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Soccer Break Friday – R.I.P FA Cup?

May 13, 2011

When I was in a French campsite in the 1990s a Dutchman caught wind of the fact I was English and immediately asked “Do you know the scores in the FA Cup semi-finals?”

Ask most football fans about what day in the season they looked forward to the most in the past and the FA Cup would have often topped the list, but the grand old competition is on the wane.

This year, four Premier League fixtures will be played before the trophy-starved Manchester City and Stoke City take to the Wembley turf for a shot at glory, the irony being Manchester United could clinch the league title about 20 minutes before their bitter city rivals try to win their first piece of silverware since 1976.

Is this farcical and disrespectful to the FA Cup or a sign the times-are-a-changin’? Money rather than trophies seems to rule modern football, so it’s no surprise to see the lucrative Champions League taking over as the ‘must win’ competition.

Off the pitch the red half of Manchester had a pleasing day after announcing their revenue was up by 30 per cent. The Red Devils roll on.

Over to the ongoing FIFA corruption scandal, and president Sepp Blatter has written a letter to Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport about his re-election bid on June 1. 

The talk in Africa is that one of the executive members embroiled in the affair, Issa Hayatou, should step down from his role as one of African football’s most influential figures. Agree?

Now for some less weighty issues. Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini is apparently using David Silva to lure Cesc Fabregas away from Arsenal. And in the Netherlands, the title shootout will go to the wire when Ajax and holders Twente Enschede battle it out on Sunday.

Finally, Lille are not in action in Ligue 1 this weekend owing to their French Cup final appearance on Saturday, but should defending champions Olympique Marseille lose then the northerners could clinch the title next week.

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Picture: Manchester City’s Carlos Tevez (L) yawns during a practice session at the club’s Carrington training complex in Manchester, northern England May 12, 2011. Manchester City will play Stoke City in the FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium in London on Saturday. REUTERS/Nigel Roddis

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