Jozy Altidore Counters Racist Dutch Fans with Goal, Assist, Dignity

In a Dutch Cup match yesterday against second-tier Den Bosch and their bottom-tier fans, AZ Alkmaar’s U.S. striker Jozy Altidore was subjected to racist chants and abuse.

In addition to reportedly persuading the referee, who was prepared to call off the game, to continue it, Altidore responded by scoring a goal, setting up another, and then giving the following interview after AZ’s 5-0 victory:

AC Milan’s Kevin Prince Boateng had his way of handling this particular sickness earlier in the month, Altidore has his. They’re both justified, and they’re both dignified.

What’s really needed is for Sepp Blatter and FIFA to stop making fatuous pronouncements from on high, and to get in the trenches and do something tangible to confront this problem head on.

Altidore’s goal was his 20th of the season in all competitions—a career high—and his eighth in his last six games. He’s tied for second in the league in scoring, and he’ll be suiting up for the U.S. in next Wednesday’s World Cup qualifier against Honduras.

The Shortlist for the Premier League’s Player of the Year Is Missing One Name

The Professional Footballer’s Association released a six-name list of candidates for it annual player of the year award today, and it looks like this:

Robin van Persie, Arsenal

Joe Hart, Manchester City

Sergio Aguero, Manchester City

David Silva, Manchester City

Wayne Rooney, Manchester United

Scott Parker, Tottenham Hotspur

Van Persie, Rooney, and Aguero, okay, fine, but in what universe did Parker and Silva have better years than Fulham’s Clint Dempsey? (Or Newcastle’s Demba Ba, for that matter.)

Foxes Investigate FIFA Henhouse; Blatter Cleared, Bin Hammam and Warner Suspended

FIFA president Sepp Blatter was cleared of wrongdoing by an ethics panel Sunday, paving the way for him to run unopposed for a fourth term in Wednesday’s election.

Executive committee members Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago and Mohamed bin Hammam of Qatar were both suspended indefinitely in the wake of accusations that they offered $40,000 apiece to roughly 24 federation officials from the Caribbean in exchange for their votes for bin Hammam as FIFA president.

(Bin Hammam withdrew from the election before the panel convened, and he accused Blatter of knowing about and not opposing the alleged payments, hence Blatter’s appearance before the panel.)

Neither bin Hammam nor Warner was found guilty in the investigation, but both are suspended from any involvement with soccer until a full judicial inquiry can be staged.

Namibian judge Petrus Damaseb, who oversaw the inquiry, said that the suspensions were necessary to “ensure that the investigation [pending; likely in July] is not compromised.”

No word on whether this statement was met by snickers, but plenty of comments at Blatter’s Monday press conference in Zurich were. A quick sampler, courtesy of The New York Times:

“I am the president of FIFA; you cannot question me.”

(Actual quote. No, really.)

“I believe that the decision which we took for World Cup 2022 was done exactly clean in the same pattern and again I say what I said at beginning of press conference there is no issue for the World Cup 2022.”

(This one prompted such a reaction from the assembled media that Blatter followed it up with: “We are not in a bazaar here, we are in FIFA House.”)

“Something has changed in FIFA and we will try to change more in future. I cannot change members of my government, it is not up to me.”

Blatter pleaded for respect over the reporter grumblings that followed that one, then abruptly pulled the plug on the press conference, walking offstage as journalists tried to lob more questions his way.

Good times.

Other Juicy Bits From the Fallout

• “Why should I be hanged now, and by whom? The American Chuck Blazer? His American lawyer, John Collins? Give me a break, guys. I will hold my head high to the very end. I am not guilty of a single iota of wrongdoing.”

—ExCo member and CONCACAF president Jack Warner, speaking in the Trinidad Parliament on the eve of the ethics panel.

Merriam Webster has announced they will replace their current definition of the word chutzpah with the above.

Also, apparently, the word “American” is an insult in Trinidad and Tobago.

• There were two cases before the panel on Sunday. One involved bribery surrounding Wednesday’s FIFA presidential election, the other concerned vote-selling for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids.

In the latter, two FIFA ExCo members were suspended and four were cleared, due to insufficient evidence.

Among the cleared, our favorite was Nicolás Léoz of Paraguay, who (allegedly) requested both an honorary knighthood and that the FA Cup be named after him in exchange for voting for England’s 2018 bid.

That is just fantastic, and we applaud the imagination involved.

But there are some logistical issues. How, for example, would both honors be explained? Oh, yeah, this Paraguayan bureaucrat has been integral to English football and culture since way, way back in the day. We need to get that guy knighted, or at the very least, rename our 140-year-old domestic competition in his honor—stat. The British people will instantly recognize both honors as long overdue.

Finally, there was the following sensational statement from Blatter in his column on Inside World Football:

“When a Swiss farmer’s neighbor has a cow while he has none, the less fortunate farmer will work twice as hard so that one day he can buy a cow as well. When another farmer, elsewhere, on an island, say, has no cow but his neighbor does, that farmer will kill the neighbor’s cow out of sheer malice.

“I’d rather be a Swiss farmer, like it or not.”

On an island, say, ….”  Sepp—very subtle. Jack Warner lives on an island, doesn’t he?

Well, the island farmer was talking tough after Sunday’s hearing, promising that a “tsunami” of bad news would be visited upon FIFA in the coming weeks.

In any event, it’s on to Wednesday’s “election,” over the objection of British sports minister Hugh Robertson, who, according to the Times, has called on FIFA to suspend the vote, saying, “I think the process is fast descending into farce.”

Premier League Week 7 Update: De Jong Dropped from Dutch National Team

At the end of the last post, we touched on how Newcastle’s Hatem Ben Arfa suffered a possible absolutely confirmed broken leg after a challenge from accomplished goon Nigel De Jong of Manchester City.

We’re not big on posting gruesome videos, and this one is as gruesome as they come, but we’re going to link to it here (needless to say: not for the squeamish—or, as The Spoiler
said, not for anyone, really), because a) an initial report from the Premier League cited a “suspected” broken leg—a qualification that is laughable if you’ve seen even a screen shot of the video—and b) De Jong was not even carded on the play! (Yes, we’re going with an exclamation point right there.)

What is it with this guy? He puts a boot into the chest of an opponent, in the World Cup final, and escapes with a yellow, and then, just months later, he destroys a man’s leg in a Premier League game and isn’t even booked.

As Bert van Marwijk, coach of the Dutch national team, put it while announcing his decision to drop De Jong from the Netherlands’ next two Euro 2012 qualifiers (hallelujah):

“I’ve seen the pictures back. It was a wild and unnecessary offence. He went in much too hard.

“It is unfortunate, especially since he does not need to do it. The funny thing is that the referee did not even show a yellow card for it. Apparently, there are other standards. But I have a problem with the way Nigel needlessly looks to push the limit. I am going to speak to him.”

After this, the tide has to turn for De Jong in this department. Too late for Ben Arfa, sadly, but … better late than never.

Edu’s Goal: the Zapruder Screen Grab

This is the “back-and-to-the-left” moment of the U.S.-Slovenia game, which should have sent the Yanks to the top of Group C (for Crazy):

Check it out, courtesy of Soccer By Ives commenter “Zac”:

Zac has circled only four Americans being grappled by Slovene defenders, but there are actually five, if you notice Jay DeMerit being shoulder-tackled on the far side of the shot. Michael Bradley, in the lower right corner, is being wrapped up WWE-style.

And what about Maurice Edu, the goal-scorer and the player, apparently, who was whistled for the foul? He’s number 19 in the center of the shot, bursting through to score—as a Slovenian player attempts to foul him.

Koman Coulibaly’s name goes down next to Hugh Dallas’s on the growing list of  refs who have jobbed the U.S. at the World Cup.

But, onward and upward—after England’s surprising (and surprisingly listless) 0-0 draw with Algeria, the U.S. controls its destiny: beat the Algerians next Wednesday and advance.

We Used to Want Thierry Henry to Come to MLS

Now? Not so much…. This has already raged through much of the InterWebs, but we have to include it here at Backpost, simply because it’s an outrage of soccer-historic proportions—one that will never be forgotten in Ireland, and probably not anywhere else (including Red Bull Arena, should Henry deign to make that stadium his new home next summer, as rumors have suggested). Here’s the best version of the evidence out there, and we apologize in advance for the Evanescence:

[Update: the best version was removed from YouTube—no doubt at Sepp Blatter’s orders … kidding!—but the replacement above is not bad, and has no Evanescence on the soundtrack.]

We’ve followed Henry for years, and have always been fans. We watched him play up close and in person at Steve Nash’s charity game on Chrystie Street in New York City, and he always struck us as a class act. But this…this…You know, you think you know someone ….

For those that don’t know: Henry’s little extra-legal improvisation bounced Ireland out of the World Cup finals in South Africa next summer, and sent France to the tournament.

May they go three and out.