51 days to go to the AFC Asian Cup, UAE 2019

Matt Scott: Football’s world of mouth recruitment overlooks the kernel of truth

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“There are no bad regiments, only bad colonels,” Napoléon Bonaparte (attribution)

When Naploéon’s Grande Armée embarked with hundreds of thousands of men on the so-called Second Polish War or, more accurately, the invasion of Russia, there was scant prospect of additional numbers to support the campaign. So it is for the regimental colonels of football competitions.

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Matt Scott: US criminal investigation is a matter of life and death for FIFA

“Do you understand, sir, do you understand what it means when you have absolutely nowhere to turn?” Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment

There is something fundamental about the allegations in this FIFA crisis that recalls Dostoyevsky’s anti-hero Raskolnikov. Not a naturally vicious man, it was an intellectual compulsion that drove him to commit murder. He convinced himself that his crime would be justified due to his intellectual brilliance. As a virtuoso student,

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Matt Scott: Time to shine a light on FIFA auditor KPMG

“How many internal auditors does it take to change a light bulb? None! They’re not allowed to under Health & Safety legislation. Process notes should have been written referring the incident to Facilities.” Old accountancy joke

They are a dry old bunch, auditors. But what they lack in humour, as can be seen from that old accountancy gag, they make up for in money. It might be dull, but as the saying goes,

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Matt Scott: Mind the gap – Spurs gunning for Arsenal riches

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“Since Arsene Wenger arrived in north London, Arsenal are the only team Spurs have not finished above in the whole Football League.” Opta

It was 20 years ago, pretty much, that Arsène Wenger walked through the door at Arsenal. In two of the previous four seasons they had finished 10th and 12th in the Premier League. Located in a beloved but ageing arena hemmed in on all sides by houses preventing stadium expansion,

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Matt Scott: Greek football’s tragedy is a lesson for us all

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“Greek football is a labyrinth.” Petros Konstantineas MP, ex-FIFA referee

Fearsome though the bull-headed Minotaur was, at least Theseus knew what he was dealing with. And if things got too hairy he could always follow the thread of Ariadne’s wool he had laid down on his way into the labyrinth’s heart of darkness. For the modern-day Greek heroes like Petros Konstantineas, the referee who bravely sought to tackle the beast in whose clutches football in that country is held,

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Matt Scott: The Premier League relegation contagion

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“Ring a ring o’ roses, A pocketful of posies, A-tishoo! A-tishoo! We all fall down.” Traditional British nursery rhyme

For centuries British children of what we now describe as primary-school age have been singing this popular tune: holding hands and dancing in a circle before falling on their bottoms together. It is widely believed (though it is disputed by some) that the song dates back to the age of bubonic plague,

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Matt Scott: The hard times are over – Villa is no longer a bleak house

“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pound ought and six, result misery.” David Copperfield, Charles Dickens

Sixpence a year of overspending was all it took to bring misery to the burghers of 19th Century London, as Wilkins Micawber famously observed. Although life in the Premier League today could not be more different to that of Dickensian England, Micawber’s lesson is well heeded,

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Matt Scott: Tech giants will soon make their play in football’s rights bonanza

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“Sin el futbol, mi vida no vale nada (Without football, my life is worthless).” Cristiano Ronaldo

It turns out that you do not have to be a two-time FIFA Ballon D’Or winner to take the view that football is the be-all and end-all of life. There are millions upon millions of people with a fanatical devotion to football and/or its clubs and billions more who take at least a passing interest in the game we love.

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Matt Scott: QPR’s past failure to cut costs would make life after relegation a real battle

“Economy is half the battle of life; it is not so hard to earn money as to spend it well.” Charles Spurgeon

Charles Spurgeon was the 19th Century preacher whose sermons taught millions of Victorian Londoners how to apply Christian virtues to life in an often-Hogarthian city. His mark was far from permanent: Spurgeon’s famous fondness for self-restraint has hardly left behind a city steeped in self-denial. He would no doubt be dismayed by a nation that has responded to the financial crisis by gorging itself on debt.

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Matt Scott: Leo Messi and his successors can ensure Adidas’s star will rise again

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“To be a well-favoured man is the gift of fortune.” William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing.

What sets the superstars of today apart from their forebears of football’s past? Is it their talent? Their drive and determination, perhaps? Or is it something more modern? I for one cannot believe that Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are any more driven than were Pelé or Diego Maradona. Nor indeed that the latter pair’s talent would not transcend the generations and light up the sky as brightly as those stellar rivals from Barcelona and Real Madrid.

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Matt Scott: Inglorious failure has proved costly for former Premier League clubs. Who’s next?

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“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling but in rising every time we fall.” Nelson Mandela

In Europe at least, falling is an ever-present risk in the game of football. Relegation makes it so. Every year in four of the top-five leagues in the UEFA jurisdiction, 15% must lose their top-flight status. It is a devastating emotional blow for all who suffer it but, due to the riches available to that division in England,

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Matt Scott: Bundesliga battle to haul back English TV gap looks a lost cause

“If you look at the German TV market, it will not be possible any time soon for the Bundesliga to sell its rights for that much money.” Christian Seifert, Bundesliga chief executive

Investors looking for safe havens for their money in these troubled times have stampeded into German sovereign debt. The rationale is that the strongest economy in Europe will never default on its borrowings and so there is no risk to the investor’s capital.

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