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Thursday Kickoff: FA chief aims for 2022 World Cup title; Messi pays tax sum; and more

GregDykeEnglishFA (Getty)


The Football Associaton’s new Chairman, Greg Dyke, has laid out his vision of saving English soccer, including the goal of an England World Cup title in 2022, in a media lunch on Wednesday.

Dyke, who said that English soccer has a “serious problem” due to the amount of foreign players and coaches in the English Premier League, also played down the Three Lions’ chances at the upcoming World Cup, assuming they qualify, saying that they certainly wouldn’t have been looked at as favorites.

The former BBC Director General alluded to statistics that point to he decline of English players playing in the Premier League and that within the last 20 years, the percentage of England-eligible starters in the EPL has dropped from 69 percent to 32 percent.

“Last weekend only 65 English players started in the Premier League with another 14 coming on as substitutes,” Dyke said to the Guardian. “Taking into account that some of these players are not international standard, I think it’s fair to say we already have a very small talent pool and it’s getting smaller.”

Though it’s far away, Dyke said that he wanted the England National Team to be at a point where they are in the semifinals of Euro 2020 and winning the World Cup in 2022.

Here are some more stories to get your Thursday kicked off:


After being accused of tax fraud in June, Barcelona forward Lionel Messi and his father have paid a sum of €5 million ($6.6 million) to the Spanish tax authorities, according to reports in Spain.

The Argentine deposited the money as a “corrective payment” late last month according to court documents, despite the Messi family claiming that they had done nothing wrong and the accusations were false.

Messi and his father were alleged to have hid away more than €4 million by filing false tax returns, and hiding the other income in businesses located in Belize, Uruguay, Switzerland, and the UK. The two are expected in court on September 17, though the Messi’s lawyer has asked for a postponement.


Prior to the start of the current La Liga season, Barcelona and Spanish National Team goalkeeper Victor Valdes announced that this season would be his last at the club, and that he would take a new challenge at a new club next season.

Barcelona considered selling the 31-year-old this summer, but without an immediate replacement, they held off. However, knowing that Valdes will be gone come June, the Barcelona front office have begun to look for replacements, with a ready made one in Atletico Madrid’s on-loan goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, according to reports in Spain.

The Belgian goalkeeper has produced tremendous performances in two seasons with Atletico, on loan from Chelsea, and the 21-year-old shot stopper is reportedly interested in a move to the Camp Nou next season. Barcelona has also had their eye on German international Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, though Spanish publication Marca believes that the Spanish club will only sign one of Ter Stegen or Courtois next summer.


One day before their World Cup qualifying match against Austria, Germany’s midfield has received yet another injury blow.

After already being without the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger due to an ankle injury, the German National Team medical staff announced that midfielder Lars Bender has been ruled out of both of Germany’s World Cup qualifiers in the coming days against Austria and the Faroe Islands due to a hip injury.

The injury forces could force Germany to play attacking midfielder Toni Kroos alongside Sami Khedira in a 4-2-3-1 formation that Joachim Löw has used recently. On the bright side, Germany assistant coach Hansi Flick said that the hip problem isn’t serious and that they expect Bender to play in his club Bayer Leverkusen’s next match, next Saturday against Wolfsburg.


When Philipp Lahm takes the field for Germany against Austria on Friday, he’ll earn his 100th career cap, joining seven other players including Miroslav Klose, Franz Beckenbauer, and Jurgen Klinsmann. (REPORT)

Both Vasco Da Gama and Corinthians in Brazil have been banned from having home supporters in their next four games each, with the first two behind closed doors and the second two matches having just away fans inside. (REPORT)

Fiorentina striker Mario Gomez revealed he turned down a move to Real Madrid because of the potential competition between him and Karim Benzema. (REPORT)

The LFP have announced the kickoff times for the next three weeks of matches, including placing the Madrid derby at the Bernabeu Stadium on September 28 to begin at 10pm local. (REPORT)

After a month-long trial, Jose Mourinho’s 14-year-old son, Jose Mario Mourinho, has signed for Fulham’s youth academy. (REPORT)


What do you think of these reports? Do you agree that English soccer has a huge problem on it’s hands? Do you believe Messi is all finished with his tax issues now? Do you see Courtois as a strong replacement for Valdes?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. England is the most overated soccer nation ever. The team that win the World Cup was the worst team to ever win the World Cup and probably th worst ref.

    If the Premiership was in the US we would win 70% of all the World Cups

  2. The entire football culture is just too darn conservative, pragmatic and lacking in creativity and risk taking in England. They beat all creativity and risk taking completely out of their players at an early age. Everyone has to be molded into their little role into the team and no one is allowed to grow. The only way a native can get playing time on most EPL sides is to fill a specific role like Beckham’s crossing the ball. If you are fast, they immediately force you on the wings and make you lob in crosses and don’t give you any chance to develop. If you are big, don’t bother developing technically. Your only ticket is to head the ball in the goal or out of the goal. Joe Cole was pretty much harassed out of the league. If you are going to have any chance at being a creative player, you better be so productive at an obscenely young age a la Owen and Rooney that Managers will let you alone.

    • The entire football culture is just too darn conservative, pragmatic and lacking in creativity and risk taking in the US. They beat all creativity and risk taking completely out of their players at an early age. Everyone has to be molded into their little role into the team and no one is allowed to grow. If you are fast, they immediately force you on the wings and make you lob in crosses and don’t give you any chance to develop. If you are big, don’t bother developing technically. Your only ticket is to head the ball in the goal or out of the goal. J

      • No, there is a large part of the infrastructure that still looks to the English model for inspiration, I’ll grant you, but there are so many influences that are coming to the fore now in American soccer. The hispanic population in the US is enormous and growing all the time and US Soccer is finally starting to do a much better job of reaching out to that demographic as it is easy to see with our U20 team.

  3. AC Milan coming out and specifically stating Kaka will not be sold to LA and that no deal is in place with LA. not really surprising given they have 3 DPs now. but SiriusXM FC did report yesterday that Kaka was ready to move to an MLS team but the MLS team lost out simply because the transfer window closed in August. since Ancelloti had yet to decide how Kaka would figure into his plans, by the time the decision was made that Kaka was surplus, it was too late for any MLS team to buy.

    before AC Milan’s comments, i wondered if it was Orlando and that if they got his signature, MLS would award them the franchise (which would have been a little silly to be honest). sounds like it was LA though. interesting insight.

      • for sure, im sure he’ll still end up with Orlando. but i just found the story interesting because it sounded like LA had it locked up which surprised me given all the Orlando talk.

  4. Um, guys, the WC is played every four years. So … that’s not really good odds anyone will win it anytime “soon.”

    Since England last won it in ’66, a total of of six countries have won the World Cup (Brazil, Italy, Germany, Argentina, France and Spain). Of that group, Germany last one it 23 years ago — Argentina 27 years ago.

    So, yeah, it does’t happen a lot … for anybody not named Brazil.

  5. I know I’ll get butchered for saying this, but I think the USA will win a wod cup before England gets another one. That may not be for another 12-20 years but I think it will happen.

    • you are correct sir. It is a very hard task for any nation to win a WC. But the US will be a power house in the near future. Even when we are a top 5 team, it will still be extremely hard to win a WC.

    • Demographics are on our side. Both size and culturally. Naw, you are not crazy. It’s not a sure thing but I agree we have a better chance.

  6. Haven’t read all the comments, but if I were a betting man, I would have no problem putting down a large sum of my money on the USA winning their first World Cup before England wins their 2nd.

  7. Everything wrong with English football could be summed up when Beckham resigned the captaincy. If I was the England manager, I would have given the band to Gerrard and said, “The attack moves through him, our most creative player.” Instead, they gave it to Terry the thug AND they moved Gerrard out of the central spot to accommodate Lampard. It was like a declaration of loyalty to how soccer was played back in ’66.

    I’m also reminded of a comment a Brazil player once said about Beckham, who he believed could have been a great player in the Brazilian style, but growing up in England made him a one dimensional player. (Admittedly better at that one dimension than anyone else, but the point stands.)

    The problem with England is not foreigners in the EPL. It’s in the very culture of English football.

      • This is not a serious question. Terry is a thug on the feild and off, a complete low life. Gerrard had one incident, about which he maintained he acted in self-defense, insisted on a trial and was found not guilty. If you are referring to on field behavior, Gerrad is a tough guy to deal with, but he is talented and creative. Terry has nothing but thuggery.

  8. One easy problem is young English players sitting on the bench of EPL clubs when they should be in playing in the Championship. England’s bigger problem is not that they don’t create talent but the kind of talent they create. They have a fine number of goal scores in the squad but no creative play makers. When they come together they have a bunch of selfish players looking for there own shot.

      • I think their gripe is more subtle. First, EPL is the “home” league for English players so they expect a higher percentage of home players, particularly because English players are not in high demand abroad (Spain, Germany, Italy, etc). Second, the general trend of going from 69 percent of home players to 32 percent is troubling for them.

  9. Ives/Dan – would love to see similar data for MLS each week. # of Americans starting vs. Making the game day 18, goals, etc…. I’d surely hope that MLS as an organization tracks such data….

  10. Ahhhm, there’s a bigger chance of a green alien from Mars showing up at the White House front loan with “Greetings, humans” than England winning (or getting anywhere near close to winning) a World Cup in our life time.

    With who, with Welbeck scoring all the goals and with Woy masterfully navigating the tactical intricacies of the game…riiiight….

  11. this is a poor excuse. More foreigners just enhance the competitivity and make a filter for the absolutely best English players to remain.

    The reason of their lack of success is they’re just not on the same level as other countries with more people and longer history on the international stage. Isolation was their problem for many years.

    • But they do have a development issue they need to address. The employment laws across the EU/EEA mean that they are going to have more and more players coming into their player pool who aren’t eligible for England (mostly because the money & exposure are better). It would be if MLS were inundated with Green Card and refugee visa holders who crowded out the younger US talent. Under the law here, there’s not a lot you could do to prevent it, though you might find some ways to still develop US talent by working around the system.

      I’d be interested in seeing what the comparable stats are for “home country eligible” talent in Germany, France, Spain and the Netherlands.

    • This. I can’t stand it when they blame the foreign players. Yes, perhaps, foreigners are an issue at the youth level. But they have already addressed that. They just need to wait for it to filter through the system.

      The problem with English players is the same with American: It’s still about size. There’s even a story about Paul Scholes. Fergie said to cut him from the youth team because he was too small. The youth manager argued against it, Fergie finally agreed, and the rest is history.

      2022 is a reasonable goal for England because of the money they’ve invested in youth soccer. I hope we, the US, isn’t too far behind.

    • It doesn’t help that England just play a game of choose the best/famous 11. I love that Carrick has less caps than his age, just because he does boring stuff like pass the ball. But Gareth Barry is an all action hero! So he gets called up.

      I actually think England should be able to put together a team that plays fairly well, not amazing but competent. Somehow it just never feels like it watching them.

      • I believe its also a problem with the money available in England in both the EPL and the championship. A lot of players won’t go somewhere else because they can’t make the same amount of money on the continent. Fiscally for the players its not a bad problem to have, they can make the same or better money staying at home on the bench of middling club instead of going abroad, but there are a limited number of spots every week. On the continent there are a lot more spots available to them, but also getting paid less money.
        Unless the FA start getting strict with Visas then its going to be a problem.
        Tim Ream and Robbie Findley are good MLS players but after a couple of caps did they really deserve a special exception?

      • I agree. the number of english players playing abroad I would guess is very low relative to their general footballing status as a nation – we probably have as many yanks playing abroad in top 10 leagues.

        There also seems to be a general lack of urgency in the England team when they play. Almost like they expect to win because they are England, and dont show any real guts.

      • Perhaps, after players reach a certain age, the English could ship off their most promising players to Holland? It seems to have done Jozy a world of good, so why not just loan or sell a bunch of good, promising teenagers to teams in Holland and see who comes back as a world class player? I am sure there are at least a dozen or so youngsters each year that Dutch managers would love to have on their rosters.

      • Money is a big driver as well as the cultural isolation with the rest of Europe. I heard some English announcer the other day say that diving was a “European issue,” meaning it had nothing to do with the UK.

      • +1 they have their future stars; caulker, ox, stearling, townsend, zaha, etc sitting epl benches (along side the current star Rooney) watching old news Gerrard, Lampard, Cole, etc play vs the rest of the epl… When was the last time one of their future stars took a loan to a Dutch team or one of their better players who wasnt in an ideal situation: Defoe, Rooney, to a move off their island to la liga or the bundesliga?

        Dont blame the clubs! Blame the players and FA managers!

      • Agreed. They need a manager who chooses a system and plays the best players for that system. Not just the best players.

        I think our own Klinsi does this rather well (recently). Sure Beckerman isn’t a great player, and he did poorly under Bradley. However, in Klinsi’s system he excels. Why? Because a DM’s only responsibility is to stay disciplined and protect the backline – which is all Beckerman knows.

        Zusi isn’t our best winger, but he’s very productive in Klinsi’s system because his system gets the most out of Zusi. It utilizes his workrate and his crossing. Whereas Bradley’s wingers were needed for speed and goals.

      • Good point. However, even though they are memebers of the EU, they don’t don’t always go along with the EU, hince why they still have Pounds and not Euros. Not sure if they could change or modify the work permit rules.

      • Joining the Euro currency was voluntary and put up to a vote (it was so uncertain, there’s even a movie out there with stealing the old pound notes just before the deadline was a major plot point). The employment laws across the EU/EEA are pretty much required to be part of the EU.

        In many ways, it’s the price they have for having the top-paying league. As long as you attract the money, you are going to get people crossing the borders.

        But it could lead to a decrease in the availability of work permits for non-EU players.

      • I don’t remember where I read this, but I think there is some talk among Conservatives in England (and especially around London) that the UK should pull out of the EU entirely. The reason being that they their banks to be regulated by Europeans and would prefer much laxer standards. A future in which the UK isn’t part of the EU is a possibility, and I think it would be interesting to see what would happen if a newly independent UK decided to cap the number of foreigners in the EPL. My guess is that the English would soon be able to see the awfulness of their academies in subpar play, and maybe then they might start thinking about soccer in fresh ways.

      • It’s certainly a possibility and it would play havoc with the EPL (though I think it would be stupid to make themselves outsiders of the economic union sitting right across the channel from them).

      • No, they could do that. The Premiership is technically fully domestic, so they can do whatever they want and the EU can’t say anything about it. Plenty of other European leagues have similar rules.

      • Sorry, see Bosman ruling:

        The Bosman ruling also prohibited domestic football leagues in EU member states, and also UEFA, from imposing quotas on foreign players to the extent that they discriminated against nationals of EU states.

        Several leagues have a quota of non-EU/EEA players, but they can’t discriminate by setting a limit on non-English/UK players.

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