Aston Villa v Everton - Premier League

Roberto Martinez supports extra concussion substitute


To them it seems radical. To us it seems sensible.

Everton manager Roberto Martinez has put himself out on a bit of a limb by supporting a rule change that would take pressure off managers by allowing an additional substitution if a player suffers a concussion.

While England seems to have mostly rallied in support of Hugo Lloris’s fight to stay on the pitch after being clocked in the head by Romelu Lukaku, many in the United States have questioned the decision making processes at the top of Tottenham Hotspur’s chain of command during the events.

Martinez made it clear that player health should be made much higher of a priority than it currently is, and that the rules can help take the pressure off managers to keep concussed players in the match:

“If there is a strong view from the medical side that when a player gets concussed he should come off, I think we should look into it and make it a rule. If it comes as a rule with an understanding for everyone that if that happens the player should come off and it shouldn’t count as a substitution, that would be a lot easier. Because if you are put in a position where a player has to come off when three substitutions have been made it is a real shame, as it is going to affect the competition. You wouldn’t want to see a team down to 10 men but the last thing you want is to put the health of any player at risk.”

While a move to change such an integral part of the game would no doubt be met with criticism, it would certainly serve its purpose. Martinez understands that while this may not ultimately be the answer, something needs to be done.

“It is a serious issue which needs to be spoken about and the right decision found from the top” said the Spaniard.

With Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas speaking out in support of his and the players’ decision to remain in the game, it’s nice to see someone support the other side of the story.

And not only has Martinez thrown himself behind player safety, he’s done it from a manager’s perspective, understanding the difficult position that Villas-Boas was put in – late in an important match, when substitutions are a precious, valuable commodity and pressure is high.

The move would have the same effect as Major League Baseball’s recent addition to the disabled list to allow for a 7-day concussion DL – the idea being to take pressure off managers by not forcing their player to miss 15 days despite possibly only needing a week to return from a concussion.

Often players would not get the necessary time off from a head injury because their manager didn’t want to lose them for the full 15 days required when placing a player on the disabled list. The move, while much more minor than the one Martinez is proposing to the sport of soccer, has the same desired effect.

Hopefully this idea is more than just a fleeting mention by a manager, but actually gets some backing from the higher levels of the decision making process.  Good on you, Roberto.

Statement from suspended UEFA president Michel Platini

Michel Platini, UEFA & FIFA
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Statement from suspended UEFA President Michel Platini:

Early this afternoon, I was informed of the FIFA ethics committee’s decision to impose on me a provisional 90-day suspension with immediate effect. That decision, which I will of course contest in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time, had already been the subject of a deliberate leak, and I gave my opinion on that earlier in the day.

I reject all of the allegations that have been made against me, which are based on mere semblances and are astonishingly vague. Indeed, the wording of those allegations merely states that a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics “seems to have been committed” and that a decision on the substance of the matter cannot be taken immediately.

Despite the farcical nature of these events, I refuse to believe that this is a political decision taken in haste in order to taint a lifelong devotee of the game or crush my candidacy for the FIFA presidency.

I want everyone to know my state of mind: more than a sense of injustice or a desire for revenge, I am driven by a profound feeling of staunch defiance. I am more determined than ever to defend myself before the relevant judicial bodies.

I want to reiterate in the strongest possible terms that I will devote myself to ensuring that my good faith prevails. I have received numerous messages of support today from UEFA’s member associations and the other confederations encouraging me to continue my work serving football’s interests. Nothing will make me give up on that commitment.

EURO 2016: Ireland shock Germany, Northern Ireland qualify

Shane Long, Ireland
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A recap of Thursday’s action in 2016 European Championship qualifying:

Ireland 1-0 Germany

Southampton striker Shane Long scored the goal that knocked off the defending world champions and pushed Ireland one step closer to next summer’s European Championship in France. Long, who entered the game in the 65th minute, latched onto Darren Randolph‘s ball over the top in the 70th minute, took one touch to settle and fired for the far post, beating Manuel Neuer for the game’s only goal.

With one game still to play, Ireland (18 points) sit third in Group D, level on points with Sunday’s opponent Poland. While the winner of Sunday’s clash could leapfrog Germany (19), they will more likely finish second in the group and qualify automatically. A draw on Sunday could still see both sides qualify automatically through the ranking of third-place finishers (the top third-place finishers from group play earns an automatic berth at EURO 2016).

Northern Ireland 3-1 Greece

Norther Ireland (20 points) topped Greece (3), 3-1 on Thursday to officially book their place at EURO 2016. Steven Davis scored twice and Josh Magennis added the third for Michael O’Neill’s side.

With one game still to play (Sunday, at Finland), Northern Ireland can finish no lower than second. A draw against Finland, or any points dropped by Romania (17) would see Northern Ireland finish top of Group F.

Portugal 1-0 Denmark

Joao Moutinho scored the only goal of the game to secure Portugal’s (18 points from just seven games) place at next summer’s tournament. The defeat sees Denmark remain second in Group I, a point ahead of third-place Albania, who lost to Serbia on Thursday. Having played all eight of their group games, Denmark can go no higher than 12 points, meaning they would fail to qualify if Albania beat Armenia on Sunday. A draw between Albania and Armenia would see Denmark qualify based on tiebreakers.

Elsewhere in EURO 2016 qualifying action

Group D

Scotland 2-2 Poland
Georgia 4-0 Gibraltar

Group F

Hungary 2-1 Faroe Islands
Romania 1-1 Finland

Group I

Albania 0-2 Serbia