All-Star gaaaames. There’s nothing more exciting than watching the NBA’s West beat the East 192 to 182 while the 6-10 Anthony Davis scores 52 points off 39 shots, and there’s nothing more sporting than watching Canadian journeyman Will Johnson crunch Bastian Schweinsteiger on the ankle after the German graciously appears following a grueling summer spent winning the World Cup.
The UEFA Nations League is objectively a cool idea — turn meaningless friendlies into interesting competitions, replace boring lopsided matches with enticingly even matchups, create another tournament for players and fans to enjoy. But Wednesday’s draw didn’t exactly get the pulses racing for next fall’s Nations League schedule outside of a handful of UEFA’s 55 countries.
League A, Group 1 is awesome: Germany, France and the Netherlands. Group A4 is pretty good too: Spain, England and Croatia. But the other 14 groups fail to really move the needle.
One of the few certainties in soccer is players (and coaches) will not get along with referees. There will always be contentious calls and subjective decisions that could go either way. This isn’t exclusive to soccer, but there is one sport that avoids this aspect completely: ultimate Frisbee, which does not have referees. Could the beautiful game ever follow suit and institute self-officiated soccer?
Abdoulaye Doucouré is one cheeky fella. The Watford midfielder took advantage of some poor refereeing and some poor decision-making from the English FA to help earn his team a point with a 2-2 draw. You see, the 90th-minute Doucoure goal vs Southampton was scored with the Frenchman’s hand.
Yes, it’s still illegal to use your hands if you’re not the goalie. And no, England hasn’t joined the rest of the civilized world by adopting VAR. So yeah, the goal stood, and Southampton is rightly livid.
On the second day of 2018, West Brom’s Jake Livermore rushed into the stands to confront a West Ham fan during an English Premier League match. On Wednesday, the English FA decided not to punish the midfielder. This stunning lack of a Jake Livermore punishment is wholly unacceptable.
The NASL, which once boasted such stars as Pelé and, well, Pelé should be enough for you to keep reading this sentence, cannot seem to sort itself out. The league is a mess right now and not even its move to the international calendar should convince you otherwise — in fact, the move is merely propaganda to make you think everything is just fine.
The NASL announced Monday it would move to an August-to-June calendar, one employed by most of Europe and many of the top leagues around the world.
The institution that is Arsene Wenger was handed a three-match touchline ban and a $54,250 fine for a confrontation with referee Mike Dean after Arsenal’s 1-1 draw with West Brom on Sunday. The Wenger ban is nothing new for the Frenchman, who served a four-match touchline ban for a similar behavior last year. And Wenger didn’t even deny these accusations, fully admitting to what he said and standing by his criticism.
Pep Guardiola has it all backwards when it comes to the festive schedule. In a postmatch interview after his side beat Watford 3-1, Manchester City’s manager discussed the busy fixture list and how the English FA doesn’t care about its players. That’s not what we’re taking issue with; we totally agree with that. What we think Guardiola, perhaps the best coach of this generation, is wrong about is why people watch football.
“We’re going to kill them,” Guardiola said of playing two matches in three days. “Here in England they don’t protect their players.”