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?

add to del.icio.us:Add to Blinkslist:add to furl:Digg it:add to ma.gnolia:Stumble It!:add to simpy:seed the vine::::post to facebook:Add to Technorati Favorites

Advertisements

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.

add to del.icio.us:add to Blinkslist:add to furl:Digg it:add to ma.gnolia:Stumble It!:add to simpy:seed the vine:::Palestine football team:post to facebook:Add to Technorati Favorites


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!

add to del.icio.us:add to Blinkslist:add to furl:Digg it:add to ma.gnolia:Stumble It!:add to simpy:seed the vine:::Atheist buses:post to facebook:Add to Technorati Favorites


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.

add to del.icio.us:add to Blinkslist:add to furl:Digg it:add to ma.gnolia:Stumble It!:add to simpy:seed the vine:::Scots and Welsh; F**k ‘em!:post to facebook:Add to Technorati Favorites


Home Nations Olympic teams in history

August 25, 2008

My previous post described how the 1908 Great Britain Olympic football squad was in fact the English national amateur team.

One other thing of interest in that Olympics was that the Home Nations representated themselves in some sports.

For example, in Hockey there was a English, Scottish, Irish and Welsh side. (This before before the independence of Ireland and the partition of Northern Ireland.)

They competed with France and Germany to get the medals.

England won gold. Ireland won the silver. Scotland and Wales shared the bronze, as there was no 3rd place play-off.

Scotland beating Germany 4-0 at hockey in the 1908 Olympics

England and Ireland representated themselves at Polo.

The IOC rules about countries competing only if they have an IOC committee in place where enforced at these London games.

This was a British ploy to prevent the situation that had happened two years previous in the 1906 Intercalated Olympics – basically a mid term Olympics between 1904 and 1908.

Peter O’Connor, an Irish long jumper, high jumper and triple jumper, was sent to Athens by the GAA and the IAAA, Irish sport authorities. Of course, Ireland at the time was not independent from Britain and hence Peter and other Irish atheletes found themselves listed as representing Britain.

In a controversial long jump competition, Peter came second, but as the Union flag was raised to represent his silver, Peter climbed the flagpole and waved his Irish flag instead.

He later won the gold medal in the triple jump.

That’s why the IOC ruling was enforced in 1908 by the London Olympics, to try and stop any such political statements. However to primarily appease the Irish they allowed the Home Nations to represent themselves at some sports; particularly in those sports where Ireland had a good chance to win a gold medal.

A knock-on effect of this ruling was that Finland – at the time ruled by Russia – was listed as Russian. This was particularly upsetting for the Finns as Russia had not even bothered to send a team.

They decided to have no flag instead.

The official report on the London games stated “it might on another occasion be better to consider separate entries from England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales…as well as from both New Zealand and Australia”

Even in the imperial mood of 1908 came the realisation that separate teams were the way forward.

One hundred years later and we’re still having the debate in the UK!


UK Olympic football team

August 24, 2008

There have been UK football olympic teams in the past. Indeed the UK team won gold in the first football tournament in 1908 – the UK also won when football was a demonstration sport in the 1900 Olympics in Paris – although only five countries competed at the time. This UK team however was the England national amateur team. The UK won again in 1912 and again the team entered was the England national amateur team.

London 1908 English amateur national football team at the Olympics

In fact all the subsequent entries of the UK team were amateur teams predominately based on the English national amateur team.

The politics of football is completely different today than it was in the early 20th century with few teams taking part, and even in the early seventies when an English based UK amateur side was competing in the 1972 Olympics.

The UK has not fielded an joint footballing team since 1974 when the English Football Association scrapped the distinction between professional and amateur.

As football has grown around the world, becoming a truly global game, other nations having been looking at the UK and asking why have they four teams representating the UK, each with a vote in FIFA.

So any suggestion of a UK Football Olympic team would only provide weight to their argument and threaten the existence of the Home Nations teams.

That is why it seems that there is a remarkable weight of opinion that the UK should not enter a joint football team in the 2012 Olympic Games:-

Sepp Blatter, President of FIFA:

“If you start to put together a combined team for the Olympic Games, the question will automatically come up that there are four different associations so how can they play in one team.

If this is the case then why the hell do they have four associations and four votes and their own vice-presidency?

This will put into question all the privileges that the British associations were given by the Congress in 1946.”.

Gordon Smith, Scottish Football Association chief executive:

“We don’t want anything to do with a British team and made that clear from very early on.

“I have met Gordon Brown, but our position remains the same. A Team UK would raise questions in terms of our future as an autonomous footballing nation.

“Right now we have our own association, league and national team and that is not something we are willing to compromise.

“I don’t see a change of heart on this. There’s no backing for this from our administration or our supporters.”

Alan Duncan, from the Association of Tartan Army Clubs:

“When is Gordon Brown going to realise that nobody wants a Team UK, a position that could threaten our own independent national side?

“To be honest, nobody up here takes anything that Brown says seriously anymore.

“He has proven time and time again that he is more interested in being English than Scottish. He even admitted to supporting the England team.

“Scotland is focussed on trying to qualify for World Cups and European championships.”

Craig Brown, former Scotland manager:

“In my opinion, it would be axiomatic that such a ‘temporary’ merger could lead to the eventual permanent combination of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales into a single footballing entity in future major tournaments such as the World Cup and European Championships.”

Malcolm Clarke, Football Supporters Federation of Engand:

“The FSF is opposed to a single UK team in the Olympics.

We believe that such a team would be an entirely artificial entity given the existence of separate teams from each of the 4 countries in the UK in all other forms of International football, which is a tradition of very long standing which fans from the 4 countries wish to retain.

We share the fears of fans from the other UK countries that this precedent might be used to challenge the separate existence of those teams in the future, notwithstanding the assurances given by FIFA that this will not happen.”

Philip Smyth, Amalgamation of Official NI Fans Clubs :

“The Amalgamation of Official NISCs is opposed to the concept of a United Kingdom representative team participating in the 2012 Olympic Football Tournament.

We feel that such a move would undoubtedly lead to increased lobbying for an end to the present individual representative status of the four British Associations, a scenario which International fans throughout the Home Nations would be opposed to.”

Paul Corkrey, Football Supporters Federation Cymru :

“The Olympic side has our best wishes but it could mean the death of a country’s football team and the Welsh should not have to pay that price.”

Why then does Gordon Brown seem ‘determined’ to have a UK Olympic football team in the 2012 Olympic Games?

Only the government and the English FA are in favour.

Now it seems the Prime Minister is having talks with Sepp Blatter on the matter.

Is he mad???

Is his Britishness agenda so important that he risks the national teams of Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland?

Sepp Blatter has taken the view that if the UK was insistent on entering then:

“They should enter only a team composed of players from England”

That view is probably why the English Football Association itself seems in favour of a UK Football Olympic team.

As in the past, any UK team will be an English team, in all but name.

If Gordon Brown is really serious about a UK Olympic football team, I suggest the Home Nations play off for the right to represent the UK.

A joint team will be the beginning of the end for the Home Nations. The other nations just won’t stand four separate teams in FIFA if a UK team was submitted.

Wouldn’t the best way forward be the Home Nations representating themselves at the Olympics?

That makes much more sense.


Devolution has killed nationalism stone dead

August 8, 2008

So said George Robertson, one time Secretary General of NATO.

Of course he is right.

But not in the way he intended.

Devolution has killed British nationalism stone dead.

It was always going to be the weaker nationalism that would die. And considering Scottish nationalism – and for that matter English and Welsh nationalism – has been around a lot longer than British nationalism, it was always going to be harder to artifically maintain the youngest and weakest.

British nationalism is now in its final swansong. Of course we won’t see many Saltires, English or Welsh flags at the Olympics – as they have been banned – and we’ll only see the Union Flags, but reading into flag waving to surmise that British nationalism is alive and well would be utterly ridiculous.

Nevertheless, I fully expect some commentators to reach that conclusion!!

The English FA fully expect to field a British football team in the 2012 Olympics, even though the Scottish FA, the Welsh FA and the Northern Irish FA have already indicated that they will not let their players be involved.

So the 2012 British team will be the England team.

That illustrates a common attitude in England. Britain = England. Its one of the reasons why British nationalism never really took on in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. Which is ironic for Wales especially as the original Britons of these isles were forced back into Wales and southern and central belt Scotland by the Romans, before the Romans finally took all the lands south of Hadrian’s Wall. Apart from a brief upset by Boudicca, the land that is now England folded like a pack of cards.

If Scotland is not independent by 2012 I doubt many Scots – or Welsh or Northern Irish, for that matter – will be supporting an English team purporting to be from the whole of the UK.

Brian Wilson, former Labour Energy minister, yesterday admitted that devolution was constructed to keep out the SNP:-

“The masterplan was for there to be permanent Labour-LibDem coalition at Holyrood. This cosy strategy reflected the warm personal relationships between Labour and LibDem grandees of the time – Donald Dewar and Gordon Brown, Jim Wallace and Menzies Campbell. A Byzantine electoral system was created which would ensure that the Nationalists would remain in the minority.”

But his comments were strangely not – as a fervent anti-nationalist – related to trying to resussitate the dying Union, but of trying to resussitate the dying Labour Party.

No doubt he would argue that keeping Labour alive is vital to keeping the Union alive, as if Britain would die if there was no Labour Party; somehow both vitally joined together like empathic twins on life support.

Yet there’s no doubt which twin he wants to save with his donor card.

The Labour Party.

And isn’t that one of Labour’s biggest problems? The self interest of the party machine comes before country.

And it isn’t any better at Holyrood for Labour.

They will never stand up for Scotland like the SNP can.

They will always have to look down to Westminster first before making a decision.

Recently there were reports that Jack McConnell as First Minister had to phone up Downing St to ask if the agreed policy decisions of the Labour and Liberal Democrat Executive were OK by Westminster.

The SNP always put Scotland’s interests first. Every time.

Obviously that rankles Brian Wilson:

“Whether devolution was good for Scotland is a matter for debate. But it is indisputedly a disaster for the Labour Party.” and also concedes “that devolution is now irreversible”

Never mind, Brian.

You never know, Labour prospects might just improve after independence!

The union has no chance.