Tag Archives: FIFA

Leicester City: The Greatest Sports Story. Ever.

 

By Nate Flax

As the clock hit the 96th minute of the Tottenham – Chelsea match, the entire soccer world realized that the greatest underdog story in sport history had concluded. After trailing 2-0 at halftime, Chelsea came back to draw with the second place Tottenham Hotspur, thanks to a brilliant 80th minute equalizer by Chelsea’s Eden Hazard. As the final whistle blew to end the heated London Derby, Tottenham’s title hopes were dashed and for the second year in a row, a new Premier League champion was decided at Stamford Bridge. However, this time it wasn’t one of England’s heavyweight contenders, but instead a club that had been written off before the season even started.

Leicester City

Located right in the heart of England, world-famous clubs, always surrounded Leicester with Manchester just to the North and London to the South, but until this year, very few that did not follow the BPL closely even knew a soccer club existed there, even though the team was founded in 1884 (132 years ago). The Leicester City Foxes were simply insignificant, finishing at the bottom of the table the year before and had only received promotion into England’s top league the year before that. They entered the season 5000-1 odds to win the title this year and featured a team that had cost just £80 million to put together (to put in perspective Manchester City spent £80 million on one transfer alone earlier in the year). Billy Beane’s Moneyball scheme wouldn’t stand a chance against this. Other recent previous 5000-1 odds as explained by ESPN’s Paul Carr included 16-year-old Paul Chaplet’s chances at this year’s Masters (where he shot 21 over par and finished dead last) and the Minnesota Timberwolves’ chances to make the playoffs with a month left in the season and their record sitting at 14-35. The odds for Elvis Presley being found alive were also 5000-1.

Being written off before the season even started, Leicester really had no chance of failing any expectations given to them, quite frankly because there were no expectations to start with. But that’s when everything clicked. Led by Riyad Mahrez, Danny Drinkwater, Jamie Vardy, and seasoned manager Claudio Ranieri, the Foxes outdid themselves by continuing to be that pesky opponent that just wouldn’t give up even though they seemingly had no business competing with powerhouses like Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, and Chelsea. Yet somehow, with Chelsea holding Tottenham to a draw, Leicester City sat seven points clear on top of the table with just two games to play, making it impossible for anyone to catch them, and crowning them the kings of England. With the third smallest budget in the Premier League, the Foxes became the first team not named Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, or Chelsea in 21 years to win the title, and just the sixth to win out of 48 that have tried since 1992. After a season that proved that money can’t always guarantee a crown, Leicester City concluded the fairy tale of a season that underdogs could previously only dream of.

Does FIFA Need to Make Changes?

By Josh Roeloffs

What is holding soccer back from being an elite sport in the United States? It’s the most popular sport in the majority of countries around the world, why hasn’t it caught on in the U.S.?

Well at first glance there are a handful of problems that prevent soccer from reaching a popular climax. There are many reasons that seem prominent in the minds of Americans when it comes to how Soccer is played; these problems include low scoring matches, draws, yellow and red cards, faked injuries, the referee having too much influence on outcome, slow pace, the clock doesn’t stop and lack of stops in action or missing the goals.

The list is almost daunting, but there are some simple tweaks to the rules and culture of the game that would immediately fix these issues. There are a few solutions that help to minimize multiple problems on the list.

First of all, FIFA could lax the off-sides rule. At this point, if any part of your body is ahead of the defender, you are off-sides. If it were to be changed that if any part of your body is behind or in line with the opponent there would be a drastic increase in the pace of play as well as the amount of goals scored throughout a match, not to mention that the more goals that are scored by the players without a referee blowing the whistle is a good thing for the game.

To help the growth of soccer in the United States, FIFA may want to re-evaluate a rule that they have rejected for years: stopping the clock. This is something, that as a fan of soccer in America, I have heard over and over.  People say things like, “Soccer is ridiculous! Why would I watch a sport that doesn’t even stop its clock for injuries?” But a problem that would be addressed if FIFA were to implement this rule is the epidemic that is faked injuries. A player will fall to the ground writhing in fake pain just to waste a minute or two in the finals moments of a game; but if the rule is in place, there is no reason for them to do this as the clock will just stop.

An alternative solution for faked injuries would be to force anyone who stays on the ground injured, real or not, to stay out of the game for about 5 minutes to help discourage the action. When it comes to the clock, the opposition to this rule change would argue that the final attacks in extra time of the half and match are important. What if the referee could still let a final attack continue? It would be fine if the referee was the final say on the game ending clocks, but it would be on a shorter leash than it currently is.

Another way to help prevent these late game injuries would be to allow for one or even two more substitutions. It has most definitely been a problem in the past when it comes to the final ten or fifteen minutes, as well as regarding the longevity of players’ seasons and careers. Another benefit of additional substitutions means that the fans as well as the coaches will be able to see a larger variety of players on the pitch. It would also benefit the young players as it would give them opportunities to grow their skills with in-game experience. It could potentially hurry the maturity of superstars, therefore getting them into the match earlier in their career.

There’s a concept that Americans struggle to accept and generally refuse to watch soccer because of it. This concept is a tie. Americans grew up with tournament style, elimination, no ties type of games. When it comes to soccer, a 0-0 draw is possible, and many Americans hate it. Unfortunately, it’s a tough problem for FIFA. FIFA’s only option is to make draws less likely. They have a few options to consider. First of all, there could be a short extra time in regular season matches, decreasing the chance for a draw.

A final reason that the sport has seen slow growth in the United States is the lack of commercial stoppages available for TV providers. With a lack of potential income comes the lack of TV coverage. With the lack of TV coverage comes a lack of attention and fan dedication, which has been a massive problem for the MLS in the United States. Say if FIFA was to rule that there would be a few minute stop at the 20th minute mark as well as say the 65th minute mark, therefore increasing advertisement profit possibly all the way up to 30%! This income could allow for cash to be put back into the sport furthermore increasing coverage specifically in the United States, but potentially around the world. It would also provide the players for a quick break to rehydrate. It could reduce the amount of late game injuries and cramps that are all too common from game to game.

In response to the proposed rule changes, FIFA has a responsibility to make changes to adapt our beloved sport to competition in the 21st century. America is slowly taking interest in soccer, but the U.S. lags way behind when it comes to national interest in comparison to countries around the globe. The adoption of any of these small changes would be a step in the right direction for the sport as a whole, and would eventually lead to an extreme increase in interest in the United States in the years to come.

The Ugly Face of Racism in International Soccer

By Kaleb Page

February 23, 2015

This past Tuesday a huge match in UEFA Champions League play took place between Chelsea and PSG (Paris St-Germain). An anticipated match-up between two premiere soccer clubs from England and France that will decide who can move along in the biggest tournament aside from the World Cup.

The first leg of this ended in a 1-1 draw, and despite the draw the intensity was high all the way to the finish. It will be interesting to see the finale in England on March 11th as both teams have aspirations of taking the entire tournament.

Prior to this match however, Chelsea fans did show the ugly side that has been plaguing international soccer for many years.

In the video below you will see a metro station in Paris and in that metro there were Chelsea fans boarding to make their trip to the match. As the train car began to fill up a man tried to board and fit in the last little space available. Now I say “tried” because he was pushed off by the Chelsea fans.

As you can see from the video the Chelsea fans are white, while the man getting on the train is a black man. The worst part of the entire video is the explicit chanting of ‘we’re racist and that’s the way we like it.’ It is videos like these that really put a horrible stigma on supporters of football clubs around the world.

This past year we had a post by fellow blogger Alex O’Connor about how Manchester City player Yaya Touré was sent racial slurs over social media. These tweets coming from none other than Chelsea supporters.

The Chelsea front office has condemned such actions by their supporters and for this most recent incident in Paris, have suspended three of the fans in the video from attending their home grounds. A possible lifetime ban is also on the table says the club if there is sufficient evidence to support that ruling.

FIFA, for as long as I can remember, has been pushing to end this type of behavior. You will see prior to matches players, coaches and officials take pictures with a banner titled ‘say no to racism.’ Sometimes even they have players read off speeches prior to events encouraging fans and fellow players to end this terrible behavior.

I find it interesting that this story really has not picked up much of a reaction here in the United States. I know that this is ‘across the pond,’ but it is something I think needs to be talked about here as well. It still plagues us here as a society with not only racism in everyday life but as well in sports.

I hope that the media picks up on this story and shows the faces of these people who blatantly showed the ugly side of sports and racism. It is time to dismantle this in the world of sports because sport is something that should bring us together no matter what race or ethnicity you might be.

If FIFA and Chelsea are as serious as they say about this, they will come down hard on these ‘fans’ once and for all.