PFA have a plan

The Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive Gordon Taylor has announced a new six-point plan to tackle racism in football, calling for racial abuse to potentially become a sackable offence.

Criticised for not doing enough to tackle the problem in the wake of the John Terry and Luis Suarez incidents, the PFA says it is now time for tougher penalties.

Perhaps mindful of the talk of a new breakaway body to represent black players, Taylor, who occupies a nuanced position in that he has to represent PFA members Terry and Suarez, whilst simultaneously condemning racism, has belatedly moved to slam the stable door shut.

“If they want their own particular select group who they feel they can influence everybody more than the whole PFA as a union together, I would say they are seriously mistaken,” Taylor said of the proposed breakaway organisation.

“If we are not careful, this will set us back years. It would not only set back the game, it would set back the anti-racist initiative.”

He revealed the details of the six-point plan as follows:

1) Speeding up the process of dealing with reported racist abuse with close monitoring of any incidents.

2) Consideration of stiffer penalties for racist abuse and to include an equality awareness program for culprits and clubs involved.

3) An English form of the “Rooney rule”  – introduced by American football’s National Football League in 2003 – to make sure qualified ethnic minority coaches are on interview lists for job vacancies

4) The proportion of black coaches and managers to be monitored and any inequality or progress highlighted.

5) Racial abuse to be considered gross misconduct in player and coach contracts (and therefore potentially a sackable offence).

6) To not to lose sight of other equality issues such as gender, sexual orientation, disability, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and Asians in football.

Meanwhile, Joey Barton, whose on-the-pitch behaviour was criticised by Taylor earlier this year, appeared to be relishing the opportunity to return the favour.

“Gordon Taylor, the or one of the highest paid union bosses in the world, has got it too easy. I concur it’s time for him to go,” tweeted Barton. 

“Maybe the Union leader should be democratically voted for every few years by the union members?

“Taylor’s got too fat and greedy. And protects his cushy position but there are some good people within the PFA. Think?

“Taylor’s like a fat, festering old king. Too drunk on power or wine to notice that his meal is a rotting corpse of maggots. Time to go GT!”

Calling it quits?

The Los Angeles Galaxy and USA forward Landon Donovan has threatened to retire from football and is contemplating a break from the game.

“Right now, I need time to think and that is impossible to achieve while I am playing,” he told ESPN.

“I need to determine if I want to play, and if the answer is yes, I need to work out where and for how long.

Sounding less like a seasoned professional footballer and more like a student about to embark upon his gap year, Donovan admitted that he wants to travel.

“I plan to spend a lot of time travelling to distant places, alone. I am not sure where.

“I want to take time to have some freedom and not worry about my next game or being fit. It may take me two weeks, two months or a year.

“I don’t plan on worrying about the end result. I want to focus on being present and making the decision when I am ready.

“I am at a point where I realise that if I am to come back I need to do so with the right mindset.”

Despite his yearning for travel, he admits that a return to Everton could yet happen.

Donovan has spent two successful loan spells with Everton in the past couple of years and the 30-year-old spoke of his time with the Premier League outfit in glowing terms.

“Everton was a fling that grew into a full-blown affair. I do think about them because they really stole my heart when I walked into Goodison Park,” he said.

“Everyone was so unbelievably welcoming, from Mr Moyes to the tea lady. I have such affection for the club.

“But I’ve struggled with motivation at many points in my career. I’ve had times where it all came easily but there have been stretches where I have questioned it.

“I have some selfish things I need to do, and I have some things to work out. While most soccer fans think a player’s life is easy as we just seem to play soccer all the time, they don’t see how many milestones I have missed with my family.

“My family want me to either play and be happy or else to have their son and brother back.”

Goal of the day

Bend it like Beckmann? Mikkel Beckmann opens the scoring for Nordsjaelland against Juventus.

Quote of the day

“I don’t know what they [the Celtic players] eat but they are very powerful in the air, in defence as well as attack. They really closed ranks at the back and didn’t give us any space but we still managed to create a lot of chances.”

Jordi Alba, who scored a last gasp winner for Barcelona against Celtic, pays tribute to the fortitude of the opposition.

Save of the day

Although Champions League holders Chelsea went down to a 2-1 defeat to Shakhtar Donets, they were thankful to goalkeeper Petr Cech for keeping the scoreline respectable.

Trouble in Paraguay

An eventful evening in Paraguay where Cerro Porteno defeated Argentina’s Colon to reach the final eight of the Copa Sudamericana.

The game was held up for 20 minutes when Colon supporters, whose side were trailing 4-2 on aggregate, decided to hurl missiles at rivals fans and the police. The response from the police was swift and unforgiving with rubber bullets being fired into the section of rowdy away fans. Cue the Colon players trying to intervene, which resulted in Diego Pozo and Maximiliano Caire being shown red cards for attacking the police.

Footage of the trouble can be seen below, although an unedited edition can be seen here.

Resigned to her fate

Poland’s sports minister has offered to resign in the wake of the embarrassing postponement of the country’s World Cup qualifier against England.

FIFA ordered the match to be played a day later after the game was called off when officials failed to close a retractable roof over the stadium.

“I feel politically responsible for the situation,” Sports Minister Anna Mucha told reporters. “The responsibility of the minister is not only to make sure that all procedures are followed. It’s wider.”

The Sports Ministry oversees the National Sports Centre, owners of the stadium, and are blamed by some for failing to anticipate trouble with the playing surface.

Organisers said the roof over the 58,000 capacity arena could not be closed during rainfall due to safety concerns and neither of the teams nor FIFA wanted to close it when there was still time.

French farce

France’s Under-20 team is to replace the Under-21s for their four friendly games this season after problems with off-pitch behaviour, the French football federation said on Tuesday.

“The Under-20 France team will play the games the Under-21 team were supposed to play this season,” the FFF said in a statement.

Last week, the Under-21s lost 5-4 on aggregate to Norway in a two-legged play-off for the Euro 2013 finals. Defeat in itself wasn’t the reason for the removal of the side, but the decision of five of the players to sneak off to a Parisian nightclub just three days before the second leg, might well have been.

Among them was midfielder Yann Mvila, who had already been warned by the FFF for his attitude with the senior team at Euro 2012 and has been suspended until further notice by his Ligue 1 club Stade Rennes following the incident.

Flying without wins

Arsene Wenger has defended the decision of Arsenal to fly to Norwich for last weekend’s defeat at Carrow Road.

The flight, which reportedly took just 14 minutes, has been criticised by green campaigners and labelled “absurd”.

“Usually we take the train and there was no train available, so in the end we decided to fly because we had to drive up on Friday afternoon at the moment when you never know how long it lasts,” he said.

In the wake of the 1-0 defeat to lowly Norwich, one assumes he made them walk home.

The co-ordinator of the Norwich and Norfolk Friends of the Earth, Jennifer Parkhouse, said of the decision to fly: “I cannot see any reason why they would have flown, other than it being a rather ostentatious display of the players’ and the club’s wealth.

“If the flight took 14 minutes, they must have spent more time just getting on and off the plane than in the air.”

It would never have happened in Dennis Bergkamp’s day.

Finally…

Mino Raiola has launched an astonishing verbal attack on Johan Cruyff.

Raiola, who is the agent of high profile players such as Mario Balotelli and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, questioned the former Barcelona coach’s wisdom.

“When Cruyff’s talking, everybody else stops thinking,” Raiola told Het Parool. “If he says the world’s flat, everybody agrees with him. But nobody wonders what the senile bastard actually means.”

Raiola also explained how big-spending clubs such as Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain will avoid the penalties of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play initiative.

“There is always a way for clubs with debt,” Raiola explained. “If UEFA no longer allow those huge holes in the budget [to be] covered by the equity of the owner, does the owner still focus on four companies of which he is a major shareholder and pump money into the club anyway?”

He added, “And [from] those companies, he leaves Manchester City a few hundred million for a sponsor. That takes away debt and fair play.”

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