There is a story in the Mail, which was highlighted by a correspondent, that suggests Rosicky won’t play for Arsenal this year. It is the usual mishmash of gibberish and invented twaddle.
Meanwhile on the Metro there’s a piece that says ‘Speaking to Czech newspaper Sport, Rosicky said: “I think I will be back in the autumn.
According to my fitness coach Tony Colbert I could have been playing at the end of the [last] season as he thought my fitness was okay.
I think it was obvious from the training that I was ready to play, if not for 90 minutes. But the club decided not to play me. They saw that I was okay, but maybe they just did not want to take the gamble. Until I play in a league match I will not be able to tell what my chances are, but when it comes to fitness alone I am in better shape than when I came to Arsenal.”
So who do we believe? The Metro or the Mail? Chances are the Metro as it seems to be in keeping with the story from Arsenal itself, and the Mail story is contradictory. However the Metro quotes a foreign source, and that usually means the translation is mangled – not least because on their web site if you try and click on a supposed link to the Czech paper Rosicky is said to have talked to, you get an advert for swim wear.
What makes me think of this is that if you are reading this beyond the UK you might not know about the News of the World, the place it holds in our hearts, and what it has been up to.
It is the most scurrilous of all the papers. Published on a sunday for over 100 years it is owned by the Murdoch organisation, which also owns the Sun (ditto in terms of quality and seriousness) and Sky TV.
Today the Guardian (a much more serious upmarket paper) has published the story that the News of the World has based much of its “news-gathering” operation on illegal phone tapping. Not just one or two phone taps which might be justified “in the public interest” (which is a defence in English law) but wholesale phone-tapping. Phone-tapping not to follow up a real story (as in “is Harry Redknapp involved in money laundering – we’ll tap his mobile and find out – nothing there, so we close down the operation”) but a massive phone tap operation by way of saying, “let’s listen to this phone and see what we get.” The Met police are getting involved, which could mean anything could happen in the next half hour (as they used to say on Thunderbirds).
So what does this have to do with football?
Well, it goes like this. Most of the stories in the press are invented (new Rosicky injury, as in the Mail). Players never sue because they could not claim that they had suffered in any obvious way because of the article. If Rosicky sues the Mail they will say, well, as soon as he played a match everyone could see we were wrong, so no loss to him, so no claim for libel.
So the phone tapping is irrelevant in football where everything is made up anyway – it only has a relevance where the story being uncovered might be true. The only place this happens in football is where all sorts of people have been arrested in the last few years – and in areas where corruption is rife. I have no idea if Harry Redknapp is guilty of anything – but he, like the Birmingham two, remains under arrest, let out on police bail. Did the News of the World tap Harry’s phone? Or Karen Brady’s? Will we find out?
And what about the cesspit that is FIFA, with its scandals and lies, its open corruption and incompetence? Has anyone had a phone tapped there?
You see when it comes to individual issues like that, where there is a reason to phone tap because there is a suggestion that the individual or corporation is corrupt, I personally would like to know.
That shows how twisted I am – I am ill at ease with the notion that someone is listening to my phone calls – but I also know that they are simply going to be up to date on when I am next seeing my grandchildren, and what time the dance starts on Saturday. But if you knew that a figure in football was doing something dodgy, or if you knew that the whole organisation (such as FIFA) was corrupt, then surely phone tapping is worthwhile.
But before you criticise my dual standards, may I say I have never claimed to be logical or consistent.
There’s also the issue of Sky. Sky and the News of the World are owned by the same people. Sky is intimately involved in football in the UK. Sky has Sky Sports News. Does Sky Sports News receive tips from News of the World?
Who knows. As I say, 2hat we know is that most stuff in the popular press is made up. Now we know some news that is true of it is found out via phone taps. And as for football, we can now say definitively, that the stories were either invented or gained by illegal means.
Which makes it all less and less believable and this is why proper analysis is important. We need to look at things and argue them through, debate them and try and see where this goes. Which is exactly what a lot of fans don’t do. They do the knee-jerk reaction of believing what the paper seems to say. There is a difference between the chant and banter at the game, and serious debate of issues.
That’s the bit that many people seem to me not to be able to get. I can deliver all sorts of story about the Tiny Totts, but I can also have a serious debate about the rights and wrongs of their position, and why they have failed to mount a serious challenge since Martin Joll. I think you need to be able to do both.
And we do have to debate all this because what we get in the paper (and now I suspect, what we get on Sky) is almost certainly made up or obtained illegally.
The truth went out the window a long time ago. It’s up to us through simple debate and observation, to put a little bit of it back in place.
(c) Tony Attwood. Interesting article? Read it again on Team Talk in five minutes time.