Professionalism rules as Spain breaks FIFA record in 10-0 win over Tahiti


Everyone was put in a tough position prior to this match.

With tiny Tahiti’s qualification for the Confederations Cup and drawn in the same group as the #1-ranked team in the world, it was an awkward situation for everyone involved.

The Tahitians went in knowing they’d be sent to the slaughter.

The Spaniards had to walk the line of professionalism and sportsmanship.

The fans were left unsure of whether to hope for excitement, an upset, goals, or a blowout.

In the end, Spain set the FIFA record for margin of victory and tied the record for goals in a match, and everyone got through the ordeal with their professional reputations intact, if not their egos.

It was a thrashing of epic proportions, but that doesn’t mean it was unsportsmanlike.

Spain should be praised for winning in an unparalleled fashion, but at the same time remaining entirely respectful and classy.

There were no individual displays of skill meant to show off and embarrass their lowly opponents.  There was no showboating.  The Spaniards congratulated their opponents at the end of the match and switched jerseys with the Tahitian players.

Most importantly, the Spain team showed the Tahiti squad as much respect as possible by not shutting the power down entirely.  It was obvious Spain wasn’t trying their hardest – after Torres embarrassed himself with his missed penalty, the striker actually turned on the gas for once and the result was a goal within 30 seconds.  However, the ultimate insult in a professional match would have been to stop trying altogether.

Tahiti must also be praised.  They didn’t give up, and their manager Eddy Etaeta didn’t park the bus, instead choosing to press everyone forward.  It backfired, but it represented an appreciation for the match, for the game, and for the opportunity presented to them.  The squad should be lauded for taking this opportunity with open arms.  They earned it (by FIFA’s standards, which one could argue should be reconsidered) and gave it their all. Spain recognized this.

Neither side played up fouls, nobody dove, no one got nasty, and everyone played with a respect for the situation.

The fans also should be commended.  Each touch in the first half by Tahiti was cheered.  Fans who begun rooting for goals ended up not only feeling bad about what they had been cheering for but also enjoyed the effort by the underdogs.

Even the referee should be lauded.  He didn’t give the far better team calls for being better, and he didn’t give the poor underdogs any pity calls.  It was a fairly called match, and the referee respected the game by doing so.

In a match which resulted in utter demolition on the scoreboard, it was the wonderful displays of respect, class, and professionalism that are the real story.  The game is played by people, not numbers, and those people did us proud.

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

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Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

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Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.