Morning. It’s Saturday and I’m in pain from last night’s football. Honestly, I think there should be chewable morphine available over the counter for men of a certain age who play 5v5 on Friday nights to make their Saturday mornings more manageable. Just a little bite here, a sneaky crunch there, and bang, it’s all good. I can float during the day from a synthetic poppy cloud.
Still, I know what will get people in the mood today. How about an extensive article on Mikel Arteta and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang? I bet no one has done it yet. A really deep behind-the-scenes look at a situation that no one knows the truth about because even with a documentary film crew following everyone around for a year, we only got a cursory view of what happened.
Having said that, I liked that Mohamed Elneny talked about it after the match the other night. Asked how he faced the former captain this weekend and his reaction to what was in the All or Nothing hoo-ha, he said:
“Everyone is scared with their position because this happened to Aubameyang! Of course, if someone who is not the team captain makes a small mistake, he will have the same problem and no one needs that problem.
“Everyone looked at each other because Mikel did that to the team captain. What are you going to do with another player?
A manager must have some authority, to be sure, but part of that is showing that no one is above the rules. We all know that in football there are players who are given leeway and license by directors and coaches, because what they produce outweighs whatever problems their behavior causes. But if that player isn’t doing it on the field, that special treatment, or the coach’s willingness to look the other way, tends to disappear.
Aubameyang was really good for Arsenal, and although it didn’t happen overnight, we got to a point where it really wasn’t. He later left, he went to Barcelona, and now -because of his sins- he is at Chelsea. We have Gabriel Jesús, and I am much happier with him than with the last stage of Aubameyang. I suspect I am far from alone in that regard. Even if you were a fan of Aubameyang and didn’t like how it all turned out, it’s hard to argue against the idea that we’re in better shape now.
I will not say good luck to Aubameyang because obviously he is now a Chelsea player and I wish everyone involved in that club the worst at all times and forever. I hope a gigantic sinkhole swallows Stamford Bridge and the cost of relocating and building a new stadium will bankrupt them. I hope all replica kits of him are made with a rogue fiber that causes unrelenting itchy hives to anyone who comes into contact with one. I hope that John Terry invests all his money in some kind of digital Ponzi scheme which then… oh…
Regardless, we’ll have more on the Chelsea game on our Patreon Preview Podcast that drops a bit later this morning. No doubt there will be some talk about Aubameyang, but other talk that is better talk. Join us for that.
A quick word on the shameless letter sent by FIFA’s autocratic talking thumb, Gianni Infantino, in which he says ahead of the World Cup to be held in Qatar:
Please don’t let football be dragged into every ideological or political battle out there.
Which essentially tells everyone, from players to federations to fans, to shut up and not address major issues. The idea that, for example, someone’s sexuality is an ideology and not simply their reality is both blind and terribly offensive. It’s political in that the World Cup is taking place in a country where homosexuality is illegal, and while FIFA and Qatar may have brokered an uneasy truce on that score, we’ve yet to see how it plays out when the game begins. tournament. There must be some trepidation among gay fans, regardless of superficial assurances that all will be well.
That Qatar is paying fan groups to be cheerleaders doesn’t help much, does it? Culture ‘influencer’ soccer fan. Grotty, and shame on everyone who took the money to have a good time and look the other way while such injustice exists. FIFA has sold its soul, we all know that. Now some fans who should know have, too, and Qatar had the gold to pay the price.
I think everyone understands that there is a measure of moral commitment involved in football these days. Whether it’s club ownership, sponsorship, player behavior or anything else, most of us have to live with some form of cognitive dissonance.
What I would say, though, is this: I think, from our comfortable perspective, there’s a moral authority that’s potentially a bit dangerous. It is not that our own societies are perfect. It is not that there are not ideological and political problems at our own doors every day. Homelessness. Corruption. Treatment of refugees and oppressed people. Health services at breaking point. Education. LGBTQ+ equity. Reproductive rights of women. The list goes on.
While the focus is very firmly on Qatar, FIFA, and it’s obviously vital to raise and address issues in that regard, it’s important not to lose sight of it locally and spend some of that energy closer to home as well. If these are things that matter to you because of a soccer tournament, you should also care about them every day. Let’s not forget what happens every day where we are, and the people who could use our help just by standing up and talking about how people are with this World Cup.
Well, I’ll save my little box of soap for this morning. Have a good Saturday.