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October 2016
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The News of the World, Rosicky, phone tapping, football, the truth…

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.

17 comments to The News of the World, Rosicky, phone tapping, football, the truth…

  • 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.”

    This story was actually published months ago!!! y do people keep putting old news up!

  • ryan

    please don’t take this the wrong way but i think the article is a bit incoherent. i don’t necessarly disagree or anything- half of what you said is just the facts anyway. but i don’t see the direction of the post or what you’re getting at.

    news of the world- general mainstream media = tat, largely made up, illegal. sky too.

    that sort of goes without saying, but what are you alluding to? debating what will put some truth back into place? and what are you getting at with phone tapping?

    i don’t mean to be so critical, but whilst i am sure this makes sense in your head you haven’t really articulated your point of the post in a way which makes sense. other than stating the corruption and rubbish standards of the media, what are you getting at?

  • Let’s try it this way…

    Phone tapping is only worthwhile if newspapers seek to publish the truth

    They don’t do this with football, and they are not likely to bother with phone tapping

    But there are some murky sides to football – as with the arrests I cited and FIFA, and we have to ask ourselves if phone tapping is legit in such circumstances

    And then there is the issue: what is our response to all this?

    The answer must be that on occasion we move away from the tribal warfare that is at the heart of much football debate, and try and argue sensibly and logically.

  • Faron

    the Guardian (a much more serious upmarket paper)

    Are you sure Tony?

  • Christianjimmy

    Good point Tony. Fifa has still got plenty of questions that its failed to answer (gooogle Andrew Jennings and FIFA), not to mention court findings (FIFA lied to court about the mastercard/visa world cup ticket sponsorship etc) but unfortunately its simply not in the media’s interest to chase FIFA up on these things (by whatever means – legal and persistent questioning or illegal wiretapping) as FIFA will play dirty and cause problems with that media source following football. Can you imagine the sun or NOTW without football? there’d be nothing to it, just a crap low-rent porn sheet, and hence a strong disincentive to chasing up the FIFA are corrupt angle.
    Unfortunately though, most football fans never get beyond the “my teams better than yours”, “so-and-so is crap” or “lets buy some over-priced preening git from – oooh, lets say… portugal” and so serious debate rapidly descends into that parochial tribalism which subsequentally feeds the tabloid coverage of football, and continues in a spiral of incestuous, neverending rumour and counter rumour.
    Which is why following arsenal at the moment provides us with a particular lofty vantage point – we know that 100% of the rumours are crap, so dont need to get sucked into the pirahana feeding frenzy of who’s bidding for ribery or luis fabiano or peter crouch… Long may we remain on the moral high ground!

  • LRV

    As far as I am concerned, the News of the World is a degenerate anyway; same as the Sun. I don’t attach any value to whatever they publish.

  • Nhan Le

    NotW is in the US too, though I’m not sure if it’s the same edition – we have a different set of shenanigans and so-called celebrities to shriek about, you know?

  • Jonny Neale

    Isn’t The Metro owned by the The Mail anyway(Associated Newspapers)?!

  • Pete the First

    Tony, for the benefit of us that don’t have access to the phone tap information……………What time does the dance start on Saturday?

  • bhens

    With Man city offering astronmical wages to players along with over inflated transfer fees , you now face paying twice what a player is actually worth and paying treble the wages before he’s even kicked a ball. Real Madrid have set the precedent with 80 mil for Ronaldo evrytime any of the top four in the prem want a player you are going to have to pay the asking price. Man Utd have debt, liverpool have debt,Chelsea have debt and all owned by businessmen who want to make money and want to see a return . How long before one of these investors say they have had enough and cut their losses . I fear for the future of football in this country for every peak of spending there must be a big drop somewhere waiting. The BOD of Arsenal are being careful to sustain this club for the future.

  • Arsenal1Again

    This was said in May. The same blog is being cut and pasted by alot of bloggers …. which you can tell by the brackets and word [last]in this part … “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.”

  • irishblood

    I don’t understand why Kroenke bought another 180 shares up to 28.8% but he doesn’t want to provide more fundings to AW. Since we have our


    CAN’T HAVE THAT !!!!

  • irishblood

    As a gold member I am getting



  • Lewey005

    I’m seriously worries about the whole cesc situation, we know he wants to play for barcelona someday, he might as well go now. Again the board have showed a total lack of ambition in the transfer window. I’d love to know how peter hill-wood is still chairman of the club as he only owns 0.5%. Basically as it stands they are all happy to pick up their 1m plus a year for sitting on the board, they are running the club as a business, which obviously they should but they are also running it into the ground. It’s going to take something as drastic as us not qualifying for the champions league to wake them up becuase as we are every season at the moment that guarentees 30m + into the coffers. I’m pretty much 100% sure the board are happy every year, they have absolutely no ambition to win trophys, as long as we get the champions league place at the end of each year the fat cats are happy. Arsenal is no longer a project, after 4 years of winning nothing, wengers youth project IS A FAILURE, simple as. We won the league and FA cup before with proven players, we got paddy at 22 and he didnt start ripping teams to shreds till he was 26-27, same with thierry. Dennis Bergkamp wasnt a youth players, nor was parlour, keown, adams, campbell, gilberto, suker, pires etc they were all at least 24 when we signed them (obviously adams etc werent but i’m concentrating on the wenger years) We all know we needed to spend this year, denilson, diaby, eboue, silvestre, fabianski, adebayor etc simply aren’t good enough for Arsenal, the foundatins are there for a great side, we just need to bring some proven talent in. Wenger must know this but I can imagine the board will not back him after the januay signing of Arshavin, I can believe that the money for that in fact came from wengers summer budget.

  • Lewey005

    I really do question the level of intelligence of the people on here. How on earth can they be happy with what is happening at Arsenal? The board say that they prefer to bring in young players than established players does not say to me they are looking at the future it says to me that they lack ambition and the desire to spend money. The posters on this website seem to have conveniently forgotten the boards statement on the new stadium several seasons ago “the new stadium will allow us to compete with the largest clubs in Europe for the best players” and yet here we are talking about a complete nobody in Thomas Vermaelin – do you people honestly believe that this man is the answer to our problems – I think NOT ! Where are the “talented youngsters” that they elude to ? talented youngsters for me means Aguero, Benzema, Zapata, Richards and the like not Jack bloody Wilshere who has done precisely nothing to show anyone that he is even half decent. Ramsey has fallen of the face of the earth, Vela cannot displace a poor and lazy Adebayor and Walcott is just quick and nothing else (we would have been better served there in buying a whippet). I’m sorry but there really is nothing whatsoever worth shouting about Arsenal anymore. Wenger and the Board of Directors have seen to that personally. They put profit and bank balances before the football and as a result Arsenal are falling. Please don’t kid yourselves that we are making progress because we have not. Arsenal will have a nice healthy bank balance but Man United, Real Madrid and all the other big teams will be winning the big prizes and that, after all is what football is about.

  • James Penghelly

    Completely off-topic and utterly trivially but, Tony, “anything can happen in the next half hour!” was Stingray not Thunderbirds!

  • pig

    murdochs web extends further than just the notw, the sun and sky, he owns a massive list of media companies, in film, tv, satellite, newspapers, magazines, book publishers and internet sites.

    the full list can be found here

    i think its fair to say that if illegal methods of news collection are used at one of his companies, they are all at it.

    i like the point about how this affects footie stories. the only real source for news is the club, everything else is lies or irrelevant.