Monday, March 20, 2023

Notebook: Platini files criminal complaint against FIFA president Infantino, Atalanta address racism, more

Another week of European soccer is nearly in the books and the UEFA Champions League was a back with a bang as Villarreal CF stunned Bayern Munich among other results. A few stories might have escaped your attention, so we are there to put them back on your radar.

Some picks.

Platini attacks Infantino legally

Disgraced ex-UEFA supremo Michel Platini has filed a criminal complaint against FIFA president Gianni Infantino this week over “active influence peddling” with the French soccer legend demanding that the former FIFA colleague Marco Villiger is part of any investigation. Platini was charged with fraud back in November and has been serving a ban from the sport alongside ex-FIFA president Sepp Blatter while both men await trial over an alleged payment between them.

Why it matters: Platini has acted against FIFA before, but this time it comes after the 66-year-old recently discussed potential ambitions to return as French Football Federation president if he was asked to be a candidate. The Frenchman and Infantino has previous, and his criminal complaint filed last November is the latest twist in this ugly legal saga.  

Atalanta pledge action over Kouliably racism

Serie A side Atalanta BC have vowed to act against the supporter caught on video racially abusing SSC Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly. “It still saddens me that there’s racism in football,” said Marten de Roon. “On behalf of all the TRUE Atalanta fans and the people of Bergamo, I’d like to apologize to Koulibaly.”  

Why it matters: Sadly, despite numerous examples of this, including a Bergamo-based spectator during a Milan match toward Mike Maignan, racism continues to reoccur in Italian soccer to reignite the discussion as to how it can be eradicated.

Alaves sack Mendilibar after 12 games

LaLiga basement battlers Alaves have dismissed Jose Luis Mendilibar after just 12 games as they fight against looming relegation with six points between them and safety.  

Why it matters: This is just another example of how little patience there is in the modern game with Alaves unable to show their boss any patience given the importance of remaining in the top flight.

Freiburg appeal against Bayern rejected

The German FA have rejected an appeal from Freiburg against last week’s 4-1 home loss to Bayern Munich, instead ruling that it was the fault of the officials that the Bundesliga champions briefly had 12 men on the pitch. “The minor contribution of fault by Bayern … takes a back seat to the misconduct of the referees,” said DFB sports court chairman Stephan Oberholz.

Why it matters: Replaying the game would not have been ideal for Bayern as they remain in Champions League contention while Freiburg lose ground in the race for Champions League qualification.

Cabella rejoins Montpellier

Remy Cabella has returned to formative club Montpellier HSC where he won the 2011-12 Ligue 1 title after rescinding his contract with Krasnodar in Russia. The Frenchman was a key part of their unexpected title success and makes an emotional return to Stade de la Mosson where he started his career.  

Why it matters: The 32-year-old remains a talent while Le Championnat loses another after Hatem Ben Arfa was suspended by Lille OSC for the latest in a long line of disciplinary issues throughout his career.

Dynamo and Shakhtar confirm peace tour

Ukrainian giants Dynamo Kyiv and Shakhtar Donetsk have confirmed that they will soon be on the road to play teams like Legia Warsaw and Olympiacos in the first games played by either side since Russia declared war.  

Why it matters: The idea is to raise funds while also preparing Ukrainian players for potential World Cup qualifiers this summer to stand any chance of being able to compete.

Red Star fans oppose 777 takeover

Genoa and Standard Liege owners 777 Partners are trying to complete the buyout of French third-tier club Red Star, but the cult club’s fanbase are unimpressed by developments and are vocally opposing the proposal.

“How can we believe that a financial group based in Miami could show sincere interest in the sporting project of a Seine Saint-Denis football club?” read a supporters’ statement. “This project, and the method with which it seems to be set up, goes against our values. This same type of organization (multi-club) has cost the stability and future of many clubs. Success stories do not exist.”

Why it matters: Several clubs are changing hands at present with Real Zaragoza under new ownership in Spain and AS Saint-Etienne now off the market. Responsible ownership is more important than ever and the fact that 777 are looking to AS Nancy Lorraine’s Pacific Media Group despite their woeful Ligue 2 performance has Red Star supporters worried as does Joshua Wander’s drug trafficking arrest history. There is also the news that cryptocurrency group WAGMI United LLC, who failed in a takeover bid for Bradford City last year, have successfully completed the purchase of Crawley Town suggesting that a new type of club ownership model could be about to be on the rise.

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