I am no longer scared of Swine Flu. There is a new flu in town called ‘FIFA-trying-to-do-the-right-thing-itis’ and yep, you are right if you thought the longer the name of the disease, the harder it is to treat and hence the scarier it is. It started of with a mild case of banning Eduardo for diving which apparently never happens in the game and a certain recently ex-Manchester United player, never ever did it. He was fouled every single time that he claimed he was and, like his magical talent he has magical powers of avoiding injury as well.
What started of as a mild case of delusion is now growing into a full-blown case of blindness with the Chelsea verdict. FIFA in it’s all knowing power has decided that the London club, will not be allowed to sign any new players till 2011, a two transfer window ban. The crime? … ‘Tapping up’ or ‘Tampering’ as the Americans call it. I didn’t know anything about tapping up except that it had cost our beloved Ashley Cole £100,000 when he signed up from Arsenal. Being a Chelsea fan through and through and therefore, being thrilled about the then new signing of Ashley, I hadn’t really paid attention and had simply concluded that Arsenal were being cry babies lead by Papa Arsene Wenger. I respect Arsene Wenger but when Chelsea are concerned my judgement does get cloudy.
So anyway, the ghost from the past has come back to haunt us at Chelsea and I thought it was time I read up on the mysterious term ‘tapping up’, and what I got completely shocked me by how archaic the whole thing was. What it basically means is an attempt to persuade a player contracted to one team to transfer to another team, without the knowledge or permission of the player’s current team. Fair enough. So the team that wants to sign a player must get in touch with the current team of the player and not contact the player directly, makes a lot of sense and would work perfectly… if we lived in isolation.
Does the football governing body truly believe that a club would dish out the kind of money that the sport these days commands without talking to the player and getting to know exactly what they are paying so much for?
I know there is a very fine line here, like there always is between right and wrong and I see how the decision by FIFA is in good spirit (see I can be impartial) to keep the game of football exciting by avoiding a situation where all the young talent is at the few top big money clubs while the smaller clubs are left to select from the limited talent, talentless and past-their-prime groups of players. But is the decision to ban Chelsea from signing new players till 2011, the right one? Is it really going to benefit the game and the English Premier League to sabotage a top club in such a blatant manner? Does it in the long run make sense for Chelsea to be made an example of? Is the decision not unfair and too harsh on the club?
Tapping up is not a new thing, its been around for a long long time in football. Nottingham manager Brian Clough famously boasted “we tapped more players than the Severn-Trent Water board!” So what can be done? A solution thought up by FIFA, is to ban the movement of players below 18 years from the clubs that developed them. In this way, the team that developed the player will be able to make good money on the player when he signs up for a new, bigger club. So, a player under the age of 18 has a professional contract with the club that developed him till he is 18. Sounds good? Yes, maybe if you own the club. But I can’t help but wonder, if it any good for the individual player? Is it in his best interest? Someone who started playing at 12 being held to a commitment till he is 18? What if he doesn’t like being at that club, has a sour relationship with them, is far better than the club he is at, the club doesn’t meet his needs? Too bad… just play! That is what the new currently being mulled over, FIFA solution seems to be. Is it fair? I won’t bother asking. Will it work?Yes, because FIFA do rule with an iron fist.
Also one can’t help but wonder, why young players chose to break their contracts and move if they really thought that they were better off at their original clubs? Some very tough questions for a blind, head-stuck-in-the-sand approached FIFA to answer. But ones that need to be sorted out. As for me,a Chelsea and a football fan, I am heart broken, disappointed, hurt and can’t help but feel victimized. At the same time, I take immense pleasure at the decisions that FIFA and UEFA need to make. Where someone, somewhere is bound be be very angry no matter what and FIFA and Michel Platini are going to get their dues for hurting our mighty blues. Karma baby!