The Anonymous Widower

My Earliest World Cup Memories

The earliest World Cup I can remember is in a book I was given about football, which included a report of the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland. Looking at the pictures I remember I was puzzled as to why some players had numbers greater than eleven on their shirts.

But the first World Cup Finals I remember is Sweden in 1958. All four home nations qualified for the finals and it was the first World Cup to be properly televised. I think there was high sales figures for large nineteen inch black and white televisions. This fragment on Wikipedia says this about the coverage.

The 1958 tournament in Sweden saw a greater range of matches thanks to the new Eurovision Network; the BBC and ITV both screened matches, although the networks had to overcome opposition to the coverage from the Scottish FA, who were worried that attendances at Junior football matches might be hit.

Just imagine the uproar now, if the Scottish FA tried the same thing.

1962 in Chile wasn’t shown live, but I can remember the iconic pictures of Ken Aston, who refereed the infamous Battle of Santiago.

Reading his Wikipedia entry, there is this section, which describes how he invented the red and yellow cards, which referees in football and some other sports use today.

June 12, 2014 Posted by | Sport | , | Leave a comment

Did Jack Warner Take A Bribe To Vote For Qatar?

It is being reported in the Telegraph, that Jack Warner took a bribe of over a million pounds to vote for Qatar in the bidding for the 2022 World Cup.

I file stories like this under the heading of Is The Pope A Catholic

March 18, 2014 Posted by | Sport | , | Leave a comment

We Will Not Overlook The Tragedy which Is Currently Unfolding In Qatar

The title of this post is taken from a quote in this report on the BBC website. Here’s the first two paragraphs.

Representatives of a global players’ union will seek talks with Qatar’s football authorities over claims of the abuse of players’ rights.

French-Algerian player Zahir Belounis is in dispute with Al-Jaish over unpaid wages and cannot leave the country.

After reading reports like this, I do wonder why FIFA voted to have the World Cup in Qatar.

November 26, 2013 Posted by | Sport | , , | Leave a comment

Greg Dyke On Qatar 2022

Greg Dyke, who is the new FA Chairman, can always be relied on bucketfuls of common sense. His pronouncements this morning on holding the World Cup in 2022 in Qatar are forthright and should be taken seriously by the bunch of elderly time-servers, despots and bribe-takers called FIFA. Here’s an extract of the report on the BBC.

“Even if all the stadia are air-conditioned, I think it will be impossible for the fans,” Dyke said.

“Just go out there and wander around in that sort of heat. I just don’t think it’s possible.”My position, and I suspect the FA’s position, will be: ‘You can’t play it in the summer.'”

I think the whole tournament is already dead-in-the-water and that it probably won’t take place in Qatar. If it does, it will be in fully-enclosed air-conditioned stadia, with virtually no spectators and absolutely no real fans or atmosphere.

August 10, 2013 Posted by | Sport | , , , | Leave a comment

England Think About Euro 2020

According to this report on the BBC, England are thinking about putting together a bid for Euro 2020.

The comments show most are sceptical, that we would win, due to FIFA/UEFA politics.

I also think England not bidding is what FIFA/UEFA wants.

After all if we don’t bid and the organisation in some neck-end ex-Soviet republic goes belly up a few months before the tournament starts, we have the stadia, hotels and infrastructure to stage it the next week. Probably only Germany, the USA and ourselves could do this!

After all, in a bankrupt London we did it with the Olympics in 1948, so we have form in this.

Incidentally, as the transport links between England and Germany will be more than excellent in a few years time, we could even stage it jointly with the Germans.  Now that would be fun!

I’ve always felt that one of next two World Cups after Brazil will not be held in the designated host. Especially today, as Russia has been fined points for the behaviour of their fans as reported here.

June 13, 2012 Posted by | Sport | , , | Leave a comment

Just Like 1966

I was 18 in 1966 and can remember watching England’s first match in the World Cup, where they playing a boring goalless draw with Uruguay.

I think it is true to say, that we weren’t too hopeful of winning in 1966 and if my memory serves me right, I think we did.

So last night and this morning, all of those on the phones-in, who thought England were rubbish, should shut up until at least the last match of the group stages of Euro-2012.

There weren’t phones-in in 1966, and I suspect after the first match, England supporters would have been totally despondent. Much worse than today.

Everybody now thinks of Sir Alf now, as the Messiah, but before the 1966 World Cup, all he’d done was the equivalent of take a Third Division side to the Premier League title in a space of five years. Try doing that these days with a team, without any stars. I suppose to be fair, England were in as  bad a state at the start of the 1960s as Ipswich were when he took over as manager. A lot of people thought he was the wrong choice and probably hoped he’d fail.

In fact he had one great advantage in 1966 over Roy Hodgson today.  He had at least had time to plan what he did.  And plan he did! He even made sure that England had the lightest possible kit, so they would have more energy.

Ramsey incidentally had three years, whereas Hodgson had three weeks.

June 12, 2012 Posted by | Sport | , , , | Leave a comment

Gay Footballers

There are no openly gay footballers in the UK, although there are others in countries such as Sweden and the United States.

It is relevant to look at the history of black footballers to get a handkle on how gay footballers will appear in the UK.

Viv Anderson was the first black footballer to play for England and he burst on the scene in the mid-seventies with Nottingham Forest.  His rise had a lot to do with Brian Clough, who I suspect didn’t give a care about anything other than your ability to play football.  And Anderson could certainly play!

At the time Anderson made his mark, Other black players also made the breakthrough.  Notably, this was the three players Cyrille Regis, Brendan Batson and Laurie Cunningham at West Brom. But now black players are commonplace and we’re even seeing the sons of black players entering the game and being successful.

I first saw black players in the early 1960s.  There weren’t many and they did get abuse. The most notable was Albert Johanneson, who played for Leeds.

It has been a long journey from the 1950s and 60s to where we are today.  And I don’t think that there are many, except those on the Far Right, who regret it.

It will be a long time before gay footballers are in the same high position. Judging by the time scale it took for black players to be fully successful and accepted, it will probably be somewhere between ten and twenty years.

One of the differences between black and gay players, is that although black players are obvious, gay ones are not. So how many are there out there at the moment.

There are probably more than you think!

I don’t have any evidence, but news stories over the years have constantly found quite a few gay policemen.  In fact, in one case, the Chief Constable of Sussex police made an appeal for gay officers, to help solve a homophobic murder and was totally surprised at the response he got.

So I wouldn’t be surprised if there are quite a few gay footballers. I suspect too, that many of their team-mates know the truth and keep the secrets of the dressing room. After all, all footballers know how their eccentricities or problems are reported in the tabloid press.

Some months ago, I wrote this.

I was at the Ipswich Inter Milan match in the San Siro, when I found myself sitting next to a journalist, who worked for one of the more outrageous tabloids. We chatted about various topics concerning football and Ipswich in particular and I can’t remember how it came up, but we started discussing my coeliac disease.  I then said that the statistics indicated that there must be at least one footballer, who must be a coeliac. I suggested it might make a story, as it might help those with the disease. He then said that the readers of his rag wouldn’t be interested.  But if I knew a footballer who was gay, then that would be a very valuable story.

THe full post is here. The last bit may well be the key. Despite what is generally thought, there have been a large number of intelligent and very savvy footballers. I always note Derek Dougan,  who was not considered very bright by the press to be very bright in his early years, but went on to be an author and a very good chairman of the Professional Footballers Association. So I do not think it unlikely, that one of the current crop of footballers, who is coming to the end of a good career, who just happens to be gay, will come out.  I suspect too, that he won’t sell his story to the tabloids.  After all with the coming out of Gareth Thomas, they can now see that the support from most people and the media is very strong.

This article in Wikipedia, discusses the issue of gay footballers and is well worth reading.

So I agree with a survey from the University of Staffordshire, that found that 90% of football supporters expect there to be an openly-gay footballer by 2015.

If you look at the dynamics of the long road to success of black footballers, I would actually think that 2015, might even be a bit pessimistic.

But just as this process is happening in the UK, it is also happening across the world. So I suspect that by the time of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, one of the major football nations will have an openly gay footballer in the team. As homosexuality is illegal in that enlightened country, let’s hope that it has the right effect on the Qataris’ attitudes.

But then I live in hope that FIFA will see sense and realise that they are risking players lives and health by playing in the summer in the desert.

November 23, 2011 Posted by | Sport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Farewell Bin Hammam

Unlike Amy Winehouse, Mohammed Bin Hammam is still with us, even if FIFA have given him his just desserts.  He has just been on Radio 5 and has said that everything he did was in line with FIFA policy. But then they are full of organised corruption. If you can, listen to a replay of the morning sports program with David Davies.  I suspect none of the reasoned arguments, I’ve just heard went on at FIFA.

Now that we’ve said good-bye to Bin Hammam, how long can we sustain the farce of giving the World Cup to Qatar?

I wonder what odds I could get, that the Qatar World Cup doesn’t happen! Probably only very short ones, I would think!

July 24, 2011 Posted by | News, Sport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Another World Cup Problem for Qatar

FIFA and the Qatari government have been put on notice about labour conditions in the build up to the World Cup 2022, according to this report on Bloomberg.

The International Trade Union Confederation and Building Workers International urged FIFA and the Qatari government to prove that migrant workers won’t be subject to “inhuman” conditions as the Persian Gulf nation begins to build stadiums in anticipation of the 2022 World Cup.

Do we really want to compete in a World Cup built by exploited labour?

But then our athletes went to Beijing, where human rights are non-existent and there have been two Olympics and two World Cups in the United States, where there is the death penalty.

May 31, 2011 Posted by | Sport | , , , , | 4 Comments

Blatter Sat on Bribe Claims

The Sunday Times also has an article claiming that Sep Blatter ignored the bribery claims over the World Cup bids.

Of course he didn’t.  He’s after all one of the most honest and trustworthy men in the world!

May 15, 2011 Posted by | News, Sport | , , | 1 Comment