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Premier League Clubs Express Concern Over Three Substitution Ruling; Lack of Investment in Women’s Game Disgraceful: Megan Rapinoe and More (Football Round-up)

Short Passes (Football News Round-up): Premier League clubs may move to ask for reintroduction of the five substitution rule | Megan Rapinoe feels the women’s game is England as well as the US are equally backward due to the lack of investment | Samuel Eto’o hospitalised with minor injuries after car crash | Denmark vs Sweden friendly hit badly by Covid-19 | Ansu Fati ruled out for four months after knee surgery.
Trent Alexander Arnold of Liverpool FC injured

Trent Alexander Arnold of Liverpool, who limped off the field with a calf injury Sunday vs Manchester City, is among the many players sidelined due to fatigue-related injuries despite it being just the start of the season.

After a weekend of Premier League action that had almost as many goals as it did calf and thigh injuries, managers have expressed their dissatisfaction at the three substitute rule and may ask for a reintroduction of the five-sub rule in leagues across Europe.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was hugely critical of the ruling and was joined by his Manchester City counterpart Pep Guardiola. The two teams played out a 1-1 draw on Sunday in a game where Liverpool lost Trent Alexander Arnold to a calf injury. The proposal for five substitutions was put to the 20 clubs twice, and on both occasions did not manage to gather the requisite 14 votes to get implemented.

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The argument by smaller clubs is that the ruling benefits those with bigger budgets and therefore larger squads. Aston Villa’s manager Dean Smith has stuck to the argument. "I only made one change in the 88th minute today,” he said after his team’s 3-0 demolition of Arsenal. “For me the intensity was there from our players. We haven't got the biggest squad in the world and we have to manage our players”.

Smith, though, empathised with clubs who were playing in Europe in mid week — Arsenal in fact played their Europa League fixture merely 48 hours before the game against Villa — but also pointed out that they were clubs with the bigger budgets anyway. "I can sympathise with the teams that are in Europe but there are some big squads out there.”

Clubs have the power to bring motions forward for a vote. However, it is unlikely any club will do so unless certain of changing the current situation. Furthermore, inasmuch the criticism is of the ruling, it has also been directed towards scheduling of fixtures. Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was furious at his team being chosen to play in the afternoon on Saturday at Everton, having only returned from a Champions League game in Turkey on Thursday morning.

The anger has been directed towards broadcasters who favour good TV slots for the big teams without paying much attention to the needs of players in terms of fatigue and recovery. What is good for football, in this case, doesn’t concern the business of football. The games will go on. Tune in this weekend to watch highly paid professionals put their fatigued bodies through the paces for your entertainment. 

Rapinoe on State of Women’s Game

Megan Rapinoe is happy that many of her teammates from the US national team set-up have joined the Women’s Super League (WSL) in England, playing one of the richest leagues in the women’s game. However, she also feels  that it is disgraceful that big clubs in England -- or any country for that matter -- are either denying the existence of the  women’s game or have just about started to allot some amount of resources to the ladies team’s they own. 

“I think women's football in England is the same as in America - it is so far behind because of what we've had to overcome in the lack of investment,” she told BBC.com

Rapinoe has been one of the most influential voices in sport who has stood up -- taken a knee during the US national anthem as well -- for causes ranging from equal pay to gay rights. It was Rapinoe, as the skipper and the most senior member of the US national team (USWNT), who led the fight for equal pay during the FIFA Women’s World Cup last year. That fight is still on.

She says it is disgraceful to note that it is only now that the women’s game is getting some semblance of attention from the major clubs in a footballing nation such as England. 

“It's 2020. How long has the Premier League been around? And we're only just seeing a club like Manchester United put effort and pounds towards a women's team? Frankly, it's disgraceful.

“I've had a few team-mates go abroad and play, while I'm training and trying to keep fit in the hopes that eventually we'll be out of this hellscape.”

Though Rapinoe’s words talk specifically about football and the state of the women’s game, it unfortunately cuts across sports and disciplines too. Each and every female athlete, pursuing any sport, would identify with Rapinoe’s angst and anger when she calls the state of affairs as a hellscape. 

In India, for instance, the Women’s T20 Challenge in cricket got over this day (November 9). The tournament, held alongside the 60-match Indian Premier League (IPL) had four matches in total. The four matches happen to be only ones the elite players in the Indian women’s cricket set-up get thanks to the pandemic. The others, from a rung below in the pecking order to the grassroots, get nothing. They are used to that nothingness though. However, this is where Rapinoe, and her fights should come up as an inspiration. 

The football scene in India is not so different to cricket. The Indian Super League (ISL) will start in a little over a week while the I-League is likely to roll in January next year. Amidst all this, the women’s game has not received any intimation of a schedule for the future. The Indian Women’s League (a three week tournament baptized as a league), is a recent addition to the calendar, conducted more as an afterthought in peak summer than with effort to aid the long-term nourishing of the game. 

Eto’o Hospitalised After Car Crash

Samuel Eto'o has been hospitalized with a minor head injury after being involved in a car crash in Cameroon, reports say. 

The former striker, whose car was hit by a bus, will undergo examinations to ensure there are no internal injuries.

The collision, reportedly, took place near Nkongsamba. Eto’o, who had a very successful club career with some of the biggest sides in the world in Spain, Italy and England, was driving home from a wedding.

Denmark vs Sweden Lose British Based Players

The UK government’s travel ban issued on Saturday on non-UK visitors coming from Denmark will affect the international fixture between the two neighbours to be played on Wednesday. The travel ban was put in place after a new strain of the Covid-19 virus that spread from mink to humans was discovered.

Five British-based Sweden internationals and seven Danish players will not be able to play the game due to the restrictions. 

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The players affected for Sweden are Everton goalkeeper Robin Olsen, Newcastle right-back Emil Krafth, Rangers defender Filip Helander, Manchester United defender Victor Lindelof and Watford midfielder Ken Sema. Sweden will also be without manager Janne Andersson because he is in home quarantine after a close family member tested positive for Covid-19. Andersson himself tested negative.

The seven Danish players expected to miss out on the friendly are: Leicester City goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, Everton goalkeeper Jonas Lossl, Chelsea’s Andreas Christensen, Southampton defender Jannik Vestergaard, Brentford’s Henrik Dalsgaard and Mathias Jensen and Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.

The five Sweden players will be able to link up with their country for their Nations League games at home to Croatia on November 14, and then away to France on November 17.

Fati Sidelined for Four Months

In a jolt to FC Barcelona — and a superb example of what happens when teenage sensations are thrust too quickly and harshly into the mainstream — Ansu Fati may face up to four months on the sidelines after knee surgery. The mercurial teenager was forced off in their La Liga clash with Real Betis and will now sit out the vast majority of the 2020-21 season.

Fati went under the knife on Monday. Renowned specialist Dr. Ramon Cugat carried out the procedure, with everything going to plan on the medical side. The club’s statement was part information and part confession where they said his surgery for an injury to the internal meniscus of the left knee was successful. Then came the damning bit. 

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"It should be remembered,” the statement said, “that Ansu played the first half of Barca sv Betis, in which he was very active. This season, the young Barca forward has played 10 games, seven in the League and three in the Champions League. In total Ansu has played 596 minutes this season, in which he has managed to score five goals and distribute two assists."

For a teenager on the cusp of greatness the time out could end up being a blessing in disguise. Some time off due to injury — and a chance for the club and the player to recalibrate and realise the limitations of a growing body — will only help prolong a career destined for brilliance. Ask Lionel Messi

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