Disgusting, disgraceful and disrespecting

Playing sports can often mix up a long range of emotions. No matter how frustrated or angry you are there are certain thing you don’t do. This past Wednesday Manchester United and Newcastle United met at St James’ Park, Newcastle’s home ground, to play the 28th round in the Premier League. Instead of remembering the match for the joyous occasion that marked Jonàs Gutierrez’s comeback at the highest level after battling testicular cancer, which I wrote about in an earlier post, it will be remembered for a much more negative incident.

A few minutes before halftime Newcastle striker Papiss Cissé and Manchester United’s defender Johnny Evans both ended on the ground after a challenge for the ball. Cissè then kicked towards Evans in anger, Evans, already on his feet again, was clearly not pleased with Cissè and spit on the ground next to him, before Cissè responded with great anger and grabbed Evans head and spit on his neck.

Spitting on an opponent has always been considered as one of the most idiotic things a player can do, especially in England. In England fans can forgive players that loose their heads in the middle of game, with either an unnecessary elbow or a hard tackle. England fans in particular love to see that, in fact it is a big reason why Manchester United legend Roy Keane got so popular, but spitting is a whole other low.

One of the most famous spitting incidents happened in the 1990 World Cup, in a match between Holland and Germany. Holland midfielder Frank Rijkaard spit on German stiker Rudi Völler, and when Voller complained to the referee he recived a yellow card. Just a minute later Voller reviced his second yellow and was sent of, and so was Rijkaard, but on the way of the field, Rijkaard spit on Voller again. No other actions were taken up agianst Rijkaard later.

Now, thanks to all the cameras and technology, it’s much easier to sanction players after a game. So both Evans and Cissè has been charged by FA (Football Association) for the incident, but while Cissè issued an official apology for his behavior Evans has denied that he tried to spit on Cissè.

Unsportsmanlike conduct like that is considered very bad and often leads to long time bans. Two seasons ago ex-Liverpool striker Luis Suarez where found guilty of biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic and received a 10-match ban from the league, and last season ex-Hull striker George Boyd received a 3-match ban for spitting on Manchester City keeper Joe Hart. That sort of behavior is should not be a part of the game.

Hopefully these long match-bans will sit in player’s heads for a long time, and hopefully make them think twice about doing something as foolish as spitting on an opponent. It is disgraceful and should be no part of the beautiful game.

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Stories we all love

Photo by Martin Le Roy, Licensed under CC BY 3.0

Photo by Martin Le Roy, Licensed under CC BY 3.0

Following sports can be devastating. It’s a guaranteed emotional roller coaster, just like these fans found out under this years Super Bowl dramatic ending. For Seahawk fans it was devastating, for Patriot fans it was exhilarating, but both fans experienced the emotional roller coaster that is sports. Seahawks fans did not feel the joy Patriot fans felt and Patriot fans did not sympathize with the Seahawk fans. But sometimes there comes out a story that makes you feel good no matter which team you support.

Last week, goal of the month in the Scottish premier League was announced, and the winner won by a landslide. Some goals are more beautiful then others, it can involve top-notch teamwork, extra ordinary technique or long-range thunderbolts. This goal had none of those qualities; it was beautiful on a whole other level. It was not about how the goal was scored; it was all about the guy that scored it. The goal received 97% of the votes that came in from football fans all over. The goal scorer was 11-year-old Celtic supporter Jay Beatty. Beatty, who has Down’s syndrome, entered the pitch during half time and took a close range penalty. The crowd erupted in applause and the 11-year-old celebrated like a pro. It doesn’t matter which team you support, those kinds of stories makes you smile. Celtic won the game 2-0, but after the game the oppositions official twitter account announced that they had lost 3-0. Class act. You can also see his recation to winning goal of the month here

Another example of a feel good story is about a Newcastle United player. Newcastle is an English team that plays in the Premier League, I have no particular feelings towards the club, neither good nor bad, but the news about one of their players returning is one story where my feelings towards the club really don’t matter.

Argentinian Jonás Gutierrez got signed by Newcastle in 2008, and quickly became a fan favorite because of his high work rate. In September of last year Gutierrez announced he would step back from football because he was battling testicular cancer. After undergoing surgery and chemotherapy in his native land Argentina, Gutierrez happily announced that he was medically discharged in November of last year. Gutierrez made a winning comeback in Newcastle’s under 21 side last December, but this weekend he will be in Newcastle’s senior squad for the first time since October 2013 (he was on loan to Norwich City in the 13/14 season). Gutierrez will most likely be on the bench, but if he gets to play some minutes this Saturday against Aston Villa, I think fans from both clubs will give him the standing ovation that he deserves. That is something that is truly a great thing about sports, people can be bitter rivals for 365 days of the year, until that one moment where the rivalry is put aside to honor a person who has fought his way back. I can’t wait to see the game, and hopefully see Gutierrez on pitch again.

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When it’s okay to put rivalries aside

Photo by Linksfuss, Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Photo by Linksfuss, Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

First of all let me explain how I feel about Liverpool Football Club and a bit about the history between my club and Liverpool. I am a Manchester United fan, Liverpool is one of our main rivals, I do not like Liverpool, I despise them. Sadly, some of my best friends are Liverpool fans, and things can get heated between us when we discuss football. Liverpool was for a long time England’s most successful club, and their fans loved to taunt United fans with this. Every time United won the league or did anything good, their response would always be come back when you have 18 league titles. I can’t tell you how many times I have gotten that line thrown in my face when I tried to brag about United.

In a previous post I briefly mentioned SAF (Sir Alex Ferguson) who was Manchester United manager from 1986 until 2013, and when he took over United hadn’t won the league since the 66/67 season. Liverpool won their 18th and latest league title in the 89/90 season, SAF first league title came in the 92/93 season and that was United’s 8th league title. After winning his first league title he said he now aimed to catch up on Liverpool’s 18 titles, the media made a joke out of him, claiming it was impossible. SAF won United’s 18th league title in the 08/09 season and added two more league titles, retiring as a champion after the 12/13 season.

Both United and Liverpool have had tragic accidents that are an important part of the history in the clubs. United had the Munich disaster, which I won’t get into, but you can read more about it here. Liverpool had the Hillsborough tragedy in 1989, the worst stadium-related disaster in British history, and one of the world’s worst football disasters ever. During a semi-finals match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forrest in the English FA Cup, a part of the stadium collapsed and claimed 96 lives, and injured another 766. Most of the dead were under the age of 30 and the age span was between 10-69 years old. It is an important part of Liverpool’s history and in their emblem they have two “eternal flames” on each side of the badge as a reminder of the people that lost their lives in the tragic accident.

Which finally brings me to the recent incident. Last June Liverpool signed Dunkin’ Donuts as a commercial partner, and on Wednesday night (25.02.15) Dunkin’ Donuts published a tweet encouraging fans to make their own emblem connecting Liverpool and Dunkin’ Donuts. In the tweet Dunkin’ also showed off their own creation. In their creation Dunkin’ replaced the two eternal flames with two ice coffees on either side of the badge, the fans reacted with disgust towards the disrespect they felt Dunkin’ was showing. It got so bad that Dunkin’ was forced to delete the tweet and issue an apology to the fans that got offended.

Liverpool FC magazine, The Kop, responds to the twitter campaign

The picture published by Dunkin’ Donuts

As I have said already, I do not like Liverpool, but I do respect them, and I understand their fans strong reaction towards this tweet. The tweet as insulting and disrespectful, and for a commercial partner to do it, it was particularly bad and inconsiderate. Something’s are bigger than rivalries, and this was my way of showing support to the LFC fans, and especially for those who lost friends and family in the accident.

But just to end this post on the right note, here is a SAF quote stating how much these two clubs like each other, when asked if Liverpool were genuine title contenders in 2007 “ You must be joking. Do I look as if I’m a masochist ready to cut myself? How does relegation sound instead?’’

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Image is king

CC BY-SA 3.0

CC BY-SA 3.0

How many of you have tried cross-country skiing or even seen it? I think most of you have no relationship with the sport. How many of you did for example know that the cross-country skiing World Championship is happening right now in Falun, Sweden? Few, if anyone I think. In Norway however this is a big thing, there is a saying in Norway that goes something like this “Norwegians are born with skies on their feet”. We are a big skiing nation, and that is a huge reason why Norway is the nation with the most Winter Olympic medals in history with 329 medals, in front the United States in second place with 281 medals.

Skiing isn’t really a big sport in countries outside of Scandinavia, with a few exceptions, but the coverage inside Scandinavia is big. In general skiers aren’t like your typical athletes, they don’t make millions of dollars and they are normally very down to earth people, meaning they don’t act like super stars or celebrities and are rarely in the media unless it’s about skiing. That was until Norwegian Petter Northug came around. Northug is a personality you rarely see in skiing. He is more like your typical star athlete. Northug has been involved in controversies and can be perceived as arrogant. He is know for always taunting the Sweeds, he among other things waived a Swedish flag as he crossed the finish line and once he stopped in front of the finish line to wait for his Swedish competitor, then only to cross first.

He has been a big star in Norway and in the skiing community. In May last year Northug was involved in a car accident. He was speeding under the influence and crashed into some guardrails. After the crash Northug fled the scene and left his friend, who sat in the passenger seat, alone to deal with the police. It didn’t take more then a half hour or so before the police knocked on his door, but it still, that looks really bad. The Norwegian press was all over it, so much that a national newspaper released an emotional interview with him just 24 hours after the crash.

After the crash Northug received, deservingly, a lot of negative publicity, and there were a lot of speculations if he would ever return to being a world champion. Several of his sponsors backed out of their deals with him. In one skiing tournament prior to the world championship Northug got in the headlines again when after he crossed the finish line he skied over to the only billboard with his sponsor before he collapsed in front of it.

The skiing World Championship started earlier this month, and leading up to the tournament the media turned its focus on Northug again. How would he react after everything he had been through the last year? Leading up to the events, it seemed Northug was back to normal, feeling confident and making fun of his Swedish competition.

Northug won a gold medal in his first event and it seemed to be an emotional win for him. At the press conference after his win, he said that he declared the win to his parents, after letting them down with the accident. That was two weeks ago, and now everything seems to be forgotten. I don’t think the media would be as “forgiving” to other athletes, I think because Northug is such a big personality in the sport he got away easier then others would have. It just shows media relationship is important, image is king.

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FIFA with more power then the press?

Before you read this post, I recommend that you watch the clip above, or at least from minute 10:20 and out. It is an old clip, but still very relevant.

When I first read about FIFA giving the World Cup to Qatar, I wasn’t as much in shock as I was disgusted. Corruption allegations against FIFA, especially against President Sepp Blatter, were nothing new, but this was a new extreme. Journalists all-around the world was criticizing FIFA, and not only sports journalists, for picking Qatar. How the f*** could Qatar host a World Cup?

During the summer months, when the World Cup has been held since the start in 1930, it can be over 122 degrees Fahrenheit. At first there was talk about installing AC’s in every stadium, adding millions of dollars extra in costs, but even if that was possible, it’s far from perfect for players, fans or anyone else. They finally tossed that idea out the window when they figured it would be too costly and probably wouldn’t work on such big arenas.

Their new bright idea is to host the World Cup in the winter months, November and December. What could possibly be the problem with that, other then the fact you ask almost every single league in the world to change their schedule. Even after all the criticism of Qatar hosting the World Cup, Blatter stays firm on keeping Qatar as the host. I wonder why.

BY Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 License.

BY Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 License.

It’s not only an atrocity because Qatar doesn’t have anything of what it needs to be able to host a World Cup (they are actually building a new city), it changes the whole football landscape and Qatar has been found guilty in violating human rights preparing for the World Cup. It is estimated that before anyone kicks a ball in the World Cup Qatar in 2022, more then 4,000 people that work on the stadiums in Qatar will die, and that only counts the workers from Nepal and India. How has this not been stopped already?

I had hoped, and I felt somewhat sure, that Qatar would be removed as host somewhere down the line when everything was put on the table, but now I feel sick cause I don’t think it’s going to happen. After everything that has been said and revealed during the last four years since it was announced that Qatar would host the World Cup, Blatter stays firm on keeping Qatar as the host.

I am disappointed. I genuinely thought that the press would help remove Qatar as hosts and maybe even kick Blatter out of FIFA. Even worse is it that it seems that Blatter still is the favorite to get reelected as FIFA President in the next election 29th of May this year.

I have always believed in the “power of the press”, and I have seen what the press can do when they uncover something big, but this time I feel both disappointed and shocked. The press has uncovered horrible truths about Qatar and the working conditions there, yet nothing has been done. I have grown up in an age where I have seen what both the press and social media can do when something is revealed, but I think this is one of the first times I am disappointed by the outcome. Is there really something as an organization to powerful for the press? I truly hope that isn’t the case, cause that can be scary.

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The importance of media relationship part two

Photo by ApolaytaFred, CC BY 3.0

Photo by ApolaytaFred, CC BY 3.0

The most winning club in England, Manchester United, has had its struggles after legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson retired after the 2012/2013 season. Sir Alex lead the club for 27 years, won more trophies then any other before and won the league in his final season with the club. United has had three managers (one was just a care take manager) since then, and they have gotten along with the media on the opposite sides of the scale.

The man first appointed to the job in head of the 2013/2014 season was David Moyes. Moyes had been with Everton for 11 years and while being successful, he never won any trophies with Everton and had no Champions League experience. So when he was appointed the job at Manchester United many journalists had concerns about him being the right man for the job. He was stepping up to what many experts around the globe considered to be the biggest challenge in football, and already before his first game in charge of the club he had gotten some negative media attention from people believing he wasn’t the right man for the job.

Photo by Jon Candy, CC BY-SA 2.0

Photo by Jon Candy, CC BY-SA 2.0

Moyes first handful of games went okay, but it didn’t take long until United didn’t live up to expectations. United’s lack of form made Moyes make headlines across the globe with breaking some long-standing United records. Among the records Moyes broke was United’s first time suffering defeats both home and away to Everton since the 69/70 season. Moyes eventually got sacked on the 22th of April 2014, leaving United 7th in the table after 34 games(four games remaining). The night before Moyes lost his job, several of the big newspapers in England printed the story saying the Moyes would get fired in the morning.

Moyes has in the aftermath of his firing accused Manchester United of never wanting him to succeed, saying that there should be no way the media should know about him loosing his job before he did(link), he also accused the media for making the job harder and never wanting him to succeed. The English press fired back at Moyes saying that he lost his job due to the lack of results and saying that he made no effort in establishing a good relationship with the press.

The care-take manager that took over for Moyes in the remaining four league games had a completely different relationship with the press from the start. Manchester United player, Ryan Giggs, took over for the remaining four league games. Giggs had been playing for the club since the 90/91 season and had won everything he could with the club, considered to be a club legend. Giggs had taken coaches badges and qualifications on the side on the later stages of his playing career, but he had never managed a team before. One of the things most people questioned with Moyes was his lack of trophies and the lack of experience managing in the Champions League, Giggs never even received half of the negative press that Moyes did, even though Giggs had no experience managing what so ever.

Photo by James Adams, CC BY 2.0

Photo by James Adams, CC BY 2.0

Giggs lead United to two wins, one draw and one loss in the remaining games. The club had stated that Giggs only would be leading the club for the last games of the season, but no permanent manager had been appointed after the season ended, and speculations were circulating. The press and the fans loved Giggs, and even though it would be considered crazy for a club like Manchester United to even think about appointing a manager with close to zero experience, a lot of the press were making cases why Giggs would be the perfect fit.

Giggs didn’t get the job in the end, Dutchman Louis Van Gaal, who had experience with big clubs such as Barcelona and Bayern Munich, got the job after leaving his post as Holland manager after the 2014 World Cup. Giggs retired from playing after the season and was appointed assistant manager

in the club, under the direction of Van Gaal. The press also pressed Van Gaal close to their chest for his truthfulness with the media. Van Gaal has also avoided the negative press that Moyes had, and still sits as manager for the club.

The press certainly helped push Moyes out the door at Manchester United, and they showed support to Van Gaal when he struggled to get results. It just shows that the press certainly has a influence when it comes to job security in the managerial profession, and you better keep the media on your side at all times.

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The importance of media relationship part one

Photo by Tsutomu Takasu, CC BY 2.0

Photo by Tsutomu Takasu, CC BY 2.0

Being a Premier League manager is said to be one of the most stressful jobs in the world. As a manager you are basically expected to run the entire club, from the first team to the youth academy teams. You are supposed to handle training sessions, setting up tactics, deal with unhappy players, keep an eye on the young talent in the club, search for potential players all over the world, handle press conferences and so much more. All this while fans, experts, commentators and the media criticize your every move, and are constantly looking for you to make a mistake.

Manager Paul Lambert has had a though time in Premier League club Aston Villa over the last few months. A lot has been said and debated about his job position, and on Monday he got fired. Despite getting off to a good start earlier in the season, the club has not been performing to the level of expectations a club like Aston Villa has. Under Paul Lamberts directions the club now find themselves in the relegation zone after 22 games played, sitting 17th in the table. With 14 games remaining in the league, and at least one in the cup, Villa are now looking for a new manager and the media is all over it. There are plenty of speculations already, as illustrated here, here and here. A job as a Premier League manager comes with pressure from every angle, and the media could be either your best friend or your worst enemy.

A manager that established a good relationship with the media from his first day in the league is Josè Mourinho. Mourinho first entered the league in 2004, when he signed for Chelsea FC, after a successful spell at the Portuguese side Porto. At his first press conference as Chelsea manager he referred to himself as “the special one”, and the press loved it. Mourinho has since been very successful both in England and elsewhere. Mourinho has won trophies in every club he has been in. Winning in England with Chelsea, in Italy with Inter Milan and in Spain with Real Madrid, before returning to Chelsea ahead of last season.

Mourinho has always been a press favorite, and has definitely had advantages from that relationship, which other managers simply haven’t had. Mourinho has for example tend to have his teams play a defensive side of football, a score oriented way of play, which isn’t exactly a favorite with either fans or the press. But his good relationship with the media, always giving them good quotes etc., has kept the press for publishing a lot of negative things towards him, such as speculations about his job etc. In part two I will take a look at how managers that had the same job dealt with the press and how this relationship shaped their careers in this particular club, stay tuned!

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