Our Poor Under 17s and UEFA
Well it looked all rosy on Wednesday afternoon didn’t it? Just after throwing away a 2-0 lead with 3 minutes remaining, Zoltan Farkas found himself unmarked at the back post to make it 3-2 and send the Hungarian Under 17s to their first European Championships since 2006.
Or so they thought. News broke last night that Belgium were appealing to UEFA over a Russian lad named, Maksim Ermakov, who should have been suspended for the game vs Belgium, but played the full 80 minutes.
I mean, I’m guessing this lad has super powers or something because Belgium were adamant they should be awarded a 3-0 win (instead of the 1-0 win they got thanks to a goal 10 minutes from time), because this young scamp rebelled (or just played not knowing he was suspended).
Yup, the rules are there and you shouldn’t play ineligible players, so seeing as Belgium were out as of Wednesday afternoon, they were like “Fuck it, we might as well appeal to see where it gets us.”
I honestly believe Belgium didn’t think they had a chance in hell that they would be awarded a 3-0 win (that would put them one goal ahead of Hungary on Goal Difference) to send to them to Slovakia in May.
But, of course it did and now we’re left in this ridiculous situation.Hungary, who drew toBelgiumin the opening game have literally (Richard) done nothing wrong. They turned up, beatWales5-1, beatRussia3-2 and drew toBelgium2-2 (after throwing away a 2-1 lead with an extra man). But somehow they find themselves out of the tournament thanks to the Russians.
I mean, we could think up some wild conspiracy that the Russian government did it on purpose so that Hungary, a former Communist country, would eventually go out, and then those pesky Ruski’s can have a good old chortle.
But seeing as that is almost as far-fetched as sending Belgiumthrough ahead ofHungary, I think we’ll leave that Conspiracy Theory to the anti-commies.
Now back to seriousness, this will have a huge detrimental effect on this group of players. The scenes were for all to be seen after the final whistle. The players were absolutely delighted, and why not? This was the biggest game they’ve ever played, and to win it in such circumstances againstRussiaof all nations to get to the first European Championships since 2006, they had every right to partayyyy.
But now they’ll be sitting at home, probably crying, dismayed at this stupid UEFA ruling which hasn’t even given them a chance of going to Slovakia. Tournament football is vital to international success. It’s for all to be seen that teams who do well at youth tournaments, usually do well in a senior tournaments later down the line e.g. Spain. And seeing as some people in Hungary are saying that this team “is better than the Under 20 World Cup bronze medallists”, that just shows how good they are – they could have won that tournament in May!
What else could have been done? Ermm, nothing. Seeing as it was one player who was ineligible, how much impact did he really have on the game. Did he personally prevent Belgium scoring two goals? I doubt it. He also picked up a booking (sounds like a notorious villain), which wouldn’t have helped his team seeing as he plays in defence. Just punish Russia?
A playoff? Well surely that’s better than just booting one team out of the competition for another teams fault. It’s not exactly hard to rearrange anyway. Not like you’re rearranging a bloody World Cup.
The thing is, Hungaryknew that if the beat Russiain the final group game, they would be through, it was almost as simple as that unless Belgium beat Wales 5-0 (they beat them 3-0). But had Hungaryknown about this ruling, then maybe they would have shut up shop when they were 2-0 up (seeing as that would have sent them through). But to send a team out after all the games have been played, when they have no chance at all to respond is ludicrous!
As you can tell, I’m rather pissed off at this ruling and I feel for the players so, so badly. In the words of Mark Lawrenson, I hope Michel Platini’s “squirming in his seat”. But seeing as he hates Hungary anyway, I doubt he gives two hoots.