Well this is a companion piece to the recent posting about England’s ignominious exit from the European Championships. Following that predictable debacle we’d become honorary supporters of the Italian team (it should be Wales but alone in my family I’m finding it hard to be generous to a nation who just dislike the English so much). We were baby-sitting our beautiful elder two grandsons last night and had everything in place (wine) as the Italians faced up to the mighty Germany. It was a tense match with both sides cancelling each other out in the first half. The second half was more exciting with goals from either side. Would extra time allow Italy to show themselves as Germany’s bogey team yet again?
So just when you thought your country was having a bad day, we went and topped it with a bloody display against Iceland in the Euro Championships which was abject. No that’s not strong enough. Over the years, watching England at major Championships since 1966 (with the exception of 1970 and 1996) has been utterly disappointing and depressing. But Monday’s performance was just the worst ever. It was shameful. And the Welsh football team were filmed laughing at us in celebration. Yes mocking from Wales, who last graced a major tournament when Perry Como had a hit with Magic Moments ie back in the Middle Ages.
Well the handcuffs are out of the box and it can’t be long before they are slipped around the fat chubby wrists of Sepp Blatter. The FBI are already out for him and his corrupt trough-snuffling cronies but it was his native Swiss authorities who turned up at his office on Friday to seize evidence from his plush Zurich office and announced later that he was being investigated for ‘criminal mismanagement’ and ‘misappropriation’ of funds. At bloody last.
So it’s not earth-shattering news to announce that the very top footballers earn fortunes these days. If it takes me say an hour to write this posting (for fun of course), in the same time Wayne Rooney will have earned about £1800 from Man Utd. That’s the rate at which a salary of £300,000 per week gets drawn down. And that’s just the club money. Add to this his endorsements, sponsorship deals, image rights earnings, online gaming fees, social media earnings and investments and the figures are multiplied several times. So he’s probably earning closer to £10,000 every 60 minutes of the day that passes.
I hooked up with a very old mate from uni the other night for a beer. He’s a semi-retired Cardiff-based teacher who’s been on a 6-month assignment at a very good girls school in Kingston and we’ve been catching up a bit over that time. His contract finished at Xmas but he has sort of fallen for this part of SW London so he’s continuing to come back to do some tutoring and some rowing. He’s one of my oldest mates – well he would be given that we left Aber Uni 40 years ago – and he’s lived a life as a sports mad, red-blooded bachelor ever since. In fact his life style has hardly changed since I first met him. Continue reading
I caught that documentary the other night on the 4-match spell Ryan Giggs had as interim player-manager following the late season sacking of David Moyes at Manchester United earlier this year. If you can recall there was a lot of media and pundit/player commentary at the time saying that the board at Man U should award the permanent job to Giggs and pass the club baton on ‘within house’ having seen the external candidate (and Sir Alex’s personal choice as his replacement) fail abysmally. After all he was the Premiership’s most decorated player, scorer of over 150 goals and a real one-club player having appeared for ManU almost 1000 times over the last 22 seasons. It’s hard to dispute the logic of the argument. Then I watched the film…
I’ve a solution to the problem Sepp Blatter has been facing for some years – how to end his tenure as President of FIFA on a high note, respected around the world for his courageous convictions. It’s to look at what happened yesterday with the shocking shooting down of the Malaysian airline over Ukraine and to make some important decisions:
– to accept all the evidence that the civilian airline was taken out of the skies by an SA11 Buk missile supplied by the Russian regime to a trigger-happy bunch of pro-Russian separatists, thinking they were targetting a Ukrainian airforce transport aircraft (similar to the one they shot down last week), and who were in open telephone contact with their Russian military advisors at the time.
– further accept that Russia is fighting a proxy war against another sovereign state and annexing territory just as Hitler did in the Sudetenland in the prelude to WW2.
– recognise that the families and loved ones of the 298 innocent people who were killed in the atrocity included some 80 children and a number of mad keen football fans, following their teams’ pre-season progress, deserve to know that their deaths weren’t simply tragic but also resulted in some significant change.
– question for the first time whether awarding major footballing tournaments to developing countries and the financial burden it imposes on countries like Ukraine (co-holder of the 2102 Euro Championships), South Africa (2010 WC) and Brazil (2014 WC) actually benefits the country or weakens and de-stabilises it, as seems to be the case for sure in the Ukraine.
– make the obvious conclusion, on behalf of the world-wide football family, that as Russia is acting aggressively and against international law, FIFA should withdraw its grant to host the 2018 WC. Instead FIFA should invite the other bidding countries; England, Belgium-Neths and Portugal-Spain 3 months to submit a new tender document to host the tournament at minimal additional expenditure and based on plans utilising, optimally, existing stadia and current and already planned infrastructure. Winner to be determined within a further 3 month period by a new panel of 6 FIFA delegates and 6 respected external candidates.
– ignore any threats from Russia on boycotts of future tournaments and hope that FIFA’s actions help, in some small way, to bring an end to Putin’s vile regime.
– make a just decision that the bidding process for the 2022 WC was almost certainly flawed and compromised by corrupt practices, and that the final bidders should be re-invited to make a fresh submission for the tournament within a 6 month period with a pledge to make a final decision on the best bid within a further 3 months by the same panel.
– plan future events around a rotating series of well-established centres eg EU states, N America, and the Far East with S America, Africa, Middle East being the prefered venues for under 21/Masters tournaments.
Then Mr Blatter you will go down as a fine, just and decent administrator. Are you up for it Sepp?