Going, Going, Gone: Sepp Blatter Resigns

June 4, 2015

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“Yesterday, Sepp Blatter resigned as president of FIFA. It would be easy and cheap to gloat about this; it would also be fun, so let’s do it. Blatter’s reign of merry larceny had seemed like it would go on forever. He’d been reelected for a fifth term only the previous week, despite the blinking neon elephant of a U.S.-led corruption investigation that resulted in the arrests of several powerful FIFA officials two days before the election. He’d been widely loathed and tangled in scandal from literally the moment he rose to power in 1998, when he refused to address rumors that his Qatari backers paid $50,000 for votes on his behalf. He always seemed to enjoy it, as though winking at critics and dancing around accusations was a hobby he tackled with zest. It gave his charm a little sparkle of superiority. It was one of the things that made him so pink.” Grantland – Brian Phillips

How a curmudgeonly old reporter exposed the FIFA scandal that toppled Sepp Blatter
“The biggest news story of the year was breaking, but the journalist responsible was fast asleep. It was just after dawn on May 27 when Andrew Jennings’s phone began ringing. Swiss police had just launched a startling raid on a luxury hotel in Zurich, arresting seven top FIFA officials and charging them and others with running a $150 million racket. The world was stunned. The waking world, that is. If Jennings had bothered to climb out of bed, he wouldn’t have been surprised at the news. After all, he was the man who set the investigation in motion, with a book in 2006, ‘FOUL! The Secret World of FIFA: Bribes, Vote Rigging and Ticket Scandals,’ followed by an exposé aired on the BBC’s ‘Panorama’ program that same year, and then another book in 2014, called ‘Omerta: Sepp Blatter’s FIFA Organised Crime Family.’” Washington Post

FIFA’s corruption is not going to ruin your soccer
“Last week’s events could have been a turning point. After the United States issued indictments against 14 senior members of FIFA, the organization could have chosen to move in a different direction, toward change, toward reform, toward decency. The remaining members might have ousted the incumbent, the man who led FIFA, guardians of the world’s most popular sport, toward its current charges of corruption and deceit. Instead, FIFA elected Sepp Blatter to his fourth term as president. A mere four days later, the man FIFA had just endorsed abruptly announced his intention to resign.” Soccer Football

Ex-FIFA Official Jack Warner Threatens to Spill ‘Avalanche’ of Secrets
“Jack Warner, the former FIFA vice president who was among 14 people indicted by a United States grand jury as part of an inquiry into corruption in world soccer, says he knows why the organization’s president, Sepp Blatter, announced plans to step down from soccer’s governing body. ‘Blatter knows why he fell. And if anyone else knows, I do,’ Mr. Warner said in his home country of Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday, referring to Mr. Blatter’s decision this week to resign after 17 years at the helm of FIFA, soccer’s governing body. Mr. Warner, who said he feared for his own life, also said he had evidence linking FIFA to his country’s 2010 election.” NY Times


How Barcelona’s Luis Enrique proved everyone wrong – and ended the hunting season

June 4, 2015

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Juventus’ possible defensive formation.
Luis Enrique declared hunting season open in the first week of November and it lasted well into the new year. Barcelona had just been beaten at home by Celta de Vigo, the first time the Galicians had ever won at the Camp Nou, and the Catalans’ coach, who had watched the criticism grow almost from the start, sarcastically foresaw a ‘nice week’ ahead. As it turned out, that was optimistic: it was more than a week and it would get a whole lot ‘nicer’. A 0-0 draw with Getafe followed in December and when 2015 opened with a 1-0 defeat at Real Sociedad, a crisis opened.” Guardian

UEFA Champions League Final: How will the teams tactically set-out?
“We have now finally come to the final stage of the Champions League, with a team that has not been good enough in the past few editions of the Champions League in Juventus, and Barcelona, who also started off this season with problems as well on and off the pitch, with an apparent rift between Messi and Enrique, but after the defeat against Moyes’ Real Sociedad, has transformed into an unstoppable team, not losing a single game. If we could separate these teams in any way, than that would without doubt be on the basis of style of play. The percentage of the ball-possession that Barcelona has in a game on average (this season) is 62 % while on the other hand you have Juventus with 52 %.” Outside of the Boot

Juventus and their Champions League conquest
“For the first time since 2003, the black and blue striped jerseys of Juventus FC, will be seen in the Champions League Final, which this year will be held at the Olympiastadion in Berlin. On June 6, Gianluigi Buffon will have the chance to lift the trophy for the first time in his career and there is no better time than right now for him and Juventus to win the Holy Grail. After many years of failure in Europe, Juventus have finally made it to the big time. What has changed? What finally made the Old Lady sing in tune? To start off, we must address what makes Juventus such a difficult team to beat. What cannot be denied, is their defensive prowess, composure and organisation.” backpagefootball

Find a Free Pirlo: How Juventus Built a Champions League Finalist on a Budget
“Why are Juventus in the Champions League final? The short answer is Paul Pogba, the guy who might just be the best player in the world not named ‘Lionel Messi’ or ‘Cristiano Ronaldo.’ After joining Manchester United at 16, Pogba’s relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson soured over a lack of playing time. He left on a free transfer,1 signed with Juventus, and, three years later, here they are: one win away from a treble. Of course, the longer answer is, well, longer. But Pogba’s move is of a piece with an approach that built a team capable of overcoming plenty of more expensive teams.” Grantland


On-field meddling, off-field brilliance form Pérez’s double-edged sword

June 4, 2015

“Florentino Pérez might be an idiot, at least it when comes to matters on the field, but off of the pitch, he could be a genius. Therein lies the double-edged sword that defines the Real Madrid president in his time at the helm of the world’s biggest club. In the past week ‘Uncle Flo’ has been universally panned for his impulsive firing of Carlo Ancelotti, who’s been replaced today by a far less desired Rafa Benítez. The former Valencia and Liverpool coach now has the dubious honor of being the 90th coach to serve under Pérez during the embattled president’s 12-year reign.” Fusion


Ireland versus England – The quest for footballing approval

June 4, 2015

“Relationships can be tricky at the best of times. Even when they’re over feelings can remain, passions linger, doubts about whether breaking up was the right decision can cloud one’s judgement. The unhealthiest of relationships can provoke these reactions and much as we like to think we’ve moved on and we’re being the bigger person we still crave attention; a reaction from our former partner. Much of recent Irish history, and almost all of our football history has lived out this type of conflict with our spurned partners England. Identifying ourselves as our own strong, confident, distinct individual nation while also being constantly obsessed with either getting one over on the English (Euro 88!) or craving their attention and approval to give validation to our actions.” backpagefootball