Wrong call in Hoffenheim renew debate for modernization of football

The highlight of the Bundesliga match between TSG Hoffenheim and Bayern Munich in Hoffenheim was the scene that occurred in the 10th minute. Josip Simunic’s potent header had crossed the line but FIFA referee, Babak Rafati and his assistants allowed the game to continue.

The match ended in a 1-1 draw with goals from Ivica Olic and Chinedu Obasi. But the reverberation from the referee’s wrong call still lingers on.

The coaches of both teams, Louis van Gaal of Bayern Munich and Ralf Rangnick of Hoffenheim are of the opinion that modern technology should assist referees in their job. Even Babak Rafati, agree that it would be a welcomed relief.

In other sport like Ice Hockey, Tennis or American football, video is part of the integral officiating process. However, in football, there are mixed views for technology like goal camera, football chip or none at all.

The last time video evidence was used in the just concluded CONFED cup in South Africa raised eyebrow. The match between Brazil and Egypt in the CONFED cup could have ended differently if the ‘human factor’ as propagated by UEFA president, Michelle Platini, was used instead of video.

The match in Bloemfontein was 3-3 for both sides. During extra time, the referee, Howard Webb, awarded a conner kick for Brazil but changed his decision. Suddenly, he gave Egyptian, Ahmed Al Muhammadi, a red card and a penalty for Brazil. Kaka converted the penalty and Brazil won the match.

It is alleged that the fourth official saw through video that Ahmed Al Muhammadi obstruct a goal bound header with his arm in the cross line. Ahmed Al Muhammadi acted like the ball hit his face to confuse Howard Webb. Egypt filed a protest after the match but justice was served.

Officially, FIFA does not support video or the much acclaimed chip in football. UEFA, on the other hand is going an extra mile, in an experiment to increase the number of officials to six. In other words, two extra officials at the goal posts. While some argue, that we should leave football the way it is because the game is all about emotion.

The pros and cons of modernizing football is a reminder of how technology is at loggerheads with a conservative sport like football. There should be a global consensus through FIFA to effect change that could lead to fair officiating.

Joern Andersen fired! Who is next ?

Joern Andersen was fired this week as head coach of FSV Mainz 05. The management of FSV Mainz 05 decided to sack Andersen after a dismal performance in the first round of German cup. Mainz lost to fourth division VfB Luebeck 1-2. It was reported that the Norwegian had problems with the team, ranging from communication to hard training methods.

Christian Heidel, the manager of Mainz 05, gave the reasons for his sack in a press release, “we have a clear concept how a coach work with the team and management. Our strengths are team work, proximity to team and internal communication. Our approach did not correspond with Andersen any more because he developed in a different direction.”

A cursory look at Mainz reveal that Joern Andersen could not shake off the stark influence of Jurgen Klopp, the former coach of Mainz. Jurgen Klopp played for Mainz 05 for eleven years and coached the team for seven years. His arsenal is his charm and communication skills. In an interview with the Welt, shortly before his sack, Andersen said he is different from Klopp and he is tougher with the players than the former coach.He place emphasis on discipline and small stuff. Although, Andersen was able to bring back Mainz 05 to the Bundesliga in just one year of his reign, there was dispute with the team in terms of the way forward.

The new coach is the 35 years old Thomas Tuchel. A former coach of Mainz 05 junior team. He is a neophyte in the Bundesliga but he has worked with Ralf Rangnick. His philosophy is based on communication and team work. Do i see a resemblance to Jurgen Klopp ?

Joern Andersen will go down in history as first ever Bundesliga coach to be sacked prior to the beginning of the season. Who might be the next coach to be fired ?

Dieter Hecking of Hannover 96 is speculated to be the next coach whose job is shaky. His team also lost in German cup to fourth division team, Eintracht Trier, 1-3.

The Bundesliga will begin tomorrow. One thing that is constant is coaches will be sacked. The variable is the name of the coach.

Muslims protest against Schalke 04 Song.

Muslims are not amused over a Schalke 04 song with reference to Prophet Mohammed. The club song titled “White and Blue, How I Love You”, made reference in the third verse to Prophet Mohammed as follows, “Mohammed was a Prophet who doesn’t understand football but from all the beautiful colours he came up with blue and white.”

The song has been in existence since 1924. All Schalke 04 fans closely identify with the song. Even Felix Magath had to learn the song as part of his orientation.

Schalke 04 management takes the protest seriously. It is a good sign that they are not insensitive to the protests.

However, many people are curious why the sudden reaction to a song that is age old. A plausible answer might be ” the mounting resentment in Germany’s Muslim community after politicians were slow to condemn the murder of an Egyptian woman in a court in eastern Germany about a month ago.”

Muslims and Schalke fans need to seek a common ground to solve the impasse.

Captain armband causes tension at Eintracht Frankfurt.

Some players are natural leaders on the field without a title,while others seek the captaincy to assert their presence on the team.

This week, Eintracht Frankfurt Coach, Michael Skibbe, announced his preference for Christopher Spycher to lead the team instead of Ioannis Amanatidis, the former captain.

Ioannis Amanatidis, the Greek forward, did not understand the rationale for the coach’s decision. He told the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper, “I don’t understand such a low level of respect for a player who has been with the club for four years, two as captain.”Amanatidis feels slighted by Skibbe.

Michel Skibbe defended his paradigm shift, “ I love defensive players as captain because the possibility of a defensive player getting injured is low.”

The choice of defensive players wearing the captain armband is not new. The Brazilian national team, the Selecao, have always had defenders as captain with the exception of Emerson.

I can understand Amanatidis’s disappointment because the captaincy meant a lot to him. It gave him the sense of enhanced self worth. Eintracht Frankfurt boss, Heribert Bruchhagen, always told him, “ when you think of Eintracht Frankfurt, you think of Amanatidis.” Now, he has to contend with a modest role.

Amanatidis should embark on what he does best- scoring goals. He could be the highest goal scorer in the Bundesliga like Anthony Yeboah, a former player of Eintracht Frankfurt and the first black man to captain a Bundesliga team.

The new captain, Christopher Spycher, plays for the Swiss national team. He has a cerebral approach to problems and speaks five languages.

Captains come and go. But a player can endear himself to fans by rising up to the occasion with superlative performance. You do not need the captain armband for that.

What is in a Name ?

There is nothing that irks most foreign players in the Bundesliga other than the wrong pronunciation of their names.  Some people regard foreign names as jaw breaking.

Energie Cottbus, a second division team, developed a novel idea to help members of the Media and the public, pronounce the names of their players correctly. On Monday, the club sent pronunciation rules to the names of their professional players for the Press.

The Chinese player, Jiayi Shao is pronouced as (Dscha-ie Scha-o), Leonard Kweuke from Cameroun (Leonard Quej-ke) and Savo Pavicevic from Montenegro (Sawo Pa-wie-tsche-witsch)

The Press spokesman of Energie Cottbus, Ronny Gersch, is quoted in a sid report  as saying, “We have always done it before the start of the season. It is particularly important, before the first live broadcast on TV.”

Energie Cottbus has a tradition of employing foreign players in the Bundesliga. In 2007/2008 season, the club had the highest percentage(61%) of foreign players in the league.

When it comes to pronouncing names that might be jaw breaking, Brazilian players are very inventful with catchy nicknames. Who remembers that Real Madrid’s Kaka , real name is Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite  or the new signing for Hamburg, Ze Roberto is actually called José Roberto da Silva Júnior ?

I welcome Energie Cottbus proactive steps to prevent conflict in name pronunciation.

Can Gerald Asamoah make the cut at Schalke 04 with Felix Magath ?

The career of a soccer player is subject to variation. Sometimes, it is like a Roller-coaster. Gerald Asamoah is a veteran of so many battles. Most times, he survived the battles unscathed. But this time, can he survive the tough scrutiny of Felix Magath, popularly known as qualix ?

FC Schalke 04, participated in T-Home-Cup, last weekend with dismal results. They lost to FC Bayern and VFB Stuttgart. Conspicuously missing in the line up for Schalke 04 was Gerald Asamoah.

Magath,justified his absence with the excuse that he had some shortfalls. He also said in Der Westen, “If Asa  is not so good in an area, then he must work extra hard.” Is it a prelude for more things to come ?

Asamoah has a contract till 2011. He is the oldest serving player at Schalke. Presently, he has to contend for a place in the team with 4 other strikers.

No matter the outcome of his present battle, Asamoah’s service for Schalke through the years, is no mediocre attribute.

Goodbye Lucio

Lucio, the versatile captain of the Brazilian national team has left Bayern Munich for Inter Milan. Uli Hoeness, general manager of Bayern Munich, announced details of the move today. He will sign a three year deal with Inter. According to Kicker, Bayern Munich received €8 Million for the transfer.

Lucio had a contract till 30 June 2010 but under Louis Van Gaal, he was surplus to requirements. Bayern Munich have Martin Demichelis,Holger Badstuber,Breno, Edson Braafheid and Daniel van Buyten vying for two places in the team.

He is a defender par excellence. In his five year stint with Munich, he played 144 times and scored 7 goals. He won the league and DFB Cup in 2005,2006 and 2008. His trademark is his astute judgement in defence and offensive orientation in attack.

Bundesliga will miss the God fearing defender for his demeanour on the field. Goodbye Lucio.

Demba Ba needs to reinvent himself at Hoffenheim.

Demba Ba recently, faced a transfer saga that might hunt his football career at his present club, Hoffenheim. The drama began after Demba Ba through his agent, Karim Akilil, went to the Press to force his  transfer from Hoffenheim to VFB Stuttgart. A deal was almost struck until VFB Stuttgart decided to look else where for a striker that will suit their requirement. During the negotiation, there was a war of words between Demba Ba and Hoffenheim management. The fall out from the crisis, put Demba in a bad light.Hoffenheim fans are angry at Demba’s conduct.

Demba Ba scored 14 goals last season and he was one of the favourite players at Hoffenheim. Presently, he has a lot of work to do, to win the trust and support of his fellow team mates and fans. Already, he has apologized for his actions in the club’s official web site.

He needs to reinvent himself by scoring goals this coming season to silence critics and foes alike. I wish him the best.


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The Bundesliga is one of the attractive soccer leagues on Planet Earth. As usual, there are  interesting players that ply their trade in the league.  I hope to highlight issues behind the news about  the Bundesliga.

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