Emmanuel Frimpong

Frimpong’s racist abuse in Russian League opener yields more World Cup concerns (video)

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The Russian Premier League kicked off on Friday and the top story to come out of the weekend was unfortunately racism.

Ugh.

Former Arsenal prospect Emmanuel Frimpong was tossed from Ufa’s match at Spartak Moscow when he reacted to fans hurling monkey noises at him by flipping them the bird and swearing at them.

[ MORE: Van Gaal complains about Sounders’ field ]

Red card.

Racists 1, Frimpong 0.

And before you even start with a, “Well, players need to be bigger than that”, take a listen to it:

It’s honestly hard to watch, knowing that a human being is at both ends of the abuse. Not to say we’re naive enough to think it never happens, but on opening day for a fan to be that hopped up to put his ignorance and hatred on full display? Brutal. What’s worse? These quotes from Hulk on how he’s rationalized the behavior. From Soccerly:

“In the past I myself felt offended and was really angered with these racist outbreaks. But neither referees nor football officials here pay serious attention to this problem. “That’s why I now try not to get angry. I just blow kisses to those who try to offend me.”

And players in Russia aren’t just upset about it, they are worried about the repercussions for the nation’s clubs if this racism is on display at the World Cup in 2018. Hulk said as much, as did Ezequiel Garay. Perhaps most telling, though, is Frimpong.

Granted the language is a bit broken, but there’s something to him ending with, “We live on.” This is a fairly depressing tale, and I know from past posts that there will be several who jump to the defense of Russia here.

And surely, this happens other places (including here in the U.S.). But in this one, where boycott worries already exist, the dark moments seem a bit more grim.

Saturday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup: Vidal to Bayern, Chelsea wants Stones

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Arturo Vidal may be on his way back to the Bundesliga as the Juventus midfielder is linked with a move to Bayern Munich.

Multiple reports out of Europe claim a deal is near completion to bring the Chilean to Bayern Munich, which would bring another standout star to the Allianz Arena. After winning the Serie A title and reaching the Champions League final with Juventus, Vidal was linked with a Premier League move, but now it looks like he will be headed back to Germany.

[ MORE: Latest transfer gossip ]

After starting his career in Chile, Vidal broke through with Bayer Leverkusen, where he played four seasons. According to Bayern’s chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, they tried to sign Vidal from Leverkusen back in 2011, but claims Leverkusen didn’t want to sell the midfielder to a Bundesliga rival.

Chelsea won the Premier League last season by conceding a league-low 32 goals, but that hasn’t stopped Jose Mourinho from trying to bolster his back line. After having their initial $30 million bid for Everton’s John Stones rejected, the Blues are expected to up their offer, and may even break the British record transfer fee for a defender in the process. That was set last season when Manchester City paid $54 million for Eliaquim Mangala. Stones is just 21-years-old and has two seasons of Premier League experience, as well as four caps for the England national team. Everton will hold out as long as possible to keep the prized young defender, but Chelsea has the money to change the that.

[ RELATED: Emmanuel Frimpong sent off in Russian match after reacting to racial abuse from fans ]

Sky Sports is reporting that striker Aleksander Mitrovic will undergo a medical and is set for a move to Newcastle. The Anderlecht striker has been linked with a move to St. James’ Park throughout the summer, and it will cost the Magpies about $21 million. At 20-years-old, Mitrovic has scored 44 goals in 90 appearances for Anderlecht and would give Newcastle a real threat up top.

Fabian Delph has completed his move to Manchester City, after flip-flopping between a move to the Etihad and staying at Aston Villa. First he was set for a transfer to City, then he issued a strong statement saying he would stay at Villa, and then backtracked and completed the move. Delph said former Manchester City man and now Aston Villa defender Micah Richards helped convince him to make the move, so that might not sit too well with Villa fans.

Emmanuel Frimpong sent off in Russian League match after being racially abused

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Former Arsenal midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong was sent off in the Russian Premier League season opener against Spartak Moscow when responding to racial abuse by fans.

With FK Ufa visiting Spartak Moscow, Frimpong slipped and lost the ball before fouling an opponent. Home Spartak fans began taunting Frimpong by shouting monkey chants at the visiting 23-year-old. The Ghanan responded by yelling explitives at the fans and showed them an offensive hand gesture, to which the referee showed him a straight red card in the 32nd minute. Frimpong attempted to explain himself to the assistant referee standing right there, but to no avail.

The 2017 Confederations Cup and the 2018 World Cup is to be held in Russia, and much attention has been given to the country’s seemingly deep-rooted problem with racism. While FIFA has trumpeted minor changes they tout as major improvements, these incidents continue while the clock ticks down to the events.

Frimpong, who came up through the Arsenal youth system and spent three years with the club, responded to the incident on Twitter after the match.

This situation is always difficult players, and many react differently. Some have decided to walk off the field, some react violently, while others have chosen to ignore it and take action after the match. The players are in a difficult position, where fan interaction of any kind is often frowned upon, and in many cases – like Frimpong’s – punished. Therefore, players have little options outside of absorbing the abuse and looking to respond later.

Teams are often punished in the aftermath of such incidents, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Russian Federation come down on Spartak with a stadium closure. But aside from a full cultural overhaul, it’s difficult to control the minds of fans who are barely affected by team punishments. Russia’s issues are clearly deeply engrained in the societal mindset, and there is little FIFA can do to change it at the moment.

You can see video of the incident here, where the racist chants can be clearly heard:

Americans Abroad Preview: Jozy in the Capital One Cup Final

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It’s a big weekend for Jozy Altidore and Sunderland. A memorable one for sure.

The Black Cats look to become the second club in two years to upset Manchester City in the Capitol One Cup at Wembley, following Wigan’s lead from last year.

With Manchester City first-choice keeper Joe Hart set to miss out on duty between the sticks for the favorites, Altidore could look to capitalize and give his club its first major trophy since 1973.

Because of the Capital One Cup final as well as the FA Cup quarterfinals next weekend, Altidore’s Black Cats do not have another Premier League fixture scheduled until March 15.

However, other Americans across the Premier League will feature this weekend, including Tim Howard in goal for Everton against West Ham at Goodison Park on Saturday, and Brad Guzan‘s Aston Villa hosting Norwich City on Sunday.

Geoff Cameron and Stoke City have a tough fixture, hosting Arsenal on Saturday, while Clint Dempsey‘s loan at Fulham has mercifully ended. He will play in USMNT friendly against Ukraine (if it ends up happening).  If he does play, he will most likely only be in a reserve role for the Sounders in their opener March 8.

In the English Championship, major news out of Bolton has Stuart Holden playing in a U-21 match for the first time on his way back from an ACL tear (more on that later). Tim Ream will most likely feature for the senior side as they host Blackburn.

Brek Shea will look to return to the Barnsley starting lineup, against Huddersfield on Saturday. After starting in four of his first five matches with the club, he has been subbed off at halftime, sat a match, then used off the bench. Part of that could have something to do with the addition of Emmanuel Frimpong at Oakwell.

Freddy Adu failed to secure a contract with an unimpressive trial at Blackpool.

In the Eredivisie, Juan Agudelo has just one goal for FC Utrecht as they battle relegation, hosting 2nd-place Twente this weekend.  They won for the first time since December 18 this past weekend. Meanwhile, Aron Johannsson and AZ Alkmaar are looking to rebound from a 4-0 loss to Ajax as they welcome RKC Waalwijk to AFAS Stadion.

The Bundesliga list of Americans, at least for now, includes a fun new name, as Julian Green chose to train with the USMNT ahead of their (possible) friendly with Ukraine.  Elsewhere, Fabian Johnson has helped Hoffenheim to four points since his return, and figures to be in the mix as they take on Wolfsburg on Sunday. After a good start to the season, John Anthony Brooks continues to ride the bench at Hertha BSC.

Jermaine Jones was unable to feature for Besiktas last weekend against Galatasaray despite his best wishes, but he made his debut today, starting and playing 58 minutes in a 0-0 draw with Antalyaspor.

Anderlecht are still chasing the second spot in Belgium’s Jupiler Pro League, and Sacha Kljestan continues to play a major part. With three matches left in the season, they take on sixth-place Genk on Sunday.

Premier League transfer window grade: Arsenal

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Window Shopping: With only Kim Kallstrom arriving on loan in the window, it was a case of ‘look but don’t touch’ for Arsene Wenger and Arsenal this January. They flirted with the idea of splashing massive amounts of cash on German youngster Julian Draxler, but to spend that much on a 20-year-old, reportedly $54 million, is very steep. The Gunners should have tried to bring in a striker, but they were priced out of plenty of moves. Plugging a gap in midfield was a necessity after a string of injuries and suspensions, but I can’t help but think Wenger will regret not bringing in a top forward to kick his side on for a top four finish.

Players In: Kim Kallstrom (Loan from Spartak Moscow until end of season)

Players Out:  Nico Yennaris (Brentford, $300,000), Anthony Jeffrey (Wycombe, Free), Emmanuel Frimpong (Barnsley, Undisclosed), Benik Afobe (Sheffield Wednesday, Loan), Chuba Akpom (Brentford, Loan), Daniel Boateng (Hibernian, Loan)

RECAP: All the deals on deadline day

Grade: C-

Arsene Wenger had one area to strengthen in the window, and he didn’t get to do it. I get it, it’s tough to find a top striker that’s better than what you have. But let’s be honest, Arsenal haven’t got a lot of options in attack. With Theo Walcott out injured, only Podolski, Bendtner and Giroud can play in the central role. With a hard slog of Champions League, PL and FA Cup matches coming up, they needed more depth. Wenger should have splashed the cash to bring in a top striker. This was the window where they should’ve made a marquee signing. But if a player isn’t available, like Diego Costa, then what can you do?

Bringing in Kallstrom was okay, he will slot in and do a decent job in the absence of Ramsey and Flamini for a few weeks. But I think Arsenal’s fans, and perhaps their manager, expected to do a lot better in this window.