Maradona to be new Argentina coach

October 28, 2008

Just listening to Radio Scotland, they have quoted a Reuters report that Diego Maradona will be the new Argentina Football coach.

Its also on Sky News, but they have yet to have any info. AFP has this.

That should make the tickets for the Scotland – Argentina game at Hampden fly out the door!

It will be Maradona’s first game in charge of Argentina.

Tickets go on sale tomorrow morning.

I seem to have blogged a fair deal about football recently, what with the Palestines game at home and my take on Atheist buses etc.:-

Palestine football team.
Atheist buses.
Lord Coe: Scots and Welsh; F**k ’em
UK Olympic football team

Must be divine inspiration. The hand of god perhaps?

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Palestine football team

October 26, 2008

I don’t think anyone would argue that sport isn’t a factor in modern national identity.

Thats one reason that I don’t support Gordon Brown’s GB Olympic football team in the 2012 London Olympics.

To put at threat four nations football teams in order to promote Gordon Brown’s Britishness agenda is a ridiculuous notion.

But is Gordon Brown’s Britishness agenda beginning to unravel due to lack of public support? If reports from The Times are correct then the planned British Day has bit the dust:

“The great national day debate arrives at a consensus – let’s call it off.

“You can pack up the Union Jacks, cancel the street parties and tell the pet shop that you won’t be needing that bulldog after all. The government has quietly dropped plans to have a British Day.

“Gordon Brown had called for a day to celebrate British identity in a speech delivered in 2006, when he was still chancellor.

“Earlier this year an official report by Lord Goldsmith, the former attorney-general, had proposed that the first patriotic bank holiday should be held to coincide with the 2012 Olympics.

“However, Michael Wills, the justice minister (who says he’s responsible for something called “the governance of Britain agenda”), told MPs last week: “There are no plans to introduce a national day at this time.” ”

If anyone doubts the influence of sport in national identity then they should look at today’s historic football match between Palestine and Jordan.

It is the first time the Palestine team will be playing on ‘home soil’. Its in the West Bank in front of a capacity 6500 crowd in the Faisal Al-Husseini International Stadium in AIRam, north Jersualem.

The Palestine football team was only recognised by FIFA in 1998, after the creation of the Palestinian Authority.

In fact, sport is the only realm where Palestine officially exists, in all other areas the Palestine people are represented by the Palestinian Authority, even at the UN.

So having an actual Palestine football team playing in the West Bank must be incredibly symbolic to Palestinians. It represents another step on the road to a fully independent Palestine.

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Atheist buses

October 22, 2008

I see that there is a campaign to put atheist slogans on London’s buses.

An atheist bus

The slogan reads ‘There’s probably no god. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.’

Its a pity they use the word ‘probably’. Its not an agnostic campaign. But I understand its due to British law not wanting to offend religious groups.

I preferred the slogans offered on Blood and Treasure.

Personally I think the campaign is a little misplaced:-

I think London Buses are the wrong place for the advert!

The British Humanist Association should instead have targeted Rangers and Celtic football clubs.

Both clubs with a history of sectarian troubles.

Imagine the strips:

atheist celtic strip
atheist Rangers strip

Now wouldn’t those make a concerted campaign against sectarianism?

Given that they started the campaign this morning and got enough funds by 10.06am they should now really go for the Old Firm!

It’s backed by well known evolutionist Professor Richard Dawkins:

“Religion is accustomed to getting a free ride – automatic tax breaks, unearned respect and the right not to be offended, the right to brainwash children.

“Even on the buses, nobody thinks twice when they see a religious slogan plastered across the side.

“This campaign to put alternative slogans on London buses will make people think – and thinking is anathema to religion.”

Is thinking anathema to religion?

Stephen Green, of pressure group Christian Voice:

“Bendy-buses, like atheism, are a danger to the public at large.

“I should be surprised if a quasi-religious advertising campaign like this did not attract graffiti.

“People don’t like being preached at. Sometimes it does them good, but they still don’t like it.”

With no hint of irony either.

Amazing!

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Iceland and Russia

October 14, 2008

In 1972, Iceland was the stage for one of the more dramatic encounters of the Cold War.

This time it was over a chessboard.

The tempermental American genius Bobby Fischer was up against the reigning World Chess Champion Boris Spassky, a Russian.

Both players felt the pressure and accusations flowed from Russia to America and back again that the other side were trying to subvert their opposing player.

Spassky and Fischer in Iceland, 1972

Finally, once Fischer settled his fee and actually made his mind up to play chess, the American triumphed over the Russian.

Then the reclusive American declined to defend his trophy and the Russians under Anatoly Karpov once again assumed the title in 1975.

Fischer, once the beloved darling of America, was a troubled soul. He praised the September 11th attacks on America saying the U.S. should be ‘wiped out’. Apart from a 1992 rematch against Spassky – which he won, although both players were well past their best – he had retired from Chess. He died early this year.

Iceland, situated at the edge of Europe, has often been the site of such American – Russian meetings. It has often acted as a bridge between the two nations.

It is, however, a founder member of NATO.

So it must cause America some alarm when Iceland has now turned to Russia for a 4 billion euro loan.

It cites lack of help from its NATO allies when dealing with its banking problems in the global credit crunch. I have cited before the help that Norway gave Iceland; it seems its other NATO allies weren’t quite as generous.

“We have not received the kind of support that we were requesting from our friends,” said prime minister Geir Haarde. “So in a situation like that, one has to look for new friends.”

Although Iceland has said that they have not made any military concessions yet to the Russians, it must be a concern to NATO. Iceland’s position in the North Atlantic is vital for allowing movement between the U.S. and Europe, the so-called GIUK gap (Greenland-Iceland-UK). If Iceland was to allow any Russian bases on its soil, that would seriously compromise NATO.

Its the makings of another political chess match.

Coincidentally, today was the start of the 2008 World Chess Championship between Viswanathan Anand, the current World Champion from India, and Vladimir Kramnik, the previous champion from Russia and the man who took the title from Garry Kasparov. (Kramnik had also beaten Bulgarian Veselin Topalov, the FIDE champion and his win unified the chess crown and brought FIDE to prominence again.)

Today’s game was drawn, something that favours Anand as Black.

Kramnik,V (2772) – Anand,V (2783) [D14]
WCh Bonn GER (1), 14.10.2008
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.cxd5 cxd5 5.Bf4 Nc6 6.e3 Bf5 7.Nf3 e6 8.Qb3 Bb4 9.Bb5 0-0 10.Bxc6 Bxc3+ 11.Qxc3 Rc8 12.Ne5 Ng4 13.Nxg4 Bxg4 14.Qb4 Rxc6 15.Qxb7 Qc8 16.Qxc8 Rfxc8 17.0-0 a5 18.f3 Bf5 19.Rfe1 Bg6 20.b3 f6 21.e4 dxe4 22.fxe4 Rd8 23.Rad1 Rc2 24.e5 fxe5 25.Bxe5 Rxa2 26.Ra1 Rxa1 27.Rxa1 Rd5 28.Rc1 Rd7 29.Rc5 Ra7 30.Rc7 Rxc7 31.Bxc7 Bc2 32.Bxa5 Bxb3 draw.

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Lord Coe: Scots and Welsh; F**k ’em!

October 1, 2008

The Campaign for an English Parliament has handily printed off Lord Coe’s outburst regarding his attempts to create a British National Football Team at the 2012 Olympics.

(Its just as well because the online version of The London Paper it seems has removed the story. If anyone has the printed edition its on Page 5.)

The key quote is:

But he said the BOA, which selects teams for the Games, has decided to press ahead with a football squad despite the opposition.

When asked last night about the opposition from the Welsh and Scots, Coe replied bluntly: “F*** em!

Thanks, Seb!

How much are the Scots and Welsh taxpayers paying into the London Olympics bid again?

As I mentioned in a previous post, a joint GB football team would endanger the survival of all the Home Nation football teams. That’s precisely why Lord Coe’s plans have met with such opposition.

Lord Coe also confirmed that Alex Ferguson, the current Manchester United manager, has assured him he will be managing the side.

The London Paper reports that Lord Coe has obviously now changed Ferguson’s mind on the matter, who was initially reluctant.

He might be even more reluctant now.

As for Sebastian Coe? Can’t say I’m surprised. I always preferred Ovett anyway.

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England v Australia Olympic battle

August 29, 2008

While politicans try to make political capital of the Olympics it seems that a spat has developed between England and Australia over the medal tally.

It started when The Sun drove mobile billboards around London and Sydney saying ‘Where the bloody hell were you?’ and pointing out Team GB’s superior gold medal tally to Australia.

Now the Australians have hit back saying that Australia have 14 gold medals compared England’s 13.

The Australian Daily Telegraph have now performed a similar stunt.

‘Above you in the medal table’ the Aussies claim.

I’m just waiting for the Australian Government to publicly endorse the SNP and Plaid Cymru and demand Scottish and Welsh independence!


Why the UK should have separate Olympic teams

August 26, 2008

Team GB took 311 athletes to the 2008 Olympic Games according to the Team GB website.

Yet the IOC only provides each country a limited number of slots for their athletes.

That meant for instance Hayley Haining couldn’t go to Beijing when Paula Radcliffe declared herself fit.

Now there are always going to be losers in any qualifying system for the limited slot placement in the Olympics.

But separate Olympic teams for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would widen the opportunities for our athletes, and ensure that as many athletes as possible fill each countries slots.

Consider this:

The UK with a population of around 60 million sent 311 athletes.

England’s population of around 50 million is slightly higher than Spain’s 46 million. Spain sent 312 athletes to Beijing. (These and other countries figures obtained from the Yahoo Olympic site.) You’d probably be talking at least the 311 athletes in a English Olympic team. (The Team GB breaks down England by region but subtracting the other countries totals from the 311 Team GB total gives an English total of 268 athletes.)

Scotland’s population is around 5 million. Slightly higher than Croatia’s 4.6 million. Croatia sent 110 athletes to Beijing. Probably the same numbers as a possible Scottish team, although New Zealand with 4.2 million sent 209 athletes. (A quick filter in the Team GB site gives 26 athletes at the 2008 Olympics.)

Wales’ population is around 3 million. Just slightly smaller than Lithuania. They sent 74 athletes. (A quick filter in the Team GB site gives 14 Welsh athletes in the Beijing Olympics.)

Northern Ireland’s population is around 1.8 million. Not far off Slovenia’s 2 million. They sent 62 athletes. (A quick filter in the Team GB site gives 3 athletes, although Northern Irish athletes are also eligible for the Irish Olympic squad.)

Let’s add that up:-

England 311
Scotland 110
Wales 74
Northern Ireland 62

Thats a rough estimate of 557. That’s an increase in athletes for each country from their 2008 totals.

Might even be more if the Home Nations can begin to emulate the New Zealand population density rate. The UK – as four countries – could possibly send about 700 athletes, more than double the present number; a number that would never be possible for the single British Olympic Committee given the UK’s population.

The key here is widening participation in sport for our top athletes.

Athletes that have experience in the Olympics generally do better in the next one. They know what the Olympics is all about, they have seen what it takes to compete at that level, and work that bit harder to achieve their Olympic dreams next time.

Athletes that don’t make the slot places may just give up altogether.

With 4 different Olympic committees, sport all over England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland could flourish.

And of course, there’s no reason for the IOC to object to four different IOC bodies in the UK. There were 12 territories represented at the 2008 Olympics that are not recognised countries.

Bermuda has its own representation. Britain own those islands; Bermuda is not independent or have a seat at the UN. Bermuda sent 6 athletes to the Olympics. And for a population of 66 000 people that’s simply staggering.

Thats almost 1 in 10000 people there being Olympic athletes.

Or England sending 5000 athletes to Beijing.