Are these MLS “rules” or MLS “suggestions?” It’s going to be interesting with Seattle

22 Comments

Here is the “First rule of rules:” It’s only a “rule” if someone really enforces it. Otherwise it’s just a suggestion. Or a really polite request. Like, say … asking for more salsa at the local Tex-Mex spot.

So answer me this: does MLS have a rule on Mass Confrontation or not? They said so – but there seems to be some selective enforcement at worst, or a slightly lesser violation of enforcement with no real teeth.

The disciplinary committee seems to be more tolerant of some incidences of mass confrontation than others. For instance, I went back and watched the June 29 mass confrontation incident that generated a fine for Toronto FC manager Ryan Nelsen – and there wasn’t much there. That’s just one example; there have been some disciplinary measures for mass confrontation, but plenty of others where the DC looked the other way.

What several Galaxy players did two weeks ago, when they were completely wrong about an important offside decision, was much worse. Bruce Arena did get a one-game suspension, but that was for leaving the technical area – but shouldn’t the players be held accountable at some point?

Either way, that was fairly tame compared to the way Seattle players twisted off on officials last night in Portland. Watch it here:

.

.

Everybody looks bad here. Seattle lost its collective cool. The officials couldn’t get hold of things. And it all started when Osvaldo Alonso went completely foolish, striking Will Johnson the way he did. As another example, his elbow was much worse (being more premeditated) than Shea Salinas’ elbow to Robbie Keane’s head area. That drew a league suspension for Salinas.

As for the Sounders’ textbook Mass Confrontation: see the graphic above, from an MLS explainer video on the topic and start checking the boxes. Off the bench, we had Mauro Rosales twice touching the referee’s assistant, right after several Sounders nearly chased the guy across the park.

Here’s the thing: in some ways, the disciplinary committee is in a tough spot here. Seattle is injury depleted as it is, and a very high profile club with tons of fans is in real danger of tumbling plum out of the playoffs. The danger increases measurably if Alonso and Rosales are suspended. (Further suspended in Alonso’s case.)

On the other hand, the committee cannot worry about that. It’s not fair, for instance, to suspend Federico Higuain an extra match for failing to leave in a timely manner, but then not adding to Alonso’s time in the penalty box (for doing essentially the same thing) just because Seattle has more ability to flood the league office with social media meanness and malice.

Chinese clubs to pay 100% tax on foreign transfers

Photo by Visual China/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The days of Chinese Super League sides spending eye-popping figures on a handful of international superstars are over — either that, or those figures are about to double — for now, at least.

[ MORE: Oscar given 8-game ban for petulant display in China ]

China’s Football Association announced Thursday that, effective immediately, any foreign player signed for a fee exceeding $6.63 million would be subject to a 100-percent tax on top of the fee paid to acquire the player. The tax will remain in effect until the end of China’s ongoing transfer window, July 14. The tax will also apply to Chinese players signed for a fee exceeding $3 million.

It’s Chinese authorities’ latest attempt to prevent big spending by CSL clubs, which has in every instance been detrimental to the development of young Chinese players making their way through the academy system. The taxed money will then be reinvested in “youth training, construction of public sporting facilities and scientific progress in football development,” according to a statement by the CFA.

Just last week, China was eliminated from contention to qualify for next summer’s World Cup in Russia. The only time China has ever qualified for the World Cup was in 2002.

Young Englishman Oxford goes abroad, to Gladbach, on loan

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images
Leave a comment

MOENCHENGLADBACH, Germany (AP) Borussia Moenchengladbach has signed English central defender Reece Oxford on loan for the season from Premier League club West Ham.

Gladbach sporting director Max Eberl says “Oxford has gone through all the England youth teams and is one of the biggest defensive talents in Britain.”

The 18-year-old Oxford, who spent the second half of last season on loan at second-division club Reading, is Gladbach’s fifth arrival of the off-season.

Qatar stadium safety concerns again raised by death investigation

Photo by Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy/Qatar 2022 via Getty Images
Leave a comment

An investigation into why a British man fell to his death on a building site for the 2022 Qatar soccer World Cup has raised concerns about stadium roof safety.

World Cup organizers on Thursday released partial findings of an assessment of the accident at the Khalifa International Stadium, but said the full report cannot be released while local authorities continue their own investigation. It is one of two work-related deaths detailed in Qatar’s latest welfare report on preparations for the 2022 soccer tournament, which currently involves 12,367 workers on eight construction sites.

The 40-year-old British man fell 39 meters in January after one end of the roof catwalk he was installing dropped and a safety rope snapped.

“During the course of the investigation, the team had raised concerns with the method of installation of the raised catwalk system,” the welfare report from Qatar’s World Cup organizers stated. “This required further investigation regarding the method itself and the supervision skills of the specialist contractor staff.”

It has led to “corrective and preventative actions” being implemented by the contractor, a joint venture between Belgian and Qatari firms, along with safety checks across all stadium sites, the report said.

“These included a review of all working-at-height activities across all SC projects, an enhanced process when reviewing specialist activities within construction sites, and a detailed review of all roof and gantry designs,” the Supreme Committee overseeing stadium projects added.

The British man is the only European working on Qatar stadiums to have died in a country relying on a low-paid migrant workforce from south Asia to prepare for the first World Cup in the Middle East. Six non-work related deaths have been announced by organizers, with most suffering from heart or breathing problems.

Hassan Al Thawadi, the supreme committee’s secretary general, said medical staff are trying to raise awareness of the “importance of healthy lifestyles” by evaluating diets and identifying health issues, including hypertension and diabetes. Cooling helmets have also been developed in an attempt to make it safer for workers on outdoor sites during the searing summer heat.

World Cup preparations have been dogged by concerns about the welfare of workers since the natural gas-rich Gulf nation won the FIFA vote in 2010. Mounting international pressure led to Qatar raising living standards and worker rights. Inspections led to three contractors being blacklisted and 14 entities “demobilized” from projects for failing to tackle welfare issues, the World Cup report reveals.

“There is still work to be done to ensure our workers’ welfare standards continue to have a tangible impact on the ground and we are comprehensive in our attempts to tackle the myriad of issues facing migrant workers across the SC program,” Khalid Al-Kubaisi, who oversees worker welfare at the Supreme Committee, said in a statement.

The report has been released as Qatar is gripped by a diplomatic crisis that has seen it isolated in the region. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar earlier this month and blocked air, sea and land traffic over its support for Islamist groups and ties with Iran. Qatar denies the charges and says the allegations are politically motivated.

Official (finally): Salah completes move from Roma to Liverpool

Photo credit: Liverpool FC / Twiter: @LFC
Leave a comment

It was the summer’s first transfer rumor-turned-real-story-turned-never-ending-saga that seemed to refuse to cross the finish line, but it’s finally come to pass: Mohamed Salah is a Liverpool player.

Salah’s move from Roma to Liverpool took so long to complete that the club’s poor social-media manager probably never wants to read the words “Announce Salah” for the rest of his/her life.

The deal will cost Liverpool something in the neighborhood of $50 million — a new Liverpool club record — and completes the utterly terrifying attacking quartet Jurgen Klopp can’t wait to unleash on the Premier League come August — Salah on one side, Sadio Mane opposite, Philippe Coutinho in the middle, and Roberto Firmino at striker. Salah, by the way, will take over Firmino’s no. 11 shirt, with the Brazilian switching to no. 9.