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Showing posts from 2011

Women's game counters trend

An interesting stat to come out of the women's World Cup, currently underway in Germany, is that possession is not a guarantee to winning.

While the Barca-ball-hogging style has become something many leading men's teams will be seeking to emulate in the coming northern seasons, let's not forget that winning football tactics are those that fit the team they are supposed to organise.

To me Barca's style is quite simple: basically pass the ball incessently to draw defences out of shape and then give it to Messi to wreak havoc in the gaps. But not everyone has a Messi.

Good to see the women's game has the courage to devise its own shapes and structures to suit the women's game and the players of each team.

One of the reasons I like watching it and one of the reasons I believe women should be allowed access to the men's professional game.

A League of their own

With the sixth FIFA Women's World Cup soon to get underway in Germany, it's a good time to take a look at how integrated the world game really is.

While much has been done in areas of racial equality and in getting poorer kids involved in the game, the great divide between men and women players remains.

This is puzzling as soccer is a game that in theory could be played by both sexes, equally, in mixed teams.

However, its not so surprising given the misogynistic attitudes of high-up administrators, from Sepp Blatter down (including many top players, media and supporters), cultural obstacles to women playing sport in general and the more physical nature of the modern professional men's game.

But, as anyone who has seen top level women's football, the decrease in overt physicality and speed is more than compensated by the greater flow and by the diminished presence of win-at-costs attitude. The bravado and macho cuture of the men's game is shown up as empty posin…

FIFA's other struggles

Even as FIFA proves it can't hold its Blatter, other issues pertaining to its role as the global rule maker on a multitude of football competitions continue to bubble.

Kick Project doesnt have a view on veils as such, seeing it as a complex and essentially individual choice. We do feel that everyone has the right to wear what they want and to worship how they want - as long as it doesnt endanger or enrage others.

So, it is difficult to see a good justification for this FIFA decision.

We are aware of course of debates on this issue and state decisions in, for instance, France. And I am, co-incidentally, reading Orhan Pamuk's "Snow" which investigates the issue of veils and the issue of secularism versus religious fundamentalism.

Yet, do we need such debates in the world game right now? Is this FIFA's role? Seems like we're bleeding into moral and cultural decisions now and I am not sure we can allow FIFA, especially given its current travails, the trust to…

Vid on FIFA corruption

This was sent in response to my post yesterday on FIFA and how we might democratise the organisation.

Looks like a promo for a longer documentary, but not sure.

Anyway, its nice work and asks some vital questions, which remain - crucially - unanswered.

Check it out.

FIFA rewrite needed, but who holds the pen?

With so much ado about FIFA's risible descent into farce, there's a lot of accusations and blame being thrown around.

While it's fair to say FIFA and its head-honchos have stuffed up big time, many are also casting a jaundiced eye over those who have dipped into the FIFA trough and who would likely benefit from the status quo. Among them are the 180 or so national football associations who failed to join the English FA and others standing for ethics and call for a cessation of the entire voting process - including for the latest World Cup votes - pending a complete review of the corruption allegations (although the FA, to be fair, has a vested interest in having a recount on the World Cup bid as it may have a chance of winning it this time).

Among them, I'm sorry to say, is the Australian FFA, rightly lambasted by former player and now commentator Craig Fozzie Foster in the local Australian press (and on his TV spots) on the weekend for falling into line and disgrac…

FIFA's solid gold balls

This very good piece from the BBC is a great backgrounder to FIFA's current traipse through the mud of its own making. Highly recommended listening for football fans everywhere.

As a not for profit in football, not unlike FIFA in some aspects at its founding, we at The Kick Project are very wary that becoming too tethered to sponsorships and revenue streams can damage our culture irrevocably, as well as, ultimately, that of our sponsors. It serves no longer term purpose of any positive nature.

Easy (and appropriate) to be critical of those involved, but let's take the moment for what it is: an opportunity to learn from past mistakes. Lessons for us all here I think.

Beautiful Barca

It's not really our thing to show open support for any specific club, but we here at KP have a real soft spot for FC Barcelona. As a football business they tend to run counter to the prevailing model for big clubs and emphasise community, fair play and youth development in their culture, often over profits and economic bottom lines.

The European Championship final was in some ways, therefore, a contest between the big business and limited ownership approach of Man Utd and Barca's more integrated, community-based and socially conscious model.

I know which one I prefer.

So, big congrats to all at Barca for a fine achievement, managed in the best spirit of the game and in the interests of football fans the world over.

Perhaps they will inspire other big teams to adopt their joyful and soulful approach to the beautiful game.

Puma's short pounce forward

Good to see Puma is making some moves to address its environmental and social footprint, but I still see some gaps in their system.

For one, employing big accounting firms to run your corporate social responsibility program might sound impressive, but my experience is that they are not always the best options. Such firms are generally very adept at knowing what they can get away with and in a context where legislation doesnt really exist - as is the case with big corporations using off-shore supply lines - it's often more a case of what can be got away with; a very minimalist approach.

Second, it is concerning that the company still hasnt set up systems to ensure its social impact is even being assessed, let alone decreased. As the article suggests, this is still to be established.

In today's world, this should already have been done long ago.

For the Kick Project, it is important that we are closely examining the social profile of those with whom we work, as partners and d…

Kick Project vid

I did this vid with my niece Vanessa from Karma Media productions in Melbourne. I'll upload it as a permanent feature of the site when I get around to it, but it seems a shame no-one is seeing it - so here it is.

Hope you like it.

Its a (small) world game.

Perhaps some French bureaucrats have forgotten its the world game. It's not about nationalities and what colours you wear - or are.

National rivarly can bring extra juice to any football game. But only if its kept in the right spirit and if it doesnt spill over into actual conflict or abuse.

If this French move is true, it's something we need to watch. Especially as it appears at a time when France is spending a lot of time wringing its hand s over how not to accept north African asylum seekers landing on their doorstep.

This looks like a political knee-jerk, to pander to some unsavoury attitudes coming out of even major figures in France today. It has no place it today's game.

Benefit of the doubt though and let's see how it pans out and whether the real football fan-based kicks up enough about it to quash it.

Evidence the world is insane

One year-old gets signed up by a Dutch professional team because he dunked a few soccer balls in a box.....punch me and tell me it isnt true.

Then they make a decision on whether to carry out the contract later...when he's 10!


Women's league opens up for second season

While the Emirates women's league had a successful first year, plans to open it up - both in terms of foreign participation and in a literal sense, taking it outdoors and in front of the public (last season all games were played indoors with no spectators), support for change is not universal.

Interestingly, the arguments against opening up comes from many of the women participants themselves.

Apparently, they consider men will simply come to mock and/or leer and seem to prefer a closed league.

To me, this simply symbolises the problems inherent in such uneven social structures as exist in such cultures. Treating women differently to men in terms of general society is not in itself problematic, assuming women themselves are part of the process, but using that difference as a means of discrimination - which has clearly happened in some Islamic societies (and not just Islamic societies it must be added) - is damaging for all.

Now, women feel themselves unwilling to be "public…

Qatar could be the best or the worst World Cup

When I first heard that Qatar has won the 2022 World Cup, I admit I thought it was all over. The World Cup as a magical, beautiful and uniting event was, in 2022, to be run through the mud of vested interests, corrupt decision-making and the special insanity of money over morals.

I still feel that to some extent.

But this article gives me hope.  It is true that the first Arab World Cup may indeed be a means not only to promote Arab culture in general but can unite the Arab world and allow it to rise to the potential it offered during Europe's Dark Ages, when it effectively ruled the world in cultural sophistication.

We can only hope the organisers and FIFA move the event in such a direction.

Special needs kids find the beautiful game

Great to see that these special needs kids are being introduced to football in such a simple and effective way.

As we all know, its about the wind in your hair and the ball at your feet, EPL, Euro leagues etc notwithstanding.

The game is a game. Sometimes we forget that.

The bad, the sad and the ridiculous

This one is bad

This one is sad

And this one is just plain ridiculous

Memo to Egypt and Algeria: It's a GAME...

Memo to Japan: This is bigger than any game...

Memo to goalkeepers: It's a GAME...

It would put even Clint off his plate of beans....A tough week in football....

Equality is not all black and white

It was pretty common in the late 1970's and early 1980's for black players in the English leagues to be jeered and to cop monkey calls. The first really big name black players like Viv Anderson, Laurie Cunningham and Luther Blisset took it all and acheived success despite the absence of any legislation or affirmative action type system to give them any favours.

Here at the Kick Project, we obviously place great importance on racial equality in football and I greatly admire these players for overcoming the odds purely on the strength of character and talent. They all did a great service not just for football but for society in general.

Yet, discrimination still exists and it manifests in many forms throughout society in England, and elsewhere.

Gordon Taylor, boss of the English Professional Footballers' Association has called for a program to encourage black managers in the EPL.

While its true that there is a shortage of black managers at the top levels, I'm not sur…

Ronaldo becomes Spanish

In a coup for Spain and a first for world football, Portugese star Ronaldo has been sold to play for the reigning world champions to ease the country's debt crisis.

From our point of view, we feel it's great to see someone of Ronaldo's stature being prepared to make sacrifices in the interests of his fellow country-men and women. Bravo Ronaldo!

Note: Check the date...

Retro fit stadiums an improvement for fans

I always thought the football authorities over-reacted after the 1989 Hillsborough disaster. It was a horrible accident and shouldn't have happened, but standing crowds weren't really the problem. Thus rebuilding stadiums to dispense with the terraces was both uneccessary and mistaken.

As this article notes in good detail, the debate about retro-fitting stadiums is now hotting up.

Having paid a small fortune to watch top level games in Europe, I know that match prices are out of reach to most and for those without access to fountains of cash - like me- going to a top level football game is more a rare treat than the weekly ritual it used to be. This hurts kids especially.

The irony of all-seater stadiums is of course that you spend half the game standing up anyway.

In the EPL such match prices, along with high TV fees which have put many free-to-air TV channels around the world - including here in Australia - out of reach, go to paying overly inflated wages for pampered, arr…

When the colour of money is dark

This is very worrying. We have seen the impact of rapidly rising revenues in cricket on shady, behind the scenes business dealings (read: corruption) and you'd have to be naive to ignore the possibility in football.

I dont believe football has a history of match fixing and I am not aware of many, if any examples, at the top international level. So this is a serious turn of events.

Apparently, FIFA is clearly concerned and the Presidential election is very much focussed on the issue.

Yet, as this BBC piece reveals, aspects of the problem are largely being ignored,  for reasons that are difficult to fathom.

Let's hope it doesn't just become a hot issue until June when the new or incumbent FIFA boss, post election, can put it back in the side netting.

Burma/FIFA questions raised

Apropos the previous post on The Kick Project. Not surprising that questions are being asked. If bin Hammam has any brains he won't be playing these kinds of games. You just dont get away with tricks like this these days...

Critics Blast FIFA support for Burmese regime crony

"Chiang Mai (Mizzima) - Members of Burma's opposition ctiticised FIFA President Sepp Blatter and the organisation's general secretary Jerome Valcke for visiting Burma this week at the invitation of Myanmar Football Federation President Zaw Zaw..."(more)

Thomas Maung Shwe
March 17, 2011

Is this engagement or is it cosying up?

Memo to Mr Blatter: Football has great social influence. Your job is to see that it is used wisely.
The Kick Project

Enough said.

FIFA and Burma: the beautiful game

It's a match to conjure with: FIFA president Sepp Blatter and the Burmese generals. An unaccountable regime, long dogged by allegations of corruption, mismanagement of resources, and arbitrary decision making. And then of course there are the Burmese....(more)

Tim Johnston
The Financial Times
March 18, 2011

Picture credit: Christian Science Monitor

Palestinian victory in the face of many defeats

This is my first column piece for a new football website, and its regular online magazine, Half-Time.

Many years ago, in another life, I was privileged to spend some time in Gaza and on the West Bank. Lots of people warned me about how dangerous it would be, how shifty the Palestinians were and how I'd be shot at. Suffice to say, none of this was true and I recall walking around the dishevelled streets of Gaza and eating pizza on the beautiful beach-front, feeling as safe as I've felt anywhere.....(more)

James Rose
March 17, 2011

Photo credit: Pixmac

Egypt's military government plays the football card

Have just come across this excellent resource on the cross-overs between politics and football in the Middle East and North Africa. I'll feature upcoming articles from this blog.

"Egypt’s military rulers have authorized a lifting of a ban on professional soccer matches in a bid to limit the impact of the two-month old suspension, prevent an exodus of players and coaches and quell growing unrest among fans...."

James Dorsey
The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer link here
March 16, 2011

Football discrimination, more talk?

A seminar in Amsterdam, organised by UEFA, the Royal Netherlands Football Association (KNVB), the English Football Association (FA) and the Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) network has taken the first step to tackle institutional discrimination in football.....

Source: Cleatbeat
Full Article Here

Photo credit: BBC

Pictures speak louder than words department

Beautiful picture taken for the BBC website from the air over Abijan in Cote d'Ivoire, where violence has been rife for some months following disputed elections. Amid the horror, football goes on, as it should.

New football publication, with some KICK

I have just written hopefully the first of many regular columns for the New Delhi-based Cleat Beat website and its new football magazine "Half-Time".
Cleat Beat has been started by football brainiac Asit Ganguli, who is clearly aiming to bring a more sophisticated football product to India and beyond. Given India is perhaps the last largely untapped major football population in the world, that's an important agenda to carry and I for one certainly support Asit in his footballing endeavours.

The magazine is filled with excellent features and commentary on the inner workings of both the technical side of the game as well as the business and cultural side of things. It's an excellent read for professionals, amateur clubbies and fans alike.

The first edition is available here

My column is scheduled to run in the next edition, so hopefully you can check it out. I'll post a link to it here after it's gone online.

First home game for Palestine ends in both defeat and victory

How good is this?

Shame to note that there were few women and girls in the crowd but a significant step for peace in Palestine nevertheless.

Photo credit: AP

A little late?

Task force set up to combat Old Firm violence
FC Business
March 9, 2011

Sad that it is now seen as normal that Rangers v Celtic games will break out in violence between fans somehow, but good that some "firm" action is being introduced.

Begs the question: why has it taken so long for such action? They are called the Old Firm because they've been around for so long. Has violence only just become the theme of Glasgow derbies?

Anyway, its not just about rules and policing. It's about the culture of the game in Glasgow and, in wider terms, religious borders. This is a disease that needs a lot of curing to be got rid of. Not sure some rules and a few more patrolmen will do the trick...

Could a movie cross the last great football frontier: India?

Could a new film about one of India's most remarkable sporting encounters help to spread the popularity of football in a country renowned for its obsession with cricket?.....
Andrew Buncombe "Football scores at the box office in cricket mad India" The Indepedent March 7, 2011

Goose kills owl

No-one likes to see violence on the field, against humans or animals. This idiot should be ashamed of himself.

Gray day for sexism

First confession: I had a shower with Andy Gray when he was on the downside of his career with Wolves and I was having trials there - 1981 (Group showers, post-training, nothing odd and no, I didnt look). Second confession: I reckon sometimes I dont understand the offside rule either, or at least how it is applied (Tevez goal v Mexico at South Africa 2010, anyone?)
However, a complete shocker from both Gray and Keys. I reckon women should be playing in the EPL, not just running lines.

The really interesting thing is that the transgression is not in holding such sexist views, but in being caught holding them. If both Keys and Gray had the same chat with with, say, the CEO of SkySports over a pint, they wouldnt have been coughed at, let alone fired.

Still a long way to go....

New FIFA appointment talks ethics...kind of..

FIFA vice-president Prince Ali bin Hussein, half-brother of Jordan's King Abdullah II, plans to introduce "new work ethics" in Asia, he told AFP in an interview on Thursday. "We want to introduce new work ethics, not ones based on coming from above, but through working hand in hand with the national associations," said Prince Ali, who on January 6 unseated South Korean Chung Mong-Joo as FIFA vice-president.

"This is very crucial because sometimes when it comes to work and development and football, they will take a model, let's say a European model, and they want to implement it completely on the continent."

The prince has become the youngest member of the FIFA executive committee at the age of 35 after rallying Arab support behind him.

"We have different countries, different societies, different economic backgrounds," he said.

"We have to build things on a case-to-a-case basis. We want to fulfill that," he added, calling for pro…

Major football bodies seek to end discrimination

<>A spotlight on institutional discrimination UEFA is involved in the organisation of a seminar in Amsterdam this week which will be examining the issue of institutional discrimination.
The seminar on Tuesday and Wednesday is being co-hosted by European football's governing body; the Royal Netherlands Football Association (KNVB); the English Football Association (FA); and the Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) network, UEFA's long-standing partner in the campaign to eliminate racism, intolerance and discrimination from the game.
The gathering in Amsterdam is a first in the specific area of institutional discrimination. UEFA and its partners are determined to identify, raise awareness of, and approach this issue, with experts and interested parties being brought together to look at possible solutions.
Exclusion will be one item on the agenda, and delegates will be debating, for example, how to bring about greater involvement of ethnic minorities and women representat…

Racism rears in Reds' ranks

This piece from FC Business provides an insight into some of the racist sledging that passes for competitivness in some football cultures. Possibly an isolated incident - let's hope so - but also be interesting to see how it is dealt with.

"Mon 10th Jan 2011 | Legal
Liverpool Football club are embroiled in a racism row said to involve the club’s academy players.
It’s alleged that Liverpool’s young academy players subjected Crystal Palace players to a torrent of racial abuse when to clubs met for a FA Youth Cup fourth round tie at Anfield on Saturday.
It’s understood that the Football Association will contact Palace today for a full account of what happened and to ascertain whether they intend to make an official complaint.
According to the Guardian newspaper, the FA may also ask to speak to Dan Pringle, one of the players involved in a 3-1 defeat for Palace. Pringle expressed his dismay on his Twitter account after the match, saying: "Disappointed with result but really disgu…

Money talks, sometimes it's rubbish

Really interesting spot on football wages in England particularly.
Showing my age, but I remember pre-EPL when players would set up businesses post-career to maintain an income. Trevor Brooking from memory had a sausage factory...I had trials with then first div clubs in England (Coventry and Wolves) and recall it wasnt the money I was interested in, it was the glory, and if could simply make a living doing something I loved, then life was good. It was the same for the other lads I was trialling with.
Sounds like the "Good "Ol Days" I know but I think something is missing with all the money. One thing I have to mention is that for years Australian TV would have English football highlights on free-to-air TV, now its only on pay-TV, which means lots of kids miss out on the opportunity to watch top English football (still the best), as I was able to every week. Money talks alright but sometimes I reckon it talks rubbish.
See this piece I wrote a few years ago for the Natio…

Russia in the (Moral) Red

This detailed article shows the dangers of using football for politics. Clearly, the Kremlin has dabbled too far into the beautiful game and now it has become a political soup in which us v them battles are waged and where the actual game is marginalised.

Clearly, the incident that set off the latest riots in Moscow had nothing to do with football. What is shameful is that football becomes the rallying point for the violence and a means to emphasise ignorant views.

It may seem this blog is obsessed with Russia, but its the site of the 2018 World Cup this really the best the football world can come up with?

Oh Dear....Russia

Winners of the bid for the 2018 World Cup, Russia, have been given the equivalent on a stud-run down the shinbone as racist nutters in the capital rallied for the bad ol' days in the Red Empire (yeh, I know this is a little old, but I've been on a break...)

Not for the first time, football has been used as a popular point of interest or front around which to send all manner of bigoted rubbish, particularly targetting non-white immigrants, students and visitors in Russia, into orbit.

How will Russia face this dilemma? Will it allow it all to just simmer away and try and ignore it or will it come down hard, at the risk of alienating some of the government's own support base?

They've got 8 years to sort out generations of racism.

Peace tournament in Somalia a success

A football tournament to encourage peace in this benighted land concluded with a (peaceful) bang in northern Somalia last week.

I havent been able to get much detail on it, but this rather excited piece from a local news outlet gives a hint of the event.

As noted, the games were co-sponsored by FIFA.

Photo credit: BBC (nb: this shot is not from the tournament but is a nice pic of Somalis having a kick)