ENGLAND IN A SPIN OVER RACE HATE " GAMES ".

ALL TO PLAY FOR

For well over 150 years, England has embraced Cricket and Football {Soccer to American readers} as the National games. They are for winter, in the case of the latter and summer for the former. The English, as they would felt compelled to teach the rest of the world how to play these games and did it so successfully that all sorts of unlikely countries now beat the Master at his own games ! Not a long with that at all. However, the development of the games to Professional status has, at it always will, altered both their perception and the interest of the population. Aided by Television and all the incumbent Technology now available and with enormous sums paid to participants and wagered on all types of betting opportunities, the games are now a far cry from the days of Village Green or Farmers Field of yesteryear. Now both are intensely commercial and yet still form a fabric background of social behaviour in the country, to say nothing of the opportunities they present for Politicians and so called "Special Interest Groups" to publicise their views.

Whilst all this so called "PROGRESS " has moved inexorably on, both games have clung to a system of Governance that was outmoded in post Dickensian days. Cricket, which classified itself as a game lead by Gentleman supporting the working class has had much political strife for years and continues to struggle to come to terms with the modern era, save perhaps for a grudging acceptance of Technology in determining on field decisions. Football on the other hand was and is a game embraced mainly by the working class, the middle and upper classes preferring Rugby. Rugby is determined as "A ruffians game played by gentlemen" and Football as "A Gentleman"s game played by ruffians". The English love irony !

Currently, both games are in a form of chaos but for vastly differing reasons. The Cricket team is in Dubai playing those noble guys from Pakistan. England have risen again, till Dubai, to be the No 1 TEAM in International ratings.Along the way they beat Pakistan here in England, subsequent to which the Pakistani Captain and two of the players were jailed for illegal spot betting. Fine chaps these Pakistani men it seems. Now in Dubai, it is the Pakistani team which is in control, their spin bowlers having transfixed the English batsmen like rabbits in the headlights. I should explain here that Dubai is not renowned for cricket but has loads of oil money and so can build stadiums fit to house Pakistan games whilst they are banned from playing in their own country because of Terrorist actions. As we say, we are a long way from the village green ! However, for once the problems the English face are to do with the actual game and not political machinations and I only mention them here as later, you will see how only the English can create minefields that cause explosions only for themselves. Football is terrifically good at this, not being known for the wisdom of its Governance, nor the intelligence or integrity of those who earn now unbelievable sums as participants in the Professional game. Even back in the 1950"s, the then Secretary of the Football League announced that he would not "Hang a dog on the word of a Professional player" My own father, who had played as a part time professional before joining the Police, termed players as ,"Street corner boys and spivs". After spending almost a lifetime with them, I think all that has changed is the money they are paid. With some notable exceptions, I have found most footballers to be disingenuous, unintelligent, untrustworthy, self seeking and basically amoral. Apart from that, they are a fine body of men, almost, but not quite as the other load of flotsam that the game attracts, Sports Journalists ! At least players in lots of cases have a talent to perform that quite often is breathtaking and as such can hold crowds of many thousands in awe. The same is not, in my experience, and with even fewer exceptions true of those who earn a living writing, often behind the backs of those who feed them. We get thew Press we deserve, and nowhere is this more true than in Football.

DIVIDING THE NATION.

Currently Football is in every bit of a spin here, as are the Cricket team in Dubai. The reason goes back to a match in October last ,when JOHN TERRY, the current Captain of the England team was playing for his club in A Premier League match. During this game he had an altercation with one Anton Ferdinand, who happens to be the brother of Rio Ferdinand, who plays alongside Terry in the England team. To add spice to the story, the Ferdinand brothers differ somewhat in skin colour to the painfully white Terry. Also, when Terry, the leader of his men, was found to have conducted an affair with the partner of one of his club and England colleagues, he was stripped of his England Captaincy by the charming ITALIAN Manager, of England, one FABIO CAPELLO. Now Mr Capello has 6 million reasons to be grateful to Enland, that being his reported salary. However as Mr Capello has be in post for 4 years or so and still speaks only "pidgin2 English, We must assume either his salary or gratitude, or both are not yet enough. Be that as it may, Mr Capello knew just who the man to be Captain was. Yes! RIO FERDINAND. Yet the plot thickens as we progress, for after awhile, Ferdinand was injured, so who does Capello turn to? Why, that fine upstanding man JOHN TERRY. Apparently he was so busy at the time, he forgot to tell Ferdinand who learned about it from, you have guessed right again, the media. If you made it up for a book or film, the critics would say it was too far fetched.

England then went to the World Cup under this strong leadership pair and were duly exposed and humiliated. The Governance were stuck, they could not afford to sack Capello for his bungling, so they were stuck with him till 2012 when his contract expires. That meant they were also stuck with Terry and things reached either a truce or an impasse until that game in October last. Modern technology associated with TV is so strong now, that incidents previously missed by officials on the day can be subsequently acted upon. Terry and Ferdinand Junior are seen clearly as invective, screened by a circle, pours from Terry towards his opponent. It is alleged this is racist and the good men of the Press have a field day, week, month, months, going on about it and getting quotes and opinion from all quarters. There is no stopping this, as it is just what the media loves and it reverberates round and round until at last, Terry is charged with making racist remarks by the Law of the Land.

Now remember, this started last October. In February 2012, Terry appears at Court where it is decided he must face trial at a higher Court but not until AFTER the European Finals in June/ July because of his heavy commitments ! So , with spring healed boots the Football Association acts. Remember this is ONLY 4 full months after the incident ! Some Governance you may think. Because the matter relates to ETHICS they do not consult CAPELLO, for a clause in his contract says they do not have to do so. They strip Terry of his Captaincy, tell Capello to get on with it and sit back to enjoy another Brandy. They reckon without those brave boys in the Media. On TV, RADIO, Internet, NEWSPAPER, indeed anyway people can be encouraged, Joe Public is invited to give the world the benefit of his, or indeed her, opinion. The brave Capello hightails it to Italy to tell his employers on TV that he disagrees with them. This is significant for many who up to that point thought Terry hard done by, jump ship and now support the Governance. A Nation truly divided and essentially over nothing important when stripped down to simple facts but of very significant proportions because of the way in which actions on a field of conflict are spun into the total fabric of a so called modern and diverse society. As indicated before, it is so ludicrous you could not make it up and expect those with any reasonable amounts of brain cells to believe you.

MUDDIED WATERS.

The English are reputed to value above all two key factors. The first is "Fair Play". This comes straight from the sports field to be incorporated in everything that is done by or done to, another be it person or organisation. The English are obsessed with fairness to the extent that I often have to remind family members that when the midwife smacked their bottoms on entry she did not say "Welcome to the World. It is a Fair Place." The sad facts of life are that the world is far from fair. Cheats and Criminals do prosper in all walks of life from the top to the bottom. It was ever thus, and will continue to be so. That does not mean that individuals should not seek to be clear, correct and fair in the conducting of their own lives. Exactly not. At the same time, do not expect the same of all others or you will be certain of disappointment at all levels.

The second mantra for the English is the mantra of "Innocent till proven Guilty" Another high ideal but one which fails to take in the propensity for each individual to make up their own mind.In olden times, it is reported that those brought before the Courts were told at the outset, "We are going to give you a fair trial before we hang you" The Courts have changed, but many a human mindset has not. News that "Police have arrested a man in connection with------" will always lead to many determining that automatically that person is guilty, whilst at the other end there are those that all arrested by Police have been "fitted up" You cannot control personal opinion, though you may control expression of the same. Now that is where we are now with this pantomime.

As England spin downwards to defeat in Dubai, the TV shows the pictures and often a the bottom has a tape summarising previous scores in the match. For this space is at a premium and so ENGLAND BECOMES "ENG" AND PAKISTAN BECOMES "PAK" Now this is cutting things fine for verbal racist abuse, as Terry is finding out is a criminal offence. Thus, it appears from TV that I could, if I were of a mind, refer to a person from Pakistan as "PAK" with impunity, but if I were to add an "I" to that, I am in breach of the law. At the same time, one can think one word and say the other without fear of contravening. In our Colonial past, the highest Society used the term "WORTHY ORIENTAL GENTLEMAN" when referring to those from the sub continent. Later, the initials of those words became a term of abuse and today would certainly land the user in hot water Even so, let no one doubt that in the pubs and clubs of this land, those terms and others deemed offensive, are used on a regular basis without any offence taken or meant.

The sports field has always been a place where emotions run high and football is essentially an emotional game for players and spectators. Thus, to me it is unthinkable that Terry did not abuse Ferdinand with a racist comment. I expect that to be proved when the "bubble" over Terry"s mouth is removed in the Court. No doubt an expensive lawyer will have arguments to make and we must wait and see. Footballers say all sorts of things to their opponents and indeed, their own colleagues in matches and training. I was never racially "abused" but I have certainly been "regionally abused". My Northern and Yorkshire roots were often used as abuse in the South of England where I spent the bulk of my career, but as I was more articulate and quicker thinking than most around me, they never troubled me. As to Terry, he trains and plays with Black colleagues daily and none of them are quoted as not supporting him. That is pure Football hypocrisy at the very best in my book but it goes to show that the whole circus that now surrounds this matter is not a sportsman"s issue. It is one which has been whipped up and exaggerated by our friends in political and media circles for their own benefits. Football, as with other sports lacks the real leadership to act decisively and rise above the waters as they get ever muddier.

Terry to my mind has never been seen as an edifying character, not to exhibit outstanding leadership skills. He is what he is. A very good central defender, who like his peers is paid exorbitant money to do what he is good at and because of the money he is expected to be a person who has a whole that is greater than the sum of his parts and that is difficult for anyone, let alone a man with a dubious family and personal past to rise above. I am pleased he has lost the Captaincy that he should never have regained, but wait judgement on whether he should play, whilst bemoaning the poor leadership shown by Governance and Manager. He , however, is not the problem but just an example. The English exhibit double standards daily, just as do all nationalities. That is not to say that laudable campaigns to rid us of Racism are not to be supported, just that we need to be clear in our own minds what racism really is. To me it is Oppression, Apartheid, Unequal Opportunities, Mugabe and others like him etc etc. It is not, in the heat of battle calling someone a name. But then, very early in my life, my mother taught me the rhyme, "Sticks and stones may break my bones but calling will not hurt me" I have found that true ,especially on the football pitch, where the best answer to an abusive central defender was to rise above him to head in the winning goal of a match. Now that really upsets them all !

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