27 May, 2015

It's Going Down For Real

With just 48hrs to go before the election of FIFA president in Switzerland, 6 arrests were made by the Swiss in conjunction with the FBI over racketeering, bribery and money laundering done on US soil by several CONCACAF, CONMEBOL and CAFU (Central America's soccer federation) as well as executives from a handful of sports marketing companies.

Among those indicted:

Jeffrey Webb: Current Fifa vice-president and executive committee member, Concacaf president, Caribbean Football Union (CFU) executive committee member and Cayman Islands Football Association (CIFA) president.
Eduardo Li: Current Fifa executive committee member-elect, Concacaf executive committee member and Costa Rican soccer federation (FEDEFUT) president.
Julio Rocha: Current Fifa development officer. Former Central American Football Union (UNCAF) president and Nicaraguan soccer federation (FENIFUT) president.
Costas Takkas: Current attaché to the Concacaf president. Former CIFA general secretary.
Jack Warner: Former Fifa vice-president and executive committee member, Concacaf president, CFU president and Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) special adviser.
Eugenio Figueredo: Current Fifa vice-president and executive committee member. Former Conmebol president and Uruguayan soccer federation (AUF) president.
Rafael Esquivel: Current Conmebol executive committee member and Venezuelan soccer federation (FVF) president.
José Maria Marin: Current member of the Fifa organising committee for the Olympic football tournaments. Former CBF president.
Nicolás Leoz: Former Fifa executive committee member and Conmebol president.
Four of the defendants were sports marketing executives:
Alejandro Burzaco: Controlling principal of Torneos y Competencias SA, a sports marketing business based in Argentina, and its affiliates.
Aaron Davidson: President of Traffic Sports USA Inc (Traffic USA).
Hugo and Mariano Jinkis: Controlling principals of Full Play Group SA, a sports marketing business based in Argentina, and its affiliates.

As you can see, everyone's favorite their, Jack Warner made the top 14 list.  While he denies any wrong doing, as he always does, it's of note that this all came down through testimony of Fat Man Santa Impersonator, Chuck Blazer as well as Jack Warner's son, who was arrested and held in Miami by the FBI on money laundering last year.

For those of you that might recognize the name Traffic Sports but not remember why, they own several sports teams in Brazil, one in Portugal and also Ft. Lauderdale's new pro soccer team.  Of those teams, Freddy Adu played on 3, and Gale Agbossoumonde played on 2 as both were owned by Traffic Sports.  And when I say owned, I mean that Traffic Sports has bought up the rights of quite a few players and then sells shares of those players to the public and then also to the teams they play for in hopes to enrich themselves.  This was recently banned by FIFA as third party ownership complicated many transactions because some owners would not want to give up their shares of a player if they thought they were worth more and as such, we saw many player sales out of South America fall through.

Make no mistake.  This is a 47 count indictment with heavy evidence against them all.  Throughout it all, Sepp maintains that he's innocent (read that as he wasn't stupid enough to run his money through US banks).  That said, Swiss authorities have now opened criminal investigations into the awarding of both Russia 2018 and Qatar 2022 and seized electronic documents from FIFA HQ as well as having already collected bank statements from Swiss banks over the past year that lend to evidence there may be an issue.  One would assume, a release of the Garcia Report, in full, will follow.

So what does all this mean?

As of right now, the election for Friday is going on as planned.  Forty-eight hours ago, the lone opponent to King Sepp was approached by a third party with an offer to release many financial details suggesting Sepp bribed his way to the top (hopefully seized) as well as an offer to provide 47 votes in the election.  80 is needed to force a runoff wherein a simple majority wins the election.  If only one candidate reaches that threshold, then they win.  All this information was turned over to an investigative group in the UK, so presumably, they will forward that onto the DOJ.  Again, so far Sepp remains in the clear, but since his platform was his "legacy at FIFA", this just further shows that a lot of people need to go and he needs to step down.

As an aside, many people have come forward in the media stating that Sepp is a likable guy.  That doesn't mean he's honest, but that does lend to the belief that keeps running for re-election because he doesn't know what to do with his life without all these titles and people throwing money and deals his way.  He's just been so corrupt for so long.

Loretta Lynch, the US Attorney General has now stated that Lynch says $110m in bribes were related to next year’s Copa América Centenario in the United States alone.

We'll try to keep you updated on all this, but for an up to the minute, go here to the Guardian's live updates.
Photo: Austin Powers

16 October, 2014

To Be or Not To Klinsi

So if you weren't privy to the conference call with MLS Commissioner Don Garber or haven't read any of the transcripts floating out there, let me fill you in on what just happened.

Don Garber is pissed that the USMNT head coach belittled MLS as the retirement community of big name soccer players and guys that could beat me one on one but couldn't cut it against solid competition day in and day out.

Now look, that's not to say MLS is bad.  It's got it's good teams (Seattle, for example, has some solid play) and some bad (Chivas is still a team?).  The drop off is huge.  And against other CONCACAF club teams, we still look good. I mean, who wouldn't think a team of MLSers shouldn't easily beat a team from a country with a population of 40,000?  Hell, we do that every few months.  It's called USMNT v St. Kitts et al.

And, sure, you are marketing a league to families and kids and trying to make money, but you don't have the tax exempt status of the NFL, nor do you have the sheer number of domestic abusers, rapers, and druggies that MLB/NFL has, so spare me that you think this league is the top flight of the world that could hang with the EPL.

Do you seriously think we're top flight if we have to play an all star team of our players against a CL team and still fear regularly losing?

Look, just quit it.

And when you hired Jurgen, you knew you were getting a control freak.  The guy was flying back and forth between the US and Germany when he ran the Mannschaft.  At Bayern, he thought he could come in and change the culture (bad idea).  So when he comes to the US and you give him the reins and tell him to develop the youth through our NT, you expect him to say, don't play against the best competition daily, and challenge yourself?

The "Don" started yesterday's call like this:

29 August, 2014

EPL 2014/15 Predicitions

Back yet again.  We wanted to wait until the transfer window closed before we go jumping off the 10m and into the deep end this season.  So what are the upsets?  Where are the hidden gems? Let's find out.

El Nino "The Godfather"'s
1. Chelsea
2. Manchester City
3. Arsenal
4. Liverpool
5. Manchester United
6. Everton
7. Tottenham
8. Newcastle United
9. Swansea
10. Aston Villa
11. Southampton
12. Stoke City
13. West Ham United
14. Hull City
15. Sunderland
16. West Brom
17. Crystal Palace 
18. QPR (P)
19. Leicester City (P)
20. Burnley (P)
"The Professor’s"
1. Manchester City
2. Liverpool
3. Arsenal
4. Chelsea
5. Everton
6. Manchester United
7. Tottenham
8. Southampton
9. Newcastle
10.Stoke City
12.Leicester City (P)
13.Crystal Palace 
14.Aston Villa
15.West Ham
16.Burnley (P)
17.Hull City
18.QPR (P)
20.West Brom
"Mr. X’s"
1. Manchester City
2. Chelsea
3. Arsenal
4. Tottenham
5. Liverpool
6. Everton
7. Manchester United
8. Sunderland
9. Swansea
10. Southampton
11. Stoke City
12. Newcastle
13. Leicester City (P)
14. QPR (P)
15. Hull City
16. West Ham
17. Aston Villa
18. West Brom
19. Crystal Palace
20. Burnley (P)

-Newly promoted teams are noted with a (P)
-These are based on signings as of 8/28/14

Player to Watch:
"Mr. X"-Juan Mata, Manchester United
As the midfield general for ManU, he's going to be the key for van Gaal this year.  Can he turn around  what looks to be a quickly aging and slowly failing team in the wake of Moyes?  If Rooney continues his scoring troubles, expect Mata to need to step up his scoring or Man U may make for a quick slide to mid table.

"The Professor" - Diego Costa, Chelsea
Diego Costa failed to impress at the World Cup, and his brief success at Atletico Madrid may have been a flash in the pan. Costa went from 10 goals in 2011-12 and another 10 in 2012-13 to an unprecedented 27 goals last year. This season, Chelsea will learn if last season was an anomaly for an over-rated player, or signs of greatness.

"The Godfather" -Remy Cabella, Newcaste
Alan Pardew once again taps into his French connection to acquire this promising 24 year old midfielder in hopes that he can become the next Yohan Cabaye.  In fact, Cabella replaced Cabaye in his debut for les Bleus this year.  Consider this: with only one international cap, he still gained promotion to the French World Cup roster.  He scored 14 goals in 37 appearances with Montpelier last season and helped them to their first ever league title in 2012-13.  The Magpies desperately need a presence in central midfield and Sissoko has shown he is not the midfield general that Cabaye was.  Cabella has a lot of promise but will have his work cut out if he is to appease the frustrated Tyneside fans who witnessed a brutal second half of the season last year while owner Mike Ashley counted his cash from the Cabaye sale.  

Golden Boot Award:
“Mr. X”- Romelu Lukaku, Everton (Runner-up: Balotelli, Liverpool)

The kid is a beast and the team that finished in the top half last year only got better with this signing.  Expect him to do even better than last year without the looming ax of loan or sale over his head.

"The Professor" - Sergio Aguero, Manchester City.  (Runner-up: RVP, Man U)

"The Godfather" - Robin Van Persie, Manchester United. (Runner-up: Daniel Sturridge)
If he returns quickly to full health and isn't sold off, then you must consider RVP the odds on favorite to take the scoring title.  The most accoplished striker in the league, there is no other legitimate goal scoring threat for the Red Devils.  While Suarez may be biting off more than he can chew with Barcelona, RVP should find the comfort zone with a Dutch compatriot at the helm this season.

Best Signing of the Offseason:
 “Mr. X”- Luis Suarez, Barcelona
Consider this addition by subtraction.  Having his third biting attack in as many seasons while in Brazil, offloading this guy should have taken forever and had Liverpool paying someone to take them.  Instead, they got Barcelona to squeeze him in in their pending doom of a transfer penalty for a mere £75.0m and they in turn invested £16m of that on a better, slightly less unhinged forward in Mario Balotelli.  That's a hell of a profit.

"The Professor" - Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal
I am convinced that he was simply the best forward in the world at the World Cup. Barcelona decided they would buy low and sell high, selling Alexis for top dollar and buying troubled Luis Suarez, presumably at a discount because of Suarez's inability to keep his mouth off of other players. Arsenal may have purchased a player who will take over the game, while the Gunners' rival Liverpool sold the league's best scorer.

"The Godfather" -Diego Costa, Chelsea (Runners Up Cesc Fabregas, Chelsea. Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal)
This proven scorer is just what the Blues needed up front to make a run at the league title.  He achieved 27 league goals last season for Spanish champs Atletico Madrid, 43 in all competitions,  and brings skill, experience, and particularly aspirations of shiny new hardware to the south London squad.

Most Improved Team:
"Mr. X"-  Chelsea
Is that even possible?  Sure they lost Lukaku and David Luiz and managed to ship Ba out of the country to Turkey (less competition I guess) but they signed Remy, Drogba and Costa.  Their goal scoring should go up and their stout bus parking mentality may ease a little so we should all benefit from their play.  Less bus parking, more goals, less complaining about Chelsea trying not to lose rather than trying to win...

"The Professor" - Everton
Yes, hard to improve on last season's fifth place, but the addition of Gareth Barry is the final piece of the puzzle to free the attackers, and signing Romelu Lukaku from Chelsea will bring instant chemistry with Kevin Mirallas. Most importantly, they lost NO significant players during the off-season.

Most Over-rated Team:
"Mr. X"- Manchester United
Simply been unimpressive in the preseason.  Couple that with needing to sign 3 Southampton players and seeing off several promising ones means that either van Gaal is an absolute genius or an absolute mad man.  Perhaps Moyes wasn't so unlucky getting his gardening duties early this year.

"The Professor"- Manchester United
If they finish in the top eight, they should consider that a success. Two starting defenders, Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra, went bye-bye during the off-season and no decent replacements were brought in, except 18-year-old Luke Shaw from Southampton.

Team to Watch:
"Mr. X"- Chelsea
Shurrle is an absolute beast and with the signing in the wee hours of Remy when Liverpool and Spurs were linked to him is a coup.  This is how Man U ought to have rebuilt... younger and better rather than just filling roster spots.

"The Professor" - Liverpool
They brought in the core of Southampton's excellent young prospects (Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, and Dejan Lovren). Will they immediately have an impact or will the Reds bring them along slowly?

Biggest Star of the Future:
"The Professor" - Ross Barkley, Everton
Ross Barkley was arguably England's best player at the World Cup, and has been handed the attacking midfield starting position by Everton coach Roberto Martinez. With the superb Belgian pair of Romelu Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas in front of him, and with Gareth Barry and James McCarthy taking care of the defensive responsibilities behind him, Barkley should notch a ton of assists now that he is in the first eleven at the age of 20.

"The Godfather"-tie: Andre Shurrle, Chelsea and Robbie Brady, Hull City  (Runner Up: Andres Weimann, Aston Villa)
As far as Shurrle goes, I feel like this is cheating. He is so talented that this is an obvious choice.  You don't need to quote stats here, just watch the 23 year old German play.  I was immensely impressed with him last year and was eager to see him in the World Cup.  A true star in the making.  Now, Robbie Brady here is my real favorite.  I have not seen an Irishman display such grace and creativity on the pitch in a long time. I loved him last season but he gets lost in the relative obscurity of Hull City.  The former U-21 International Player of the Year hold the record for the most U-21 international goals in Irish history, is a graduate of Manchester United's youth acadamy, and scored a goal to go with two assists in his debut for his countries' full senior squad.  A pleasure to watch.

28 August, 2014

van Gaal Hates His Life

At this point, after a solid run in Brazil's WC2014, van Gaal could have had his pick of clubs. He chose to step in and right the ship that is the aging SS Man U.

Let's put it this way, when Twitter is trending #bringbackMoyes, you know something went wrong. 

What, you may ask? How about their only chance for silverware outside of outright winning the Prem this year getting dashed by lowly MK Dons.

Going into the match, MK Dons would have just loved to keep the score line honest. After, the Red Devils would have just liked to keep the score line honest. At half, MK Dons had shocked with a 1-0 lead by Griggs. After the half, Griggs scored again as Afobe, on loan from Arsenal added another brace and van Gaal was left gasping for breath (or maybe not since he stuck around on the pitch post game signing autographs).  At least they signed di Maria for ~$75m... he'll save the club single-handedly, right? Right?

4-0 the final as League One (3rd division in England) side moves on.

MK DONS 4-0 MANCHESTER UNITED - CAPITAL ONE CUP... by PremGoals Video: dailymotion
Photo: ManchesterEveningNews

26 August, 2014

EPL 2014/15: Liverpool v Manchester City Highlights

Good thing Liverpool signed Mario "Why always me?" Balotelli before the match, because it took the sting away of having their rear ends being served to them by Man City. Jovetic netted on either side of the half and Aguero scored before the 70' leaving Liverpool scratching their heads where it all went wrong. If not for a Zabaleta gifted own goal in the 83', Liverpool would have been shut out at Eithad Stadium. 3-1 the final Video: playwire

25 August, 2014

EPL 2014/15: Manchester United v Sunderland Highlights

Manchester trotted out the 3-5-2 yet again and seem to have suffered for it. In a surprisingly close match, new signing Juan Mata scored early, but the Black Cats' Rodwell leveled before the half and that remained the final score in a match that saw Sunderland look much better than they should have. 1-1 the final. Video: Playwire

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