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Roker Ramble: What’s been going on this week in football outside of planet SAFC?

So, so much is your answer. Death threats in Italy, death prevention measures at FIFA, John Terry’s NFTs and... Parky has his chequebook out.

Infantin-oh no not again

Just what is it about Gianni Infantino? Has Sepp Blatter crawled inside his head and is now at the controls?

He’s still at this biennial World Cup thing - and this week he’s on about how it might persuade people to not cross the Mediterranean in boats and face “death in the sea”.

That’s right, the bald saviour is honestly of the belief that fewer people would drown if a World Cup was held every two years. It’s a strange one because you have to go around the houses about 50 times before you can even start to understand any semblance of logic as to how this is the case, before deciding in actual fact no, there is none.

Taking time out from sailing the high seas in his patrol boat, Infantino said at the Council of Europe, “We need to find ways to include the whole world to give hope to Africans so that they don’t need to cross the Mediterranean in order to find maybe a better life but, more probably, death in the sea.”

I’m sure the United Nations, charities and NGOs don’t sit around in their morning meetings trying to solve the problem by writing “more world cups” on the whiteboard like they’re some sort of aid agency Simon Grayson.

Has he considered, for example, how many people want to come to Europe precisely because they have dreams of becoming a footballer?

Kick It Out’s chief executive Tony Burnett perhaps put it best, saying “Fifa is a multibillion profit-making organisation. They already have the funds to invest in creating and inspiring opportunity for disadvantaged people around the world. It is therefore completely unacceptable to suggest that a biennial World Cup, predominantly set up to drive further profits for Fifa, could be a solution for migrants who risk their lives, sometimes fleeing war-torn countries, to seek a better life.”


Death threats made to Fiorentina player

Have you ever heard of Dusan Vlahovic? I hadn’t really, he was just one of those players who existed on the periphery of my consciousness. To be fair that says more about my awareness of top flight football these days. Does he play for Morecambe or somewhere in Serie A?

The answer is the latter. Fiorentina, as it happens. And you might have heard of him because he is one of the 3,531 (and counting) players to have not just been linked with Newcastle United but that their owners have actively bid for.

Sadly for them, he’s far too good and his next move is not going to be to English football’s second tier. 44 goals in 98 games - thanks, Wikipedia - means that he has slightly loftier ambitions. Those ambitions are Juventus, who have had a bid of more than £60m accepted for the Serbian international, which seems a little on the light side. Just think, Joelinton (aka Jesmond’s answer to Jesus) cost 2/3rds of him. Ha.

Unsurprisingly, fans of la Viola aren’t too happy about this impending move, and Vlahovic has been subjected to death threats, which will be sure to sour relations even further. Who would not want to spit on your face, you shitty hunchback, said a crudely daubed message outside their ground. Your guards won’t save your life. Gypsy, it’s over for you, said another. Now I’ve obviously no experience of this, but if that was aimed at me and I played for Fiorentina, it wouldn’t exactly persuade me to stay.

Still, imagine what would have happened if he’d joined part-time jobbers and full-time no-hopers Newcastle. There would be some scared Italian horses out there, that’s for sure.

ACF Fiorentina v Genoa CFC - Serie A Photo by Lisa Guglielmi/LiveMedia/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Palmed off to Wrexham

Project Parky is in full swing.

Not content with nabbing Paul Mullin from Cambridge United, in a move which surprised many, the Reds have also raided fellow League Oners AFC Wimbledon for their 30-year old striker Ollie Palmer.

Good news for Sunderland, you might imagine. Given that we play the Dons in a few games time.

The fee was apparently an eye watering £300k. For a player with a pretty average scoring record at this level, it’s without a doubt the sort of deal I would be accepting, if I was AFC Wimbledon chairman.

Such is the money being spent on their squad by Hollywood A-list heartthrobs Ryan Reynolds and Rob McIlheney, you wonder why this hasn’t stretched to their manager.

You also have to wonder if Parky was still “in charge” (loosely put) at Sunderland, would they have managed to prize him away? Imagine the laughter - and relief - if they had.

Wrexham v Torquay United - Vanarama National League - Racecourse Ground Photo by Peter Byrne/PA Images via Getty Images

John Terry’s NFT

Doesn’t that sound like the worst reality programme on TV on some backwater Freeview channel?

Every time you see John Terry appearing in the press it’s a bit like every time you see Nigel Farage - it’s not going to be because he’s saved a bunch of puppies from drowning.

The Wayne Bridge affair, the racism trial, parking in disabled bays. He’s almost got a full house. Bet you he never wore his mask.

If you ask yourselves the question “what do footballers spend all that cash on once they’ve retired?” then I have your answer: non-fungible tokens, or NFTs.

For those of you who don’t know (or care) an NFT is a piece of unique data which can be traded. It can be associated with specific things, such as a digital picture. If you buy this, then you own it, and often the rights to reproduce it. Apparently one exists of the author of The Hobbit, and is therefore a non-fungible Tolkien. Honestly.

Confusing, right? And even more spellbinding that an ex-footballer like John Terry should be getting involved in it. It’s like finding out he’s your daughters’ remedial maths tutor.

Now Terry has found himself in a spot of bother, because he’s been roped in to promote something called the “Ape Kids Club” - which, before you jump to conclusions, isn’t what Terry has found himself in trouble for. That’s right, NOT guilty on that charge, before anyone pipes up. No, it’s the fact that AKC, as it’s known, is being traded as an NFT, and you can buy one of 10,000 versions of it.

Problem is, some of these photos are pictures of the ape with, among other things, the Premier League trophy. This, as we all now know, is protected by copyright. And Terry is under investigation for his promotion of it.

Terry is yet to comment on the images, but who knows it might all be a storm in a teacup, of which Terry has had so many, he might as well become a weatherman.


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