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Thursday, January 22, 2015


All roads led to the tiny village of Elsendorp, situated in the eastern extremities of the Dutch province of Noord-Brabant, on 26/10/13 for the match between VV Elsendorp and Tuvalu, but, for those relying on public transport, there wasn't a bus in sight, only a five-mile walk from the nearby town of Gemert.

Still, it was a beautiful afternoon for a game of football, and VV Elsendorp certainly put its best foot forward in playing host to the visiting Tuvalu side playing the 19th match of its marathon 11-week, 21-game tour of Holland, at . The hosts, playing in the ninth level of the Dutch pyramid, had lost their first five games of the season and a win against their opponents would have provided a confidence-boost.

Almost straight from the kick-off, Rick Hubers darted off down the left wing towards and into the Tuvalu penalty-area, where he met a wall of defenders and, instead of barging through them all, ended up deflecting the ball over the goal-line for a goal-kick.

 STANDING TO ATTENTION: The Tuvalu bench watches on as their starting eleven and their counterparts from VV Elsendorp line up for the national anthems

There was precious little other action during the first ten minutes, during which Tuvalu were comfortable and gaining in confidence, and their erstwhile goalkeeper-turned-defender Jelly Selau had the game's first shot on 11 minutes, a 20-yard effort which flew a yard wide of Arno Peters' goal.

Lutelu Tiule had Tuvalu's next effort on goal in the 15th minute, receiving the ball after Sio Silitone's free-kick, turned an Elsendorp defender but shot wide. Three minutes later, Alopua Petoa latched on to a through ball, but, after a tussle with a home defender, was only able to send his effort high and wide of the left-hand post.

Roy van der Wetering had Elsendorp's first shot on goal soon after, his low effort easily gathered by Mauga Tonise in the Tuvalu goal. In the 23rd minute, Fatu Alefaio's booming shot from at least 35 yards out took a wild deflection out for a corner; from the corner, Tiute's firm header went just over Peters' crossbar. This was quickly followed by a long-range half-volley from Selau which ended up just off-target.

As Elsendorp attacked the Tuvalu penalty-area from the left-hand side with 27 minutes on the clock, Lars van der Cruijsen was left unattended around six yards out, but he got his header completely underneath the cross which found him.

In the thirty-third minute, Lutelu Tiute received the ball in the Elsendorp penalty-area and turned a defender, who knocked him down; referee Wim Faassen really had no option to award a penalty to the visitors. A minute or so later, after Tuite received some attention on the pitch, Alopua Petoa finally broke the deadlock from the penalty-spot, stroking the ball to Peters' left, sending the home 'keeper the wrong way.

 1:0 TO THE TUVALU: Manager Richard Steensma and substitute Eric Tealofi look on as Alopua Petoa opens the scoring with his 34th-minute spot-kick

Eric Tealofi came on for Selau immediately after the goal, and going behind galvanised the Elsendorp team into action, with Rick de Bruijn the focal point; he headed a corner just over the bar in the 37th minute, and a cross from Jordy de Vries the wrong side of the post two minutes later.

Uota Ale sent the ball over the Elsendorp bar from distance just over on 40 minutes, and this was more or less the last meaningful action of the first half, during which his team-mates Petoa, James Lepaio and Selau had performed well, while de Bruijn, Rick Hubers and Stijn Vos had more than done their bit for the hosts.

Petoa had been having a lean time in front of goal prior to this fixture, and a one-on-one with Peters in the 52nd minute following a breakaway and pass from Panapa Mafoa gave him the perfect opportunity to augment his goal-tally in this game and, by the same token, his confidence in front of goal; unfortunately for him, his shot beat Peters but trickled agonisingly wide.

There were signs early on in the second-half that Elsendorp had upped their game, and shots from Hubers and Ron Zomers in quick succession, together with Stijn Vos wreaking havoc on the left wing, suggested that the men in green and white had much to offer. Vos may have been leading the Tuvalu defence a merry dance, but he found a ready adversary in Fatu Alefaio, who was, as always, proving himself to be a two-legged bulldozer in the back-line.

GOT IT COVERED: Elsendorp 'keeper Arno Peters comes for the ball following a Tuvalu corner; among those in attendance are team-mates Lars van der Cruijsen and Dick de Bruijn
Elsendorp were suddenly looking the more likely to score, but, at the other end, Telava Folitau headed just over from a corner with 62 minutes gone. Six minutes later, Alefaio was injured in a crunching tackle with van der Cruijsen; the Tuvaluan came off worst and had to be substituted by Amatusi Telogo Peni, who had himself been substituted in the first half by Afelee Valoa.

Eric Tealofi had the next clear opportunity for Tuvalu on 74 minutes, but dallied too long and his shot, when it eventually came, was deflected behind for a corner. Seconds later, the ball was in the back of the Elsendorp net. The corner was met by three Tuvaluan players who had jumped together, unchallenged for the ball, which fell to Uota Ale, whose shot to Peters' right was well saved by the 'keeper. However, Telava Folitau, who had come on at half-time for Teake Filialofa, followed up for the rebound and knocked the ball out of the Elsendorp custodian's reach.

There were precious few chances for either team after that, though Petoa, put through once again in the 80th minute, saw his shot saved well by Peters, who saw a low shot from Tealofi go just wide of his left-hand post moments later.

Sepe Willie, who was turning out to be Tuvalu's most influential player on their tour of Holland, was injured in the run-up to the game, but managed to come on for the last few minutes, replacing Telogo Peni, who this time stayed off the pitch.

There was another moment of danger for the visitors as the game went into injury-time as de Bruijn's cross, again from the left-hand side, flew just centimetres in front of Jordy de Vries, but Tuvalu breathed again and could celebrate both a deserved win and a clean sheet.


TUVALU: 1 Bill MAUGA, 2 Jelly SELAU (17 Eric TEALOFI), 3 James LEPAIO, 6 Uota ALE, 7 Lutelu TIETE (14 Sepe IONISI), 8 Panapa MAFOA, 11 Teake FILIALOFA, 12 Alopua PETAU, 15 Fatu ALEFAIO, 18 Sio SILITONE, 19 Amatusi TELOGO PENI (16 Afelee VALOA)
THEN AND NOW: Sadly for VV Elsendorp,their season was not to get any better, and were relegated to the tenth (and bottom) tier of Dutch football. They are, at the moment, to be found in fifth place in their regional Zesde Klasse division.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: You can often tell what the people of a particular town are like by their football club, its supporters, players and staff. In Elsendorp's case, the club is the focal point of what is an extremely small village, and it represents its village well. Many thanks are due to club chairman Frank van der Munckhof and, in particular,to club secretary Anja van der Cruijsen.

Apologies in advance should the above team information prove incorrect; should this be the case, kindly pass on the relevant information and the above article shall be updated as soon as this has been received.

Thursday, January 8, 2015


A summit on the subject of reforming FIFA is due to take place in Brussels on 21/1/15, and shall be attended by some of those with an interest in the inner workings of the main global football organisation such as Jérome Champagne, candidate for the top post in FIFA, former FA chairman and scourge of Sepp Blatter - long before Michael van Praag dared to speak - Lord David Triesman, and Howard Mayne-Nicholls, a Chilean journalist and a former FIFA official. British Conservative MP Damian Collins is one of the driving forces behind the forthcoming summit.

The summit is all about change, but what will become of the smaller countries who are currently FIFA members under a reformed FIFA? Will countries/nations such as Greenland, Tuvalu, the Falkland Islands, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Gibraltar be eligible for membership under a new, improved FIFA? These questions might, or might not, be answered during the summit, but if future versions of FIFA are to adhere to the organisation's slogan, "For The Good Of The Game," the issue of membership eligibility for all (and that means for all) will need to be addressed at some point in the future.

Please find below the text of a press release, received today, 8/1/15, from the media office of the organisation hosting the summit, New FIFA Now.
Media Release: January 8, 2015
Summit in Brussels to discuss how to make it happen
Football players and fans who are concerned with how world football's governing body, FIFA, is run have been invited to join a peoples' campaign for a new FIFA.
The campaign will kick-off at a Summit to be held at the European Parliament in Brussels on January 21st that will be attended by FIFA Presidential candidate, Jerome Champagne; the man who led the technical inspection team for the 2018/2022 World Cup Bids, Harold Mayne-Nicholls; the former Chairman of the England Bid and the English FA, Lord David Triesman, as well as other high profile football identities.
"People have had enough," said British MP, Damian Collins, who has been one of the most vocal critics of FIFA's management and governance practices.
"I speak to amateur and professional players, fans, and mums and dads whose children play and love the game. It has reached the stage where FIFA is a laughing stock.
"We all love the game. But we all detest how it's run."
Collins said the Brussels Summit is the first vital step in making a new FIFA a reality.
It's also the first of its kind where politicians, players, fans and corporations will come together in a campaign for change.
Champagne, Mayne-Nicholls and Triesman will be joined by co-hosts, European MPs Ivo Belet of Belgium and Emma McClarkin of England, as well as British MPs Gerry Sutcliffe, John Leech and Collins. Other attendees include the Chairman of SKINS, Jaimie Fuller, and Bonita Mersiades who is a former senior executive of the Australian FA and the Australian World Cup bid.
Collins says the Brussels Summit will focus on how change can happen.
"We don't intend to talk about what is wrong with FIFA, as we all know what's wrong.
"The experience since the Presidential election in 2011 - when we were promised things would change - shows that FIFA is incapable of reforming itself. But we also know that FIFA's problems go much further back than that."
Collins says that while recent events concerning the Garcia report into the conduct of the 2018/2022 World Cup Bids was the final motivation needed for he and other MPs to take action, the report and its publication is not a 'first order' issue.
"Like the decisions surrounding Russia and Qatar, the farce surrounding the Garcia report is symptomatic of a governing body where democracy, transparency and accountability were long ago forsaken in place of corruption, mismanagement and self-interest."
He said that the Brussels Summit will focus on what mechanisms can be employed to make real change happen.
"This is not about shifting deck chairs on the Executive Committee of FIFA," Collins said.
"It is real change for a new style of organisation that is befitting of FIFA's position overseeing the biggest sport in the world.
"We want to see football governed by people who make decisions and take action in a transparent manner, and who are held accountable in the best interests of the sport and civil society."
Collins urged everyone wishing to support the campaign for a New FIFA Now to sign the petition at
The Brussels Summit will be held in the European Parliament.

Monday, January 5, 2015


The Daily Telegraph's Henry Winter was the author of an article in which he outlined his own version of a 10-point manifesto, wish-list, call it what you will, covering football anno 2015. Said article was published on 31/12/14, and there were some points which would surely merit more than cursory consideration by the FA, and, perhaps, UEFA and FIFA.

However, once the bullet points were dispensed with, the fine print was somewhat less palatable, and occasionally bordered on cheap journalism with a little bit of casual xenophobia thrown in.

Winter's first point was titled "Revolutionise youth football," under which he pleaded for compulsory 9 against 9 matches up to the age of 13, and for the training of and the dispatch of skills coaches to schools, "encouraging two-footedness and self-expression." He also called for the building of indoor pitches "as well as the plethora of outdoor 3G."
The Charlie Hughes school of thought held sway in FA coaching circles, although this seems to be lessening somewhat as time goes on. However, this may not be the main reason that football has stagnated in the UK and Ireland.

Due to the Conservative government's policy of selling off brown- and green-field sites to property developers across the UK during the 1980s and '90s, manys a football pitch was covered over, not to mention fields and disused sites where children would gather to play football and learn the twin attributes of two-footed play and self-expression. If children didn't play in fields, etc., they played in the streets. That is now also largely a thing of the past, at least in much of Western Europe. 

Property developers should be encouraged to provide proper, safe, spaces for children to play in, be it football, volleyball or hopscotch, thereby encouraging kids to find "self-expression" and, more importantly, keep themselves fit. 
Point 2, "Improve refereeing [standards] asap," seemed to concentrate more on criticising PGMOL (Professional Game Match Officials Limited - who? - never heard of them either) "chief" Mike Riley for "undermining" Mark Clattenberg, and claiming that standards had never been lower, stating that referees did not know the difference between careless and reckless, and were inconsistent with regard to diving. 

Clattenberg is not a superb referee, but there are worse, far worse, and one of the things he does very well is communicate his decisions to those concerned, as does perhaps one of the best, Phil Dow. Winter and his fellow journalists would do well to lessen their own criticism of referees on occasion; after all, this leads to added pressure on the men (and women) in black, with the fear that one wrong decision will see them hauled up before the media's kangaroo court. Lest we forget, media pressure also ensured, alas, the advent of goal-line technology.

"Football must respect women" was Winter's third point. However, he did not provide any opinion as to how the position of women in football would be elevated, instead preferring to have a go at Ched Evans, who is now out of prison on licence after serving part of his sentence for the rape of a young woman, and "his deluded followers continuing to make her life hellish." Not just Evans, but football as a whole, needs to learn how to respect women, and for Winter to concentrate solely on Evans was just cheap journalism. 

Football and the media go hand in hand these days; the tabloid media has little enough respect for women, so should thus refrain from calling the footballing pot black, and for churning out the hackneyed diatribe of footballers being role-models. One's parents are role-models, are as those growing up around them (neighbours, teachers, etc.); if they cannot properly advise youngsters not to copy the actions of sportsmen and women, then they have failed in their responsibilities. It is also less than worthy to heap the responsibility of being someone's role-model on to another.

The FA should set up a competent task force, with a majority female representation, with the aim of eradicating sexism from the game once and for all. May I suggest the likes of broadcasters Gabby Logan and Jacqui Oatley, as well as (former) players such as Sue Smith and Faye White to be put forward as members of said task force? 

Why also no mention of giving racism the order of the boot once and for all? What about properly tackling homophobia? There was also nothing mentioned on the subject of the rights of - and providing proper access for - disabled supporters?

Point 4 was titled "Improve athmospheres," and finally provided reading of worth. Ticket prices should be subsidised, Winter said, with the 16-21 age-group being targeted, and the journalist added that the Football Supporters' Federation's "Twenty's Plenty" campaign to cap ticket prices for away supporters at £20 should be implemented.

There are other ways to improve the athmosphere at the average Premier League ground: safe standing areas should be made mandatory at all grounds in Europe, never mind in the Premier League. (This, by the way, has long been called for by the FSF and assorted football supporters' groups.) Stewards should also not be harassing supporters who stand in seated areas; they have paid for their place, and, provided they are not impeding on the enjoyment of others, these supporters should be left well alone. Those who wish to sit could be moved to the front of the stand they are occupying. 

Flags should be allowed at all grounds, and also at European and World Cup tournaments. Klaxons, too. Homophobic, racist and sexist chanting should be outlawed (and properly dealt with), as should, on a rather less serious note, the playing of some third-rate ditty after a goal is scored..

Point 5: "More financial sanity please." Agreed, but this should also filter down to benefit the fans; ticket prices, the half-time cuppa, replica shirts etc. could all be less expensive (see Point 4).

Point 6 was titled "Cut through the paperwork and cut adrift the freeloaders." One would have thought that this would have fallen under Point 5 ("too many average players" and so on), but no; this was merely a plea to FA chairman Greg Dyke to "live up to his promise of really getting to grips with the work permit loopholes that allow average overseas players to silt up Football League clubs." 

All fine and dandy if you are an ultra-conservative Tory or a UKIP voter (even in the sports pages, the Daily Telegraph will always be the Daily Telegraph) who would support Winter's comments, which veer towards mild xenophobia, but the danger of deporting so many foreign players, potentially in one fell swoop, is that English clubs will instead be silted up by average English players, at least for the next few years. 

On to Point 7 ("More brains on board") now, and the assertion that the FA restructuring should entail the appointing of an ex-player of the calibre of Gary Lineker, Graeme Le Saux or John Barnes to the "main board." A good idea; get Graeme Le Saux on the FA board - erudite, articulate, intelligent, and he knows all about discrimination in football (unfortunately). Supporters should be represented, too; it would be prudent for someone from, for example, the FSF to represent the interests of the average fan on the FA board. The FA should also ensure that there is room for at least one woman on the board.

Point 8 carries the title "Target punishment." Winter is of the opinion that retrospective bans should, in part, be served by a player against the club whose own player fell victim to the offending player's transgression. No, they shouldn't; it's like telling someone sentenced to a custodial sentence that they would be allowed to remain at liberty until two days after their birthday. A retrospective ban should begin with the first game after the ban has been announced.

"Loosen up, wise up" is the title of Point 9, and calls for the scrapping of the "stupid rule punishing players for celebrating goals." Players should be carded for the tiresome "sshhh" routine and other (perhaps) provocative "gestures" towards opposing fans after scoring, not for taking their shirts off and whirling them about.They perhaps deserve, on occasion, a kick up the backside for their rather choreographed goal celebrations, but that's another story.

There was also a call to trial video technology; bad idea. The FA/PL had something going for it when they introduced goal-line assistants, but what did they do? They should have had 2 of them behind each goal, but instead got rid of the idea altogether. Get rid of goal-line technology, full stop; yet another sign of "them and us" in football, as the rules of the game should apply, without exception, from the very top of the footballing pyramid to the very bottom. Either implement the use of goal-line technology to the fullest extent, with the FA and Premier League subsidising the installation of the system on every football pitch in England, with all FIFA etc. member associations doing likewise, or get rid of it completely.

Winter alluded to the fact that football is "emotional," yet he clamours for the introduction of video technology (one video appeal per club per half) to accompany goal-line technology. Goal-line technology has, to an extent, already taken out the emotional, human element in football; video technology would kill it stone-dead. There would be no more talking-points down the pub if the media had their way; the game would be as tedious as American Football is now, and the pity is, due to a myriad of reasons, it's heading that way now.

Last, and probably least: "England must start practising penalties before Euro 2016." They'll have to qualify first.. 

There isn't really much more to add with regard to commenting on Henry Winter's wish-list for 2015, except to say that it is a mix of the good, the bad and the ugly. If his wish-list were ever to become reality, it could be the death-knell for football as we know it, as anodyne and blind to the evils of society as football - let alone the media - at the top level has become. There is no need to dumb the sport down any further. 
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Henry Winter's article can be found via the following link: