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  • Всички погледи тази неделя ще бъдат насочени към Меси и Мбапе, големите звезди на Аржентина и Франция. Кой ще стане голмайстор на първенството? Дали ще успеят наследниците на Жуст Фонтен да станат първия отбор след Бразилия отпреди 60 години, който да успее да дублира титлата си ? Меси ще вдигне ли така отдавна бленувания трофей, който ще го изстреля в орбитата на другата легендарна 10-ка на „албиселесте“ и ще сложи точка на  G.O.A.T. спора с CR7 ?
     
    В следващите редове ще ви предложим поглед към двама бивши футболисти на Арсенал, които ще бъдат съперници на терена, и всеки от тях има изключителна важна роля за националния си отбор – Емилиано Мартинез и Оливие Жиру- страхотно видео за кариерата на французина credit: https://www.facebook.com/futbolenmozak/
     
    Французинът пристигна в Арсенал през лятото на 2012 г., заедно със Санти Касорла и Лукас Подолски,  със статут на голмайстор на изненадващия френски шампион Монпелие в първия сезон на катарски собственици начело ПСЖ. Трудно е да кажем, че първият му сезон беше успешен, с изключение на това, че завърши на първо място по спечелени въздушни двубои във ВЛ. Но стана ясно, че ролята му в отбора няма да бъде толкова да вкарва голове, а по-скоро да играе с гръб към вратата и да отваря пространства за атакуващите полузащитници. Уолкът, Касорла, Уилшър, Росицки и Рамзи се възползваха по превъзходрен начин от доминиращото присъствие на французина. С идването на Йозил и Алексис нещата за Жиру ставаха все по-лесни, но головете отиваха основно на сметката на неуморния чилиец. В крайна сметка Жиру завърши кариерата си в Арсенал със 105 гола и 41 асистенции, 3 купи на FA, 3 Community Shield, наградата „Пушкаш“ за гола си с удара на скорпиона срещу Кристъл Палас. Въпреки тези никак не лоши показатели, Жиру остана силно недооценен от феновете на „Арсенал“ и всички някак си леко приеха трансфера му в Челси, за да може да Обаемянг да акостира на Емиратс.
     
    Оказа се, че от този трансфер Жиру спечели повече, отколкото Арсенал от пристигането на Габонеца. Лига Европа (голмайстор на турнира) след победа над Арсенал, Шампионска лига (голмайстор за Челси в турнира), още една купа на FA ( изключителен гол в полуфинала срещу Саутхемптън). На 34 години.
     
    Последва трансфер в Милан, където стана шампион на Италия и за 57 мача има отбелязани на 23 гола и 8 асистенции, като феновете на „росонерите“ завинаги ще помнят головете му в дербитата.
     
    През цялото това време Жиру беше неразделна част от френския национален отбор, но до световното в Русия беше по-скоро периферен играч и резерва на Бензема. Секс-скандалът  преди Евро 2016 спря повиквателните за актуалния носител на Златната топка за почти 4 години, а Жиру използва шанса си и започна да трупа голове в сметката си.
     
    Световното в Русия, която донесе втората световна титла на Франция, донесе и голямо признание за качествата на Жиру. Първият мач срещу Австралия Дешан започна с „атомното трио“ Дембеле, Гризман, Мбапе, но не се виждаше как французите ще отбележат гол. До влизането на Жиру, който събра вниманието на централните защитници върху себе си и отвори пространства за партньорите си в атака. След този мач Жиру започваше всеки мач, а французите играеха страхотен  футбол и спечелиха титлата. Много хора след това се подиграваха, че за първи път отбор става световен шампион без централният му нападател да има удар в очертанията на вратата. Но тези, които разбират играта, оцениха високо влиянието на Жиру върху френския успех. Дешан също.
     
    Безупречна трудова етика, скромност, жертвоготовност в името на успехите на отбора са качествата, които отличават Жиру. И това световно първенство е доказателство, че рано или късно цялата усърдна работа и отдаденост се отплащат. Франция с Жиру е на финал, а той се е разписал 4 пъти. На пук на всички критици.
     
    Един от най-драматичните моменти на това световно първенство бяха дузпите между Нидерландия и Арженитна. Лаутаро Мартинес вкарва решителния гол и всичките му съотборници се втурват да празнуват с него. Всички без един. Лео Меси спринтира към срещуположната страна на терена, където лежи другия Мартинес- Емилиано, вратарят, който спаси първите две дузпи и на практика собственоРъчно класира отбора си на полуфинал. Меси го прегърна, каза му нещо и после заедно се присъединиха към ликуващите аржентинци.
     
    Откакто изгря звездата на Лео Меси преди повече от 18 години липсата на спечелен трофей с националния отбор  беше петното върху легендарния му статут. 4 световни първенства с едва един загубен финал, 5 шампионата за Копа Америка с три загубени финала, 2 от които след изпълнение на дузпи. До 2021 г. Когато Аржентина спечели континенталния си турнир в катедралата на бразилския футбол, след като преди това Еми Мартинес спаси две дузпи на полуфинала с Колумбия, а на финала остана непробиваем за Неймар и компания. И съвсем логично спечели наградата за вратар на турнира.
     
    Освен спорните треньорски назначение, определено вратарският пост бе ахилесовата пета на „албиселесте“. Предшествениците на Мартинес- Абондансиери, Ромеро и Армани бяха токова далече от средоевропейската класа, колкото и Аржентина от трофеите. Но ако някой преди 3 години беше  казал, че Еми ще бъде избор № 1 на вратата на „гаучосите“, щеше да спечели класацията за „виц на годината“.
     
    Мартинес пристига в Арсенал на 01.07. 2010 г. от юношите на Идепендиенте за 1.5 млн евро. Следват безброй наеми в отбори като Оксфорд, Родъръм, Шефилд Уендздей, Рединг и Хетафе, но дори в тези отбори аржентинецът не успява да впечатли и като бумеранг всеки път се връща в Арсенал. Явно Арсен Венгер е виждал така добре скрития талант, за да държи човекa в клуба,  допуснал 5 гола срещу  Рединг за Купата на Лигата. Арсенал прави страхотен обрат след влизането на Жиру и след 0:4 на полувремето, ликува след продължения с култовото 7:5. Истината е, че Мартинес има сериозна вина само за едно от попаденията и като цяло играта в защита на Арсенал беше ужасна, но все пак.
     
    И както скандалите за Бензема промениха съдбата на Жиру в националния отбор на Франция, така и Еми Мартинес получи външна помощ, която преобърна живота. Едно безумно влизане на френския нападател на Брайтън Нийл Moпe извади от строя титулярния вратар на артилеристите Берндт Лено за няколко месеца, и Мартинес беше безалтернативен за титулярния пост на вратата на Арсенал. Шанс, който беше чакал почти 9 години.
     
    Феновете и анализатори бяха много скептични, но още с първите мачове се видя, че донякъде той е бил незаслужено пренебрегван за сметка на Лено. Командваше отлично защитата, много по-уверен при центриранията, с не по-лош рефлекс от немеца, но с доста по-голям обхват на ръцете, по-висок и с отлични реакции при изпълнения на дузпи. Единственият му недостатък, който и му изяде новият договор с Арсенал е недостатъчно добрата за Артета игра с крака.
     
    Мартинес беше в основата на подобрената игра в защита, на по-малкото допуснати голове и беше брилянтен в решителните мачове за спечелването на купата на FA. За 180 минути футбол в последните два мача от турнира Манчестър Сити и Челси общо успяха да вкарат на Арсенал 1 гол при положение, че Давид Луиз беше основен централен защитник за „артилеристите“.
     
    И изглеждаше, че Арсенал си е намерил вратар за дълго време напред, но при преговорите за новия си договор аржентинецът е настоявал да му бъде гарантирано титулярно място. В крайна сметка последва трансфер в Астън Вила за 20 млн., където той продължи да пази отлично и заслужено стигна до титулярния пост на вратата на аржентинския националнен отбор.  
     
    Жиру и Мартинес отдадоха общо 15 години от живота си на Арсенал, и донякъде недооценени в северен Лондон, те намериха признание за качествата си в националните отбори, където са ключови футболисти. Жиру вече е едноличен голмайстор във вечната ранглиста на френския национален отбор, а Мартинес се оказа липсващо парче в пъзела, в който Меси вдига трофей с националния отбор и е очакваният нов капитан на Аржентина след очакваното оттегляне на роденият в Росарио любим син на Аржентина.  
     
    Жиру и Мартинес са доказателството, че усърдната работа, упоритостта и вярата в собствените ти възможности и малко късмет могат да те изстрелят до световния връх.  
     
    Мястото там ще е само за един от тях.  Но който и да застане там, ще е абсолютно заслужено.





    Oh dear Jesus, we need you to save us
    And so we are nearly there. Most likely France vs Argentina and no Arsenal player gets to play this time in the final. Only one of our boys involved in all the four teams left in William Saliba and he doesn’t look likely to play any part in it. I think it is fair to say that it is not a great World Cup for Arsenal. Saka and Xhaka were probably their team’s best players. Turner did great for the States and has come out with his reputation enhanced, surely? Partey was good but Ghana were not so great.

    Our star star boy
    Jesus gave us a big setback and here in the Arsenal supporters club there was awful despondency with his exit. Martinelli showed glimpses of his talent but some Brazilians seemed reluctant to give him the ball, seemingly down to rivalry. Once I saw that I got a feeling Brazil would go out. I predicted to several friends that Croatia will give them a hard game and probably win to general scorn from them being convinced it would be a many goal victory for the Samba boys. You need a united team to win a World Cup and, I reckon that Tite felt he no longer had full control and that is why he exited sharply. A manager knows that all players must go through fire for each other despite any personal differences. Brazil, with the most talented squad in the competition, obviously allowed egos to dominate and Tite couldn’t stamp it out. No manager can perform miracles if the players refuse to listen. Brazil deserved to go out.
    Saka the great, Southgate not so
    Saka has made excellent strides into cementing his place among the elite players of his generation with most observers putting him at the top of England’s players. I have doubts about Bellingham despite the noise being created about him. He did it against weaker teams. Against France he was anonymous. Southgate is still lauded by England but I have reservations about him. Klopp, I feel is right. He lets the media pick his team. Everyone screamed Foden, he played him. The pundits were saying Bellingham was the greatest midfielder in the world, so he played him. Kalvin Philips played very well whenever picked and I think he was the better option against the French. Bellingham is playing in a Dortmund side that has lost six in fifteen in the Bundesliga, and that league is not as competitive as the Premier league. He may well fulfill his potential but he needs time.

    Gareth Southgate - does the media pick his beard?
    The thing is, Southgate, Ben White apart, seems to have the support of his team. He didn’t have to pander to the media. He could have played what he sees as his best team and would have been supported. Bring Bellingham on if he needed to freshen things up. And don’t take off your most effective player when you were still in with a chance of winning the World Cup. Southgate has been very lucky as a manager, mostly getting weaker teams at major championships and that conflates to a heightening of his reputation. I don’t accept him as a good manager. The Ben White situation is an example of why I feel Southgate is overrated. White has not attracted a reputation of being difficult at anywhere he has been, and a player being sent home, or going home voluntarily from a major championship is an extremely rare occurrence. That is down to Southgate, I feel.

    Jude Bellingham - not the finished product yet
    Egos are in charge
    The contrast with Tite, who is dealing with almighty egos in the Brazilian dressing room, is stark.  One example is that our own Unai Emery, when coach at PSG, famously said that Neymar is in charge. Players should never be and as Tite picked Martinelli, the players needed to work with him. Tite believed in him as he played him, but other players decided differently. Those players should never be allowed compete for Brazil again unless they accept the manager is in charge.

    Tite was given an impossible job
    And what does it all mean for Arsenal? Bring Balogun or Pepe back as backup for Jesus? Can Nketiah step up? Eddie has been training with Jesus and reports suggest that it has improved his game. England’s under 21 all time top scorer, if he reproduces that form, could make it difficult for Jesus to get back in. That is the most optimistic scenario. He does seem a more effective goalscorer than Jesus but Jesus brings an enhanced element of threat with his all round game which has translated into many wins for us. There are rumours of strikers being bought but there always is.
    Arsenal should be ready
    Turner and Karl Hein have shown they can truly challenge Ramsdale. That has to be good for our season. Ben White’s difficulty could mean he has a mental challenge to overcome but I feel the Arsenal family will rally around him. Saliba should be fresh unless he gets picked for the last (possible) 2 games but that is unlikely. Centrebacks rarely get subbed. Xhaka and Partey, so essential to our side, look fit and well. Martinelli will be raring to go as always. It could be worse.

    Olivier just keeps getting better
    I predicted France at the start in a previous blog and still feel happy. They have a strong defensive structure and that is essential. Their midfielders and forwards are top class and they surely will stop the Morocco dreadnought that has lit up this World Cup. Morocco have done it without kicking and cheating to anywhere near the extent of other teams ( I am looking at you Argentina) but France will probably be too gamewise to let it slip.
    A sporting World Cup?
    Argentina have always been thugs without any class and this World cup is no different. Football is a sport and, as such sporting attitudes should prevail. I hope they lose against Croatia.  I think that Croatia will more likely lose, though. Argentina will find a way to win. If Croatia does win, even though I have predicted France, I would love to see Morocco go through. I think that only France can stop an unsporting Argentinian team from winning the World Cup, however. Contrast several French players consoling the England ones and the Argentinians sneering at the Dutch. This has been a pretty sporting World Cup, Argentina aside.

    I still like Emi
    I will finish with a little tiny bit of praise for myself as a forecaster. So far, since I started predicting what we will do in tournaments, I have done pretty well, generally getting to within 3 points of our eventual tally. And I hope I have got this World Cup right. I will do my next prediction next week and as usual, give you all our scores in advance. That part is a bit of fun, but I do get a lot of results right, if not always the scores. Maybe I should start betting, this Arsenal team still look like a good bet to me.
     

    It ain’t funny, you know
    Every so often, a footballer, a manager or a football person says something that is very funny, but most often unintentionally. Today I will go through some of my favourites. I will give an Arsenal flavour to most of them. They made me laugh, but often I actually know what they were trying to say, so I guess I am a candidate for saying such stuff.

    Not if you are the Spuds, Thierry
    This one is probably the most quoted and misquoted, with George Best after his testimonial with a big bag of money in a luxury hotel and Miss World on the bed, and a porter comes in and says “Georgie, where did it all go wrong?” Another favourite from Georgie was “I spent a lot of money on booze, birds (girls)and fast cars. The rest I just squandered.”
    Personally, I love Ron Atkinson "You half fancied that to go in as it was rising and dipping at the same time." And his ability to count:
    "If Glenn Hoddle said one word to his team at half-time, it was concentration and focus." Or his logic: “Liverpool will think 'we could have won this 2-2”.
    Here he sounds dangerous: ‘Stoichkov's playing on the wing, in this situation he likes to come in and scalp the centre-half’.
     
    Always the smartest guy in football
    And nobody can talk about funny quotes without mentioning the master himself, David Coleman the English sports commentator, who Private Eye the English satirical magazine devoted a section called Colemanballs often including others who were just as inept.
    "Forest have now lost six matches without winning."
    “In fact that's Swindon's first win of any kind in nine matches” David Coleman apparently struggled with the notion of winning.
    And then there was former English manager Bobby Robson and maybe it says something about me that I know exactly what Bobby meant here:
    "I would have given my right arm to be a pianist."
    But maybe not this: “We didn't underestimate them. They were just a lot better than we thought”.
     
    No, really, what is Sagna doing?
    I am not sure how the former Southampton manager Lawrie McMenemy came up with this one, though: "When you are 4-0 up you should never lose 7-1.”
    Or Des Lynam, the Irish sports commentator who also struggled with maths. "Real’s second goal made it 3-0."
    And Mark Lawrenson the former Irish player clearly  had a longterm struggle with it: “You need at least eight or nine men in a ten-man wall." And:
    "Ireland will give 99% - everything they’ve got."
    Even Arsenal do it
    But I suppose I have to get to Arsenal and I will start with our hero - Ian Wright
    "Without being too harsh on David (Seaman), he cost us the match." And again with his logic:
    "Burton really couldn’t lose tonight – but they have."
    “I don’t want Rooney to leave these shores but if he does, I think he’ll go abroad.”
    Ah Ian, what are you doing to us?
     
    Send them to their room!
    And Niall Quinn can get in on the logic action:
    "Tony Fernandes is in that goldfish bowl and he’s swimming against the tide."
    "I won’t name any names but I’ll name just one, David Dein."
    And I love this from John Helm, the English sports commentator:
    "Viv Anderson has pissed a fatness test."
    Poor old Merse obviously spent too much time on football and not on school:
    "Paul Lambert has learned Fabian Delph the game."
    Ray Parlour also struggled with counting:
     “Martin Jol has put his hands on his heads.”
     
    Always, Cristiano
    Logic was the problem for RTE commentator George Hamilton "That's a yellow card for Cazorla. So the next time he's involved in Europe, he won't be."
    Kevin Keegan, ex England manager, was also a great exponent of putting your foot in your mouth: "There's a slight doubt about only one player, and that's Tony Adams, who definitely won't be playing tomorrow."
    "I don't think there's anyone bigger or smaller than Maradona." True, Kevin.
    "Not many teams will come to Arsenal and get anything, home or away."  Also true, Kev.
     "Chile have three options - they could win or they could lose." Maths too, Kevin?

    Ally McCoist, the Scottish player and manager struggled to count:
    "One thing about Germany – they’ll be organised, they’ll be big and they’ll be strong."
    Mark Draper of Aston Villa should have listened in geography class rather than concentrating on keepy uppies  "I'd like to play for an Italian club, like Barcelona"
    But poor Rob McCaffrey actually had a point here: "What do you think of Manchester United's three Rs - Rooney, Ronaldo and van Nistelrooy?"
     
    The legend
    And then there was this twist of logic by former Scottish manager Craig Brown:
    "We had two shots saved off the line by the post."
    Or this truism from a true Spud Glenn Hoddle: "I didn’t say them things that I said."
    I love this from Ian Wright’s former partner at Palace Mark Bright: "He's signalling to the bench with his groin."
    Elton Welsby the commentator with a great segue "And now the goals from Carrow Road, where the game finished 0-0."
    Another Spud in Terry Venables "If you can't stand the heat in the dressing-room, get out of the kitchen"
    Steve Claridge who seemed to have played for every small club in England: "I'm sure Spurs will get another opportunity, hopefully before the final whistle.
    Craig Bellamy is a master of logic:  "Arsenal are streets ahead of everyone in this league and Manchester United are up there with them."
    Alvin Martin of West Ham got it absolutely right: “If Arsenal don’t finish third, they might not finish in third place.”
    Terry Venables again, how does he do it?: "Apart from their goals, Norway haven't scored."
    Nasser Hussain, the cricketer, who thankfully knows more about cricket, came up with this masterpiece: "They (Leeds United) used to be a bit like Arsenal, winning by one goal to nil or even less."
    Gerard Houllier, showing that Liverpool weren’t winners, Of course he was right: "You can't say my team aren't winners. They've proved that by finishing fourth, third and second in the past three seasons."
    And the wonderful BBC commentator John Motson "The game is balanced in Arsenal's favour." It always is, John, except when it’s not.


    От 01.12 до края на месец  декември всеки заинтересован може да се присъедини към най - многобройния фен клуб на чуждестранен отбор в България на:
    Членството в ASCB дава възможност за кандидатстване за билети за всички домакински мачове на Арсенал и за гостуванията в Лига Европа, както и за гледане на срещите на клуба със съмишленици в 10 областни града, където организацията има своя клонова мрежа. През настоящата кампания съставът на Микел Артета създава фурор и е начело на заглавията в пресата, а с това интереса към мачовете на Арсенал е изключително голям. Ръководството на „Арсенал България“ прави всичко необходимо и съобразно настоящата ситуация за да подсигури билети на желаещите свои членове. През ноември голяма група „български топчии“ посетиха срещата от Лига Европа в Айндховен, а на всяко домакинство в Лондон присъстват членове на фен клуба, като ключова цел на УС е намирането на заветните пропуски към Емиратс стейдиъм. Всеки нов член може да се включи в многобройните спортни и благотворителни инициативи, както и да бъде част от традиционните фен срещи, организирани в различни градове в страната. За поредна година през декември клоновете на Шумен и Варна отново ще се включат в инициативата Операция „Плюшено мече“, която подкрепя деца и младежи в неравностойно положение, а представители на другите клонове ще инициират свои собствени благотворителни акции по места. В самата организация членуват 669 привърженици  в клоновете в София, Стара Загора, Пловдив, Бургас, Варна, Велико Търново, Русе, Плевен, Добрич и Шумен, което прави „Арсенал България“ най-многобройния фен клуб на чуждестранен отбор в страната. През 2022 година фен клубът навърши 18 години, като това бе отбелязано с множество прояви, част от които и участие в издаването на куиз книгата „Арсенал Лондон завинаги“. На 03 декември във Варна ще се състои представяне на книгата със специален гост треньорът в академията на клуба, Красимир Корсачки. В ASCB със същото внимание се отнасят и към развитието на дамския футбол, като през 2023 година отново се предвижда организиране на станалия традиционен благотворителния турнир за дами любителки в помощ на деца с онкохематологични заболявания. Освен това всеки нов член ще има възможност да се сдобие с някой от многобройните фенски артикули, които от ръководството на Арсенал България предлагат на своите членове. 
    Размерът на членския внос до края на сезона остава 30 лв. за пълнолетни и 15 лв. за непълнолетни, като има и допълнителни отстъпки за членовете на едно домакинство. Всеки от новозаписаните ще получи членска карта, заедно с книгата „Арсенал Лондон завинаги“!

    8 Amazing Stadiums
    Such a bad World Cup?
    Today, I have decided to look at the positives emanating from Qatar. None, you say? That’s not quite true. Yes, there have been a million denunciations, complaints, and gibes about corruption. We all know what happened.  But I feel there are positives to be gleaned from the reality on the ground. There are potentially lessons which could improve the notion of what a World Cup is, and where it should be held and how.

    Fifa may have accidentally have done something right
    So what is good from Qatar? I have figured out several aspects which they, and the setting, have got right, and even the restrictions imposed may be useful. First up is the proximity of the stadiums, many are close to each other and even the furthest is 2 and a half hours by public transport. This is excellent, truly a boon for fans, and footballers. Some of my brothers went to America in 1994. The distances were huge and their ability to watch any other matches than Ireland were very limited. And even within the group there was long travel. One really huge plus for Qatar. I will come back to this later.
    A fairer World Cup?
    A small country doesn’t have any real home advantage, which in a sporting sense, puts a lot of previous World Cups under scrutiny. Do the real World Champions emerge from a big team winning at home? I will get back to this as well.

    No Alcohol = No Trouble?
    The alcohol restrictions? In one sense the Qataris have done the stupid football fan a favour. I have been at many matches where hooligans have run riot, fuelled by the demon drink. In a country such as Qatar, lots would have ended up behind bars. They would have no tolerance for public drunkenness. Wembley at the Euros would have been a big wake up call for the Qatar regime. I suspect they decided long ago about this strategy, and they would spring it too late for any real protest to emerge. They should have been upfront about this but I suspect, judging by the evidence thus far, this will be a peaceful World Cup. And something to think about for future World Cups. Fans can celebrate at home, get drunk and their own authorities can deal with it. So far there is little evidence that the colour and joy of the World Cup is diminished by a lack of alcohol. Is alcohol mandatory? They have thrown it up for debate. Let’s have this discussion. I do like having a pint at matches myself but I would be happy to give it up if it meant no hooliganism. Soccer is pretty much the only sport associated with it. The Olympics can be held with fans of all countries intermingling which means small spaces like cities can host them.
    Closer is better all round
    Let’s get back to my first point – that all matches should be close together and easily accessible by public transport. It means fans and players can get to matches without any big hassle. You could probably go to all four matches a day if you were so inclined. This was not possible at previous tournaments. So small countries (or countries where the citizens are too poor to turn up in large numbers) can have a greater fanbase at their games, and certainly attendances at such matches seem bigger to me. I have often seen half empty stadiums in the past. These seem reasonably full. They have allowed their own citizens much lower prices so that it is little economic burden to go to matches for the locals. Around 5 euros for restricted vision and around 10 euros for the rest of the cheaper seats. As opposed to 26 to 65 euros for international fans. I wouldn’t fancy restricted views if I have travelled that far so 65 euros per match could mount up a bit but still, taking in some extra ones seems feasible. It is one huge argument though, for having the stadiums close together and easy to access by metro, etc.

    The closest World Cup ever
    The teams can have one training ground for the whole tournament and no crossing of timelines as can happen in America, for example. The countries would love that. It makes for a fairer tournament as home teams are often based around their capital city and other countries have arduous travel. This is something that for sure should be open for debate. There are many pluses to having the stadiums close together.
    How can it be achieved?
    Now there are 2 obvious ways to do this, one is only have the trophy in a small country like Qatar. Singapore and Hongkong strike me as possible in east Asia. In Europe, maybe the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg could organize enough decent grounds to make this possible. Some of the oil rich Arab states in west Asia could also do it. I am not sure of what candidates there are in Africa, North and South America and Australasia. However we could select 2 from each continent and that brings us to 12. 48 years before a country gets to host it twice so it keeps things fresh. I would envision that you could have big countries being the nominal host alongside the small country if that is deemed important. There is a debate here for sure.  

    These guys dictate that venues must be far apart and they are winning
    That brings me to my second option. Have the Cup in the bigger countries but insist on a geographically small area like London, Birmingham or around Liverpool and Manchester in England. Scotland may also be feasible in this regard. I am sure Germany, France, Italy and Spain could also find a way to have enough top stadiums close enough to make this work. 8 stadiums is what we have in Qatar. If we include Twickenham, London could surely do it, for example. There would have to be a strong debate about security, though, if all fans are geographically close together and are allowed drink. Such places could, at best, have restricted alcohol sales. A small country may be able to have a strict regime. Singapore as I mentioned earlier, has.
    A massive World Cup up next with no complaints. Why?
    Of course the next World Cup is going to be a big bloated nonsense of which there seems little protest. The USA, Canada and Mexico? 48 countries? Madness for sure. You would need very big pockets to follow just your team all the way to the final, or maybe even for the group stage alone. Many matches will struggle for attendances. Teams will face tiring plane trips. Lucky Dennis Bergkamp is retired.

    And next time we go way too big
    The other area I highlighted is home advantage. England got their sole win at home. Teams try to make it as easy on their own players and as difficult for their opponents. Qatar found no real home advantage and from a sporting viewpoint this must be good? The best team in the world should win, yes? Small countries are much better in this regard.
    Debate is crucial
    So, Qatar has opened up a potential debate on a World Cup that is good for players, for fans, for attendances, for banning alcohol and thus probably hooliganism, and for sporting spirit. Will we have this debate? I doubt it. Fifa are only interested in money. The fact that their greed has allowed a World Cup to happen that is far different from all others is inadvertent. Good things have been shown, a better way is possible if we have a serious discussion. Instead we get a humungous, interminable, USA, Mexico and Canada which is surely the antithesis of any sporting ideals. We need to decide what type of World Cup do we want and can we apply the good things highlighted here in the context of, say London? However sometimes I feel I am the only one arguing for a better way. Because I don’t feel we will have any debate, will we? The fans don’t have any say. Thus it has always been.                                                                                                                             

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