Friday, January 8, 2016

How Herbert Hainer and @adidas look like fools again

Manchester United’s style of play criticised by chief executive of Adidas

Manchester United’s style of play under Louis van Gaal has been criticised by the chief executive of Adidas, who signed a £750m kit sponsorship deal with the club last summer.

Manchester United launch retro Adidas kit following their £750m deal

United ended a run of eight matches without a victory with the 2-1 win over Swansea on Saturday and despite widespread criticism for a stagnant style of play, Van Gaal claimed afterwards that in their last two matches – also including the goalless draw against Chelsea – his side had adopted a riskier approach. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of The Guardian.

Kicking Back Comments: My initial title was going to be "Nero fiddles when Rome burns," but thought that was paying just a bit too much homage to Herr Hainer, CEO of Adidas.

What is frosting my cookie is not that Herr Hainer is criticizing Man U's incredibly unspectacular play. The man is an accomplished footballer as well as businessman. Just take a look at his CV here, from Adidas. There is no question in my mind that he knows his football.

A blind man (no referee jokes please) could see how poorly Man U is playing.

Even his criticism in his capacity as CEO I can stretch. I can ... he is looking to maximize his $1.2B (yeah that's a B for billion) investment in the team, and that makes sense. Although as he admits, business is booming and things are "better" than expected.

What I take issue with is that people are dying in Qatar and FIFA is absolutely on fire with corruption and Herr Hainer, leading Adidas, is willing to step out there and criticize Man U for their play, but do nothing but send a "strongly worded" letter with other sponsors to FIFA, asking them to do better.


How about at least criticizing FIFA for it's open human rights violations? How about saying Adidas will suspend or pull its sponsorship from future World Cup's, beginning with Qatar, if this goes on? How about Adidas wants to see the situation first hand and will send an envoy to Qatar, or maybe just aid?

What not +adidas?

It makes you look foolish to stand back and cry about Man U when there is so much more you can do first. Look at the bigger picture and for the love of Adolf Dassler, do the right thing and at least get involved with sorting out the mess that is Qatar and FIFA.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Clearly Valcke did not get that stitch in time

FIFA Recommends Nine-Year Ban for Valcke

The investigator for FIFA’s independent ethics committee on Tuesday recommended a nine-year ban for the organization’s former secretary general, Jérôme Valcke, who served as Sepp Blatter’s top deputy for nearly a decade before he was placed on leave in September amid a corruption inquiry.

The investigator, Cornel Borbély, also recommended that Mr. Valcke’s provisional suspension, which was to expire Tuesday, be extended by 45 days, as well as a fine of 100,000 Swiss francs (about $99,000). The judge of the ethics committee, Hans-Joachim Eckert, will issue a final ruling on the recommended punishment.

Mr. Valcke, 55, has been on disciplinary leave from FIFA since September, when he was accused of being involved in a scheme to sell 2014 World Cup tickets for personal profit. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of the NYT.

Kicking Back Comments: While I expect Valcke to both deny any wrongdoing and appeal the ban, FIFA continues to step up to clean up its act. Or at least remove the bad actors that inhabited these offices previously.

One area I do not understand is, here is a person who is suspected and has been suspended for pilfering at least $10M, yet his fine is only about $100K, an order of magnitude less. Why not make Valcke pay back the full amount?

Also, while FIFA is starting, just starting, to grow a spine on some of these issues, I am far more interested in both the Qatar debacle and also what permanent reforms will be put in place to prevent something like this from occurring again.

That will be the true acid test for me.

Monday, January 4, 2016

In our world, introspection is king

'It's not a red card, it's an arrestable offence!'

Webb on De Jong horror tackleThe Netherlands international kicked Xabi Alonso in the chest during the 2010 World Cup final but was not sent off, and the referee has admitted that he made a mistake

Howard Webb admits that he should have sent off Netherlands midfielder Nigel De Jong after his kung-fu kick on Spain counterpart Xabi Alonso in the 2010 World Cup final.

Having been chosen to officiate the showpiece fixture, Webb showed the former Manchester City midfielder a yellow card after a recklessly high tackle on Alonso in the 28th minute of the fixture, which ended 1-0 after Andres Iniesta's extra-time strike.

Webb was subsequently booed when he collected his medal after the final whistle, and he has now conceded that he made a mistake in refusing to dismiss the Dutchman, but has suggested that he did not see the incident clearly enough to take such a decision.

Speaking to BT Sport, Webb said: “I still thought I got it right on the pitch. So I get back into the dressing room and my assistant referee has gone to his pocket and got his phone out, and his face dropped. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of

Kicking Back Comments: Much has been made about the World Cup Final that Webb oversaw. Some great, some horrible. Here at Kicking Back we did an in depth analysis and contrasted it to an "A" licensed coaches analysis which proved very interesting, and not surprisingly the two entities see the game in the same was in many aspects, but have separate views on others.

This article reaffirmed an old axiom that is true among referees as well as in general for successful people in life in my opinion. Reflect and learn from your mistakes. Take what you can and implement it for next time. Webb obviously has done this.

The real trick is twofold in such cases however.

First, you have to keep going even in the face of a massive screw up. As we and many others have written, missing that send off started to unravel that match. Getting back on track to what got you there is critical in such a case.

Second, when you learn the lesson, you have to let the rest go. Hanging on to all the negative stuff that goes with such an incident is not a good thing and has the potential of dragging you back into that mindset.

Experience, reflect, learn, evolve.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Double Trouble or a Great Idea?

Presidential candidate Salman wants to divide FIFA in two

MIAMI (Reuters) - The frontrunner in the FIFA presidential election, Asian football chief Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, says he wants to divide the organization into two separate entities as part of a 'turnaround' plan for the crisis-hit organization.

Salman, who is president of the Asian Football Confederation, said in a statement on Wednesday that FIFA's governance and business functions would be separated if he took over the helm following the Feb. 26 elections. ...

See the whole article here, courtesy of Yahoo Sports.

Kicking Back Comments: First off, hat tip to Elie for brings this one forward.

I am of two minds regarding this proposition of splitting FIFA into a "football" side and a "business" side, likely with a "Chinese Wall" between them.

Part of me thinks this is a great idea where you separate out the money generating portions of the business from the football operational side. On the surface this would seem to allow better auditing abilities of the finances while maintaining operational integrity. In fact this is done regularly in business or for projects with particularly sensitive information that must be kept compartmentalized. These methods could be actuarial as well as physical in nature. 

I am not so sure however that such an arrangement would meet the needs to prevent corruption. A slightly closer look at how the operational side can substantially influence the money side is not far away however. A first and stunning example is the choice of Qatar as a venue in 2022. Here is a nearly purely "operational" decision. Take a look at the FIFA report on the US bid for 2022 here. With the exception of a couple of sections, it is all about the "how" things will be done. Yet, as we know, as the events unfolded a substantial amount of corruption (and money exchange) occurred as part of a venue decision.

Let's say for sake of argument World Cup decision are relegated to the money side of the house due to the very large financial gain FIFA realizes from each. How about the surface for play?

Well, here too we seem to have created some conflicts of interest as I detailed in a 2014 article, "The case of Dr. Turf and the Cowardly Judge." Here, we had the dispute about use of a synthetic surface or not, and shockingly (not) FIFA rolled out "Dr. Turf" to advocate that turf was equivalent to grass in all respects. Only issue was Dr. Turf was affiliated with a company that produced such surfaces. So even here with something purely operational the opportunity for abuse exists.

Where Asian football chief Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa gets it completely right is where he believes FIFA has to be torn down completely and rebuilt before it can be effective. I share that opinion. Great danger and opportunity exist in such a case however as nature abhors a vacuum and such a void may be filled with exactly the wrong people.

Don't get me wrong, the idea brought forward while not novel and I believe has issues, is one of the most original for FIFA in years. All credit is due for that to be sure.

Friday, January 1, 2016

2015: A Forgettable Year for US Soccer in Many Ways

Year in Review: More lows than highs for American soccer in 2015

It was a forgettable year for American soccer fans, but there were some highlights to help offset the down moments, writes Ives Galarcep.

You can forgive American soccer fans if they don't have fond memories of 2015. Sure, there were some unforgettable moments, and accomplishments, but overall there was something thoroughly disappointing about the year as a whole.

The bad taste can be attributed in large part to the struggles and disappointments of the U.S. men's national team. The good vibes created by the 2014 World Cup quickly faded, and while there were flashes of promise at various points this year, the lingering memories will be of the team's Gold Cup failure and subsequent CONCACAF Cup loss to Mexico. That defeat didn't just mean there will be no 2017 Confederations Cup for the Americans, but much more painfully, was a realization that the U.S. had handed back the crown as King of CONCACAF to Mexico. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of

Kicking Back Comments: I agree with Galarecp and in fact would expand on it that the worlds game did not have a very good year in general. Things are a bit "off" right now.

Very un-holiday like I agree, but (and I hate to say this) we have not seen the bottom yet. Maybe the back half of 2016 if the World's Game gets its act together will see promise ... but I am not hopeful.

For my New Year's wish, I hope the power struggle at FIFA is figured out and the criminals are not allowed to return. Only then will things begin to take form.

It's just in time too as 2016 will see us one step closer to Russia 2018 and I hope a new venue for 2022.

Best wishes from us at Kicking Back to all of you for a prosperous and healthy 2016.