What They're Saying: Aleksander Ceferin

“It will be part of the evaluation, and I am sure it will not help the United States to get the World Cup. If players cannot come because of political decisions, or populist decisions, then the World Cup cannot be played there. It is true for the United States, but also for all the other countries that would like to organize a World Cup."

-- UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, saying the USA's chances of winning the right to host the 2026 World Cup would be damaged if President Donald Trump’s travel restrictions come into full force. (New York Times)
30 comments about "What They're Saying: Aleksander Ceferin".
  1. frank schoon, February 27, 2017 at 8:43 a.m.

    Cut down, due to travel restrictions?? We need to cut down, for by 2026 we'll probably have about 2000 countries qualify for the world cup, even teams from Mars are coming in. What happened to the good old top 16 countries, the best of the best, show up for then we'll see great soccer again.

  2. Wooden Ships replied, February 27, 2017 at 8:58 a.m.

    I was good with 24 and came to accept 32. Playing once every 4 years, the Cup, IMO, benefitted from the increases, but 48 is too much. And, the UEFA Presidents comments are rich, where was his concern for the awarding of Russia and Qatar? Soooo many things awry with that fiasco.

  3. Wooden Ships replied, February 27, 2017 at 9:29 a.m.

    Frank what do you have against Martians?

  4. frank schoon, February 27, 2017 at 9:45 a.m.

    Looking for talent,man, LOL

  5. R2 Dad, February 27, 2017 at 9:47 a.m.

    a) I don't want our country to host the world cup unless FIFA pays taxes like normal Americans--they don't
    b) the 2018 host has permanent occupying forces in two of their neighbors, but kept the World Cup anyway
    c) by law our current Chief Cheeto will not be in office in 2026, so moot point
    d) If Israel qualifies for the 2022 World Cup (which is likely) there will be humorous backpedaling from Qatar as they play hot potato with Israel's group stage match location.

  6. frank schoon, February 27, 2017 at 10:01 a.m.

    I've lost interest in the World Cup. It is no longer what it was. The only thing that would be interesting is to see the winner of the Championship League play the winner of the World Cup...that might prove interesting.
    I still watch games of the '58, 62, 70, 74, 82, 98 on dvd and the '86 Brazil vs France match . These to me were exciting to watch. Now it could be perhaps a game here or there. Just watching the older games like in 62 you can still see players on the ball and not know what he is going to do with it. Today, I can almost guess what will happen 4moves ahead, it is so programmed, sterile, no creativity, technically wise.

  7. don Lamb replied, February 27, 2017 at 11:38 a.m.

    You preferred watching teams walk the ball through midfield? Teams pass it back for the goalkeeper to pick up at the slightest hint of pressure in their own their third. The game is FAR more technical than it was decades ago and there is far far more skill on display today than there was in those days.

  8. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, February 27, 2017 at 11:46 a.m.

    Sounds like your view is that once Cruyff retired, everyone should've just stopped playing football because it could never be as good as that. Don is right of course. Games back in the 70s look like they are being played in slow motion compared to today.

  9. Bob Ashpole replied, March 1, 2017 at 1:47 a.m.

    Don physical skills have significantly improved, but not technical skills. Soccer with no substitutions rewards the team that controls the pace of the game more so than today. Typically about half the game was played at a slower pace. In the 70's Ajax prided itself on how long they could press, but even they couldn't press the whole time.

  10. don Lamb replied, March 1, 2017 at 5:53 p.m.

    Bob - Technical skills have not improved? There are a lot of skills that are common in today's game that had never been seen 40 years ago. A lack of substitutions means that players used to conserve energy more than they might now. That does not lead to better technical skills. No subs means that players were more fatigued than now. That does not lead to a higher skill level either. You can argue that players used to be tougher, but there is no way that you can argue that players used to be more skilled. Frank talked about how players used to play street soccer so much, but the skills on display in those games was NOTHING like what you can find in the freestyle street soccer videos on youtube. Nowadays, it's common to see kids doing all sorts of juggling tricks with the ball that were not even considered by players generations ago. Part of this is because the ball is much easier to juggle now, and part of this is because of resources like youtube, but either way, it's a fact that technical skill in the current game is far superior to what it was decades ago.

  11. frank schoon replied, March 1, 2017 at 8:01 p.m.

    Guys ,when you read what Don says you realize he has little understanding of the technical part of the game. The statement, there was no technical quality on display when he watched the great '70 Brazil team , is the most absurd thing I've ever heard. It shows he has no idea what to look for since the simplicity of the game goes right over his head.
    He identifies soccer technique with cute ball tricks as what you see on 'freestyle street soccer videos" which has nothing to do with technique or those juggling tricks which are not seen in games of the old days .Note none of this garbage on Youtube is ever displayed , for example, during a Barcelona vs Real Madrid game for that is not real game technique, and only usefully applied in a circus. When I talk about technique that is not tricks a la carte ,but game technique. The definition of game technique which Don has little understanding of is the ability to take the ball in the most functional and effective manner with the least amount of touches and time to transfer it to the next station of play, in a manner that the receiver of the ball has nothing to do extra ,like having to take extra touches to control it or settle it but without losing any time with it or reduce the tempo of the attack Do you know how difficult this is to carry out in perfection, for that is why only the greats can do this in the most effective manner. That is why Cruyff says simple soccer is the most difficult soccer to play . Guys like Pele, Puskas, Maradona, Zidane, Cruyff, etc make it looks so simple but it isn't. As a matter of fact Messi is doesn't not have any fancy moves or tricks with the ball, he just takes a defender on and times himself, it is that simple. Only a great technical players are able to do this but you have to have a technical eye to appreciate this ,see it and be aware of it. So when greats like Pele and so many in the '70 world cup perform this , Don didn't see any technical qualities on display, ,meaning this stuff is a little above his understanding what real technique is. For example upon receiving a ball and you need to pass it downfield to the next player the technique you apply in the quickest manner first depends on how one receives the ball and how one is positioned for the follow up pass. Next the passer needs to take into account the condition of the field, wet or dry, low or high grass, the wind, and also has to take into account his opponent and the opponent of his teammate he is passing to. Another factor is the player who is passing the ball on the run or standing still , the same for his teammate. If you carry out the most effective way of receiving the ball on the run with all the conditions just mentioned than the passer has to also whether he needs to choose whether to employ the inside or outside of the foot, or instep of either foot to pass the ball or is the pass to be given with a back spin...these are some of the factors a player needs. THAT IS REAL GAME TECHNIQUE

  12. don Lamb replied, March 1, 2017 at 10:08 p.m.

    Tom - "Playing in the streets" is not a possibility for most kids in the US. The game is growing, but there is a just small percentage of kids that play soccer on basketball courts here. A kid can't just walk out his door and find a game, or start a game at school like kids do everywhere else in the world. Due to our unique cultural hurdles, we have to be much more proactive in organizing training and competition environments where the same lesson are taught and learned.

  13. don Lamb replied, March 1, 2017 at 10:58 p.m.

    Frank - I am pretty damn sure I know a hell of a lot more about technique than you do. What we are witnessing in all of those videos was horribly blunt and pragmatic soccer compared to today's game. Did you notice how deep the sweeper used to play, which invited long aerial balls into the box? What is technical about that? There is hardly any dribbling in any of the "highlights," and the lack of movement off the ball meant that there were never any chances for quick combination play or threat of stringing short passes together. The defenders might display the biggest gap between the older version of the game and the current version. Very few of the older generation's defenders would even be able to play in today's game because they were so horrible with the ball at their feet. The goalkeeping was mostly pathetic as compared with today's given the athleticism and foot skills of keepers now. The no pass back rule? Overnight, that one change made the game much more technical around 1990. Where is the evidence of these older generations playing street soccer and showing confidence with the ball? The Brazilians were dazzling the world with play that would be considered normal by today's standards. The Ajax philosophy has been taken to another level under Messi and the greatest midfield that the world has ever seen. Liverpool and Ferguson's United are nothing more special than what Real Madrid is currently. Other current teams that could potentially be in the conversation with the most technically talented teams of all time Bayern and City. Atleti and Juve could compete with anyone from any era. Tottenham, PSG, Man U.......Soccer has evolved a lot in the last 150 years. As it has become a game that has reluctantly gone from a barbaric scrum into a passing game, then into a tactical game, then into a dribbling game, and then eventually into a game of versatility. Each step of this evolution has been with an increase in the overall skills and abilities of the players. Don't forget that, unfortunately, cheating has been going on for the entire history of the game, and the recent developments in science have certainly helped modern day players accomplish what they have. Your assertion that the evolution of the game peaked in the 70s and has been on a decline ever since is crazy given the existence of players like Messi, Ronaldo, Robben, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Xavi, Iniesta, Henry, Bergkamp, Zidane, Kaka, and even players like Kane, Neymar, Suarez, Bale, Lewandowski, etc. etc. who would have dominated the world 40 years ago.

  14. Bob Ashpole replied, March 2, 2017 at 12:49 a.m.

    Don I wish you would read the last couple of chapters of Cruyff's "My Turn" because he makes his points well on the current state of the game and what he sees as a decline. He makes a point about modern keepers as well. His point is that professional keepers today are all technically skilled with their feet, both feet, because they know it is important. He then points out in contrast that today 75% of professional field players are 1-footed. We should all agree that this is a technical defect and more importantly an avoidable flaw in player development. Maybe we cannot make every player in the country 2-footed but surely we can make every elite player in the country 2-footed. Was everybody 2-footed 40 years ago? I am not saying that. When Frank looks at players like the U20 MNT or even top players in Europe he observes that they have technical flaws in their play. They cannot use both feet or head the ball in both directions. Those are pretty typical technical weaknesses in even professional players and the type of weaknesses that are exploited in matches. Watching how players move is another area. Another typical weakness is that when players think about it, they move into a good position versus their markers and open to the field, but don't do it when they aren't thinking about it. Frank doesn't think what a player can do with the ball outside of the context of a match is relevant. What we all want to see is elite players correctly doing the right thing automatically. Not taking an extra touch to put a ball on his best foot and not passing to a teammates weaker foot or cause a teammate to play into pressure by his passing. Not being so out of position that teammates are not supporting each other. Cruyff's standard was that he wanted 2 supporting players 10 yards away from the ball, 1 in front and 1 along side. Always there. My personal standard as an amateur adult recreational coach is that I expect good players to be technically skilled enough on the ball that they decide what they want to do with the ball and execute without having to think about actually playing the ball. They just do it and do it correctly. Finally the rule change that allowed coaching from the side line has contributed by taking control of the match away from the modern era players. This limits the ability of players to come up with creative solutions to tactical problems. Control the approach play and give players complete freedom to innovate as they near the opponent's goal, but that is not typical.

  15. Bob Ashpole replied, March 2, 2017 at 12:53 a.m.

    In the last sentence I was referring to what Pep does.

  16. don Lamb replied, March 2, 2017 at 8:31 a.m.

    Bob - Many of those arguments are ridiculous. Keepers used to better with their feet?? They never had to even use their feet until the pass back rule change just 25 years ago. Players only being one-footed today? First of all, you only use one foot on the ball at a time anyway. Players like Robben can accomplish more with just one foot than previous generations of players could with two. Secondly, I think you overrate the two-footed abilities of older players. It's not like everyone used to be fully adept with both feet. Thirdly, players today ARE generally very good with both feet. They have been trained since they were young, and although they usually prefer one foot, it is relatively rare to see players at the highest levels make mistakes these days even with their weak foot. To another point of yours, I AM talking about stuff on the field during the game. However, the things that we see off the field influence this. Players today have a much wider range of skills and tricks with the ball that they use on the field. These comments are based purely in nostalgia. Your point about coaching from the sideline is a total non-factor. A coach cannot accomplish anything trying to influence players with their decision making on the field because things happen too quickly and the action is too far away. Coaching is more influential than it used to be, but that is mostly do to the availability of substitutions and a much greater variety of tactical options than existed. Just as technical skills have evolved, tactics have also evolved.

  17. Bob Ashpole replied, March 2, 2017 at 9:10 a.m.

    Your last comments illustrate that we are looking at different things when we are looking for technical ability in a player.

  18. don Lamb replied, March 2, 2017 at 11:10 a.m.

    Generally speaking, technical skills are about controlling the ball in order to keep possession and attack or to dispossess and attack. There is a lot of nuance and variation in techniques involved, but these basic principles are hardly disputable.

  19. frank schoon, February 27, 2017 at 12:18 p.m.

    Don, I'm not going get deep involved explaining things to you, for I end up trying to explain other things first to you. Your statement"The game is FAR more technical than it was decades ago and there is far more skill on display today than there was in those days." says it all, in how little you know about the game. The game was much more technical than as compared to now. Two reasons.. todays soccer has become more physical and more running involved and less thinking. The more speed and physical comes at a cost which is technique, less technique applied and therefore it is easier to read the game. Like Cruyff states, the more you run the dumber you are. It is actually all about ball movement which is how the game of the past was played which is faster in fact for no one can outrun the ball. Cruyff brought this philosophy back to soccer from the old day and that is why the world in the past 10 years has enjoyed the game of soccer played by Barcelona. When you watch Barcelona, the game is controlled , the ball is controlled ,great ball possession and the ball is moved fast, not the players. Players from the old days played street soccer 20-40 hours a week as kid, which made them great technically, and have great touch on the ball. Todays players don't play street soccer anymore and there fore lack the ball touch you gain from playing this much soccer like in at the old days. This is why your statement is so absurd about more technique today is actually laughable. That is why I don't want to get into a debate with you have little understanding of the game in that sense....

  20. Wooden Ships replied, February 27, 2017 at 2:38 p.m.


  21. don Lamb replied, February 27, 2017 at 3:37 p.m.

    Frank - That makes no sense. You are correct about the physicality of the game now and the greatly increased level of athleticism. However, you are wrong when you say that these things decrease the level of technical ability. Better defense and more pressure REQUIRE greater technical ability. If you can't play under pressure or quickly with the ball at your feet, you are toast in today's game. Teams used to literally walk the ball through midfield and face their first bit of (unorganized) pressure in the other team's attacking third. A highlight reel of technical skills from 30 years ago would look pedestrian by today's standards because the speed and physicality of today's game has created a cauldron that has bred better and better players. This is another reason why your assertion that Messi is not an all-time top 10 player is pure stupidity. I have no problem with you preferring your era over the modern one, but to say that those players were better and that the game was more skillful then is just flat wrong. Any number of modern players playing in that era would have thrashed everyone -- Messi, Ronaldo, Ibra, Ronaldinho, Suarez, etc. Keepers like Neuer and Buffon would be thought to be aliens if they were playing 50 years ago.

  22. Bob Ashpole replied, March 1, 2017 at 1:53 a.m.

    Actually Don the final third was always tightly defended and the modern trend is to defend less of the field than Dutch Style teams did in the 70's or do now.

  23. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, March 1, 2017 at 10:46 a.m.

    Don's right. You watch games from 40 years and they look like they are being played in slow motion. I'm not sure how that means the game was more technical back then. Frank thinks there is only one way to play soccer and anything else is a travesty. Very narrow minded view.

  24. don Lamb replied, March 1, 2017 at 6:10 p.m.

    Bob - Frank like to reference the Dutch team of the 70s a lot (for good reason). However, consider that they were a complete anomaly. They were revolutionary because they were different. So when you reference them, you are not referencing anything that is really representative of what soccer was like in the 70s, by and large. Here is a video of the 1954 World Cup Final (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfjxgT6SDYk), featuring the great Puskas. This video is comical compared to today's game. The players can hardly complete a pass, instead playing ridiculously direct. The sweeper sits back inside his teams 18 basically hanging out with his keeper. Here is video of the '62 World Cup (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yF51hQwVw6U), won by Pele and Brazil. The only thing spectacular about the display is how inept the goalkeeping is. Here is video of the '70 World Cup (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2PJnLgOPyo), again won by a great Brazil team. However, there is absolutely no technical quality on display at all. The game has evolved technical and tactically in a way that makes it light years ahead of where it was 40-50 years ago.

  25. Bob Ashpole replied, March 1, 2017 at 10:44 p.m.

    Don, a lot of people think that 1970 Brazil team was the greatest team of all time. Just about everyone would rank them as one of the top teams. You are correct, Ajax and the Dutch in the 70's were exceptional teams, but when we compare eras aren't we comparing the best of both eras? I wish Frank had been more tactful, but you both are still communicating. I think I can make a point that will help you see the other side of this controversy. Surely you can recall at least one match in which a team started playing great soccer while short a man after a player was ejected. They become successful by making the ball do the running and playing very smart and technically good soccer. Not fancy soccer, but technically fast soccer. Also known as tactical speed or speed of play. That disadvantage of being a man down pressures team in the same way that the lack of substitutions pressured teams to play smart and fast in the past. Relying more on the brain and less on running. Does that make more sense to you?

  26. don Lamb replied, March 2, 2017 at 7:59 a.m.

    Bob - Watching those clips says it all. The game used to be extremely direct. You say that players used to "let the ball do the work," but I guarantee you that if you looked at average numbers of completed passes by each decade, there would be a steady increase. This is how the game has evolved. Tactics have been a big part of this too. Teams now play a MUCH higher line than they used to so that lumping the ball forward to a target man who is camped out in the other team's box is simply not an option any more. Dribbles and creative moves have steadily risen over the decades. Moves like the Ronaldo chop and elastico are common these days (did you see Ronaldo meg the dude the other day -- it was SICK), but were NEVER used or maybe even known decades ago. Heck, even defedning has become more technical. Defenders used to fly in and throw themselves wildly at the ball in a way that would seem completely reckless today. Defenders now have to use much better footwork and be much more precise with their tackles. The technical and tactical evolution of the game is so absolutely clear to see, and the Brazil 1970 team is a great example of this. I have no doubt that they were one of the best teams in the world, but that is relative the competition at the time. The things that they were doing have become commonplace. That does not take away from there greatness, and in fact, it adds to it as they have played a big part in this evolution that has led to the pinnacle of what we see with the modern game.

  27. Bob Ashpole replied, March 2, 2017 at 9:08 a.m.

    Don here are some things to think about. 1) Watching highlight clips of any team will give you the impression that the team played direct because highlights usually only focus on play out of context. 2) Wiel Coerver's method was based on a study of dribbling by the best professionals so they reflect play in the 60's and 70's. I very much dislike teaching dribbling by teaching moves in a linear fashion. I don't believe Wiel Coerver did either. 3) Since the advent of the WM, 424, and 433 systems, presssing, and modified zone defenses replaced straight man to man defenses, team tactics really have not changed. Some people don't see this because they don't understand how these systems were played. 4) In the last year I have seen new materials for coaching elite youth from US coaching instructors that showed the latest ideas for attacking organization. Am I the only person that recognized it as a 235? The important changes were pressing, zonal marking, and attacking backs, all of which started in the 60's and 70's. You may have already considered them. I do have one personal advantage in this discussion. I have played amateur O-30 soccer with a "way" over 30 team including as many as 3 players in their 70's on the field at the same time against sides that were much younger. The skills of the average US player have improved over the years, but that is because the skills of the average US player were catching up with foreign players. (My experience included playing with and against large numbers of foreign players from all over the world and I didn't see a corresponding improvement in skills in foreign players.)

  28. don Lamb replied, March 2, 2017 at 11:05 a.m.

    Addressing two of your points directly: 1) I would think that highlights would show the best moments of the match. That would include good attacking sequences. In the modern game, that usually means stringing passes together, beating players off the dribble, combining around the box, etc. The game was much much more direct decades ago, and the highlights prove that. If we had stats on the number of passes completed and completion percentage, we would see that players today are much more capable of keeping the ball and playing the way that Liverpool and Ajax, among others, popularized many decades after the earth-shattering concept that Scots had to pass the ball. The game has continued to move in that direction more and more. Which brings me to 3) "Team tactics really have not changed [since the advent of zonal defending]" What?? The move away from the sweeper was an enormous change within the last 20-35 years. Also, the idea of versatility and interchangability has been taken to another level in the last 10-20 years. I remember seeing a goal a while back where Drobga had dropped back and wide for Chelsea and crossed the ball to an Ashley Cole running through to the far post. A center forward crossing to the left back in the run of play! That sort of attacking flexibility through possession and indirect play is a huge development that was not common until the most recent tactical advancement. You might not like in the modern game. This has led to a completely new idea of what a forward's job and characteristics should be. Mostly gone are the days of the statuesque target forward as today's game requires much more mobility and skill in possession of the ball on the ground than ever before. Tactics have grown by leaps and bounds over the last few decades.

  29. Bob Ashpole replied, March 2, 2017 at 2:02 p.m.

    Actually the example you gave was commonly used at the end of the man to man coverage era to break down defenses and was responsible for the move to zonal defending.

  30. don Lamb replied, March 2, 2017 at 3:14 p.m.

    Maybe an outside midfielder crossed to an outside back, but I would be surprised if there are many examples of a center forward crossing to an outside back. Either way, players are far more versatile now than they have ever been, and that is what has driven the most recent tactical developments such as Sir Alex Ferguson's 4-6-0, Barcelona's domination with Messi as a false 9, and many other examples in this vein.

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