Friday, February 5, 2010

England Captain John Terry Stripped of Armband

Score one for hypocracy and political correctness (blech).

John Terry is out as England captain after meeting with Fabio Capello today at Wembley Stadium. No need to regurgitate much here; Terry, a married man with kids, slept with Wayne Bridge's ex girlfriend. He paid for an abortion for her, and gave her some "cheer up" money to boot. He was found out and now he's lost the armband five months before a World Cup where England is a legitimate contender to win.

Terry is a douchebag, no question there. He's a bad guy, a lousy husband and father. But when oh when can we start separating sport from what happens off the field?

Terry is as good as they come on the pitch. He's a stopper on defense and has a lethal head and a sense for the dramatic (2008 Champions League notwithstanding) and scoring game-winning goals. He leads his men and they follow. Many have supported his captaincy this week, while the football press in England immediately pounced on the story and ratcheted up the pressure to toss Terry.

I get it, he's the symbolic leader of the national team and supposed to be of character--but is that supposed to carry off the field as well? How many guys in the England dressing rooms have ladies on the side? How about Capello? Is his slate clean? And the boys who run the FA who certainly put the screws to Capello to do this?

The Italian media is having a field day with the fact that one of their own has to pull the trigger on John Terry. He did so today and he did so to preserve England's hopes of winning in South Africa. ESPN's Tom Adams postulates that Capello somehow surveyed the boys to gauge Terry's support, and the decision indicates that Terry did not have the room. I call B.S.

I don't think the boys care. I think they want to win and I don't think many, if any, are in position to challenge any of Terry's behavior.

And one more good question: If Terry is unfit to be captain, why is he still fit to be on the team? He hasn't been banned for the squad, nor will he and nor should he be.

Here's a spate of Terry reaction:

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Football Fans Transitioning
Into Dangerous Fanatics

U.S. men's national team striker DaMarcus Beasley's very expensive BMW was fire-bombed yesterday in Glasgow, Scotland. Beasley, of course, is a first-team regular with SPL leaders Rangers.

Sounds like Beasley was targeted in the attacks. The Sun reports that Beasley heard tires screeching outside his home and then he saw his car ablaze. This was the second attack on Beasley; in 2008 his car was vandalized and his home broken into.

It's hard to say whether this was a racially motivated attack, or just a sick 'Gers fan taking out some frustration on Beasley. The Sun also says that other Rangers players Allan McGregor, Kevin Thomson and Kenny Miller have had their cars similarly attacked.

This is nasty stuff. The word fan, we forget, is short for fanatic. But there's always been a line that isn't crossed. You can boo, be rude and even hate a guy's performance on the field. Fans are emotionally invested in their clubs; it's a passion that most Americans don't reach with their teams. We, here in the States, think we have emotional ties to our favorite teams, but it's not cultural; it's not generational. And I guess when I hear stories like this one, I'm glad it's not.

I'd hate to think that I have such an attachment to a team that I would take a poor performance so personally that I would lash out with personal violence against a player. But then again, I'm emotionally stable, unlike these animals. My ego isn't so large that I think I have some entitlement to enact revenge against a pro athlete because he didn't play well on Sunday -- or maybe cost me a few bucks in a lost bet.

Football is getting fucked up. Look at poor Salvador Cabanas, shot in the head in the bathroom of a nightclub because some ass didn't think he was scoring enough goals. Cabanas may not walk again, if he lives. Doctors are optimistic, but they just don't know yet. But who goes to such an extreme? And why?

Andres Escobar of Colombia. Remember him? Colombia's 1994 World Cup team. Murdered in his home country after he had the misfortune of redirecting a US pass into his own goal and costing Colombia a chance to advance in the tournament. What was Escobar's sin? Trying to make a play he gets paid to make? He lunged. He stretched. He got a boot to the ball. He wanted it to go out of bounds. It didn't. The stakes were high, but there's no excuse for this kind of mortal sin. What compels someone to leave their sanity and forget that players such as Escobar, Cabanas and Beasley are PEOPLE.

You don't treat PEOPLE this way, no matter how many tickets you buy, how many jerseys you wear and how many tears you shed when they don't play well and your team loses.

Fucking losers.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Starting Eleven Football Blog Roundup

I watch Fox Football Fone-In occasionally now. I used to watch it pretty faithfully, probably because Stephen Cohen was a pretty interesting fellow to listen to. It's difficult to agree with his rants all the time, but at least he has informed rants -- and he believes them.

Now I watch Eric Wynalda in Cohen's chair and I just don't see the fuss. I see a smarmy dude who is not as informed as he thinks he is; he's got superficial knowledge of the international game I guess he can hang in a casual conversation. But for damn sure, he ain't buying his own B.S.

Wynalda can't carry the show and his smug outlook on the game, his disdain for his co-host and equal condescension for the audience's questions are equally ugly. And now the USSF is thinking of hiring this guy as an assistant for the U.S. U-20 national team?

Use extreme caution when handling this package. Wynalda's contributions to American football are well noted, but they have to be tempered. The guy was a pioneer, but that doesn't mean he could play all that well. He stood out in an era (error?) of American football when the quality was many rungs below what it is today -- kinda like the old cliche about being the tallest little person.

Wynalda's smarm I think is innate--it's not a made-for-TV schtick. Do we want this molding the youth of our game? Time will tell...

Off to the races with this week's tour of the football blogosphere:

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Monday, February 1, 2010

John Terry's England Captaincy
on Borrowed Time; Who Cares?

Captain, my captain.

Perhaps I'm jaded living here in the States, but what's the big deal about who wears the captain's armband? Yes, I get it, you're the de facto team leader on and off the pitch. You're the symbol of professionalism for your squad, and you're often the team spokesperson when things go South.

But honestly, once the game starts, does it really matter? Does it make John Terry play better that he's England's or Chelsea's skipper? The guy is (was) world class before and he will be after.

Terry's England captaincy is under fire because he was playing kissy-face with teammate Wayne Bridge's girlfriend Vanessa Perroncel, above, -- sorry, turns out she was his ex-girlfriend at the time of the affair. Terry is married, has twins and apparently likes the flaunt them about and portray himself as a family guy (think Peter Griffith?).

Patrick Barclay of the Times of London rails on Terry today in his column. He pleads with the FA to pass the armband from Terry to Wayne Rooney. Rooney is the captain in waiting and Barclay figures that now that Terry's adulterous doings are public, Fabio Capello should make the inevitable, well, evitable.

Rooney, he says, is a latter day Bobby Moore, who at 22 captained England during the 1966 World Cup. Ron Greenwood, Moore's West Ham manager, was quoted in the piece:

“We’re going to win and that man’s the reason why. He can already see in his mind’s eye a picture of himself holding up the World Cup and he’s calculated what that will mean to him.”

Maybe that was the case in '66, but I think that's an exaggeration in 2010. I mean, do these guys give a damn the way they used to back in the day? Maybe I'm jaded, but today's pro athlete--and pick your sport here, they're all the same--is a selfish prick. A rich-boy of dispicable depths who would rather hold out for a fatter contract, and stay out later for his better pick of a drunken WAG. Captain's armband. OK, it's cute and you get to argue with the referee just a little louder than the rest of the squad and get away with it.

But is Wayne Rooney going to get in Frank Lampard's face is Lampard dogs it in the first half against the USA? Is Rooney going to kick Terry in the ass if he starts looking sideways at the closest WAG? Um, the answer is no. And why? Well, the captains of the world's football squads have to look in the mirror. They understand that the guy staring back is just like the guy you're supposed to get in line.

Captain, my captain. Does it matter? I don't think so. I just don't.

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