Commercial decisions are killing world football … Die Mannschaft shot themselves in the foot with Sane’s omission
So, the boys are being separated from the men in the ongoing 2018 FIFA Football World Cup in Russia? With four of Africa’s representatives heading home, having failed to negotiate their passage past the group stages joined by reigning world champions Die Mannschaft (Germany), the global showpiece is reaching its climax heading towards the knockout stages of the month-long football bonanza. Despite a sluggish start by their standards, old timers Argentine managed to scrape through by the skin of their teeth after their last-gasp goal sent the Super Eagles of Nigeria packing – ending the dreams of Africa as the continent’s hopes now only rested on the tiny shoulders of Senegal’s target man Sadio Mane to salvage some lost pride. Truth be told, Argentina were very lucky to remain and Russia after the nail-biting final group match against the imposing Nigerians and were dangerously lucky not to concede a crystal clear penalty for handball. Well, many a football and the neutral football fan might argue that Nigeria were the chief beneficiaries of a debatable soft penalty awarded to them after former Liverpool and Barcelona midfielder Javier Mascherano was adjudged to have pulled down a Nigerian player in the penalty box. Shall we then conclude that the referee made the Nigerians pay for his earlier indiscretion by awarding them what looked like a mere tangle between the two players? The fundamental question on many football followers lips is: are referees instructed to exercise different sets of rules for certain teams? Am I the only one who has detected preferential treatment towards Ronaldo, Messi and Neymar as the tournament’s poster boys. Cristiano Ronaldo should have received his marching orders in Portugal’s final group match against Morocco after committing a cautionable offence, but the bemused match official opted not to brandish a yellow, which could have amounted to a second booking, and the second booking resulting in a red card, with Ronaldo missing the next match. Obviously, football is not only about the playing field – there are dozens of other factors that must be taken into consideration, notably the commercial aspect of the game. Truly speaking, tournament organizers and football’s presiding body would be much happier to have their poster boys’ presence in Russia prolonged by hook or by crook. One just wonders if a Nigerian player had handled the ball in that crucial moment whether the referee would have also turned a blind eye to the strong appeal for a penalty, notwithstanding the luxury of having to consult the controversial Video Assistant Referee (VAR). From the onset, defending champions Germany looked out of depth – leaving one to question the surprise omission of one of their greatest young talents in the shape of Manchester City flying winger Leroy Sane. The latter’s conspicuous absence in the Die Mannschaft travelling entourage raised some eyebrows given his excellent season with the English champions and the prominent role the youngster played as the Eastland outfit swept their opponents aside with brutal football, in the world’s most competitive football league. I rest my case.
2018-06-29 10:05:05 2 months ago