Date:Monday August 4 2008
Our season kicks off proper on the 16th August though we play the first leg of the CL qualifier against FC Twente on the 12th. One week later, starting on the 23rd, we then have a schedule of 3 games in 7 days with against Fulham, FC Twente and Newcastle. In between many of our players are unlikely to be putting their feet up.
FIFA has published on its website a worldwide orgy of 44 international matches to be played on the 20th August - 4 days after the opening game and 3 days before the 2nd! Only six of them are meaningful world cup qualifiers. Thirty-eight matches involving 76 teams are friendlies to be played all over the world. Few teams are left out Togo and Ivory Coast play at the same time as France, Denmark, Spain, Switzerland, Netherlands and England. While Mexico has a WC qualifier against Honduras. All of this at a time when the Olympics football competition, which has also taken players away, is still going on.
Arsenal has had some poor luck with injuries sustained in international competition but we aren't alone, this affects all clubs. In particular those in Europe whose seasons are now getting underway. There is barely a nation that isn`t playing and few of our regular first teamers are likely to miss out. Let`s hope Domenech hasn`t yet discovered a sudden admiration for Clichy and Sagna.
It is a forlorn hope that FIFA will ever begin to understand that the success of its money making but otherwise pointless exhibition friendlies is wholly dependant on the success of club football. By allowing competition on this scale where 88 national teams all compete on the same day risks damaging the goose that lays FIFA's golden eggs.
It isn`t FIFA that organises these games but someone must be responsible for co-ordinating footballing federations. I can understand the need for federations to raise revenues to invest in the game though far too much of it seems to benefit the lifestyles of it`s executives as much as the game itself. But the timing of these games seems to colour them as more footballing parasites than a force for the greater good of the game.
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Date:Monday August 4 2008
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