Saturday, February 27, 2016

Hooligan's Wake Up: All Hail Supreme Leader Infantino

FC Koln 0-1 Hertha Berlin
(Ibisevic 43')

La Liga
Eibar 0-1 Las Palmas
(Bigas 45+1')

Ligue 1
Nice 0-2 Bastia
(Diallo 61', Ayite 64')

Liga MX
Veracruz 0-0 Pumas UNAM

FIFA has it's new leader, and that man is Gianni Infantino, the UEFA General Secretary who had been acting president since Michel Platini got clipped for massive corruption. Infantini's victory was something of an upset, as Sheikh Salman was expected to come out ahead. He was aided, perhaps, by the withdrawal of Tokyo Sexwale before the election even started. It took two rounds of voting to narrow it down to Infantino,

Infantino, like all the candidates, knows the need for reform. He isn't extremely open about his ideas, but he will end up being more of a figurehead anyway. Before the presidential election, FIFA's member nations passed wide reaching reforms that effect the entire executive structure of the organization. The president's job will be more about outreach and public relations rather than administration and will be limited the three four year terms. The Executive Committee will be replaced with a new FIFA Council that will contain at least six women at any time. These council members will also have to follow the same term limits as the president.

Infantino's manifesto features more than just these reforms. The main one that affects us fans is his calls for a 40 team World Cup by 2026. He is big on growing the game in smaller countries, and a larger World Cup field will certainly help do that. He also wants FIFA money to go directly to confederations and member states to help grow the game at every level. He wants money to go to each federation for development projects and travel expenses. He also wants each confederation to get paid for continent wide development as well as international tournaments at all age groups.

This is all well and good, but what we all want is an end to corruption and bribery. I don't know if Infantino, or any of the candidates, truly have what it takes to get that extremely difficult task done.

In non-political news, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain is joining Arsenal's injury ward. The winger injured his knee in a collision with Javier Mascherano on Tuesday in Champions League action. He could miss six to seven weeks. Thankfully, the emergence of Joel Campbell and the re-return of Theo Walcott should minimize the effects of his time in the infirmary.

Paris-St. Germain right back Serge Aurier has been suspended for some comments he made in a video posted to social media about the club and its manager. He was gone indefinitely, but the club as provided him an avenue to return to the first team. He will spend three weeks with the reserves, and if he is a good boy and stays out of trouble he can return to the first team afterwards.

We also were treated to the Europa League Round of 16 draw:

Shakhtar Donetsk v. Anderlecht
FC Basel v. Sevilla
Borussia Dortmund v. Tottenham
Fenerbah├že v. Braga
Villarreal v. Bayer Leverkusen
Athletic Bilbao v. Valencia
Liverpool v. Manchester United
Sparta Prague v. Lazio
Liverpool v. Manchester United is the highlight of the round with Dortmund and Tottenham coming right behind. We also get an all-Spain matchup between Villarreal and Valencia. The first legs will go down on March 10 with the seconds on March 17.

Today's Matches
Premier League
West Ham v. Sunderland- 7:45am- NBCSN
Leicester City v. Norwich City- 10am- NBCSN
Southampton v. Chelsea- 10am
Stoke City v. Aston Villa- 10am
Watford v. AFC Bournemouth- 10am
West Bromwich Albion v. Crystal Palace- 12:30pm- NBC

Hamburg SV v. Ingolstadt 04- 9:30am
VfB Stuttgart v. Hannover 96- 9:30am
VfL Wolfsburg v. Bayern Munich- 9:30am- FS2
Werder Bremen v. SV Darmstadt 98- 9:30am

La Liga
Real Madrid v. Atletico Madrid- 10am- beIN
Getafe v. Celta Vigo- 12:15pm
Sporting Gijon v. Espanyol- 12:15pm
Real Betis v. Rayo Vallecano- 2:30pm
Real Sociedad v. Malaga- 4:05pm

Serie A
Empoli v. AS Roma- 12pm- beIN
AC Milan v. Torino- 2:45pm

Ligue 1
Montpillier v. Lille- 11am
Guingamp v. Angers- 2pm
Stade de Reims v. Bordeaux- 2pm
Toulouse v. Stade Rennes- 2pm
Troyes v. Lorient- 2pm

Liga MX
Cruz Azul v. Monterrey- 6pm- Univision Deportes
Santos v. Puebla- 8pm
UANL v. Club America- 8pm- Uinivsion Deportes
Leon v. Chiapas- 9:06pm- NBC Universo
Morelia v. Queretaro- 9:30pm
Toluca v. Pachuca- 10pm- Univsion Deportes
Dorados de Sinaloa v. Atlas- 10pm- ESPN Deportes

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