International Break Thoughts

No Arsenal this weekend, but let’s take a look at some international happenings in the world of football.

Azerbaijan 1 – Turkey 0
Awesome! Love to see the little guy get one. A truly historic win for the country.

Switzerland 4 – Wales 1
My poor Welsh friends. Another ugly game for the Welshmen, although the Welsh FA is currently in a tough spot considering its long list of injuries and a yet-replaced caretaker manager. From what I heard, Gareth Bale played very well, and although I hate him as a Sp*rs player, he is truly one of the most important pieces to Wales’ future football success.

England 0 – Montenegro 0
Let it be said that Montenegro is playing fantastic at present. Brimming with confidence, well organized, they have earned their 10 points in 4 games and have probably already exceeded most fans, and pundits, wildest expectations. I would have been surprised to see them finish qualifying with even 5 or 6 points, to be honest. But they continue to demonstrate that belief and hard-work can pay off in results, even if you don’t have the flashiest players or the most famous history.

England on the other hand, are broken. In truth, despite their reputation as a power in the game, the national team is should deservedly be considered a “B team” in world football. They continue to disappoint, though at this point their fans seem so unsurprised and expectant of their failures it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. The country needs a restored faith, but the players will have to instigate that process and earn new respect. I will tell you how they can make a return to glory in a future post.

Italy – Serbia (abandoned)
This is the game I really wanted to discuss. It’s disgusting. Football continues to be mired by violence by people who are clearly only there to cause trouble. The fact that this game barely got started, and then had to be abandoned after only six minutes, is tragic. Unfortunately, there are some countries that are continually embarrassed by this kind of anarchistic, unrelenting violence, and Serbia is one of them.

For those of you who don’t know, Partizan player and Serbian starting XI goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic did not feature in this game as he was attacked by his own fans while on the team bus before the match. That alone makes me question what is wrong with these “ultras” – although “fanatics” might be a more accurate word. There is simply no football-related cause that these people are for, and they ruin the game for those who actually are interested in the sport.

I do enjoy the passion that ultras and firms bring to the game, but I do not condone or support the violence that goes along with it. It is one thing to sing your heart out on enemy territory, wear your colors, and get behind your team or country; but the result should stay on the pitch and hostilities – a natural part of any rivalry – should not extend into the realm of physical or violent altercation.

Italy does not have a strong record of safety or security, particularly in the south, and it’s very damaging to the game there. I have no doubts that parts of the Italian supporters were certainly stirring up the Serbians. But it is the latter of those two whom I feel have done a greater injustice to their home nation. I am certain there are many good Serbian people who are ashamed at these actions, though it is they who will suffer as the Serbian Football Association (FSS) takes the punishment, both from UEFA and from the world’s image at large.

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