Tottenham in trouble

The Society of Black Lawyers (SBL) has hit out at Tottenham and the Football Association after fans ignored requests to make reference to the club’s Jewish support.

Chants of “we’ll sing what we want” and “Yid Army” were audible throughout  the club’s 3-1 home win over Maribor in the Europa League – for a while they even drowned out the anti-Andre Villas-Boas chants that have provided the soundtrack for much of this season. Tottenham, a club with a sizeable number of Jewish fans, fans often refer to themselves as “Yids” or the “Yid Army” in chants during the club’s matches.

The SBL had monitors at White Hart Lane last night who heard the chants and it reiterated its commitment to report any such action to the police should fans persist.

“We are not going to let go on this,” SBL chair Peter Herbert said.

“After November 20 there is a potential that people will get a criminal conviction. If they want to run that risk then fine.

“We are serious. We aren’t in this for sensationalism. We think the vast majority of Tottenham fans are sensible and do not engage in anti-Semitism.

“It’s a very small minority who obviously don’t care about any offence.

“Their love of football is greater than their desire to deal with anti-Semitism.”

Tottenham refused to condemn their supporters when the issue was brought up earlier in the week, arguing that the chants are not intended to offend, but used to  deflect anti-Semitic abuse.

It was a stance that was ridiculed by the SBL.

“Tottenham’s statement is indefensible,” said Herbert. “I think if you went to the United States, Canada or South Africa and you made a statement like that you would face ridicule and condemnation.

“It is a very sad day for English football when clubs feel they have to defend a term of abuse.”

It is a difficult conundrum this. Offensive racial epithets should be condemned but are Tottenham fans seeking to offend and are Jeiwsh people offended? Apparently not. Moreover, one only has to look at the recent racist incidents that have besmirched English football to realise that, while one may legislate against racially offensive language, this will not in itself eradicate racism. If it only it were that simple.

Match fixing latest

The match fixing merry-go-round has pitched up its tent in Poland, as the trial of dozens of football officials and players charged with fixing games opened in Wroclaw.

Prosecutors in Wroclaw were reading some 500 pages of indictments against Ryszard F (full name not given due to privacy laws in Poland), accused of being the ringleader, and 38 others, who were charged with organizing and participating in a corruption ring that bribed referees, observers and players to fix games from 2003 to 2006.

The reading was suspended after a few hours, because the main defendant said he did not feel well. Which was convenient.

The case is part of a wide-reaching investigation that began in 2005 and has led to the arrest or charges against some 600 people, including a former national coach, identified only as Janusz W, and a national team player, identified as Lukasz P. Somewhat bewilderingly, the Polish Football Association has failed to ban Lukasz P or any of the players charged, which as one can imagine, has drawn outrage from supporters.

A former referee, Jacek Kadrow, who quit in 2000 to escape the pressure to fix matches, told The AP that team officials, coaches and observers agreed results before the game, and instructed referees not to stand in the way of the deals.

Video killed the referee

Brazil’s Supreme Tribunal of Sports Justice (STJD) has ruled that video evidence was not used to disallow a Palmeiras goal during their 2-1 league defeat to Internacional last month and the result should stand.

Palmeiras had claimed that match officials only disallowed the goal after studying TV footage of the incident, thus violating FIFA’s rules.

The STJD had provisionally declared the result void and docked Internacional their three points pending the investigation, but after examining the evidence – or lack of it – the original result was upheld.

“Palmeiras provided not one shred of proof of external interference,” said Ronaldo Botelho, one of the judges on the tribunal.

Palmeiras were losing the Brazilian championship match on October 27 when Argentine striker Hernan Barcos punched the ball into the net to apparently level the score.

The referee Francisco Carlos Nascimento originally allowed the goal but changed his mind amid furious protests from Internacional players. He denied he had received information from a video replay.

“If we had received information from outside, through television pictures, we would have known immediately who had handled the ball, but we didn’t know who it was,” he said.

Here’s the incident in question and as you can see, the referee certainly took an awfully long time to reach his decision.

Goal of the day

A cross to the far post reaches Taison in an unpromising position, but the Metalist Kharkiv forward conjures up a moment of brilliance.

Look familiar?

Quote of the day

“The feeling I got after the goal against Barcelona was just unbelievable. I’ve never felt anything like that in my life. It was better than sex.”

Victor Wanyama, scorer of Celtic’s opener in their memorable victory over Barcelona, tells Het Nieuwsblad that the goal was better than sex.

It’s all your fault

A football agent has verbally savaged Brazil striker Hulk, claiming he has ruined Zenit St Petersburg’s game.

Vladimir Abramov believes that the arrival of Hulk and Axel Witsel have undermined a Zenit team already shorn of confidence after a poor start to the season.

Abramov told RT: “There’s too much talk about money. We all believed that Zenit would become stronger after buying Hulk and Witsel.

“They are really good players, but Hulk gets the ball and just rushes forward while Witsel tries to do something on his own.

“It has to be admitted that with their arrival, Zenit’s game has fallen apart. They aren’t a united team anymore.”

Abramov lamented the loss of Zenit’s playing style: “What’s happening now is just unbelievable.

“Zenit used to be a speedy attacking team, tearing rivals apart, but they have turned into slow walkers. It’s even stranger that Zenit struggle against not the strongest teams.”

This is not the first time the new arrivals have come in for criticism following their big-money moves to Zenit. While they’re wallpapering their houses with crisp, freshly minted roubles, there must be times when they wonder whether the trouble is worth it.

Boys from Brazil

Fluminense coach Abel Braga says the Brazilian club has reached a deal to sell teenage full back Wallace to Chelsea.

Local media reported that Chelsea paid about $7 million for Wallace, who is expected to stay with Fluminense until next year’s Copa Libertadores.

Wallace is considered one of the team’s most promising players.

Chelsea already have a number of Brazilians on their books, including Oscar, Ramires, David Luiz and Lucas Piazon.

It will be just like watching Brazil – the 1974 version.

Hyperbole

Inevitably, given the post-match praise lavished upon Mario Martinez for his winning strike for Seattle Sounders against Real Salt Lake, seeing the actual goal was always going to be something of a letdown.

“A moment of brilliance,” said Adrian Hanauer, Sounders general manager and part owner.

“An unbelievable goal, and that’s what it was going to take in this series,” added head coach Sigi Schmid.

“It was ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous. You see those one or twice a year – that’s it,” enthused midfielder Brad Evans.

“Amazing. I’m very happy for him because he had a tough time,” chimed in goalkeeper Michael Gspurning.

It was good but not in the same class as Taison’s van Bastenesque effort.

Beast from the East

Shanghai Shenhua striker Didier Drogba has described Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi as football’s two “monsters.”

The 34-year old was discussing his pick for the winner of the 2012 Ballon d’Or, but refused to reveal who his selection would be, and instead took the time to talk of his admiration for the pair.

“We all know it is between two, the two monsters that are Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo,” he told FranceFootball.fr.

“You do not realize but they have revolutionized the statistics. Before them it was a feat to score 30 goals a season in a major championship. For several years now they have scored over 40. They are phenomenal. I cannot tell you who my vote is going to though, as I will be killed.”

The Ivory Coast international also revealed that he is still in contact with Jose Mourinho, who he played for during his time at Chelsea.

“I always get messages from him, and Abramovich too,” Drogba said. “The problem with this is that Jose does not understand there is a large time difference and he sends me texts whenever I am asleep!”

I suspect the problem with the prankster Mourinho is not that he doesn’t understand the time difference, but that he understands it only too well.

Believing their own hype

Beautiful though their football can be at times, there is always a danger that a side as revered as Barcelona will at some point start to believe their own hype and as a result, disappear to a place where the sun rarely shines.

That appears to be happening with Dani Alves, who has looked in the mirror to find out which club is the fairest of them all and been told: ‘You, my Barcelona, are fairest of all’.

In the wake of their shock Champions League defeat to Celtic there have been heretical suggestions that Barca should vary their play by adopting a Plan B in times of peril.

Alves, sounding like an adherent to a cult, won’t hear a word of it though.

“Our style of play is one that the world of football has fallen in love with,” Alves told a news conference.

“But when we lose it doesn’t mean we need to look for a Plan B. We had that in the past with a tall guy (Zlatan Ibrahimovic) and he isn’t here any more, because it wasn’t necessary.

“We have to improve the Plan A because this is our philosophy. There is no need to change it.”

As we have learned from listening to the Pseuds Corner-style musings of Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers, when a man starts talking about his football ‘philosophy’, the delusions cannot be far away.

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