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The Youth League, Infantino and Salman


For a reason unbeknownst to anyone, the back of the uprights at Chelsea’s training ground are unnecessarily 'held up' with diagonal stanchions. Yesterday, Gil, a Valencia Under-19 midfielder, stepped up and dispatched a daisy-cutter of a penalty just inside the post, however, the ball rebounded off the blasted stanchion and the referee, playing the role of a country bumpkin, adjudged it to have come off the post. Hitting the woodwork would never produce such a curved trajectory, but the bumbling official thought otherwise. The mistake has sent Valencia crashing out of the UEFA Youth League, unless of course the club can successfully appeal the decision.

The outcry yesterday’s events sparked in Spain and further afield demonstrates the level of interest the Youth League has garnered since its inception. The tournament has been a very welcome addition to the European footballing landscape. I was at the Alfredo Di Stéfano Stadium yesterday to watch Madrid dismantle Manchester City. At ten euros a ticket, the ground was packed to the rafters. It was a good match and, as a side note, Borja Mayoral, who is looking ever more the part, was excellent. As a further side note, the Real Madrid Under-19 squad contains two excellent right backs, one of whom, Achraf, scored a cracker against the Sky Blues, while the other, Dani, played at left back. Seeing them in action makes the decision to sign Danilo all the more baffling.

The reason for bringing up the Youth League is to highlight how enjoyable football can be and how repellent it is that some of those administrating the game are robbing us blind. It’s a real shame because the plundering of a small minority is to the detriment of us all, and the truth of the matter is that football works just fine aside from a corrupt few. Over the last few days Jaoquín Maroto has interviewed the two standout candidates for the FIFA presidency: Infantino and Salman. The former proposes sweeping reforms but in the same breathe is ok with Michel Platini continuing to draw a salary from UEFA. Salman is talking about separating the business side from football. The Bahraini Sheikh’s plan sounds better, although it might be tricky to implement. The only reform that’s needed though is for people to stop robbing. Everything else about the game is great.