I don’t tend to get upset when someone famous dies; death is sad, there is no getting around that, however, it doesn’t tend to actually affect my mood when someone that I do not know pass on. David Bowie is the exception to that rule, as he has been the exception to many a rule throughout his incredible career. The very first song I heard by Bowie was Space Oddity, which probably is no surprise as it is amongst his most famous songs, and the song that really started it all off. I fell in love with that song. It isn’t my favourite Bowie song, but it is where my love for the man started. It was weird, hell, he was a bit weird, but I was weird too, and weirdness appealed to me then as much as it does now. When I read that Bowie had died, Space Oddity was the first song that popped into my head, and as I played the lyrics through in my mind it briefly filled me with sadness.
When former French international football player Michel Platini became the president of UEFA in 2007, I won’t lie, I was kind of excited. After years of witnessing both UEFA and its big brother FIFA being run by politicians and people who would gladly prioritise their own financial needs or egos ahead of the sport they were supposed to safeguard, I was happy to see an actual footballer in charge. I stupidly assumed, and we all know what assumptions make of us, that someone who loved the game and had seen highs such as winning the European Cup and captaining his country to a World Cup semi-final and a European Championship would want nothing more than to better the sport that he had dedicated two decades to as either a senior player or a manager.
Unfortunately, in the weeks that followed I quickly fell out of love with the notion that Platini would be any different to the rest of them. Focused solely on becoming a politician whose main goal was to push his reforms through, like the rest of them, there was very little, us and we and more so simply me, me, me. Now I’m not going to say that nothing good has been achieved by Platini as UEFA president, his role in the development of the regulations for Financial Fair Play was nothing short of instrumental, although for someone in such a powerful position he has done nothing near what could have been achievable in order to better the sport.
Football is so much more than just what constitutes a free kick today compared to twenty years ago. As of 2015 racial abuse is still hurled at players in certain UEFA membership countries, in both national and European competitions. Match fixing remains a problem. The power which football agents are allowed to hold over clubs as well as their clients can verge on the terrifying. Decisions have been made on both a European and international level that most people struggle to understand, unless viewed as the result of bribery or fraudulent activity. Sexism remains rife within the organisations, as well as in the stands and little has been done to stamp out homophobia within the sport. I could continue to list issues, both minor and not so minor, but I digress, my point is simply, more could have been done.
I don’t think it has surprised anyone that Sepp Blatter has ended up being investigated by FIFA’s Ethics Committee, but it does appear to surprise some that along with Blatter and FIFA’s secretary general Jerome Valcke, UEFA president and FIFA vice-president Michel Platini is also under investigation, and along with the other two has been suspended for 90 days and banned from carrying out football related work in that time. Now, whilst a lot of people would argue that everyone should be innocent until proven otherwise, a sentiment that in 99percent of cases, I will wholeheartedly support, I do not believe that it is necessarily that straight forward when it comes to this case.
I will not waste my breath, or fingers, discussing the possible guilt of Sepp Blatter as I don’t think there is anyone alive that is involved with football on any level and believes that the FIFA president has not been guilty of corruption both prior to and during his 17 year long reign. Now personally, due to the close working relationship between Blatter and Platini, without any other allegation I would find it difficult to believe that Platini wasn’t at the very least guilty by association.
The inquiry into Platini stems from a payment that was made to him by Sepp Blatter, of £1,35million, nearly a decade after Platini took on some consulting work for Blatter (a payment for which no written contract exists). Now, it may very well be possible that Blatter is dreadful at paying bills, at which point Platini no doubt will hit him with a hefty late payment fee, but some seem to prefer to believe that the payment is some form of a bribe, hence the investigation. Now, if the alleged payment did in fact take place, I do not see how anything Platini says or does can save his career. Even if he is completely innocent in any illegality in accordance to the law, receiving such a payment and not informing anyone (such as the ethics committee) would immediately suggest the presence of some level of guilt. As it stands, Platini remains adamant that he is innocent of any wrong doing and that in a statement published on the UEFA website he claims that “I have always acted and expressed myself with honesty, courage and candour, as I feel that this is my moral duty.” He also still plans to go ahead with his running for FIFA Presidency next year. Ironically, it is being alleged that the payment that looks to be his downfall was in fact made to Platini to stop him from running against Blatter himself for said presidency.
In the grand scheme of things I would like to focus less on guilt and more so on the overall damage done to both FIFA and UEFA over several years, by several parties. Michel Platini was a footballer, one held in high regard by both players and managers, he won several honours, both as part of a team as well as player specific ones. He managed his national team, a team that he had also captained. The damaged that such a man can cause to the game is unspeakable. Platini isn’t like Blatter, he isn’t just and economist that happens to work for a footballing institution, he is a footballing institution. The betrayal caused by such a man acting improperly and not with the sport’s wellbeing at heart goes beyond what almost anyone else in either footballing organisation could hope to achieve with their corrupt ways. If Platini still has any ounce of love for the beautiful game he should step down from his position at both UEFA and at FIFA, whatever the outcome of the investigation, and he should encourage all of his chums to do the same. That way, maybe, just maybe, FIFA will have the chance to follow the best course of action for an organisation not just slightly tainted by corruption, but that has corruption seeping out of every metaphorical brick made to build it. The chance to start from scratch.
I don’t generally write reviews on anything, bar the odd concert, but sometimes, something so bad comes along that it would just be a crime not to write about it. I love football, although I admit I do not watch as much of it as I used to. This is partly down to a lack of time, but quite frankly the game just doesn’t engage me as much as it used to. Luckily for me, I just happen to be engaged to one of those blokes who do feel the need to watch all football that is available on any channel accessible through SKY, including football highlight shows. Thanks to this, tonight, I was introduced to the new show Football League Tonight.
Now, seeing as I am writing this before the end of the first episode of the show, it may be easy to accuse me of making swift judgement on the programme, and perhaps that is true, perhaps I haven’t given it enough of a chance, but I will be honest, I really don’t want to.
There doesn’t seem to be a single redeeming feature to Football League Tonight. Starting with the actual highlights, these seem to be shown completely randomly, with no rhyme or reason. There is no in depth analysis of any value, there’s no clever or engaging punditry. There is however random tweets and videos being shown and then talked about in an manner that is only rivalled in embarrassment by the set’s non digital props, which makes it look decades behind similar TV shows. This includes MOTD whose only digital prop is Gary Lineker, who is blatantly the result of Robotics and AI. There’s this complete air of awkwardness surrounding the show, reaching its highest points of awkwardness when George Riley attempts to go through the highlights of the Leyton Orient and Barnet game with Barnet manager Martin Allen, showing a complete incompetence in leading the “interview”.I saw more journalistic talent in the school paper I was briefly part of in high school, and I’m not going to lie, we were pretty fucking dreadful.
Saying that, there are positives about the show, for example, for possibly the first time in her life Kelly Cates is not the most irritating aspect of a show. In fact, next to Riley she may very well seem like a candidate for presenter of the year at the National Television Awards (I am assuming there is such an award). Also, the presenters’ incompetence in communicating with their live studio audience does at the very least equal the audience’s rather dreadful attempt at responding. I would go as far as to say that the only relationship that carries a worse chemistry than that between the presenters and the audience is the chemistry between Riley and Cates, or should I say lack thereof. The random appearances of Adam Virgo also does not do anyone any favours, as whilst he clearly has an idea about what he is talking about, he is as engaging as a dead goldfish as it is being flushed down the toilet.
Still, this is only the first episode, and I suppose it is very possible that it could get better, although that is only because it couldn’t get much worse. I really do feel sorry for fans of any of the clubs in the Football League, as you deserve better than this; quite frankly, there are pub leagues that deserve better coverage than this nothing short of pathetic attempt by Channel 5.
The night before last I had a dream that Wham reformed and the more I think about it, the more I realise that a world where Wham reforms is a world that I would really love to live in. Putting aside the inner battles of George Michael, and the serious and sometimes sad undertones of Wham’s songs, I defy anyone finding a single human being that can stop themselves from smiling should Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go come on the radio, TV or generic mp3 player. George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley with their good looks, broad smiles and stereotypical 1980s dress sense and back-up singers are the very definition of why the 80s were full of hope and fun, and some serious musical talent.
I’ll be honest, for me personally, being able to have a drink at a football game isn’t really that important. In fact, having a drink in general isn’t really that important to me. I like having the choice though, yet in Scotland, that choice doesn’t exists for hundreds of thousands of football fans, as they have been told for over three decades that they are not allowed to consume alcohol before games, be served it at games, or bring alcohol to games. I am all for a control on alcohol. I am a huge fan of measures being put in place to avoid the many issues brought about by excessive alcohol intake, I am also a huge fan of a freedom to do as we wish, as long as it is legal of course, and not be discriminated against simply because we prefer a round ball to be kicked around rather than an oval one.
Jim Murphy, the Scottish labour leader, is a huge force within the discussion on allowing alcohol to resurface at football games. Although it’s difficult not to wonder if his voice would be heard more if he didn’t spend so much of his time acting like a bit of a royal court’s jester, the points that he has brought up are not only salient, but very worthy of consideration. Even though some have labelled it a ploy for votes ahead of the upcoming election (God forbid a politician should use something voters want in order to get votes, obviously that never happens), I don’t see why his wishes for a public debate should be completely and utterly ignored.
Football fans are prone to violence. Football fans when drinking excessively become more prone to committing acts of domestic abuse. Allowing alcohol at games will put a huge strain on the NHS. “Violent scenes” are still rife at games. The sport will no longer provide a child and female friendly atmosphere due to their drink fuelled foul language. Those are the main arguments against allowing alcohol to be sold at football games in Scotland. According to the likes of Shona Robison, the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Sport, and Les Gray, the former chairmen of the Scottish Police Federation, Scottish football fans cannot be trusted. They are a bunch of violent hooligans that if given a chance to have an extra pint before games and at half time will descend into a whirlwind of violence and destruction, topping it all off by going home and beating up their wives and girlfriends.
I’m a woman, I happen to have gone to one or two Scottish football games, at those games there were people present that were loud and sweary, some of them were even sober. As a family, my partner, my daughter and I all go to football games in England, where alcohol is allowed in the concourse and enjoyed (legally) both before and during the games. My daughter and have never been in a situation where we have felt threatened or held the opinion that the environment was bad for us because we are sensitive souls of either the female persuasion, or a child, or in the case of my daughter both. If you go to any football game anywhere in the world and you do not expect foul language and emotions running high, you’re quite possibly as thick as plank. Or you’re Shona Robison. I am simply so very sick and tired of my gender being used as an excuse for the greater good. I go to football, I swear, I get loud, my daughter sings louder than a lot of grown men do at football games, she turns six next week. Most of the women I know, wherever they live and whichever team they support, do not feel threatened when they attend football games because the bloke next to them smells like lager and every other word that comes out of the boy behind them is f*ck. Asking the opinion of women who do not attend football games, who have no interest in attending football games and who still believe that football fans act as they did in the 80s, meeting up in the backstreets for massive brawls with spanners and Stanley knives, it’s pointless. If they want an opinion, that’s fine, by all means, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but their opinion should not matter. Ask those of us who actually attend games, those of us who love the game, ask us our opinion, because we’re the ones who will continue to go to the games, and we’re the ones that will keep clubs afloat spending our money with them, not the sensitive souls sitting at home talking about how football fans are all abusive, alcoholic Neanderthals.
Football fans are violent? Religious extremists are violent, that doesn’t mean their religion is one of violence. Some football fans are violent, but they’re not violent because they are football fans, the fact that such a thing is proclaimed this day in age surely is as offensive to football supporters as religious stereotyping is to someone religious. Jim Murphy and other supporters of allowing alcohol back in Scottish football stadiums aren’t suggesting you drop bombs of hard liquor over Glasgow on a day when the Old Firm face off, in fact, I’m relatively sure that when the point is made that the decision to serve alcohol can be made on a match by match basis, the decision not to serve any when Rangers play Celtic would be a relatively easy one. The claims by Robison and Gray that this isn’t plausible and would cause a lot of extra work for the police, and that it’s simply not doable is disproved by the countries that already apply such a system, and it works just fine. It wouldn’t be a fool proof system over night, but there is no such thing.
Whilst on the subject of the police, during the 1980 cup final riots Archie Macpherson repeatedly asked “Where are the police?” and rightfully so. Whilst alcohol may have played its part in the behaviour that followed full time, as did the absence of proper policing, something that just doesn’t happen these days. Police games are policed as per requirements; the number of officers required is managed on a match by match basis, much like an alcohol license for stadiums would be. More to the point, it wouldn’t take a genius to point out that most of the games that would be an alcohol license no-no would be rather obvious. I’d even go as far as to say that despite Gray’s claims that most of the fan base of Rangers and Celtic are suffering from a bad case of paranoia, they’d understand why the police would think it a bad idea to inject more alcohol into the mixture.
There is one point that Ms Robison, Mr Gray and the various healthcare, charity representatives and general naysayers have to make that I do agree with, the drinking culture in Scotland is far from ideal. The Scottish have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, binge drinking is a big issue, as is alcoholism. This is however a cultural phenomenon, something that needs to be changed on a fundamental level. Prohibition does not solve big social issues; it simply encourages people to feed their habits or needs illegally. By saying that allowing football fans to buy alcohol when attending games encourages the unhealthy drinking culture that already exists in Scotland, it indicates that football fans once again are the issue. Being a football fan doesn’t make you a criminal, nor does having a drink in a licenced establishment put you on the most wanted list. Except in Scotland, if you’re a football fan, and you decide to go to the pub for a pint before a game, you’re this horrible person that needs to be locked up for life for the safety for the rest of humanity. Football fans aren’t to be blamed for an unhealthy relationship with alcohol that exists across Britain, and the fact that criticism isn’t directed at rugby fans that are allowed to drink alcohol, and do so excessively at matches, shows an incredible double standard. Of course, the fact that alcohol can be consumed within football hospitality areas (from which the pitch cannot be seen) indicates that it’s really just us commoners you have to worry about drinking, once again a ridiculous form of discrimination against the ordinary football fan.
I do not see the licensing laws in regards to football games changing as long as the Scottish National Party are in government, and whilst the promises to do something about it from both Labour and the Conservatives may very well just be a ploy ahead of an election they’re desperately needing votes from, it’s a change I think would be very much overdue. The tradition of having a beer and going to the football is one that goes back decades, films like Green Street isn’t a representation of what football these days is like on a match by match basis. A majority of football fans go to the game to watch their team, see their mates and yes, on occasion have a drink. They do not go to a football game, get as drunk as they can do and once their team loses go home to commit atrocious acts of violence against their spouses. Maybe, just maybe, it’s time that football fans were given a little bit more credit than what the likes of Shona Robison and Les Gray are currently willing to offer.
I’m not going to lie, in fact I’m just going to come out and say it; I detest Valentine’ day. I think it’s a hyped up, commercial occasion used as the female equivalent of measuring penis size, the “look how much my man loves me because he spent X amount of money on flowers, jewellery and a card that says the sweetest thing.” Some women spend so much time trying to get one over on each other, giving them an actual holiday to do so on? I’m not sure whether it makes me slightly angry, or just sad.
As far as feminists go, I’m probably a pretty lousy one. I don’t really hate men, I don’t feel like I’m deserving of worshipping because I have a vagina and I’d respect a man a lot more for admitting he buys Playboy for the pictures rather than having an interest in their journalistic prowess. See, I’m quite happy to admit that there is still plenty of discrimination based on gender, and not just in the underprivileged countries that we all spend so much time pitying, because they’re so far behind us, but here, at home, in the wonderful West where life’s a walk on roses and nothing bad or unfair ever happens. I just don’t think modern feminism does itself many favours.
I used to be bullied as a child, although, I’m relatively sure that even without that experience I wouldn’t be too keen on bullies. I am quite a difficult person in that I will tell someone if I don’t like them, I will tell people if they do or say something that I think is wrong, or I will ignore you if I don’t like you. However, what I wouldn’t do, and what I despise in people is the bully gene. That little voice inside people’s heads that say; “you’re not good enough, so you have to attempt to make everyone else feel inadequate too.” That voice, that is clearly inside Perez Hilton’s head, that makes him so jealous of other people that he feels the need to go far beyond the diva personality he seems to think he possess and just be a downright horrible person. I suppose it’s ironic really, that someone who’s made a career out of writing trash about celebrities, acts so despicably in a desperate notion to become one of them.
I don’t watch Big Brother, I don’t tend to watch Celebrity Big Brother, yet this January’s season has popped up on my TV a few times and I’ve ended up watching bits and pieces. Now, it really shouldn’t surprise anyone that Perez Hilton isn’t a very nice person. He’s essentially made a career out of fame stalking, rumour enticement and celebrities and their weak moments. Now, in a society where the American influence of the Western world includes a growing obsession with celebrities, it’s hardly surprising that someone like Perez would get ahead, seeing as he’s essentially the keyboard warrior version of a Paparazzi. What is surprising is that as a person, or should I say persona, the man comes across as such a horrible character that he makes Katie Hopkins seems likable. That’s the same Katie Hopkins that manages to anger Britain on a weekly basis and is Britain’s most hated bully since Draco Malfoy.
Still, you cannot help but feel sorry for Perez. After all, in order for someone to feel so entitled to drag others into the mud, he must be incredibly miserable. And it shows. There’s nothing “real” or relatable about a person whose smile only appears as a smug smirk when he has made a damaging comment to someone else, or who cries quicker than a crocodile in order to show the world the injustice being done upon him, when in fact nothing is being done. He must be so incredibly unhappy, and so fundamentally lonely, that I’m not surprised he has such a need to make himself feel better by berating others. The question is, should we really be encouraging such behaviour?
Children get bullied now more than ever thanks to new and innovative ways in which to pick on others appearing. Cyber bullying is becoming increasingly popular, because bullies can pretend to be whoever they want to as they hide behind online personas whilst hurting others. Surely we should be teaching children not to do these things, rather than idolize and popularize characters such as that of Perez Hilton? There’s nothing big or clever about the way in which Perez has behaved, and I hope that he’s off our TV screens sooner rather than later. People like that should be ignored, the one feeling they cannot abide by, and if watching bullying is your kind of entertainment, well, then you’re just as bad as he is.
There are times when whilst watching a game of football you suddenly see something that you don’t think you will or sometimes even hope you won’t see ever again. Scary scenes of a footballer falling to the ground lifeless during a game is an example of such an occurrence, or unrest in the stands that lead to the endangerment, or perhaps even the loss of life. What millions witnessed last night, was much less serious than those examples I have mentioned, less serious because no one’s life was in danger, yet the implications for the beautiful game could be quite severe. I do not believe there is a football fan alive that can proclaim that they have never seen at least one of their players, either on a national or international level committing an act of severe misconduct on the pitch. Every team has or has at some point had a player whose temper flared easily or simply whose job it was to rough up the opposition. However, very few fans could turn around and say they have witnessed one of their players bite an opposition player, something that has occurred not once, not twice but three times during that player’s career.
I tend not to get involved with discussion about sexism in football. I have done the (very) occasional blog in the past where I have made a point of the difficulties I have experienced over the year as a female football fan, usually placing a fair bit of the blame on women themselves. I tend not to be offended or care very much about people’s opinions, and thus when I saw that Helena Costa was named manager of French Second division club Clermont Foot I made a conscious decision to attempt to avoid the backlash, and up until this afternoon I did.