The Week We Went Around the World
Serbia and Racism
What followed England under 21’s victory over their Serbian counterparts in Krusevac on Tuesday night was nothing short of disgusting and disgraceful. Danny Rose was the subject of racist abuse during the game and finally he snapped and reacted, earning himself a post-match red card. If he was subject to that kind of vile abuse, and it seems apparent he was, (attacks were both verbal and physical with stones being thrown at Rose and other England players), then UEFA and FIFA need to lay down the law.
However, the governing bodies have set a precedent when last year Manchester City were fined more for coming out late for the second half than Porto were fined for their fans chanting in a racist manner.
Surely more than a fine has to be dished out on the Serbians. Despite their FA pleading innocence and denying the poor behaviour of their fans, it’s obvious something upset Rose and was the catalyst for the ensuing fracas that involved players, fans, coaches, officials and anyone within a 20 mile radius of the stadium.
This isn’t the first time the Serbs, an independent footballing nation for less than a decade, have been caught up in the uglier side of football. In 2007 officials had to ask the fans to stop chanting abuse at England player Nedum Onuaha and a qualifier against Italy about two years ago was called off because of crowd trouble and a barrage of fireworks hitting the pitch. Italy were awarded a 3-0 win.
It isn’t a minority taking part in these chants, it isn’t someone using the wrong term or word at the wrong time but essentially aren’t racist (see Ron Atkinson). It’s a large number of people, and reading more into the subject, it appears apparent it’s a problem in Serbian society, not just football.
And if they are found guilty then a token fine isn’t enough from UEFA, a ban from international and European club competition is the only way this nation will learn that this behaviour isn’t acceptable.
DA ROOF! DA ROOF! Is unable to close when it’s raining.
If only the Polish FA had flicked on the news and watched the weather forecast on Monday evening. If they had, they may have closed the roof on the stadium hosting their qualifier with England and the game would have gone ahead as scheduled and not a day late upsetting fans, players, and Roy Keane, who had to spend an extra day in the company of Adrian Chiles.
Two things baffle me about the situation. Why have a roof to keep a pitch dry if you can’t close it in the rain and is there a national shortage of tarpaulin in Poland? OK three things, why did they choose match day to give the ground staff a day off?
England Lacking Lustre
A 5-0 win is a good result and England did play well for large spells but the opponent was San Marino. Hardly a test, England even managed 85% possession. I doubt England usually manage that in a training match.
San Marino did play nine outfield players behind the ball, and that is harder to break down than it sounds. The San Marinese aren’t going to go seeking an equaliser after going a goal down. The match was strictly an exercise in damage limitation for the world’s equal worst side.
However, in that match England were either taking the game too easily or trying too hard and as a result little mistakes, misplaced passes, poor finishing et al crept in.
And against Poland, the Three Lions were pretty dismal. Few clear cut chances were made and the passing was woeful regardless of a pitch that ended up resembling an allotment by full time.
At times against an organised Poland side England reverted to type, long balls to a small striker and too many men behind the ball. Despite this England are unbeaten in qualifying, unbeaten over 90 minutes under Roy Hodgson and will likely make Brazil 2014 with relative ease.
Insane in the Ukraine
The Euro 2012 co-hosts made England’s qualification for Brazil 2014 that little bit easier by drawing with the same Moldova side that England smashed 5-0 and then losing to a fairly average Montenegro side.
Poortugal 1-1 Northern Ireland
Wow, and I mean that. Who’d have thought that out of this round of qualifiers the home nation to have impressed the most was Michael O’Neill’s Northern Ireland?
A team that have been perennial strugglers since David Healy scored a winner against Spain went out to Portugal, took the lead and managed to get a credible draw.
The Northern Ireland side do have some talent and isn’t anywhere near as bad was what people may assume. Portugal were lucky to get a point in many respects and the equaliser came 11 minutes from time. Portugal also lost to Russia in this round of qualifiers and while their chances of making it to Brazil are healthier than O’Neill’s men Ronaldo, Nani and the rest have a fight on their hands.
Gareth Bales Coleman Out
He dives to win a penalty, then smashes in a belter to beat Scotland almost single handed and keep Chris Coleman in the Welsh hot seat. As good as Bale is though, he couldn’t drag a poor Welsh side to a result against Croatia.
Scotland on the other hand are just an embarrassment. It would be easy to suggest that Craig Levin should be sacked, and to be fair he should, but talent is lacking in the Scotland squad. Arguably there is more in the Wales and Northern Ireland sides than the Scottish team and any manager taking the reins of the Tartan Army have a mammoth task on their hands.
Germany 4-4 Sweden
“I don’t know how to explain it,” said Germany manager Joachim Lowe. I can’t quite figure it out either. Germany, the efficient, organised and now with added style and verve Germany against the Sweden that looked a bit flat at the Euros. Germany were four goals up. Four. A mammoth lead.
Sweden didn’t get their first until the 62nd minute. Half an hour to score three more. And they did. Inspired no doubted by the ego that is Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the Swedes rallied round and picked off a German side now on the back foot.
The nation that gave birth to El Hadji Diouf has been kicked out of the next African Nations after a full on riot erupted as they lost a qualification match to the Ivory Coast. The Senegalese FA have fully accepted the decision.
Let’s hope that UEFA take a similar hard line approach with Serbia.