Gianni Infantino clearly knows how to get some positive press.
His very first day in the Fifa top job – a job that belonged to yoda’s evil twin Sepp Blatter for the last 382 years – he somehow organises a match with a group of football legends, garnering barely a single critical word.
The independent: Gianni Infantino celebrates Fifa election success with legends football match
The Guardian: Fifa president Gianni Infantino wants to reignite ‘love of the game’
Ah, the love of the game. Friendly rich ex-pros laughing for the cameras. That’s what it’s all about. Putting the fun back into Fifa.
Wrong, wrong, WRONG.
When financier Guy Hands took over Odeon cinemas, he had to stop executives thinking they worked in Hollywood. He reminded everyone that they were in the popcorn business, not the movie business.
Infantino needs to realise he’s not in the football business. Not in the sense of running a club, building dreams, having them shattered and doing it all again next season. He’s in the business of organising events – World Cups, specifically. Who bids for them, how the TV money is distributed, and managing the reserve fund in the intervening years. Nothing else matters.
If he does his job well, no-one should recognise him, care about what he says, or pay him any attention. He needs to create a boring, transparent governing body that gets almost no news coverage. It is based in Switzerland, so that’s a good start. But he should forget the star-studded kickabouts, and get on with the job. (Related: read what’s wrong with sports officials by Simon Kuper)
Anyway, here are six recent stories that you should read:
How the Chinese Super League is reshaping Brazilian soccer. It’s a sobering thought, but this year the Chinese Super League — the national league of a country that has qualified for the World Cup once, and lost all three of its games without scoring a single goal — will boast a richer stock of talent than the game’s most storied soccer nation.
Sometimes a basketball player comes along that makes you think they are from another planet. Michael Jordan did, whereas for all his skills, LeBron James hasn’t quite. Right now, Stephen Curry is that player.
Italians are generally good at sport. They have been in the 6 Nations for 16 years now. So, asks the Economist, why are Italy are so bad at rugby?
If you know about cricket, you probably know that Don Bradman had an average of 99.94. But there’s one player who had an average of 112. He was a West Indian batsman caught up in the racial politics of colonial cricket, who made a century on his international debut and never played another Test. A fascinating portrait of Andy Ganteaume, who recently died aged 95.
The Republic of Baseball. It’s beginning again in America, with players gathering at spring training sites in Florida and Arizona. But in the Dominican Republic, baseball never really stops. –
“You did it for the money”. The real story behind NFL owners’ battle to bring football back to Los Angeles.
Also of note:
Canada skates its way to the bottom of the NHL
Don’t call Leicester a fairytale – you’ll miss what they’re doing
It’s not just the money: the quality of signings suggest China could become a major power in club football.
Broken bodies on the WTA Tour: why are so many top women so often injured?
Why the literati love Muhammad Ali.