Das Reboot – Questionnaire!

Let’s say this is my project.  During the Christmas holidays I finished reading Das Reboot by Raphael Honigstein. While I reading I had so many questions, that I wandas-reboot-e1501273453968.jpgted to stop and pen them down. But then I also wanted to finish the book as I could not resist what was in the next line, paragraph, page or chapter! So I promised myself to read it again which I did in the beginning of the summer holidays. Of course, this time with taking notes and jotting down all the questions.  So here it is, my long list of questions for the author.  And yes, I will have a separate post (will be up in a few days) about the book itself.

Rafa, here is my long list of questions. I know you are busy with Klopp’s (Bring The Noise) book. Also, it may not be possible for you to answer all the questions. Or you may choose not to answer at all.  Nonetheless, it would be great if you are able to answer at least some.

Bring the noise
Coming soon!

Or let me try this format…

First five questions compulsory; out of the remaining 29, attempt any 10. If you have time you can attempt as many as possible (or all)! Or you could even ignore this and answer whichever question(s) you want to. Best part about this questionnaire – there is no set time limit! All questions are from the syllabus, i.e. from the book!

Here is my list of questions for you, Rafa! A big thank you in advance!

  1. The World Cup at home in 2006 drove the FA into action – crises management response. If the WC was not at home, would we have seen these reforms?
  2. You mentioned that plans were sitting in the drawers, dusted. Nobody asked why they were just sitting there? Nobody thought of giving it any attention? Also, if Germany had reached the semis in France, would the plans have still sat in the drawers?
  3. How would history judge Joachim Löw? German public know him now or does he still keep a low profile? Did you speak with him for this book?
  4. How is the team spirit now? Do you believe a repeat of Euro 2012 will take place – at least in the next 2-3 decades? Also, you have written about the wonderful team spirit during 2014 WC. There absolutely were no camps/no infighting  (like you briefly mentioned the pro-Schweini/pro-Bayern, pro Khedira camps) in the team? Or this too was kept away from the media/managed to get hidden in the success.  Any friction in the coaching staff?
  5. It is not possible for any team to stay on top forever. But do you believe that Germany can ever again see the kind of slump they witnessed in the 90s or will this system that is put in place take care of itself?
  6. Was it deliberate not to have photos in the book?
  7. Rafa, when Klinsmann began his reform drive – were you convinced or you too had doubts/ you too were skeptical about his methods?
  8. How many players and coaching (talking about Germany) staff have read this book – both past and present?
  9. When Klinsmann began his tenure, he faced resistance. How do people see his methods and contribution now, especially those connected with the sport?
  10. What is Ralf Rangnick standing in German football? No, not as RB chief, but how do people perceive him now, especially all those who laughed at him in the beginning?
  11. Revolution of youth, both players and especially coaches, like young coaches in Bundesliga. Is this the result of what they saw in the late 90s when they were shunned? For example, Rangnick got the backlash and talked about the “sensitive” nature in football. Would Rangnick then now be more open to young coaches having experienced the treatment he received?
  12. Why do you say confidence is opposite of self-consciousness?
  13. Checking quotes with interviewees – is this still customary in Germany?
  14. Lothar Matthäus, is he still an outcast in German football? How is his relationship with Löw (the one who does not like conflicts!)?
  15. Dressing room stories are still leaked? (I would be surprised if they are not!)
  16. Improvement in society – Is football one of the avenues for immigrants to become part of the mainstream?
  17. Is the model for development still in place? Has it being expanded? What changes, if any, are incorporated in the model? Also, is personality development still part of academy education?
  18. From 121 regional centres it increased to 366. What is the current number?
  19. Any follow-up on this story – 1982 drug use…Algerian players’ children born with disabilities. Any possibility that this was a coverup. Football world refuses to acknowledge the problem of drug use.
  20. Would you say, Neuer is a ‘no-nonsense’ guy?
  21. Right to say, Per Mertesacker and his teammates knew they had played badly and hence he was ready for the reaction and hence that calculated outburst?
  22. Is there anyone Löw does not get along with?
  23. Why should football have been any different- what do you think is the reason? Why did it take them (the administrators) such a long time reg. Systematic in-house player development?
  24. Talent research since 2008. Is it still ongoing?
  25. What is Erich Ribbeck’s view now or was eventually when it all started to fall in place?
  26. How was it for you covering the German football soap opera – your thoughts on it.
  27. How is the relationship between Klopp and Rangnick? (keeping aside the Keita drama)
  28. Licensing is in place now for Sporting Directors? Any courses on offer?
  29. Do you think the kind of determination that we saw in 2014 WC was lacking in the Euro 2016 squad?
  30. Do you know if Bierhoff has started looking for Campo Bahia (CB) # 2?!
  31. Was Campo Bahia ready when the team arrived in Brazil? How big was the overall delegation including all the support staff that stayed put at CB?
  32. Those relationships – the social engineering process – have they survived beyond WC 2014?
  33. What is the current mood, a year away from the WC. Entitlement, hope or resignation (we can’t win it back to back?)
  34. The under-21s and the other youngsters did well recently. However, the U20s and U19s didn’t not do so well at international tournaments (U20 at WC in Korea and U19s in Euro). So the immediate future is bright and down the line is there a slight decline?

 – The End – !!!

Modified e-sports

So the news of e-sports as officially a medal event for the 2022 Asian Games has obviously, invited some criticism. The definition of “sport” itself has been turned upside down with e-sports. It took me back to my days as a sport management student. One of my professors, Mr. Cant, himself a basketball and rugby player/coach, always defined sport as something to do with physical activity.  

I remember once in our class discussion, he strongly objected to putting chess in the realm of sports. No, it can’t be, he told me.  In chess, he said, you just sit in one place and maneuver your moves. It has nothing to do with any physical activity or exertion.  As I now wonder, what Mr. Cant would make of e-sports as a medal event in a multisport event, I sit here conjuring up in my mind how e-sports could be combined with physical activity as well, to fit in Mr. Cant’s definition of ‘sport’.  

This is how I imagine e-sports event taking placing at the 2022 Asian Games.  In a large stadium, in the middle would be a setup where computer consoles would be placed in a circle.  These computers would be connected to large screens across the stadium for the spectators to cheer their athletes performance on the consoles.  E-sports athletes (athletes? oh well, never mind!) will occupy their seats and go through various heats based on timings. Yeah, just like in the various athletic events. Once they are done on their consoles, they’ll then move on the track and participate in 100m, 200m and 400m races (depending upon their own choice). Combined timings of both the events (on console and on track) would be used and top three finishers would be the medal winners.   

The same thing could be applied to other e-sports, like target hitting ones. These e-athletes take part in say, shooting or archery.  After they are done shooting on computer screens they move to real shooting ranges or archery fields and hit the targets in real. Computer FIFA players too can follow this pattern. If they already know the game and its rules, it should be easy to put it in practice on the field. Of course,  football/soccer being a team sport, the rules and regulations of e-football and field football needs to be worked out. In short, a work in progress.

This model could be applied to all sport across the e-sports spectrum. And some possibly could be mixed and match too. Run on the console and then shoot in the shooting ring. Let the participants have a choice of events. Does it sound complicated? Probably, yes. But once it is all worked out, run as a test event on smaller scale, and later it surely could be fine tuned for bigger stage events.  Maybe this could be tried out at the 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Ashgabat, where e-sports is a demonstration sport.  Let e-players wrestle on the screen and then wrestle it out on the floor, jump as many hurdles on the screen and then jump the hurdles in the equestrian events or shoot the hoops on screen and then move to the basketball court.

While traditional sports jostle for space in the already crowded multisport events like the Olympics, Asian Games, Pan-American Games and many other events, e-sports has found its entry without any opposition as such. Of course, commercial side of things have a huge role in the fast tracking of e-sports, and yet one cannot but wonder if there is more done to attract youth to sports fields.   To make sports more accessible, to clean up the mess most sport federations find themselves in, to deal with drugs, match-fixing, bribery and many such other scandals. In short, to restore faith of the youth in sporting bodies and sports in general. Of course, this is not going to happen, even for the most optimistic person out there.   

By the looks of it, e-sports is here to stay. How about we make it work then through combining it with traditional field/on court sports? Maybe that way we would still be able to adhere to the definition of ‘sport’, and satisfy both the traditionalists and as well as help attract the screen-attached, screen-swiping youth generation.

And, oh, by the way, I am still trying to understand why is e-sports even put in the bracket of sports.   

Hardened sentiments – Borussia Dortmund bus attack

It seemed like a routine match day for a football team. They are ready to leave for one of the important matches in their football calendar – first leg of the Champions League quarterfinals at home. The team leave their hotel in the team bus and within few minutes – boom, an explosion. Three bombs detonated. Bus windows shattered, tires flattened.  We get the news one player on the team is injured and so is the police escort on the bike accompanying the team.  

News spread around fast, through media and social media. What followed after this is what I am trying to understand here. The fans of the two teams – Borussia Dortmund and Monaco shared wonderful camaraderie and came together in wake of this attack. The match was postponed till the next day and the away fans were offered accommodation by the home fans. Images of this camaraderie were to be found, where else, but on social media.  

However, there was some backlash too on social media. Some fan photos were labelled as attention seekers or cringeworthy. Some people called it overreaction to the incident. Why overreaction? Because there were no casualties. Because only one player was injured. And his injury was not too serious – just an an injury to his arm and wrist.  Even the injured player, Marc Batra’s post on his Instagram account evoked some negative sentiments like, rich footballers, spoiled, soft, etc. What is the big deal? It is only his arm and wrist.  

Yes, this is also the reaction we got on social media. One has to wonder have we become so immunized by bomb blasts/terrorist attacks all around that the attack on the Borussia Dortmund football team bus didn’t deserve any sympathy/empathy? It appears that now for us to react to any tragedy is by means of how many lives are lost in such attacks. If there are no casualties, it does not really matter. In a sad way, had this been any other bus, in any other part of the world (read – developing nations) then probably it would not have received much attention.

So the basic answer to my earlier question – yes, we have been immunized. But probably our reaction would be different if we or those close to us are caught in such a situation. Perhaps then we would be able to fully grasp and understand the condition of those players on the bus that evening in Dortmund. That the players were shell shocked after the incident would be an understatement. Because, yes,

They are footballers. They are rich. They are privileged.  

Now, how about if we start from the very basic.  

They are human beings. They are mortal beings. They have loved ones.

So, if we look at the very basic elements, they are not any different to us.  Rich, yes, privileged, yes. But they are first and foremost human beings. Just like us, they too are mortals.  

There is no denying to the horror we see around us in Syria, in Iraq, in Afghanistan. We cannot imagine how people survive in those hostile conditions. However, it is not about comparing this incident to the people living in those environments. It is about showing empathy. It is about what could have been in the Borussia Dortmund case…

It also shows how we react to such incidents. The show must go on. Get on with life. Such attacks can happen anywhere, anytime in the world.  We are not cowards, we should not bow down to those terrorists. We have to continue living the way we have been. All this bravado is nice. And yes, life has to go on.  But is it too hard to even pause for a bit, to take time to process, to come to terms with reality, to get over the shock, and when lives are lost, to take time to grieve?

Also, what would are the wider implications of this incident? Police protection was provided but it was not able to prevent the attack. With active social media accounts all sport teams keep their fans updated on teams’ schedule and activities. Will this make them ponder to be a bit discreet about some of their activities? After the attack the location of the Borussia Dortmund team members was kept hidden. I recollect the friendly match between Germany and France in Paris on that fateful evening in November 2015.  DFB (Germany) team’s social media account mentioned about the team’s whereabouts and that tweet was deleted immediately.  

It may not happen instantly, but teams may start to be a bit discreet about their activities if, god forbid, security issues become more threatening in the future. And as for dealing with terrorist attacks, even if it looks less tragic from far off, let us at least be sensitive to those who are caught in such unfortunate attacks.  Let us give them time and space to deal with it.

Of Bastian’s character test, Jose’s apology

So finally, Bastian Schweinsteiger has left Manchester United and joined Chicago Fire, the MLS team in the USA.  Schweinsteiger completed his move and already has played a match for his new team, and the cherry on the top was him scoring a goal on his debut match for the new team.  All seemed like a fairy tale after what he endured during his time with the Premier League team, under the new manager, Jose Mourinho.

I had written an article on Schweinsteiger few months back. It was about his conduct and how it could be viewed from human resource perspective.  Here I want to talk about the same conduct shown by Schweinsteiger and also talk about Mourinho’s apology.  

Schweinsteiger conducted himself in this whole muddle like a thorough gentleman.  Not once did he utter a word (absolutely not in public) against his manager, against his club, against his teammates, and/or against the treatment that was meted out to him. Absolutely nothing negative came out from this 2014 FIFA World Champion.  

He was sent out to train with the under-21 side. He went and trained with them. He was made to train alone. He trained alone.  And when he was sitting out during the first team matches he posted photos of him at the stadium, cheering on his team.  He posted good luck messages on social media on match days. He remained positive throughout.   

During the early days of his exile when it became clear that he was not going to get any time on the field of play, he still remain tight lipped about his situation in the press. All he mentioned once was, yes, I have spoken with the manager and I don’t have any problems with him.   

But everyone knew this cannot last long. Schweinsteiger did not have a place in Mourinho’s plans and that he had to leave. And leave he did. When it all happened last month, things went by quickly – the signing of the contract, the official announcement, the medicals, the visas, warm welcome at the airport, the gaffe at his first press conference, his first training, first match and the icing on the top, his debut goal.  It looked like a smooth ride. Except that it was not.

It must have been difficult period for Schweinsteiger. Yes, he was still on Manchester United’s payroll. Something people like to bring up often when he was being treated as an outcast by the manager. But as a player, as a self-respecting athlete with a stellar career, he surely  would have preferred to be on the pitch rather than warm the benches and take home that not-earned-money.

We did get a brief insight on Schweinsteiger the person on his time as a benchwarmer. In an interview with Rory Smith of the New York Times, Schweinsteiger mentioned that his time in exile from the first team at Manchester United was nothing more than a character test. He talks about how is not a negative thinker and that even when he was training alone with one of the United’s fitness coaches he enjoyed his time in the training.  

That positive attitude we can conclude allowed him to ride the tide during his tenure at his former club.

Since the new manager played such a huge role about Schweinsteiger’s situation at the club, let us talk about Mourinho’s reaction to his move. Mourinho while Schweinsteiger was at the club, made it amply clear to the world that he did not fit in his plans. Yes, in between something happened which saw Schweinsteiger return to training with the first team and also get some match time. However, Schweinsteiger in that interview with Smith refused to divulge the details of this conversation except that after the talk he returned to the first team training.

Now Mourinho after Schweinsteiger left the club talked about his time at the club. About how he felt bad about the treatment he meted out to the player. He said he regrets how he treated Schweinsteiger and mentioned that he had apologized to the player.  It is nice of Mourinho to acknowledge this in public. However, it still does not exactly exonerate him for his role in the whole saga.   

Schweinsteiger surely passed his character test with flying colors.  He didn’t crack under pressure, he didn’t allow negativity to overpower him and most certainly he didn’t take the route that many take – rant on social media and/or plant stories in the media about his plight. I could be wrong, but even if there were stories, they appeared more genuine than planted.

However, I am not sure about Mourinho’s apology. Sure, it is brave of him to acknowledge his mistake publicly.  And the established mode when someone apologizes is to accept it gracefully. But there is a part of me that wonders, if we are hurting/harming someone knowingly and then apologize after the act, where does that apology stand? Is it even an apology? Err in judgment, sure. A genuine mistake, sure. A brain fade (I love this term, thank you, Steven Smith!), sure. But when you continue to inflict humiliation on someone for a sustained period of time, and then apologize after the event, does it even count as an apology? I am not sure about it.

You can’t kill someone and then apologize to them, I am sorry, I killed you. I didn’t intend to harm you but nonetheless it still happened. Not done.  

Of course, in the Bastian-Jose story we only know what has been written in the press and the chatter we got in the press conferences.  We do not know all the details of what happened behind the scenes.  All we can say now is, everybody is in the happy space.  

Bastian at Chicago Fires on the pitch, getting that game time.  Jose at Manchester United with the players he wants in the team and not having to deal with someone who he didn’t want in the first place.

Tragic accidents on the field of sport in social media times

One of the things that came out of the attack in London on the Westminster Bridge on Wednesday, March 22, was the tweet by London Metropolitan police asking people to use common sense and restraint in circulating photos and videos of the victims. It sure would have been disrespectful to the victims and their loved ones.

Another incident, this time a funeral of a celebrity parent and the grieving celebrity (Aishwarya Rai Bachhan, ex-miss World, model and actor) were in circulation. Another celebrity sibling took to social media to condemn this. She requested general public to not click and watch the photos. 

On the heels of these two events, one more, sadly followed.  There was no loss of life involved here but tragic nonetheless. While watching the Ireland-Wales FIFA World Cup qualifier on Friday, March 24, during the second half of the match Ireland captain, Seamus Coleman got injured. It was a bad tackle from Wales’ Neil Taylor. The injury was serious.  As is the case with such incidents being replayed while watching on live TV, it was a surprise when the commentator announced that out of respect and considering the grievous nature of the injury they would not show the replays.  To me, this was the most responsible and respectful response on the part of the network. 

This incident also took me back to another incident I witnessed on TV more than a decade ago when I had the privilege to be part of the 15th Asian Games in 2006 in Doha, Qatar. During the Games time (December 1 to December 15) , it was very busy and the Athlete’s Village (AV), which was our workplace, wore a festive look.  There was always that buzz, excitement throughout the AV during that time. From the moment you would clear the security and step into the AV, the festive environment would just pull you in. 

One morning while getting ready to leave for work, on TV, equestrian events were being live broadcasted. I do not follow or understand the sport of equestrian as such but here I had this particular interest because I was the liaison person with the logistics department for the NOCs. I was coordinating the movement of the horses, their passports, quarantine requirements and other such stuff. 

Back to the live equestrian Eventing competition on the TV, the equestrian athletes from participating countries were going through their obstacles and suddenly there was this athlete who fell from his horse while trying to clear one of the obstacles (it was the 8th obstacle).  While he was thrown down his horse fell on him. This was replayed again and again on TV.  I noticed it was a bad fall, but I couldn’t understand the commentary because it was in Arabic.  Only thing that baffled me were the replays. While it was still on, I left for work, thinking about the athlete and his injuries. 

When I arrived at the AV, I could sense something amiss, right from going through the security.  I entered the AV and it was missing its usual buzz and vibrancy.  There was an eerie silence. The AV wore a subdued look. After a ten-minute walk through the AV, I arrived at my desk. On arrival, my first question to my colleague was, “why is it so silent in the AV today?” He was surprised that I did not know the reason. He then told me about the equestrian accident and that the athlete, Kim Hyung Chil of South Korea, had passed away. I was stunned and shocked. 

Earlier in the day what I was watching I didn’t realize at the time was someone in their last moments.  There was that immense feeling of sadness about the loss of life and secondly that immense distress for watching that incident.  I just got that gut wrenching feeling and it was difficult to shake it out. 

Fast forward to 2017 to that Ireland-Wales match that I mentioned earlier in the article. The TV network decided not to replay the horrific tackle and injury to Coleman. My mind travelled back to the Doha incident and I now appreciated the network’s stance not to replay Coleman’s injury incident. 

However, that relief I felt, was short lived.  I saw Coleman trending on Twitter.  The videos and photos of that tackle by Taylor on Coleman was all over the social media. No, I didn’t click on any of it and decided to move away from that page. But that was my choice.  Just like it was the choice of many to share the videos and photos. Just like many to click and watch those videos and/or photos of that horrible incident. 

That made me wonder why do we have to record someone’s pain and grief? Why do we chose to watch that content, and especially if it involves a public figure/a celebrity? We live in the times where clicking photos and recording videos/audios are just a tap on handheld devices. I wonder what are we thinking when we record such incidents. And then go and share it on social media platforms. Why does someone’s grief become so palatable?  What makes us so insensitive to someone in pain that we actually want to see it?  For a moment, if we pause and imagine ourselves in that person’s shoes, would we liked to be recorded/photographed in our most vulnerable moment?  I believe the answer would be a safe no, at least for majority of us. 

So how do we stop this? And whether it is even possible to stop it?  Again, it is safe to say that to eradicate this issue is going to be next to impossible. Unless we show some self-restrain ourselves. Would education and awareness around this issue help? Probably.  Maybe introduce the dos and don’ts of social media specifically focusing on the subject of tragic incidents, grief and pain. This education should be for all – for children in school, for students in Universities and for employees at their work places.

While on road, if the intention to record is to gather evidence then by all means record/click photos but then hand it over to the authorities and refrain from sharing it on social media. For all those accidents on the field of sport, let those replays remain away from the fans and into the hands of investigative agencies. So that they can look at accidents in depth and arrive at conclusions to make the sport in question safe for its future participants.  

Lament of a sport fan

The nightmare becomes a reality. It was expected though.  Last week, FIFA officially expanded its marquee event, the World Cup from 32 to 48 teams.  More the merrier!

While last year, the ICC (International Cricket Council) contracted its World Cup format. Thus, essentially making it difficult for the Associate Members’ teams to be part of the tournament.

FIFA expanding, ICC contracting. Neither warranted. But that would be for another article.

It is bad times to be a fan of sport. Irrespective of which sport or sports one follows.  It is all about money, sponsorships, broadcast rights, and all about those with vested interest and agendas.

Welcome to the world of Sport. Or rather the world of Sport Cash-cow. It is all about business, you moronic sport fan.

Who cares about a sport fan. They will whinge, crib, throw few curses on social media and then get on with what is presented…oops with life.

Take a look at the world of sport. Take a look at the sporting bodies. Any sport. Any sport organizing body.  They all seem to be following a similar pattern.  Especially those sporting bodies who generate a lot of revenue through broadcasting rights, those who are able to attract a lot of sponsors.

Couple of years back, Ed Cumming wrote this in the Daily Telegraph*:

“Fifa and the IOC will never be properly managed, because fans don’t really care. If England win the Qatar World Cup, nobody will give two hoots whether the tournament was built on slave labour and bungs. Even the possibility of winning will be enough to sweep ethical concerns aside as the tournament draws near, while anything short will be treated, as usual, as a national catastrophe.”

But, wait a minute, does a sport fan have any say where FIFA World Cup or Olympics are held? Do they have a vote in the say?  No, absolutely not. It could take place on Venus or Mars, for all we care, if enough money could be thrown around.  

A sport fan does not have a say, does not have a voice.  I know about cricket stadiums with substandard facilities that are deemed fine for those ordinary fans. They’ll flock the stadium, they’ll cheer their team full of superstars. Nobody would give a damn about these ordinary folks: the struggle to reach the venue and then put up with substandard facilities.

And when they are in the stadium, the match could be delayed even in perfect weather conditions and with perfect knowledge of rain in the forecast.  Remember Florida 2016?Don’t bother to inform those in the stadium about the delay. The match starts after a 40 minute delay, the rain arrives as predicted in the forecast, match abandoned, no result. Two match series decided on the result of one match.  

Ah, and the reason of the delay? Unavoidable and technical problems suffered by the broadcasters. Never mind those live souls sitting and waiting patiently in the stadium.  

Everything is decided by how it fits the broadcasters. A match between India and Pakistan women’s cricket teams in 2016 World Cup T20 was hastily wrapped up and result decided in Pakistan women’s team favor. The reason for the rush? Another big match was about to start – the India versus Pakistan, this time the men’s teams facing each other in the group stages of the 2016 T20 World Cup. (Side note: That India and Pakistan have been playing each other regularly in the last few World Tournaments is not accidental – the draws are allegedly “fixed” – all for the benefit of the fans (and of course, all the additional revenue generated by hyping this already over-hyped rivalry.)

Then there are these issues of doping, cheating, match-fixing etc.  For example, the ongoing Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics doping scandal. The results tested in the labs in Russia. All mess. The doping test results from 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics are shedding new light (or dark light should we say?). Some athletes, who, we as sport fans cheered on the podium with the glittering medals around their necks, it seems were not clean. It is just not fair. Not to their fellow athletes and not to the  fans, both in the stadium and those millions watching on TV. They cheated and now we feel cheated. They robbed us and our genuine appreciation of their efforts now feel wasted.

Allow doping, allow cheating. Allow widespread use of TUEs (Therapeutic Use Exemptions)*. Lenient punishments. Allowing athletes to return to their respective sports. What is the deterrent then? The athletes says this to themselves, “We will carry on like this, and reap the rewards. If we are caught, will pay some fine, serve the suspension and then we will be back. Simple.   

(*Here is the link to more on it: https://www.wada-ama.org/en/what-we-do/science-medical/therapeutic-use-exemptions)

What policies are in place to deal with these issues? That we are still dealing with 2008 doping test results make me believe something is seriously wrong here. But, nah, as sport fans we do not have the right to question it.  It is all about winning, it all about sponsors and broadcasters and it all about that important, “face” of the sport.

In short, who cares about ordinary sport fans? Sport fans do not care enough for all those who lost their lives in constructing those stadiums working in extreme heat, dangerous conditions and living in deplorable residential quarters. But who awarded the event to take place in that location in the first place?

Sport fans were not consulted on that. Repeating what I wrote earlier. Sport fans do not have a voice on the choice of location. (Of course, the bidding cities would show the support of its citizens, if that is attributed as voice of the sport fans).

Sport fans do not have a say which countries/cities would have the facilities to test the results of doping.  They do not have a say how these labs functions.

Sport fans do not decide on the format of the tournament including the number of participating teams. They do not decide on group draws, which could also be manipulated.

But yet, all this is done in the name of sport fans. Larger tournament, shorter tournament, traditional rivalries, more development and growth of the game to make it truly global.

And we all know to read between the lines. Or the hidden message behind such rhetorics.

Adding to our woes, we also live in the world of fake news. Deal with media that claims to be impartial but is more often than not biased, and somehow always-have-an-agenda. So while we are presented ‘facts’, it is not necessary we would the know the whole story behind those facts.

RIP Sport Fans.  Long live the World of Sport Business!


The Schweinsteiger conundrum and some HR perspectives

The Schweinsteiger saga continues. And we do not know how it is going to end. Or if it is going to end anytime soon.

After being on the sideline since Jose Mourinho took over as the manager of Manchester United, Schweinsteiger has fallen out of favor. That is until recently.

Mourinho made it amply clear that Schweinsteiger does not have a place in the first-team. So he was made to train either alone or with the under-23 side.  

While all this was going on, Schweinsteiger remained tight-lipped.  And when he did speak, there was no negativity.  He did admit (and so did Mourinho) that he had a discussion with the manager. That he did not have any problems with the manager. He expressed his wish to still play for the club, if given a chance.    

His conduct amidst all this has been amazing.

He has acted in a dignified manner throughout.

In a manner befitting his stature as World Cup winner, as someone who was the captain of his national team till recently.  

He posts pictures of himself at Man U games. He wishes the team on his social media account on the day they are to play their matches.

The cynic amongst us would say it is all about money. Some on social media did point about the ‘m’ factor, mentioning that it is the only reason Schweinsteiger is hanging around and taking all the humiliation and insults by staying put. Probably, it is about money. However, he still has the contract and he is honoring it.   

While the world of football in a way is different to the corporate world, so the comparison may not exactly apply. But let us try to evaluate it through the HR prism of the corporate world.  Because some of the things still are applicable.  

We are all wondering Schweinsteiger’s reaction to the whole situation. However, his reaction should not surprise us. For those of us in the corporate world, we would know a bit about this.

Firstly, how many times we are told not to bad-mouth our employers, especially during an interview? 

Secondly, would we quit our job if we don’t have another in hand? No, right?  Isn’t he doing the same?

Thirdly, we would want something better than what we are getting. Maybe the scenario would be slightly different in case of a sportsperson. Or in this case with Schweinsteiger considering he is on the other side of 30, plus has been out because of injury and probably not at the top of his game.  Still, he would want to negotiate and get the best deal possible, with whatever he has to offer in terms of his experience, both as a player and a leader.  

We do not know the details of his contract. However, it is no-win situation for him and even for the club.

In short, Schweinsteiger is doing what most of us would do in our jobs:

Honor the current contract.

Find another job before quitting the current job, and if possible with better terms and conditions.

Do not bad mouth your current/former employer to your new employer (for Schweinsteiger this could be more than one club/employer).

Continue to maintain good relations with everyone around. After all the football world is small. He could end up working with some of the folks from Man U down the road.

Most importantly, he has remain positive throughout. His positive attitude is really admirable. There is no negativity or bitterness shown by him, at least not publicly. Not yet.  

And this is good. Because, in the long run, talent aside, it is your attitude that is going to keep you in good stead.