Woy

I don’t normally pay much attention to the Ingerlund football team, but I have to say that was classic and utterly class-less behaviour once again today from the clueless Roy Hodgson, as he desperately sought to deflect the blame for an uninsipring display by his team last night onto a young hopeful who came on as one of his substitutes. Presumably he felt this approach would play well with the anti-Liverpool sentiments of the majority of southern Ingerlund followers. Of course this all comes after the hapless England manager showed no humility whatsoever about injuring Liverpool’s other best young striking talent by failing to rest him correctly just a few weeks ago. That’s definitely the way to get the best co-operation from your colleague Brendan Rodgers and from all your players in future, Roy, you rank… errm genius of world football.

Comments will probably include:

“Well Woy got Fulham to a final, you know, so he must know what he’s doing!”

“Well he can make a decent attempt at saying ‘I thought we deserved better’ in six languages, you know. And he almost won trophies in some of those countries he’s worked in.”

“Well he’s got to be better than big Sam hasn’t he – and if the FA won’t have a genius like ‘arry, who else have we got?”

“Ryan Shawcross for England! I can’t wait to hear Woy talking about how the Wumanian wef wongly wepwimanded Wyan for a bit of gwappling that you’d see at any avewage set-piece on a wainy night in Stoke. ”

“That Marcus Stewart deserved a few caps for England, too. I like Woy ‘cos I like to think he would have picked Marcus Stewart. And Marcus Stewart wouldn’t have minded being under-Wested.”

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protest

Well played to those who marched in the London rain yesterday to protest outside Premier League HQ about the outrageous price of match tickets. This might seem like banging your own head a against a brick wall, but the parallel “Twenty’s Plenty for Away Fans” campaign has had some ongoing successes.

There’s no way I could afford to go to London myself yesterday, much less afford to go and watch my football team any more, but I’m told that the pub where the marchers gathered yesterday was charging an eye-watering £4.35 a pint. London has always been more expensive, and because of the exponential rises in duty rates, beer has risen in price more than almost anything else .. anything else that is EXCEPT FOOTBALL TICKETS!  When I first started paying full adult price to watch Liverpool on the Kop, it cost me the equivalent price of about three London pub pints. Now it would cost me the equivalent of about about twelve. But forget beer (if only I could) – relative to the cost of more typical items and essentials, watching football is now about five or six times more expensive than it was before the Taylor report.

The really depressing thing is that my own club, Liverpool, could still sell out a stadium twice as big as its current one, even if it raised its prices yet more. That’s why money men buy football clubs, and why the market won’t stop them – the market drives prices ever upwards. It was the market that stopped the obscene “Game 39” proposals  six years ago, when a supporter boycott of Premier League sponsors was threatened, but now, on ticket prices, ultimately only legislation can work. The supporters’ organisations surely have to mobilise their members to put more pressure on the politicians to act on this issue.

Bring your glad rags,  don’t forget your shin pads,

Your fireworks, your flares, your banners and your flags,

Spray-paint a golden trophy from any old ornament

For the alternative football tournament.

Exactly 15 years since our first overseas tournament, Republica Internationale FC will be in deepest Germany once again this coming weekend for the ICE NECKARSTRASSE TOURNAMENT  (click for details).

 

ICE2

The weather forecast suggests that forest fires won’t be an issue – just beware the legendary headless horseman!

ICE

Ahed Zaqout was not a military general, or any way a military man. In his day he was a midfield general on the football pitches of Palestine, but is now one more murdered Palestinian, one more statistic on the list of the innocent massacred by Israel’s war machine. The Palestinian football star was killed after an Israeli bomb struck his apartment in Gaza while he was sleeping, it has been confirmed. Emergency services rushed to the home of the former midfielder on Thursday but were unable to save his life.

AhedA

Zaqout had recently been working as a coach and as host of a Palestine sports programme in Gaza. Khaled Zaher, a Gaza sports journalist told Reuters: “Palestine has lost one of its best players, he may have been the best midfielder we ever had.”

20 years ago he was in his prime and was a part of the Palestinian team that played a friendly against a team of French stars that included UEFA’s president Michel Platini in 1994. Four years later, the Palestine football team was accepted into FIFA.

Perhaps his death was one of those that are being celebrated on the distant hillsides by crowds of exultant Zionist onlookers, who have gathered to cheer each Israeli bomb strike like ecstatic football fans?

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Last month Mona Dabdoob, from the Palestinian Players’ Federation, presented FIFA chiefs with a dossier of restrictions and attacks from Israel on Palestinian football as they met in Brazil.

FIFA ruled out sanctions against Israel but said it would monitor the country’s alleged violations of Palestinian football, including preventing players from travelling to and from matches.

In January two young Palestinian footballers from Abu Dis FC, Jawhar Nasser Jawhar, 19, and Adam Abd al-Raouf Halabiya, 17, were reportedly shot by Israeli snipers, beaten up and had dogs set on them as they walked home after training.  Abu Dis FC play in the shadow of the Israeli apartheid wall, on a pitch where some of our own Republica Internationale FC members have played on a previous tour of Palestine with Easton Cowboys FC.
“There was no alarm, no identification or warning,” Jawhhar told  reporters. Adam said that he was shot first in the leg. As Jawhar tried to drag him to safety, he was shot repeatedly in the hand and leg — 11 times total. Adam was shot once in the knee and two times in the other leg. The teenagers told the website that as they lay screaming, Israeli forces set a dog on them.

Jawhar (let) fplaying for Abu Dis before the shooting and torture by israeli occupying forces

“They hit my head with a gun and they broke the leg with a gunshot in. They forced my leg backwards until it snapped. They were joking and laughing.” Adam said.

Israeli police maintain that the teenagers were moments away from attacking the nearby police base.

torture

After transfer to hospital in Amman the young footballers were told they would never play again.

Medical reports indicated that Jawhar was shot with 11 bullets, seven in his left foot, three in his right, and one in his left hand. Halabiya was shot once in each foot. The two were taken to Ramallah governmental hospital before being transferred to King Hussein Medical Center in Amman, where they were told they would never play again.

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On March 10 Saji Darwish, Birzeit student and player for Beitin FC, was shot dead by soldiers near the West Bank settlement of Givat Assaf, close to Ramallah. It was alleged that he was throwing stones at vehicles belonging to Israeli settlers in the area.

In response to a previous dossier of Israeli violations of Palestinian footballers’ basic rights to play football in the West Bank, which was presented to the FIFA Congress in October 2013, FIFA President Sepp Blatter predictably set up a “Task Force”. Which has so far achieved precisely nothing.

This blog’s hero of the week is Patrick Vieira. When players were faced with racism or other forms of bullying, football coaches, managers and captains always just  used to say “Ignore it”.  But not Vieira, and surely he is right.

He walked his Manchester City U-21  lads  off the pitch in the middle of a pre-season game after young French midfielder Seko Fofana was allegedly the victim of racial abuse in Croatia.

Vieira’s Elite Development Side are currently on a 10-day pre-season training camp in Novigrad and they demanded that a match against HNK Rijeka was postponed after an opposing player allegedly racially insulted  19-year-old Frenchman Fofana..A club statement read: “Manchester City’s EDS U-21 game with HNK Rijeka has today been cancelled due to an alleged incident of racial abuse toward the club’s young midfielder Seko Fofana by a member of the opposing team.”Following an alleged incident in the latter stages of the first half of the game, being played in Novigrad, Croatia, a decision was taken by the management staff to withdraw the City team from the field of play and canc.el the game.”Club representatives in Croatia and in Manchester are liaising with officials, the match organisers and the Croatian Football Association to pursue this matter further.”Recent high-profile precedents include a couple of incidents involving Milan last year such as this one which had full club backing  and this one which didn’t.Well played Patrick – the way forward has to be “No Football for Racists.”  If the referee , police, and management of the two teams can’t or won’t resolve the situation, a walk-off has to be the way.  Zero Tolerance!

Working away from home at the moment, and travelling across the country on World Cup final day, I was forced by the railway timetable  to watch the match in a pub in a provincial town centre, somewhere in Middle England … where I should have been really enjoying  the later stages of the match after 3 of my best bets of the whole tournament all came in at once: I’d punted on 0-0, on the draw  and on Germany to win in extra time or on penalties. Get paid, Nige!

However my enjoyment of this clean sweep  was more than spoilt by a bloke sitting down nearby in an openly fascist T-shirt  for a pub meal with his partner. The usual body-building white-supremacist type you see in this sort of offensive garment … a t-shirt which if you google the slogan is available by mail-order from fascist outlets all round Europe (they’re even advertising free postage during “white summer”). Sorry to post the offending iconography here, but “know your enemy” and all that…

t-shirt7  You don’t often get  a chance to challenge a dumbbell-pumping fascist dickhead when he’s not hanging round with a  bunch of equally dangerous-looking meat-heads, or where you know he’s unlikely to attack you physically in front of witnesses. So trust me, he was well and truly challenged there tonight. His partner must have felt very uncomfortable too, and oh dear I spoilt your meal did I? Shouldn’t come as much surprise when you’re having dinner with such an openly fascist twat. I eventually got thrown out of the pub (where they told me of course that the bloke is “a regular, who never causes any trouble”), but at least I’d timed it so things came to a head after the final whistle, and at least the staff and fellow customers there are no longer in any doubt about the racism and fascism of the offending garment and the dickhead who wears it.

Tonight’s Republica Internationale gathering also paid tribute to our lovely friend Dot Greaves who so sadly passed away recently, and whose funeral was today.

Dot-Greaves

She often accompanied her partner Rob to our Republica events and tournaments and even though football itself was not particularly her thing, she always spread her special positivity and encouragement around everyone who met her and supported our activities wherever possible.

Happy memories of a wonderful person, and my deepest sympathies and thoughts are with all her friends and family.