A Merry Christmas from all of us at 3rd Degree. We hope you get what you’ve been wishing for, whether it’s a new jersey or a new manager. Maybe if you’ve got a few bucks to spare you can buy yourself a Versace soccer ball (and a Patreon subscription!).
The Barocco soccer ball is cheap as chips at a mere $225, and supposedly is in stock at the NorthPark Versace store. Why go to Dick’s or hold out for when Marshall’s gets Official Match Balls ever again when you can buy this absolute not-an-eyesore!
Oh Italy, if only weird balls were your only crime. We’ve mentioned it a few times but Italian soccer is suffering just a little with racism. It’s been a running theme as players have been abused by opposition fans, who were then defended by their own fans. A player publicly told he was too black to ever be a real Italian. We’ve had the media even use race as a way to preview a big game. The Italian authorities dragged their feet until there was enough international outrage that they should do something so they channeled Michelangelo, Raphael, Donatello, and any other artist named after a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.
Serie A commissioned Simone Fugazzotto to produce something that says no to racism. Here’s the thing about that, Fugazzotto is a street artist who is known for painting and sculpting monkeys and apes almost exclusively. He likes the notion that they are expressive and yet don’t have the same downsides as humans – he specifically cites racism when talking about this. There’s a quick look at some of his works on Google Images above. The problem comes when you’re commissioning an artist who paints monkeys to combat people who are making monkey noises. That’s not the artist’s fault, that’s bad planning by the league.
“I decided to portray monkeys to talk about racism because they are the metaphor for human beings,” said Fugazzotto. “Last year I was at the stadium to see Inter v Napoli and I felt humiliated, everyone was talking about the monkey at Koulibaly, a player I respect. I’ve always been painting monkeys for five to six years, so I thought I’d make this work to teach that we’re all apes, I made the western monkey with blue and white eyes, the Asian monkey with almond-shaped eyes and the black monkey positioned in the center, where everything comes from. The monkey becomes the spark to teach everyone that there is no difference, there is no man or monkey, we are all alike. If anything we are all monkeys.”
Again, not his fault. He has a good message in there and there’s the element of the Nike soccer ball to show the unity of the game, but Serie A needed to steer clear of the obvious connotation.
Hopefully, the Premier League will do a better job in light of the racist abuse from Tottenham fans towards Antonio Rüdiger at the weekend.
Grown Ass Man
If you’re a regular pod listener, you know you can only say Tanner Tessmann’s voice in as deep a voice as you can manage. The 6’3″ 200lb 18-year-old was expected to play soccer at Clemson with a possible Homegrown deal in the not too distant future. Tessmann has now committed to joining fellow FCD U-19 Seth Wilson at Clemson, but he’s also part of the #1 ranked recruiting class for the Tigers’ American football program.
We’ve seen Tessman play almost every outfield position but how did a soccer player end up on in a different sport at a school who are about to take part in their fifth consecutive playoff?
“[Clemson soccer coach, Mike] Noonan is somewhere having a party right now because he just signed an unbelievably talented soccer player,” said Clemson head coach Dabo Sweeney in his press conference. “But I’ve had the inside track on this one for a long time. My best friend is PJ Tessman, he’s basically my brother-in-law. His wife’s brother married (Kathleen Swinney’s) sister. That’s how it works in Alabama, we’re all connected somehow.”
Whether or not Swinney knew of Tessmann’s kicking ability all along, he certainly got a reminder after the US U-20 midfielder drilled a 50-yard kick with his left foot at Swinney’s camp last year. Keeping in mind that he’s not left-footed, he also went with his right for a 65-yard kick. With the way NCAA scholarships work, it was apparently enough to earn a full scholarship from the football program.
Liverpool were put in a tough spot as the Carabao Cup and World Club Cup schedules gave the Scousers two games separated by 19 hours and 3,327 miles.
The Reds settled on a brave display by a side that averaged 19 years and 182 days as they were dispatched by Aston Villa in the League Cup before the first team saw of Monterrey in Qatar. Teams often played on consecutive days over the years as the Christmas schedule would often throw up games on both the 25th and 26th as late as 1994 in the Premier League era, but the distance is the real killer in Liverpool’s case. The Guardian took a look back to 1987 when Manchester United legend, Mark Hughes, played for both Wales and Bayern Munich in the space of a couple of hours. Definitely worth a read.
It really, really sucks when it costs you a goal at least. Just ask Jamie Jones who took a quick break to get some water on board and failed to realize he was picking up a back pass against West Brom, rather than an errant pass forward from The Baggies. Up steps Charlie Austin to smash in the indirect free kick.
If you missed the reference, or have a sudden urge to watch that scene here you go!
What’s the Buzz?
A swarm of flying pitch invaders halted a game in Tanzania for more than ten minutes during a Federation Cup match between Young Africans and Iringa United. The East African nation has seen people killed by bees as recently as last month, as the local bees swarm in large numbers and will chase a threat up to a quarter-mile.
Mesut Özil is the latest person to fall foul of Chinese censorship as he criticized the Communist nation for its treatment of the Uighur Muslims. A UN report claims that up to one million Uighurs are locked up in prison camps where they’re made to renounce their faith and swear allegiance to Chinese premier, Xi Jinping. There have also been reports of Qur’ans and Mosques being destroyed, and religious scholars killed.
Özil’s Chinese fan pages were taken down, Arsenal’s game against Manchester City was immediately taken on Chinese TV, and the German midfielder was removed from the Chinese edition of Pro Evolution Soccer by its publisher. Arsenal leapt into action by distancing themselves from their players’ political views, something they didn’t do earlier when Hector Bellerin tweeted an opinion of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
It’s all very similar to when the NBA bowed down to the almighty Yuan. Fellow Muslim athletes Khabib Nurmagomedov (MMA) and Sonny Bill Williams (Rugby & Boxing) have also spoken out on the subject.
The Hand of Alien
Everyone has had that one friend who just makes things up for the attention. For all soccer fans, that person is overshadowed by Diego Maradona. His latest claims to Argentine sports channel TyC Sports will give you a good laugh that lasts into the new year.
The on-again-off-again Gimnasia boss said in an interview that he once went missing for three days after being abducted by aliens.
“Why make things up?” said “Once, after a few too many drinks, I was missing from home for three days.
“I got home and said that UFOs had taken me. I said ‘They took me, I can’t tell you about it’.”Diego Maradona
The seemingly odd interview also produced this gem.
“At 13 years old, in a basement with an older lady. I was on top and she was reading a newspaper.”Diego Maradona
It’s a Long Way Up
Virgil van Dijk has given plenty of strikers trouble but Flamengo striker Lincoln didn’t have his poker face on as he lined up against the former Celtic defender in the Club World Cup Final this week. The 19-year-old gives up seven inches to the FIFA player of the year runner-up, imagine trying to win that header.
What To Watch
Ahh Boxing Day, the British equivalent of both Thanksgiving and Black Friday where Downton Abbey-type servants would get gifts from rich people, we fight over a mediocre TV that’s 25% off, and then spend the rest of the day eating leftover turkey and watching footy.
Boxing Day gives us a top-two clash in the Premier League as part of three full rounds of fixtures. Other than that, not a great deal as other leagues do the whole celebrating thing.
Thursday, December 26:
6:30AM – Tottenham v Bournemouth (EPL) – NBCSN
9:00AM – Chelsea v Southampton (EPL) – NBCSN
11:30AM – Manchester Utd v Newcastle Utd (EPL) – NBCSN
2:00PM – Leicester v Liverpool (EPL) – NBCSN
7:30PM – Monterrey v America (Liga MX Final 1st Leg) – FS1
Friday, December 27:
1:45PM – Wolves v Manchester City (EPL) – NBCSN
Saturday, December 28:
9:00AM – Newcastle Utd v Everton (EPL) – NBCSN
11:30AM – Norwich v Tottenham (EPL) – NBC
1:45PM – Burnley v Manchester Utd (EPL) – NBC
Sunday, December 29:
8:00AM – Arsenal v Chelsea (EPL) – NBCSN
10:30AM – Liverpool v Wolves (EPL) – NBCSN
7:00PM – America v Monterrey (Liga MX Finals 2nd Leg) – TUDN
Monday, December 30:
1:45PM – Derby County v Charlton Athletic (EFL-C) – ESPN+
Wednesday, January 1:
6:30AM – Brighton v Chelsea (EPL) – NBCSN
9:00AM – Southampton v Tottenham (EPL) – NBCSN
11:30AM – Manchester City v Everton (EPL) – NBCSN
2:00PM – Arsenal v Manchester Utd (EPL) – NBCSN
Thursday, January 2:
2:00PM – Liverpool v Sheffield Utd (EPL) – NBCSN
Friday, January 3:
2:00PM – Sevilla v Athletic Bilbao (LaLiga) – beIN SPORTS Connect
Saturday, January 4:
9:00AM – Getafe v Real Madrid (LaLiga) – beIN SPORTS Connect
2:00PM – Espanyol v Barcelona (LaLiga) – beIN SPORTS Connect
Sunday, January 5:
11:30AM – Sporting v Porto (Liga NOS) – GOLTV
1:45PM – Roma v Torino (Serie A) – ESPNEWS