. Opportunity only comes once. The best chance any team has is if there is a degree of transition between the generation on its way out and the one on its way in. It gives an understanding, a solidarity. A solidarity that bonds with football’s most important resource: The fans. The fans know and bond more with a player that they’ve seen blossom. Recent example : Tevez vs Messi. International football goes beyond club passion. Its national pride. A pride hinged upon knowing where those players came from and proud that they are where they are today.

The joy I felt when my club teams achieve success in no way could compare to the feelings I felt when my country qualified for the World Cup. The despair as well, although expected, still didn’t make the medicine less bitter to swallow. The excitement and passion when my cousin became the first in our family to actually get capped internationally was something else. The nostalgia when I got whatever edition of FIFA by whatever means necessary and if the information was inadequate for my country, I would refine it. International football has something, fundamentally flawed, yet intangibly inexplicable. Or maybe it might be more accurate to say that its like that for me.

Then again who knows? If you ask a player which he would rather win: a World Cup or a Champions League…what do you think the answer would be?


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13 July 2011

Football is not drama.

By Dr3



This ain't ESPN


I am sorry. I don’t watch football for its drama factor. I can’t sieve through trash to find a hallmark moment. Neither will I smell shit and call it Sean John. I want above all, good football first. Heart, and all the other ‘ineffables’ that make poetic narratives of a game, somehow now emblematic of the epic struggle and courage of war, are not first or needed, for me, in any game. So while it writes itself that a final penalty taker fought cancer, it warms the heart but doesn’t change anything, if it’s in the background of substandard football.

The past three weeks have been overwhelmingly underwhelming. I sadly (extemporaneously), questioned just how shameful the shunning of the Women’s World Cup was by “the media” from the onset. What has followed are polemics waged against the establishment, ostentatious praise of this World Cup and by extension women’s football, and spectacular highlight reel moments, all in the background of some really, really poor football. Coupled with just how truly horrible the Copa America has been (from pitch quality to play, to analysis), it’s been really hard trying to deal with the pretense. The pretense that says that if I don’t accept the Women’s World Cup as brilliant, I am bigoted. The pretense that says if the men’s Brazil team is poor, it is because of Neymar. The pretense that says that Messi has proven “once again”, that he is no Pele/Maradona . There is drama in football. It does not need to be fabricated.

I am no football-romantic, but I am a football fan first. Richard Whittall spoke about the obligation fans feel to accept the game on face value as nonsense, which I agree with. I don’t have to pretend a game is not nauseating for the sake of identifying myself with anything or anyone, or not as something or someone. If international players can’t make 5 yard passes, or have no game plan, or hit and hope more than they intend anything, I will not then call it a fabulous spectacle. I will not polish copper and call it gold. I have struggled to watch any WWC team play for the full ninety minutes, with the exception of Japan and France. Now while the reasons behind the lack of quality in the women’s game are wide ranging and a scathing indictment on sexism in football’s foundation, it doesn’t mean that I pretend it is not lacking quality; even so far as to claim that it has been the greatest. In understanding the context, my disappointment is moderated. But in reading future folklores today, I’m a little disgusted and bewildered as I must be in the twilight zone (am I the only one seeing this?).

There was a piece of shit article dissecting Ronaldo’s (skinnier fat-pork’s) hat trick at Old Trafford, into a comedy of errors. Now while I disagreed with that notion and the one that errors take away from genius, I only disagree within a certain context. If we are talking about errors in which keepers try to embarrass their families forever (Barthez, Gomez, any-English-kepper-on-international-duty, Almunia etc), then I definitely agree that they take away from a hallmark moment. Now while the WWC has produced a lot of “golazos”, quite frankly, there have been amateurish errors reminiscent of women’s collegiate soccer in the States. As an example, Jill Scott scored a great goal against France in their final game. Now while the commentators touched on the contextually “sexist” conversation about women goalkeepers (in this case the French), the embarrassing mistake came before it. Two French defenders were beaten by the spin of a ball on the turf. The spin. In a moment reminiscent of Kaka making fools of Evra and the other idiot, Scott was through. Much like Kaka, there was more to be done, and the icy-veined Scott impressively made ridiculously light work of scoring the goal. But that error? It’s cringe-worthy. Can you imagine Mexes/Abidal and Sagna making that error against Lampard and it not being the focus in this day of dissecting and dissecting again? Yet we pretend it didn’t happen. There is a context in which to judge the women’s game; against itself. There should however also be a context in praising it. So while the ratings and attendances sky-rocket, stuck in the twilight zone again, somehow I remember there being better quality overall at the last World Cup (Drunk nostalgia?).


Football creates drama. Football creates talking points. Football evokes emotion. Football can make amicable people heartless and callous. There is no need for Gladiator themes. No need for Pagliacci samples. No need to put football on a stage. In Istanbul, there was enough drama on that day on the pitch, such that I will never forget where I was, what I was eating, what temperature it was and the like as the drama unfolded. In Dresden it was the same. That these women scored a goal in extra-time of extra-time is dramatic enough. That these women played with ten for over half an hour is dramatic enough. Like reporters embellishing quotes for Pulitzers though, it apparently is never enough. We need to say that it was an epic struggle against an establishment bent on kicking the U.S out. We need to say everything was against them, and like true gladiators their character was aroused. Never mind needing a magnifying glass on stills to see an offside. Or needing a second replay to really see what happened with the tackle on Marta; it was definitely UNICEF FIFA that contrived to stop them. There was controversy without ad-libs to your narrative (the penalty retake??). There was drama too.

Anyway, the point is not really to be too scathing, because while being overwhelming, it has also made the fleeting moments of absolute quality all the more genius, if not, out-of-context. I still don’t know where that goal came from in the Mexico – England game; haven given up, I was cooking eggs. As usual though, what has been annoying is the sensationalism. I really do hate the effin World Cup. Until sexism and its effects become history though, this is my only real window into the women’s game (anyone with streaming links to Women’s French league?? Or something?). I’m not a tyrant. I don’t go to college games and expect to see Zidane. I don’t go to pick-up games and expect tactical plans. I don’t expect these teams to play in the same fashion as men. But I do expect them to play at least closely to the fairytales that are being written.

SN: As if not sobered, and befuddled enough the Barcelonafication continues. Japan, due to playing attractively, is now the Barcelona of the Women’s Game.

Links:

Run of Play sometime ago on Mythology. One of their best posts imo

WC:

Jennifer Doyle: just read all her posts. Polemics and analysis. Yes. I'm linking to her twice.

Whittal

"boy versus girls"

Fake Sigi A guy who writes about women's football. A women's football fan. Must hate his father (it's a joke!!). Anyway. Just read all his posts.


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