When the rules that apply no longer apply

by Sam Rider

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

‘Tapping-up’ the bane of the transfer window.

Since the transfer window opened on January 1 football players’ names have been tossed around in the papers like juggling balls at a circus.

Most of the time the names and projected transfers spoken of are merely stories made up by imaginative journalists. Some of my recent favourites have been Didier Drogba and Adriano to Man City, Jermaine Pennant to Milan and Didier Zakora to Real Madrid.

Then again, some of these stories are in fact conjured up by the player, agent or manager in attempts to manufacture a move.

Old ‘Arry Redknapp has been at the centre of such circumstances lately. He was criticised for mentioning his interest in Sunderland star striker Kenwyne Jones. Question marks were raised over the re-capture of his partner-in-crime Jermaine Dafoe. Now rumours regarding the unsettled Robbie Keane are rife and mentions of a move for the Irish captain have practically been forced into Redknapp’s mouth.

This unsettling or ‘tapping-up’ of contracted players or is more common than the flu at this time of year.

Now most people in football, over fear for reputation as well as fear for incurring a fine, will make every attempt to ensure they cannot be tarnished with the tapping-up brush. Yet for some peculiar reason this devious tactic is intrinsic to the running of some of the world’s best clubs – namely Spain’s Real Madrid.
Ramon Calderon last week stepped down from his position as “President” of Real Madrid after allegations of corruption and vote-rigging. The same week saw another President, Mr. Obama, be sworn in as the 44th leader of the US.

Suffice to say, election campaigns and Democracy have been under the spotlight across the political and football globe. And under that spotlight Barack Obama captured his audience and their imagination with the three simple abstract nouns of “hope”, “change” and “freedom”. Whereas the three catch words that shaped Mr. Calderon’s rise to power and epitomised the majority of his reign were “Robben”, “Fabregas” and “Kaka”.

In his attempts to be elected he used these players and the mystical quality that their reference cast upon Real supporters to take the Madrid hot seat. Yet Calderon only managed to capture the Dutch winger from Chelsea and was a country mile from securing the talents of the other two. So why is the name dropping of such stars accepted in Madrid yet persecuted in London (Tottenham)?

Calderon and past Presidents of Real such as Florentino Perez that have overseen the evolution of the Spanish giants to the sometimes farcical “los Galacticos” have shaped their election campaigns on such big names. Perez started with Figo and went on to dislodge and then sign up Zidane, Ronaldo, Beckham, Owen and Robinho on a yearly basis and in doing so set the record transfer fee of £46m for the Frenchman, arguably paving the way for future inflated bids (see Kaka 2009 transfer window).

So Calderon unequivocally ‘tapped-up’ Messrs Robben, Fabregas and Kaka yet faced no punishment. The overly documented saga of Real’s chase for World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo is perhaps the most obvious reason why such unscrupulous behaviour should face an international outlawing.

As soon as his name was mentioned, a war of words erupted and a tinder keg of transfer rumours exploded into life which I’m sure everyone could have done without all summer. This way of life in football makes it impossible for selling clubs to build any resemblance of a settled team and you can see why I hate the time of year when the Presidential elections start gathering pace for this Iberian club.

The role of the President at the football club focuses too much on marketing the brand and not on the improvement of the football; not to mention the most blatant exhibition of ‘tapping-up’ on show in world football.

But who can be relied on to lead the challenge to this flawed system? I personally wouldn’t trust FIFA’s Sepp Blatter or UEFA’s Michel Platini to catch a cold let alone sort out this mess.

At least Barcelona are salvaging some credibility with their devotion to the youth system and maintaining a glimmer of integrity for the La Liga title race. Then again, as soon as the dust settles on that race, the pursuit for the likely targets Ibrahimovic, Drogba and who knows – the fashionable-again Beckham will inevitably spark off yet another drawn out election campaign and the transfer turmoil will ensue.

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  • Darren

    who cares! We got Ashavin!!!

  • Sam

    As much as Arshavin could prove to be a good signing, what happens when he kicks up a fuss about the lack of special treatment he gets under Wenger’s policy of equality? He almost made you miss out on him because he wouldn’t budge on his demands. He could turn out to be another Alex Hleb and just use you as a stepping stone to Barca…You won’t be so happy come July when Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho and the Real President are dropping hints about their interest in Andrey!

  • http://www.ukfootballfinder.co.uk Darren

    come on, the guy deserves some credit, he dropped his wages to join us! He could turn out to be the new Pires, which is exactly what we need!

    Pleb was the most over rated player ever to play to Arsenal, I hosted a party when he left, was great business!

  • Sam

    Lets hope he is the new Pires – the feuds between Wazza Rooney and Robert were always worth the watch. Lets hope the Russian doesn’t opt for the Dracula like side burns that Pires fashioned during his spell in the Prem.

    Guess we’ll have to watch this space…if you have a strong defensive foil in midfield, the likes of Fabregas, Rosicky, Arshavin and Walcott would have most defences worried. Doubt they would be up for much of a physical battle with the likes of Bolton/Blackburn tho.

  • http://www.ukfootballfinder.co.uk Darren

    I was kind of hoping we’d sign one, Appiah would have been perfect, but he was training with the Spuds though, so don’t want know Spud reject!

    If we can finish 4th, I’d be happy, get all our players back add a few more then next season 2nd is ours. United are to good at the moment!

  • Martin Tibbetts

    Thats a new record! A piece about tapping up becomes a discussion board on bloody Arsenal in one post. Really, there are other teams in football you know.

    Good piece. I persoannly think Real Madrid are a disgrace, and as for Harry Redknapp, he plays the transfer mill like a Steinway and still always ends up with a poor side…..

  • Sam

    Yeah got kinda side tracked there. Real Madrid do lead the way in general dishonesty and dirty tactics – Calderon felt it necessary to bypass the usual route for obtaining Ronaldo by urging him to ignore Fergie’s pleas for the Portuguese to stay, as the Scotsman was a ‘senile old fool’. Way to make friends eh? Then again he’s probably not a mile off there.

    The role of the President is just as detrimental to the game as the Director of Football has proven – just ask Spurs’ predecessor. It will take a good few seasons more of wealing and dealing for Harry to put the Londoners back on course. He rarely seems to go for any player for the long term and thats why he’s perpetually dipping into the transfer quagmire.

  • Darren

    sorry Martin, my fault there!

    they do things totally different in Spain, players can’t sign a professional contract until they are 16, hence why Fabregas played for u know who at such a early age. Barcelona could keep hold of him

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