Author: Mark

The FIFA Under-20s World Cup: Last 16 To Last 4

So, for all my talk of the diversity of successful nations at the FIFA Under-20s World Cup, we have one all-European and one all-South American semi-final. But what larks we’ve had getting there… Second Round Venezuela 1 Japan 0 (after extra-time, score at 90 minutes…well…guess) A match between two such intricate passing teams produced a winning goal of shocking simplicity, Yangel Herrera’s 108th-minute header from a corner with no defender on the post. Japan started slowly, as per, giving Adalberto Penaranda ample space for his trick-and-flicks. They MUST have spotted him, with all that peroxide-blond hair. And he NEEDS...

Read More

Video Assistant Referees: A Step Too VAR?

Graham Poll would have LOVED it. Every time there was a controversial incident, and he was hardly averse to them, the cameras would have been on him to see if he would refer it to the Video Assistant referees (VARs). And when decisions were reached, the cameras would still be on HIM as he strutted around (and he WOULD strut) making said decision clear. The VAR system is under full tournament trial in the World Under-20s Cup Finals, currently wowing about 3,000 people-per-game in the Korean Republic, now that the hosts are out. It was tested in last December’s...

Read More

Celtic’s European Cup: Understanding Lisbon

Just watch the game. You’ll understand. Even though Celtic completed an unbeaten Scottish Premiership season last Sunday, the focus was far less on the 34 wins and four draws this season than on one win 50 years ago. Likewise, the previous Thursday, when Celtic ran lanes through a disinterested Partick Thistle, in front of a stand-full of fans with banners and flags replicating those carried and waved in Lisbon’s Estadio Nacional on May 25th 1967. But if you watch the game, you’ll understand. If you aren’t a Celtic fan, “Lisbon Lions” fatigue possibly set in ages ago. Some old...

Read More

Tottenham Hotspur: Goodbye To The Lane

There was a neat personal symmetry to Tottenham Hotspur’s farewell afternoon to what is already the “old” White Hart Lane. My first-ever trip there was my first-ever football match. 10th November 1973. Then, as now, it was Spurs v Manchester United. Then, as now, Spurs went two-up. Then, as now, United pulled one back. Then, as now, it finished 2-1. So, while Sky Sports were doubtless desperate to for referee Jonathan Moss to award a penalty when Dele Alli was tripped as he entered the penalty area with stoppage-time about up last Sunday, I was pleased that the next...

Read More

Infantino Trumps FIFA

Among the millions of words from American political pundits and satirists about Donald bloody Trump, NBC’s Saturday Night Live broadcast the straightest-to-the-point, last… well… Saturday night. The previous Thursday, Trump told NBC journalist Lester Holt that he fired Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) director James Comey while thinking about “this Russia thing,” the Comey-led FBI investigation into the nature of the Trump’s presidential campaign team’s links with Russia, and their role in Trump’s election victory last November. (NB: “The nature” of those links, not “if” they existed. One for the politicos there). On SNL, Michael Che’s “Holt”, got Alec...

Read More