Tag Archives: football

Ryan Giggs: Manchester United legend but no red-blooded Taffy

29 Mar

Anyone who thought Welsh football wizard Ryan Giggs would end his self-imposed international retirement and play against England last  Saturday must have been dreaming.

Because when it comes to the Land of His Fathers, Giggs and patriotism have never been particularly close partners.

I’m a big football fan. I am also proudly Welsh. But when it comes to Giggs and his contribution to his country’s cause, that’s where I grab my little red ranting hood.

When our best player Gareth Bale had to drop out of the squad for the England game, the cry went up for Manchester United legend Giggs to step in. He did – but only to show his face and perhaps offer some friendly advice during a family holiday in Cardiff.

Had he been as dedicated to the cause as any true red-blooded Taffy, he’d have stripped off for action there and then. The golden boy may be 37, but he is still as good as any player in Gary Speed’s Wales squad.

The problem is that throughout his career, the Cardiff-born star’s loyalty to the land of his birth has been tenuous, to say the least. And there was as much chance of him saying yes as there was of Speed calling ME into the squad!

Giggs opted out of international football three years ago – and Wales said goodbye to a tragic dragon rather than the magic one who has graced Old Trafford for the last two decades.

Ryan Giggs: No hero for Wales

For me, it was a case of good riddance because I can count the number of outstanding performances he made for his country on one hand, if not one finger.

Those who do not know the full facts believe Giggs chose to play for Wales rather than England.

The reality is that our Ryan was born in Wales of Welsh parentage and has absolutely no English blood.

So the option was never there…even though he did qualify for England Schools courtesy of being educated in Manchester (where I am assured Welsh was not on the curriculum).

Look at the contribution Giggs has made to his ‘beloved’ Wales since leaving his native Cardiff at the age of seven and began speaking more like a Salford scally than a true Taff.

Like myself and millions of other Welsh patriots, I’m sure he is proud of his blood line. But the reality is that everything about him, from his upbringing to his education and subsequent career, is pure English.

I was born in Birmingham but my Welsh father and English mother moved back to Wales when I was a baby and I will always by loyal to the country I regard as my homeland. Giggs is almost the reverse of this…so it would surprise me if his loyalty outside football is entirely to Wales.

I cannot imagine he supports Cardiff Blues at rugby and Glamorgan at cricket, as I do – and I’d just love to know which side he favours when Wales play England in the Six Nations!

Admittedly, the guy has played some blinders for United – and is right up there with the greats of the Premier League. But all those comparisons with George Best are ridiculous – George had tricks Giggs couldn’t live with and unlike his Welsh counterpart, he could do them with both feet.

The thing that irks me about Giggs’s Wales career is that when he condescended to don the real red shirt he invariably either went through the motions or developed a mysterious injury which incredibly cleared up before United’s next game.

For nine years from 1991 he refused to play for Wales in friendlies – missing 18 matches, many of them important build-up games towards major tournament qualifiers. Had he played in even half of those, Wales’s 49-year spell without qualifying for a major tournament may well have ended years ago.

Patriotic Welshmen simply do not refuse to play for their country without a very good reason. Mind you, it might all have been at Sir Alex’s instigation. Now that is a thought.

I’ll have a think about that one…and then maybe I’ll grab my hair-dryer and head for Old Trafford.

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Is Sir a sport? The truth about Paul McCartney and Tom Jones

4 Mar

Can you imagine a young Paul McCartney beetling around the country following his favourite football team? I certainly can’t.

That’s not to say that sport and music don’t mix – just that Mac the Knight seems about as steeped in the beautiful game as old codgers like myself are besotted with rap music.

Yet various websites would have it that Sir Paul is a keen Everton fan.

The reality, however, is not exactly engraved in blue-and-white stone. ‘‘Here’s the deal,’’ the great man explains. ‘’My father was born in Everton, my family are officially Evertonians, so if it comes down to a derby match or an FA Cup final between the two, I would have to support Everton.

“But after a concert at Wembley Arena I got into a bit of a friendship with Kenny Dalglish, who had been to the gig, and I thought ‘You know what? I am just going to support them both because it’s all Liverpool and I don’t have that Catholic-Protestant thing.’

“So I did have to get special dispensation from the Pope to do this but that’s it, too bad. I support them both.

“They are both great teams. But if it comes to the crunch, I’m Evertonian.”

Personally, I would have thought that master musicians of McCartney’s talent would be too driven by their first love to be sidetracked by such trivialities as football. And it’s clear from his comments that Paul is a bit of a sporting fence-sitter, anyway.

At least his explanation sounds marginally more sincere than fellow Beatle Ringo Starr’s assertion that he’s a Liverpool supporter because ”I like the colour red”, which  presumably he also bangs the drum for every red-shirted team from Arsenal to Aberdeen. Well, I love the colour purple but that doesn’t mean I support the team they call the Royals – be it the monarchy or Reading FC.

The only celebrity I actually KNEW before he was famous is another shining knight, Tom Jones (yes, I am that old!). I gave him his first-ever write-ups in the Pontypridd Observer a couple of years before he hit the big-time – in the days where he sang around the South Wales clubs under his stage name of  Tommy Scott.

Tommy Woodward aka Tommy Scott aka Tom Jones

Great Scott: Tom Jones as I remember him

Whilst Tom may have been built like a sportsman, I can assure you he never showed the slightest interest in football, rugby or any other sport. And believe me he definitely was neither gay nor a wimp.

Cardiff City, the nearest professional football club to Pontypridd, were in the old First Division – the equivalent of the Premier League. But although I was a keen Bluebirds fan myself, the only birds Tom was interested in were certainly not blue. Nor had he any time for Spurs, Manchester United Spurs or any of the other big-name teams of that era.

The sporting fraternity sometimes wheels the great man out onto the green, green grass of home to sing at the occasional Wales rugby international and what have you. But while the old Jones heart may still beat for his homeland, I doubt that Sir Tom’s head really cares about match results, whatever the shape of the ball.

Having said that, many celebrities are completely smitten by sport – and particularly football. Some to the point that their names are synonymous with their favourites – for example the oasis of Gallaghers at Manchester City and Mick Hucknell’s simply-red love affair with Manchester United.

Others, I am convinced, just attach themselves to the mast of the big-name clubs for effect. Teams like Manchester United and Arsenal, for example, have such large fan bases that showing token support for them might just persuade a few extra fans to buy their CDs and albums.

Conversely, when I was young (and there aren’t many people alive who remember that!), major pop stars  were rarely linked with sports teams. Presumably with professional footballers no better off financially than miners or postmen, there was no glamour spin-off for the marketing people.

Indeed, I can’t remember Elvis Presley, the biggest name in music during that era, having any particular sporting allegiance. And the only British top-tenner I recall with strong football ties was Gerry Marsden of Gerry and the Pacemakers fame.

Until he came on the scene, if you weren’t a fan of Hollywood musicals, the song You’ll Never Walk Alone would have meant nothing to you.to the vast majority of people.

Now Marsden’s name is likely to live as long in the Anfield memory as those of Bill Shankly and Dalglish.

And thereby hangs a tale – because some sources insist that until Liverpool fans adopted his 1963 smash hit as their club anthem, Gerry was in fact an Evertonian.

Perhaps it’s time he had a chat with Macca and Ringo.

Tevez, Rio and Benayoun: The ugly truth about top footballers

28 Feb

Men who take their football seriously are strongly advised to read no further. Likewise all those male chauvinists who feel women have no right to comment on sport.

Hopefully the only fans left are those who, like me, prefer the game to be a bit of fun as well as a great adrenalin kick at weekends or whenever your team is in action.

Anyway, I’ve just been having a giggle at players’ looks (or occasional lack of them) rather than their onfield skills (or usual lack of them). And I’ve come up with two teams – the Donna Uglies and the Donna Dreamboats.

My sincere apologies to the Uglies – I know only too well that you can’t help the way you look and that, unlike us girls, don’t have the benefit of being able to wear makeup to hide the hideous bits. (Well, not unless you want to get kicked all around the dressing room and branded a fairy).

But I do question why men blessed with masses of money but few natural attributes other than twinkling feet don’t invest a few thousand in improving their appearance.

Carlos Tevez and Ronaldinho, for example – they took years to find a good dentist and I’m not sure whether the Brazilian has got it right even now. Perhaps he should ask Nottingham Forest striker Robert Earnshaw, who looked like a modern-day Bugs Bunny until he had his gnashers seen to a couple of seasons ago. Either that or the Wales hitman found a miracle cure for unattractiveness.

Carlos Tevez

Poor Rio Ferdinand doesn’t so much need a tooth job – even a ton of collagen couldn’t help the lipless one.

Not that the Manchester United captain is bothered, I’m sure. He could probably bed half the women in the city should he wish to – though I suspect the vast majority would have their eyes tightly shut throughout the ordeal.

Before you start telling me I’m no oil painting myself, I’d like to put you right on that one because a young guy told me last week ‘‘Your looks grate.’’ As he’s a Geordie I took that as a compliment.

As for footballers taking stick about their looks, well, not all of them can look like former Spurs and Newcastle pin-up boy David Ginola. But at least they can hide their deficiencies by plastering £100 notes all over their faces. Anyway, this is my squad for the Ugly XI , based on players who have featured in European football over the last 20 years.

Fabien Barthez (was he Donald Pleasance reincarnated?), Gary Neville, Rio Ferdinand, Anton Ferdinand, Carlton Palmer, Yossi Benayoun, Ronaldinho, Ivan Campo, Peter Beardsley, Jason Koumas, Iain Dowie and Franck Ribery. The chairman would be Eggert ‘The Vulkan’ Magnusson (former owner of West Ham) and the manager Harry Redknapp.

Yossi Benayoun: Not a pretty boy

Harry’s no oil painting for sure but he must have the world’s most beautiful wife. Otherwise how did his son Jamie get his good looks? Now for the best-looking team (are you reading, girls?).

I apologise for most of them being forwards, but my Dreamboat lineup would be Kasper Schmeichel (or David James if you fancy someone more experienced), Warren Barton, David Beckham, Gary Speed, Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo, Eidur Gudjohnsen, Michael Owen, Fernando Torres, Harry Kewell and David Ginola. Oh, and the manager has to be a special one, namely Jose Mourinho.

As for the chairman, are there any good-looking ones? So as a lifelong Cardiff City fan I’ll go for the Bluebirds’ Malaysian chief Dato Chan Tien Ghee. He’s not good looking – but he might just give me some complimentary tickets!

So there you have it, a team of Uglies against a team of Dreamboats (even if the good lookers would have no chance of beating anyone with only one specialist defender in Barton).

So much for the important stuff. Now I’ll get back to cooking the roast…

Six areas where sports writers go wrong – the inside story

19 Feb

Having edited the work of leading British sports writers for more years than I care to remember, I can tell you that their articles are not always as well-written as you might think.

That is because, certainly in the tabloid world, the readability of a newspaper article is often down to a sub-editor’s fine-tuning rather than the author’s literary gifts.

In my early days as a Daily Express sub, we had a football reporter on the staff who regularly came up with great exclusives. But although he’d type up the news as an ‘article’, it was usually little more than a clumsily-written fact sheet.

Nobody cared, though, because the only thing that mattered was the story itself – and turning it into a back-page lead was usually a routine job for an experienced sub-editor.

In more recent times, one or two of Fleet Street’s top sports hacks had a reputation in the business for churning out pure gibberish rather than acceptable copy. And whilst I am not going to name the paper or writer concerned, I had the misfortune to be saddled on several occasions with subbing the investigative reports of one of the best known drivellers.

All I can say is that reading the final flowing version of his ramblings in the following morning’s edition was for me just about the ultimate in job satisfaction. Even if I still wasn’t sure what it was all about!

Sub-editors are what I call ‘desk reporters’ – journalists who work in an office environment editing and honing the work of those out in the field (or in the press boxes, to be more accurate).

Almost without exception, the subs have spent lots of time out there reporting before moving on into the sub-editing arena. It is rare indeed for someone to START his or her journalistic life as a sub-editor.

More often than not, the changeover is a conscious decision by writers with particularly high grammatical skills and a desire to work office hours rather than be farmed out on stories at all hours, day and night.

So what advice can I give to embryo sports journalists? What is the perception of someone who has been there and done it all towards the errors made by young writers developing their skills out in the big wide sporting world? Where do the reporters go wrong?

1/ Not checking the facts: Many writers just churn out copy off top of their heads and THINK they remember accurately. In the old days, reporters used reference books – it is so easy these days to carry out a quick internet search to establish the facts, but how many people actually bother to do it.

2/ Over-estimating the reader: Another common error is for the writer to assume readers know more than they actually do. I have edited match reports where the reporter hasn’t even included the score! So always think when you are writing whether you are providing everything the average reader would want to know.

3/ Spelling: This is usually the big difference between a reporter and a sub. With the sort of back-up subs provide, it doesn’t usually matter too much if a reporter can’t spell too well, as long as he or she is not completely dyslexic, of course! However, a sub who can’t spell would be as useful as a lifeguard who can’t swim. So if God hasn’t given you the gift of being able to spell (and word recognition IS a gift, not something that can really be learnt), then forget about ever becoming a sub-editor.

4/ Grammatical errors: Most people are aware that the infinitive and the verb should never be split, but how many people use expressions like ‘to brilliantly save from…’ or ‘to angrily remonstrate with the referee’? Those variances with correct grammar don’t really matter because few people realise it should be ‘to save brilliantly from’ or ‘to remonstrate angrily’. However, some expressions do grate – for instance, I find the phrase ‘‘in the back of the net’’ ludicrous. I mean, if the ball is in the back of the net, where is the FRONT of the net? The ball is in the net, end of story.

5/ Getting too technical: You’ll often find people writing about a football match as if it’s a game of chess – presumably to convey the impression they understand its complexities as well as those who coach and play at the highest level. Basically, football is a very simple exercise, though from reading what some of the so-called expert journalists churn out, you’d think it was rocket science.

6/ Amateur experts: Following on from the previous point, some writers think they know more than the REAL experts – namely the managers and the players. A writer is in a privileged position but if he has never played the game, is he REALLY qualified to slag off players for making mistakes? You can make an argument for saying ‘yes, anyone is qualified to criticise’, but it’s a debatable one. This is presumably why the TV channels use former professionals almost exclusively as their critics and summarisers – be it for football, rugby, cricket, tennis or whatever.

The above article, part of which I wrote during my time as managing editor of the Sportingo.com website, embraces my thoughts after 35 years of reporting, editing and headlining hundreds of sports stories for newspapers like the Daily Mirror, Daily Express, The Sun, Daily Star, Sunday People and News of the World. I just hope it helps the next generation of sports writers in some small way…

From Liverpool to Leeds: Ten hilarious football tales

3 Jan

During my 30-plus  years working for national newspapers in the UK, I heard more 0ffbeat tales about sports celebrities than I care to remember – many of them first-hand from colleagues who were there at the time. You’ll find links to a whole series of anecdotes on the Home Page of  this website – but here are a few tasters to get your laughter buds baying for more. And yes, I do suspect one or two of the stories may be apocryphal. But who cares as long as they make people smile…

LATE NIGHT EXTRA: Legendary Liverpool manager Bill Shankly was fuming on the night several of his superstars arrived back at their Belgian hotel 45 minutes later than the boss. ”Where do you lot think you’ve been?’’ blazed Shanks as international quartet Ron Yeats, Ian St John, Roger Hunt and Ian Callaghan returned from a drinking session well after the boss’s midnight curfew. ”That’s it!’’ he ranted at Yeats, St John and Hunt. ”You’ll never play for Liverpool again – and you can forget about international football as well. You’re finished!.’’ Then, turning to his blue-eyed boy Callaghan, he added: ”And I’m going to tell your missus about you.”

DON’T CRY FOR LEE: Manager Gordon Lee wanted a word with his Newcastle chairman Stan Seymour. He marched into the club chief’s office, only to be told by a secretary: ‘’Mr Seymour is not available. He’s gone to see Evita.’’ Lee retorted: ‘’I don’t think so. He wouldn’t go and watch a foreign player without telling me first.’’ When Lee moved on to manage Everton, the Merseyside media soon discovered his geographical knowledge matched his familiarity with Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals. After a dismal showing in a home Cup Winners’ Cup leg against Standard Liege, defiant Gordon looked ahead to the return in Belgium and rapped: ‘’Just wait until we get them in Standard!’’

EMMY AWARD: Hard-man Tommy Smith had two pet hates in football – Leeds United’s Allan Clarke and his own skipper at Liverpool, Emlyn Hughes. And not necessarily in that order. When Hughes clashed with Clarke in a goalmouth melee and old squeaky voice Emlyn found himself on the deck with blood pouring from his nose, Smithy showed himself in his true colours. ”Maybe that Clarke’s not such a bad bloke after all,” muttered Tom the compassionate.

CROTCH OF THE DAY:
With manager Jock Stein in hospital, Celtic No.2 Sean Fallon was dealing with press enquiries at Parkhead. When one reporter phoned to enquire about an injury to Scotland full-back Danny McGrain, Irishman Fallon admitted: ‘’I don’t think he’ll make Saturday’s game. He’s suffering from a Grain stroin.’’

GENTLE-MAN JIM: It threatened to be a bloody battle. Spurs and Burnley had fought out a particularly vicious FA Cup stalemate – and the replay promised to be even more physical. The teams were kicking in before the game when Jimmy Greaves, who was never noted for his ball-winning ability, approached his equally timid-tackling opposite number Jimmy McIlroy. ‘’Hey Jim, why don’t we mark each other?,’’ said goal-king Greavsie. ‘’Then neither of us will get hurt.’’

TOM AND JURY: Tommy Docherty was always the first person to poke fun at himself – as with his version of the

Tommy Docherty: Success as a failure

infamous court case in which he was accused of perjury – and acquitted. ‘’I admitted to the judge I’d lied on oath, but he didn’t believe me,’’  is one of the one-time Manchester United boss’s classic quips. Tongue-in-cheek Tom is also particularly proud of his dubious achievement as manager of Rotherham United. ‘‘I promised the chairman I’d get them out of the Second Division (now the Championship) and I did,’’ he recalls. ‘’I took them into the Third.’’

EIRE RAID WARNING: League of Ireland champions Shamrock Rovers were convinced they had the answer to mighty Honved of Hungary in the European Cup, The lads from Dublin trailed 2-0 from the away leg, but on the eve of the return manager Jim McLaughlin unveiled a unique plan for beating the magnificent Magyars. ‘’We’ll be concentrating on all-out attack…mixed with caution,’’ he insisted. No prizes for guessing who won the tie 5-1 on aggregate.

BETTER BY CALF: England legend Nat Lofthouse reckons he was frightened of his own Bolton teammates in his playing days. Well, two of them anyway. Full-backs Roy Hartle and Tommy Banks had such a fearsome reputation that striker Lofthouse maintained: ‘’When they were playing behind me I used to put shin guards on the back of my calves.’’

THE BALD TRUTH: Rival Midlands bosses Ron Atkinson and Jim Smith decided to travel together to a dinner they were both attending. Their teams had been having mixed fortunes, with Atkinson’s West Brom near the top of the old First Division (the Premier League’s predecessor) and Smith’s Birmingham seemingly heading for relegation. They pulled their vehicle into a multi-storey car park near the function venue, left it on the top deck, and got into the lift. Big Ron turned to the Bald Eagle and quipped: ‘’You’d better press the button because it’s you who’s going down.’’

NO WAY TO TREAT A LADY: Peter Withe’s whip-round was apparently for the driver taking the Aston Villa players to their pre-season friendly in Dusseldorf. But the man behind the steering wheel didn’t get a pfennig. Withe invested the money in an inflatable rubber sex doll, which was duly named Doris and went on to become part of Villa folklore. The obliging lady was adorned with the number 12 on her back – and the name of newlywed Colin Gibson’s wife across her torso. She was then left in a suitably compromising position in Gibson’s room at the team hotel. Gibbo was not amused – and poor Doris proved no match for him or the pair of scissors with which he cut her to shreds.

FOR MORE OF DONNA’S SPORTING ANECDOTES, CLICK ON THE SPORTS FUNNIES LINKS ON THE RIGHT OF THIS PAGE.

Corrupt or not, Blatter and his bunglers have lost the FIFA plot

24 Dec

During last summer’s World Cup, I wrote a magazine article in which I described Sepp Blatter, the most powerful administrator in world football, as ”an ageing plonker”. I now accept that at the FIFA chairman is not ageing. He’s decrepit.

Indeed, he is so far past his sell-by date that I suggest his native Switzerland considers putting him out of his misery. Euthanasia is perfectly legal there, after all.

Now I love football but, like just about every fan in the world, I think its administrators are in another world when it comes to moving into the 21st century.

Soccer is the world’s most popular game with billions of fans and ludicrous amounts of money passing through its coffers. Yet while other major sports like tennis, rugby, American Football and cricket have long since been using modern technology to adjudicate controversial moments, the Methuselahs who orchestrate the game’s structure continue to insist that decisions must be left entirely to the human eye.

Even if those decisions are patently wrong and unfair, as they often are.

Take England’s disallowed goal against Germany, for instance. Frank Lampard’s rocket shot bounced down off the crossbar at least a yard over the line and then came out of the goal – and the referee and linesman were seemingly the only two people in the stadium who failed to spot it.

The German goalkeeper knew it was a goal, of course. But since honesty is the last thing one expects from professional footballers (we won’t mention being faithful to their wives), there was no way he was going to tell the referee. Let’s face it, England would have done exactly the same had it been the Germans who scored, so dishonours even there.

However, had the referee merely been allowed to consult a video replay, as are officials in other major sports, justice would have prevailed. As it was, nobody knows what might have happened had England been level at 2-2 at halftime rather than 2-1 behind. Why, they might even have won. (well, in my dreams).

I don’t think I’ve ever heard a player or manager speak AGAINST the use of video playbacks to confirm or over-rule controversial refereeing decisions. And the argument that the delay would detract from the game has long since been shot down by the evidence of other sports. In rugby and cricket, for example, the anxious wait for decisions like ‘not out’ or ‘no try’ to appear on the screen invariably ADD to the excitement rather than detracts from it.

Yet Blatter and his fellow FIFA duffers have consistently resisted calls for any sort of technology. And that has inevitably led to people like myself asking ‘Why?’

And in the absence of a logical reason, I can’t help pondering the recent corruption allegations over FIFA’s decision to award the 2018 World Cup to Russia.

Now I am well aware of the laws of libel, so I am not saying someone is bribing Sepp and his sidekicks NOT to say yes to the technology companies. But it makes you wonder, particularly as Blatter’s election in 1998 was later sullied by allegations that an African federation official had been offered a 100,000 dollar bribe to vote for him.

Certainly, Blatter’s logic seems to be at variance with the entire population of the world. Apart, perhaps, from his cronies in Geneva, all of whom are presumably blokes. And that brings me to another negative aspect of the man’s background.

Seedy Sepp does not seem to hold women very high in his esteem. Indeed, he seems to see us merely as sex objects. According to Wikipedia, in the early 1970s he was elected president of the World Society of Friends of Suspenders, an organisation which tried to stop women wearing tights instead of stockings and suspender belts.

Then, in 2004, he angered female footballers when he suggested that women should “wear tighter shorts and low cut shirts… to create a more female aesthetic” and attract more male fans.

I’ve got news for Mr Blatter. If he spent more time sorting out football’s injustices and less on ogling the girls, then it might start living up to its billing as ‘the beautiful game’.

He could start by introducing a law that works wonderfully well in rugby and ensures that cheats who illegally prevent a certain score don’t prosper. In such circumstances, referees can award a ‘‘penalty try’’ – yet in football, the worst a team can suffer is a red card for the offender and a penalty kick for the cheated side.

When a Uruguay player prevented Ghana winning their World Cup tie by deliberately stopping a goalbound shot with his hand, the correct decision should have been ‘goal’ – even though the ball did not cross the goal line. The incident happened at the very end of extra time, so the red card did not help Ghana in any way.

And when they missed the resultant penalty kick, any advantage was completely wiped out.

Uruguay celebrated their reprieve by winning the penalty shootout that followed and Africa’s last representatives in the tournament were on their way home when in the eyes of every fair-minded person they were really the victors. But the concept of introducing a ‘penalty goal’ award to foil the cheats has probably never crossed Mr Blatter’s mind.

Ghana did not get justice, they were robbed because the laws are an ass. It’s the sort of thing that makes football appear even more stupid than the heads-in-the-sand brigade who run (or should that be ruin?) the game.

So how is football ever going to be dragged into the 21st century? Maybe we should offer sleazy Sepp an inducement to hand the whole caboodle over to us girls. Then we could sort it all out in no time and let him concentrate on whatever else he does for kicks…

Image courtesy of http://www.freeimages.co.uk

I’ve been bleating about the incompetence and obstructiveness of Blatter’s bungling regime  for years. Not least in September 2006, when I wrote in a Sportingo.com article under the heading ‘The FIFA joke that Blatters to deceive’:

Rugby referees use it at the slightest excuse, while Test umpires call on it to adjudicate virtually every contentious cricket incident. So why do the stuffed shirts who run the so-called ‘beautiful game’ continue to defy logic and refuse to allow video technology to judge big-time football’s controversial moments?

As any unbiased German will tell you, soccer officials have been getting it wrong ever since the 1966 World Cup Final. Yet, amazingly, 70-year-old Sepp Blatter and his bloated FIFA bunglers would have us believe that utilising TV recordings to ensure major decisions are always right would be a retrograde step.

Try telling that to any player, manager or fan whose team have been cheated out of a goal or a penalty by a misjudgment of the human eye.

Nothing is more certain than at some stage in the new Premiership season, a referee will rule ‘no goal’ when slow-motion proves the ball has clearly crossed the line – or reward a blatant dive with a penalty. Consultation with an off-pitch video referee with access to immediate playbacks, common sense to all but the immense idiots who run the game, could end such controversial incidents once and for all. But FIFA president Blatter and Co would have us believe the delay while the TV official adjudicated would be detrimental to the continuity of the game.

How ludicrous! Just ask any rugby fan – Union or League – how much his enjoyment of a vital match was ruined by the nailbiting tension as he awaited confirmation that the winning try was legally scored.

Or find a cricket umpire who’d rather do without the luxury he now has of knowing every run-out decision is correct. Sometimes it is literally impossible for the human eye to judge whether or not a batsman has made his ground.

England-Pakistan sporting relations may be in turmoil over split Hairs of the Darrell kind. But I’m afraid, Mr Blatter, that continuing to deprive football fans of video justice is just not cricket. Or soccer . . . if you and your ageing administrators know the difference between the two.