Political football

French presidential candidate Francois Hollande’s proposal to raise tax for those earning in excess of €1 million to 75 per cent has not gone down well within the country’s football community.

Frederic Thiriez, the head of the professional football league (LFP), and a man who knows a good soundbite when he sees one, has warned of the ‘certain death of football’.

“We will return to football associations. Killing professional football is a political choice, we must assume,” he told RMC somewhat melodramtically.

However, Jean-Marie Le Guen, a member of parliament for the socialist party, believes that excessive pay in French football is emblematic of the irresponsibility of the financial markets and therefore fair game.

“The footballing economy has an irresponsible character very similar to the financial market,” he said. “As well as what Francois Hollande proposes, I think that it’s time to wake up.”

Video games

A potentially momentous weekend for the sport as the International Football Association Board (IFAB) convenes on Saturday to discuss the issue of goalline technology.

The board comprising The FA, the Scottish FA, the FA of Wales and the Irish FA along with four representatives from FIFA on behalf of the world’s other football associations, will study eight different systems before sending approved firms into another phase of testing ahead of a final decision in July

Any rule change by IFAB requires a 75% majority vote. One voter, UEFA president Michel Platini, has already confirmed that will oppose the use of technology. That means that 6 out of the remaining 7 votes will be required if issue is not to be buried yet again.

In what promises to be a busy meeting, there are a number of other significant issues under discussion.

Other items to be discussed:

•  Proposal for a fourth substitution to be allowed for matches that go into extra time.

•  Clarification of what action the referee should take if a dropped ball is kicked directly into an opponents’ goal.

• Tackling the ‘so-called’ Triple Punishment. Currently, a penalty kick, expulsion and player suspension are the three sanctions for a player who denies an obvious goalscoring opportunity by an offence punishable, according to Law 12, in the penalty area.

•  An update on the Additional Assistant Referee experiment.

•  A discussion regarding the use of Hijab in matches.

Goal of the day

Sao Paolo defeated Guaratingueta 3-0 in the Campeonato Paulista, with Fernandinho scoring the goal of the game with an unstoppable shot.

Transfer dealings uncovered

FIFA has published its first full-year report on its regulatory system monitoring player transfers.

The full report can be found here but a number of interesting headline figures have emerged.

More than $3 billion was spent on 11,500 international football transfers between January 1 and December 31, 2011. That works out at a transfer deal every 45 minutes.

The average annual salary for a professional footballer is estimated to be $244,000, but that figure is distorted by a small number of very high earners. The median salary, meanwhile, is actually $43,000.

Players from Brazil moved more than those from any other country with the sale of Brazilians accounting for an incredible 13 per cent of all transfers.

Quote of the day

“What a bad pitch and its amazing that it passed the Caf inspection. The fake grass was just unyielding ”

Fulham’s Nigerian midfielder Dickson Etuhu blames the artificial pitch for his side’s poor performance against Rwanda in Wednesday’s African Nations qualifier.

Hope for Lebanon

The failure of traditional regional powerhouse, Saudi Arabia, to qualify for the next stage of the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, was the main talking point of the latest round of AFC qualifiers, but there was another significant moment with the progress of Lebanon to the final group stage for the first time.

There’s an interesting piece on Lebanon’s achievement, which also highlighted one of the fundamental weakness of football in the Middle East: namely, that not many people are interested in watching it in the flesh.

Aussie rules

Round one to Football Federation Australia (FFA) after FIFA and Asia’s governing body, ACF, backed the organisation in it’s row with a rival football organisation set up by Gold Coast United owner Clive Palmer.

FIFA said it will only back one association in each country and in Australia’s case that was the FFA.

The AFC released a statement saying it fully supported FFA in its war with Palmer’s rival organisation.

“The AFC confirms that it recognises only FFA as the official affiliated member association representing Australian football in Asia,” the statement said.

“According to the AFC Statutes, only one national association shall be officially recognised in each country by the AFC. Accordingly, the AFC will only recognise and deal with FFA on all football matters concerning Australia.

That should be the end of that then. Somehow, with he litiginous Palmer involved, I doubt it.

Marathon nearly over

The epic third and final stage of the Russian Premier League, the final phase of their marathon 14-month season, resumes this weekend after the winter break.

The climax to the extended one-off campaign, is aimed at enabling Russia to fall into line with the big European leagues by running the season through the winter rather than summer. Traditionally, the long, harsh Russian winters have made football unplayable between November and March, but despite opposition from fans and many clubs, the Russian Football Union is advocating the league season be condensed between August and May.

One does wonder how some of the clubs in the far east of the country will be able to fulfil their fixtures during particularly intemperate periods. Even if clubs use underfloor heating or instal artificial pitches, there is still the problem for fans of watching a match in sub zero conditions.

As to why this change has been introduced, well it appears as if it’s been done at the behest of the bigger, wealthier clubs who wish to compete with the rest of Europe on a level, albeit very icy, playing field. A good explanation of the issue can be found here.

Brawl of the day

Philadelphia Union played Costa Rican side Belen in a ‘friendly’ warm up match ahead of the new MLS season.

At least most of the players worked up a sweat before the match was abandoned.


Iker Casillas and Andrés Iniesta have stunned members of the Spanish public by approaching them and asking for autographs in the latest Liga BBVA advert.

Casillas asks, “Could you sign an autograph for me?” To which the bewildered woman replies: “Me? But I’m not famous. You’re famous.

The intention of the campaign appears to be to demonstrate to viewers that a typical top flight Spanish footballer is just an ordinary, grounded but above all, humble human being. Which would explain why Casillas was used, and not his team-mate, Cristiano Ronaldo.