Hump Day Dumpster Dive: Everyone in soccer is in trouble

Happy hump day! Wednesdays can often be a struggle; there is no weekend in sight in either direction, and motivation levels are near rock bottom. They’re the weekly equivalent of Barcelona in the early Spring. But like Barcelona, we too can get through this with a little perseverance, a lot of caffeine, and maybe a nefarious UEFA conspiracy. Let’s dive into the dumpster.

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - MARCH 18: FIFA president Gianni Infantino speaks during a press conference after the  FIFA executive committee meeting at the FIFA headquarters on March 18, 2016 in Zurich, Switzerland. (Photo by Valeriano Di Domenico/Getty Images)Valeriano Di Domenico/Getty Images

FIFA update: Still bent

Following the massive Mossack Fonseca data leak revealed last weekend, we’ve discovered that many of the world’s rich people have been secretly concealing assets, likely in order to avoid annoyances like paying taxes or obeying the law. In a surprise to literally no one, some former FIFA executives were named in the so-called Panama Papers. Jerome Valcke, for example, was found to be the proud owner of a massive yacht that costs more to maintain than he makes (on paper) in a year.

Fortunately, we fixed FIFA for good when we appointed a new president that was not at all like the old president and who was definitely not corrupt and who at least hadn’t tortured people (as far as we know). Well, as it turns out, maybe we should pump the brakes on #NewYearNewFIFA. Gianni Infantino was found to be have signed off on a suspicious TV rights contract with a company that has now been caught up in this latest financial scandal. Infantino was the right hand man to Michel “Shady McGrady” Platini for a decade, so it comes as a complete shock (*clutches pearls*) that he would be caught up in anything untoward.

At some point, we’re going to have to accept that the basic infrastructure of FIFA, and its fundamental lack of oversight, makes it fertile ground for corruption. Or, we can keep cherry-picking the worst offenders, wag our fingers furiously at their misdeeds, and hope their replacements—chosen from the same cesspool—are magically better and more principled.

On the bright side, the FIFA election was a fun and fascinating spectacle, and we’ll have the chance to do it all again in a few months.

UDINE, ITALY - MARCH 24:  Head Coach Italy Antonio Conte speaks to the media at the end of the international friendly match between Italy and Spain at Stadio Friuli on March 24, 2016 in Udine, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)Claudio Villa/Getty Images

This could get awkward

Chelsea finally confirmed Antonio Conte as its next permanent manager (although “permanent” under Roman Abramovich carries a different meaning), with the Italian signing a three-year contract. Conte is a proven winner, with a relentless commitment to excellence. He’s also currently on trial for match-fixing.

There is no danger of Conte being banned, as he already served a reduced four-month ban from the Italian Football Federation back in 2012. There is also little chance of actual prison time, as the prosecutor has already confirmed that he is pursuing a suspended sentence along with a fine. But there is a very good chance that Chelsea’s new manager will take the reigns after being recently convicted as a cheat.

Premier League clubs don’t seem to have much issue with racist star players or sexist managers, but cheating is still very taboo on English shores. Leg-breaking tackles are fine (as long as you’re Not That Type of Player™), but diving is punishable by death. The idea that one of the managers of a leading club would be a confessed match-fixer (and possible former blood doper) is fairly scandalous. Will someone please think of the children?!

Over at Manchester United, the frequently unpleasant José Mourinho should still be expected to take over in the summer, even if he’s getting a bit nervous about it. Recent meddling by his frenemy Sir Alex Ferguson, and Louis van Gaal getting two whole decent results in a row, have thrown Mourinho’s imminent appointment into some doubt, but it should still be a safe bet that The Special One will be serving his FA bans in Manchester next season.

How uncomfortable will it be for United then, if the manager that it hires to finally right the sinking post-Ferguson ship has to spend part of his first season getting sued in court by a former subordinate? As Mourinho failed to reach a settlement with Dr. Eva Carneiro earlier this year, it is likely that evidence submitted in the case will become public. Text messages and emails exchanged between the two were submitted as evidence in the original tribunal, and the release of those could be embarrassing for Mourinho and his potential new employer. There is also more than a small possibility that Manchester United’s next manager will have to go on record as part of a settlement, essentially admitting to being a sexist bully.

Maybe Ed Woodward would be better off appointing Ryan Giggs, who at least doesn’t have any embarrassing personal matters that could…never mind.


Is Ranieri trolling us?

On N’Golo Kanté: “[H]e was running so hard that I thought he must have a pack full of batteries hidden in his shorts.” Well, that’s certainly one explanation.

On Jamie Vardy: “This is not a footballer. This is a fantastic horse.” Come on. He knows.