Amid the row over his call-up for a Catalan 'national'
team over Christmas, Cesc Fabregas has confirmed what we suspected all along - playing
football is actually pretty easy.
Early Doors refers specifically to age-old complaints about
fixture congestion and fatigue made by any club whose players have to turn out
more than once a week for any period of time.
Players plead tiredness, managers make grave warnings about
burnout, and the Premier League's
relentless grind is always cited as a reason why England are rubbish at penalties.
Yet Fabregas has blown this pretence to bits by cheerfully stating
that, in the middle of the hectic Christmas period, he wants to go to Barcelona to play a friendly for Catalonia
The basic story is this: Catalonia coach Johan Cruyff has named
Fabregas in his squad for the game on December 22. As the match is not
sanctioned by FIFA, Arsenal do not have to release their skipper and Arsene
Wenger has said he will not be allowed to go. Only, Fabregas has other ideas,
and said the following:
"I'll play for Arsenal this Wednesday against Burnley
and three days after against Hull.
that we have a gap in the Premier League and so on December 22 I will play for Catalonia at the Camp Nou.
are going to have almost a week without any games in the English league, and I
want to take advantage of this by going to Spain
and playing for the Catalan team against Argentina."
and breezy approach to playing every three days for the rest of time will no
doubt enrage his manager, who will bleat on about the physical and mental toll.
it makes perfect sense to anyone who compares the load on footballers - who
merely run around a lot - to the battering taken by players in rugby and the
NFL, where players average one surgery roughly every three-and-a-half weeks.
scoring his first goal for Everton, Wayne Rooney went home and had a kickabout
with his mates. ED certainly cannot imagine rugby players playing 80 minutes
then getting together with friends to indulge in an extra spot of casual
gouging, stamping and spearing
- - -
a trip to Barcelona to jog round the Camp Nou
for an hour or so is probably no more stressful than a Christmas shopping trip
to Brent Cross, ED is not sure he should really be taking part.
is a clue in Fabregas's quote:
"Going to Spain
and playing for the Catalan team."
That's right. Whisper it near George Orwell fans, but Catalonia is not really
Now, ED has no intention of stepping into a row about
Spanish politics, centralisation versus independence and the supposed crushing
of regional identities by General Franco.
This is not the time or the place for such a discussion, and
in any case this blog does not have even the faintest idea what it is talking
about. Feel free to call Early Doors ignorant, because most assuredly is.
What it is sure of, however, is that Fabregas plays for Spain. It knows
this because it distinctly remembers him celebrating last summer with a big
European Championship trophy.
Whether or not Catalonia
ought to be a country, it isn't.
There is no amount of 'Catalonia is not Spain' flags Barcelona
fans can bring to the Camp
Nou that will convince ED
Catalonia does not have a
seat at the United Nations, you can't
travel the world with a Catalan passport, and it is not shaded a different
colour from Spain
in atlases (well, maybe really, really pig-headed ones).
These may all be terrible wrongs that must be righted but,
as noted non-Catalan Rafael Benitez would say, they are also facts.
ED knows it is possible to be both a proud Spaniard and a
proud Catalan, but you could use the same logic to argue for a national team of
Yorkshire, Liverpool or even - perish the
thought! - Wales.
Any player who has the stones to refuse a call-up for the
Spanish national team has ED's
blessing to play for Catalonia.
But not even Oleguer Presas - who juggles his life as a mediocre
defender with a career writing left-wing nationalist literature - has taken
such a step.
If Fabregas plays for Catalonia,
expect Andrei Arshavin, Bacary Sagna and Theo Walcott to get respective
call-ups for Freedonia, Narnia and Teletubbyland in the near future.
They are pictured above in the kits of their second national
teams (it's actually a charity photo
for Great Ormond Street
Hospital, please give generously).
- - -
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "The club takes the conduct of our supporters and
players, and the relationship between them, very seriously. We understand that
the supporter has now withdrawn the complaint and that he and Benoit are due to
speak this week to bring an amicable end to the matter." Tottenham attempt
to draw a line under Benoit Assou-Ekotto and a fan who supposedly said:
"You're s***." ED
understands the fan was actually saying: "Your hair is s***."
FOREIGN VIEW: Internazionale president Massimo Moratti will look into
allegations coach Jose Mourinho was involved in an altercation with a
journalist after Sunday's 1-1 Serie
A draw at Atalanta.
Reports have said a heated argument took place outside the team bus in which
Mourinho, who was banned from the dugout for the match, called one hack "a
son of a whore" and a "s***", telling him to "f*** off back
to the press room".
"For the moment I don't want
to comment as I still don't have all
the facts, but I'm sorry,"
Moratti told reporters.
Italy's sports journalists'
union, already upset by Mourinho's
confrontational attitude towards reporters in recent weeks, has urged Moratti
to act against his coach.
Luigi Ferraiolo, the union's president, said: "The physical and verbal
attack by Mourinho on our colleague marks one of the lowest and most alarming
moments in the relationship between football and the media."
COMING UP: Strike a light! There
are four Premier League games tonight! Sunderland v Aston Villa
at 19:45 UK
time, followed by Manchester United v Wolves, Birmingham
v Blackburn and Bolton
v West Ham all at 20:00.