Date: 29th September 2023
Sandy Ceferin, Uefa’s Grandest Fromage, was at it again big time this week in Cyprus, looking after his ex-pals and colleagues.
The story is a little under-reported because it doesn’t affect Saturday’s fixture list and that’s what drives the media.
It’s actually the biggest story this week, even bigger than ex Newcastle United star, Big Duncan heading north to Inverness.
But first, last week’s Sting led to some really interesting replies and mostly in agreement especially with the growing awareness and anger against Scottish Fans being treated like mug-punters when it comes to ‘pay per view’ watching our men’s team.
Scottish fans concur overwhelmingly that the Scottish Football Internationals, mens and women’s should be on free to air TV, just like in so many different countries like Spain and England who Uefa also negotiate for.
You agree the SFA are being disingenuous on blaming everyone but themselves to justify where we are.
We fans also collectively support and value the broad political wisdom that means that the Olympics, and Wimbledon are already on a ‘Free to Air’ protected list and would wholeheartedly support moves to add football and rugby internationals as well as the Open golf and the Ryder Cup.
The competitions that collectively bind our nation together.
The kind of stuff that should be easily accessible to kids whether they live in The Raploch or in Park Gardens in the West end.
The kind of wisdom that was actually fundamentally the right thing to do rather than ‘political’ in any party sense.
We, the SFSA are about to undertake some up to date research because as the current Viaplay contract festers we want to know exactly what fans currently think should be the case, so that will be on its way in the next few days.
Yes, we know, and appreciate that the SFA cherish the revenues they receive from Uefa for the ‘bundling’ and sale of Scotland along with Wales and Northern Ireland but those proverbial ‘30 pieces of silver’ come at the expense Scotland matches only being seen by a restricted audience.
What does that say about how the SFA delivers benefits to the nation on one hand and to current and future sponsors on the other?
English National Team sponsors know the game has high viewer penetration all over the UK ‘including Scotland!’ whereas Scottish sponsors are restricted to the ‘Brochan Lom, tana lom’ which all you Calum Kennedy fans knows means ‘Thin and Meagre Porridge’ of lost, latent involvement.
The current Viaplay subscriptions have not worked for the Scandis financially, have severely reduced our men’s team’s live audience and as one spokesperson for the Tartan Army said, “Thank goodness for Amazon Firesticks”!
Anyway what has Sandy Ceferin been up to this week that was important enough to make Andy’s Sting?
It all happened in a 5 star function room in Cyprus.
The 20 person Uefa Executive Committee met there. It is the committee that Rod Petrie had wanted to be elected onto and is a nice little earner and not normally a battleground.
Basically Sandy C had pre worked much of his room on behalf of his old Russian colleagues and big time sponsors, remember GazProm?
Well he delivered this week.
He proposed that Russian under-17 youth teams, boys and girls could enter the already started Uefa Under-17 Youth competitions.
In what promises to be a buggers muddle of re-organisation the reaction was that those who supported him supported him and those that didn’t, didn’t.
A divisive meeting.
And Sandy’s supporters won because Sandy, I’d guess can make it worth their whiles.
That’s the way football works.
The balanced views in the room despaired that Sandy C had now drawn Uefa into a ‘war and access’ dispute that some see as nothing to do with Uefa Youth football.
In the closed door meeting we have been told.
– Sandy C talked emotionally about personally being a war child and why he was looking after the kids and not his old Russian pals.
– Zbigniew Boniek, the polish hero and currently Uefa VP pointed out equally emotionally that Ukrainian kids continue to suffer.
England and Wales joined him in publicly abstaining when the vote came.
– Some soccer federations immediately said they would refuse to play Russian teams in competitions where the draws have already been made, and indeed some men have already played one game and the women start next week
Bizarrely Sweden’s Karl-Erik Nilsson voted to allow Russians entry then said his country, who host the Women’s finals would bar Russian players access to the country.
And now Sweden have come out publicly against!
Nothing is ever simple at Uefa.
Already England, Wales, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Poland, and Latvia have said if the decision is not reversed that they will not play any Russian teams while the war is still on.
Germany’s two representatives in sunny Cyprus, Watzke and Rummenigge voted for the reintroduction of Russia saying, ”This is about children, who are not responsible for the heinous war and in whose lives no political will has been formed”.
The Ukraine Soccer Federation disagreed and said, “The return of Russian teams to competitions in the midst of hostilities conducted by the Russian Federation against Ukraine tolerates Russia’s aggressive policy’.
And Ukraine have written to and asked all other Uefa associations not to play against Russia .
I think the resultant snowball effect will split Uefa and become ugly.
I also don’t know what the sponsors including Euronics, Grifols, Just Eat, Walkers, Visa, Amazon, Adidas, EA Sports, Hublot, and Sony interactive will think or do.
And Scotland I hear you think?
What did Scotland say?
Zilch, nada, rien etc.
I would hope that the SFA are aware of the complications and have a position but have no idea what it is or what they plan to do if Russia is wedged into our groups.
And it might well be for our boys whose existing group is Scotland, Turkey, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
It is the most obvious home to relocate Russia, so I think they may well be heading our way.
Our girls play France, Italy and Slovenia so are less likely to become a 5 team group.
Politics Culture and Sport
People say never mix the two but they are hopelessly intertwined.
None of us have the answers.
Think of Russia. After it annexed the Crimea, it was allowed to continue playing, sponsoring and influencing?
Think of the complexities of Israel and Palestine?
Think of China and the Uyghurs?
Think of Iran and Women’s rights?
The more you know the harder it is to make decisions.
I hope that Scotland join the band of countries against Sandy C’s wee favour of ‘a wedge in the door’ for his old pals.
But I also understand that doing that marks our boys as targets in our Russian friendly group.
One of my grans used to say, “Least said soonest mended”.
The other one said, “Never give in to bullies”.
Both were right.
This Week’s Sting
1. Even Strict Liability Isn’t Always Enough
2. Understanding the Game
3. Jenny’s Question
4. Chile Shouts NON!
1. Clubs Have to Take Ownership of Their Fans Behaviour
The biggest fan story this week was the riot in Amsterdam at the Ajax vs Feyenoord game when Cruyff’s ex team were 3 goals down after 55 minutes.
Their fans don’t like each other much.
There were flares, teargas and then the ref abandoned the match.
There will be sanctions but three days later the game resumed behind closed doors, played the 35 minutes, and ended 0-4.
There is a form of strict liability in Holland but my Dutch pal says he thinks the closed doors threat will have more impact.
At home our SFSA inbox is getting more and more pleas for help from Scottish club fans who don’t feel safe amongst their own.
Flares, at matches and even on buses, seat usurping, unruliness and more, all said to becoming more of a problem and stewards, well they turn a blind eye and avoid conflict of any kind.
It’s an ongoing problem that is part societal but without doubt exacerbated by tribalism, substances and lack of action taken against.
We are currently compiling a dossier on issues and are sharing it with clubs direct.
Feel free to let us know if you have been a victim or seen stuff.
Club’s owe it to all their fans to make stadia safe whether you’re at home or away.
2. Media Bias or Lazy Journalism
I was sad to hear of Jim Forest’s passing this week.
All the media, apart from the P&J were reporting him as an ex Ranger.
And he was.
But he played more games for Aberdeen and even played for Hawick Royal Albert.
Things the media reportage thought unworthy of reporting.
And my own team, ICT, this week appointed a new manager, reported as ex-Ranger Duncan Ferguson.
The facts are that he played 6 times as many games for Dundee United as he ever did for Rangers, and 16 times as many in two spells at Everton.
He also played twice as many games for Newcastle as he did for the Glasgow side!
Duncan also rightly got annoyed by the questioning that concentrated on his famous wee moment that landed him in the Bar L when there were so many more pertinent places for the journalists to fish.
But sadly, North of the wall, Scottish football journalism is mostly dominated by just two clubs and the editorial rules seem to be that if you mention one then you have to balance it by mentioning the other.
And this is despite more fans supporting the other 40 clubs.
For reasons we all know our fourth estate are hamstrung and that just turns them into a PR operation.
As a Caley fan, I’d have wanted to know why Duncan only won 1 game at Forest Green and on whether he has seen Caley play and what he thinks about youngsters.
But we got the usual and yes Celtic got a mention too somewhere!
3. The Wrong Leadership Model
My regular contributor Jenny thinks if the SFA were run by Joanna Maxwell, the SPFL by Nell Doncaster and Uefa by Alexandra Ceferin that we’d have a better game from top to bottom.
Jenny I agree.
4. Chile Protects Future Generations
I didn’t know but read this week that in Chile the Supreme Court of Justice had declared betting illegal and blocked 23 active online betting sites.
The Association National de Football Professional this week then cancelled the sponsorship contract with a company called Bettson who were pumping in $8 Million over three years.
Our government don’t have the balls to deal with the gambling industry.
Some in our game see it as easy money.
And they do deals that compromise the integrity of some of our players and damage their fans.
I look forward to the day when our players refuse to wear strips that help lead to fans committing suicide.
That’s it for this week
Feedback input and wee stories welcome as always.
Andy’s Album of the Week
This week it’s a newish album, well almost, 2009 but new to me.
Mark Knopfler’s ‘Get Lucky’.
Nice to see John McCusker and Phil Cunningham on the credits too.