Oh football: from England’s emails to Russia’s occupation, it’s in a mess

By Tony Attwood

Sometimes I say naughty things, like calling a player sold by Liverpool to Barcelona a vampire.  Its terrible.  People write in and complain.

Never mind this is the “greatest league in the world,” so it will survive, and quite probably so will Untold. And yes, Mr Mackay said awful things, but you know it will probably all blow over.  Just like Andy Gray and Richard Keys.  They have been filmed lots of times making appalling statements to and about women, so they get given jobs on overseas channels, and Keys eventually even comes back on BT Sport.  Mr Mackay will just have to get used to working overseas.

In May this year the Daily Mirror accused David Dein of sending Richard Scudamore the Premier League Chief Exec a sexist email.  Richard Scudamore sent out sexist emails.  Scudamore escaped punishment.  I don’t know what Mr Dein said – I just noticed the accusation in the paper.  Such stuff happens.

This week the League Managers Association defended its member (which is what Trade Unions do) and then backed off (which is not what they normally do); the muddle continues, and the problem is that you know that in due course everyone will forget.

Vincent Tan accuses the former manager of Cardiff of mis-spending money at the club.  They deny it.  As far as I know there is no evidence of any financial wrong doing by either man.  If there were we would perhaps have heard of the court case by now.

Lord Herman Ouseley, the chair of Kick It Out, had a few choice words about “a challenge to the leadership of football”.  And good for him, he’s back to reminding us about how the Premier League excused Richard Scudamore and his description of women as “gash”. The FA backed off saying it does not look at private communications.  That one’s been forgotten too.

I’m bemused, on about every front one can be bemused on.

Let me try and explain.  You see, apart from Untold, I run a web site and information service for a small group of musicians and dancers.  We do nothing untoward, we perform and pass round the tin.  And each year I send a message to everyone on the group to say, “If you want something known by the world, just put it in a private text or email.   GCHQ and various American agencies will oblige, even if the press and various crooks miss it.”  In other words don’t blame me if anything you say to the other members of the group via email, gets out.

In short, all these things will always leak, and now we seem to be going round and round and round with the issue.  Especially given that Scudamore got off scott free and Keys got rehabilitated and his chum is still working away in parts of the world where the rights of women and minorities are not respected very much at all.

And besides there is other interesting news around – which gets pushed out of the way by the fury over emails.  Not that I don’t want publicity for the email affair – I just want less hot air, and more action, and more coverage of stories like this…

SKChF Sevastopol, TSK Simferopol and Zhemchuzhina Yalta are clubs based in Crimea which is part of the Ukraine occupied by Russia, and they are now playing in the Russian league.

I have my own view on the politics of the situation, and normally I don’t mind telling anyone will to read what my own view is.  But I’ll leave that for a moment, and just note that meanwhile Fifa is going to have its next bonanza party in… Russia.

When Russia annexed Crimea in March this year, Tavriya Simferopol and FC Sevastopol continued to play in the Ukrainian league.  I have read reports that their supporters made it completely clear that they were Ukrainian.  So then the clubs were disbanded.

Next, new clubs were set up, taking the place of the old ones, and they joined the Russian Football Union.  Uefa, however, says that the clubs are Ukrainian, and thus this move is illegal.  Fifa could allow the clubs to play in another country (as they do with Cardiff playing in the English League and Berwick playing in the Scottish league) if both national associations agree.  Fifa on this issue is deferring to Uefa, and Uefa is seeking to encourage the Ukraine and Russian federations to reach an agreement.  Which they have not done.

Step forward Yevgeny Giner, president of CSKA, ex president of the RFU and chum of Roman Abramovich. He obviously thinks that Russia is in dangerous territory, and has spoken about Russian clubs being expelled from the Champions League and the World Cup being moved elsewhere.  (England would apply, undoubtedly, because England always applies).

The FA did at one time hold off bidding for the World Cup because the government would not kow tow to Fifa demands for tax free status for all officials.  But the government of the UK has weakly given up on this and so is now always licking the arses of the crooks and cheats with whom Fifa associates.  So England will look on with ill-concealed frenzy.

There is even a suggestion that Fifa might like to have a world cup in England after all, as it would distract the media, just as it has been distracted from other matters of late over sexist and racist emails.   Give the journalists a bottle of booze and a story and they are off, forgetting any other issues that might get in the way.

And most certainly what Fifa don’t want are any more British newspapers looking at Fifa scandals especially if they link Fifa in Zurich with Moscow.)

What makes this more than just a little Untold fantasy is that the old buzzard, Sepp Blatter, went to Russia a week ago and met Vlad Putin, to discuss business matters.

At the meeting RFU president Vyacheslav Koloskov, the man who famously called England’s tactics over the 2018 world cup “primitive” (meaning we weren’t flashing wads of cash around, largely because most of it was being spent paying the interest on the loan to build Wembley), is reported to have said, “It is correct to state that Crimea and Sevastopol are within the Russian Federation. The problem is not that we have something impossible: we can register these clubs in Russia – it will not change anything. We had no right to play in Sevastopol or Yalta, nor in Simferopol, anywhere … sanctions are inevitable, I would say, immediately. But nobody will impose the maximum sanctions straightaway. First there will be a warning period to rectify the situation.

Then, also at the meeting Sergy Galitsky President of FC Krasnodar added, “Besides the fact that we could be kicked out of the European Cups, foreigner players will start to leave and the house of cards will fall.”  But, “If the decision is taken at the top of the polity [ie by Putin] we will take it, because we are citizens of this country.”

That story has got some little coverage in the UK, but not much.  Which is a shame.  The email story is important, because racism, homophobia and anti-Semitism is always vitally important, and that is why Untold has so often touched on these.  But the way Russia deals with the Crimea and Fifa is important too.  I just wish we heard a bit more about that as well.

Maybe somewhere in our national press someone could say – “hey lets keep stories running for more than three days.  That would make for some unusual journalism.”

But I’m not holding my breath.


15 Replies to “Oh football: from England’s emails to Russia’s occupation, it’s in a mess”

  1. Maybe its just that the whole world is being progressively dumbed down and many are comfortable with it.
    And maybe they think they are ‘keeping’ it real….

    “Whenever I watch TV and see those poor starving kids all over the world, I can’t help but cry. I mean I’d love to be skinny like that, but not with all those flies and death and stuff.”
    –Mariah Carey

  2. At the very time that football is trying to put part of its house in order, via FFP, religious bigotry appears to be gaining pace in a number of countries where the Free World has intervened in one way or another.
    One would like to believe that in some way, football and other competitive sports could play a part in bringing a form of peace and sanity to the regions involved.
    Unfortunately, 2014 will be recorded as a year when violence and intolerance, in the name of religion, has increased.
    In a few months time, at the beginning of a New Year, it is customary in our land to exchange good wishes with others for a
    peaceful and happy year ahead.
    Would that all countries could find ways to follow suit.

  3. I’m sure Jack Wilshere’s perceived poor form will run and run in the press. They always know how to get their priorities right.
    “At the end of the day the situation in Ukraine is just Johnny Foreigner at it again. Moving on, and in other news, a cat got stuck in a tree in Devon…..”.

  4. I doubt that England will ever host the world cup again because of the “tax free’ demands of FIFA I know we let plenty of International conglomerates get away with tax evasion, but saying up front that they’re not going to pay tax is taking the piss a little.

  5. @Nicky,
    I wonder where that “free world” is? Yet religious intolerance, I know. No religion is tolerant of an encroaching other. The only I way I know, is to emancipate myself from all that limits the growth towards a greater humanity; including all that is around me that is taken as the height of excellence. “Freedom” from what, is always the question; and “freedom” to do what is the sobering thought that often questions the freedoms that so glibly pass our lips.

  6. Vincent Tan has no integrity to say his manager misspent his money. Then what’s the point having a same ethnic GM beside him all the time. Tan has a record of bankruptcy back in Malaysia. He used his political contacts to save himself and used his concubine’s physical ‘assets’ to set himself up for the future. A massively corrupt and unethical person. I still believe if McKay would have stayed, Cardiff would have beaten the drop. Cardiff had sold their soul to the devil.

  7. Micheal Ram,
    Physical assets? Does she have enticing curves?
    Is a concubine a code name for something else?

  8. @Cardusa,
    The Free World is made up, broadly, of those nations which are democratically led, and where there is freedom of speech and religion.
    In this World religious faiths live side by side, each tolerating the others.
    Unfortunately, militant, bigoted fanatics crop up in every land, seeking to force their opinions on all people. In the Free World these cruel fanatics, acting in the name of their religion, are small in number, so far.
    They do not accept ANY faith but their own and are prepared to take the life of those who oppose this view.
    It is a sad fact of life that while the Koran is based on peace and goodness, many of its followers twist its teachings to suit their violent ways.

  9. @nicky
    “religious fanaticism” is a convenient way of limiting our sight of much more that is going on. It is easy label and dismis without dealing with a wide array of uncomfortable social and politico-economic realities that implicate more than ‘those religious fanatics’. And, when we inquire more critically into the slogans of “democrtically led”, “freedom of speech”, etc. we may be appalled by what we may see.

  10. If the Crimea problem is still on, will Europe consider boycotting the World Cup if FiFA allows Russia to keep its hosting right? That will be an interesting one.

  11. @shakabula
    …and whatever will FIFA do about NATO, specifically US and German involvement in Ukraine to destabilize an elected government to the tune of 5 billion dollars and support right-wing extremists – almost 6 months prior to the outbreak of unrest in Ukraine? World politics and international justice are complex issues and any simplistic and narrow view is bound to raise the ire of many.

  12. @Cardusa,
    I am already “appalled” when I view or read about the religious intolerance being the norm in many Islamic countries, the extreme violence in order to maintain it, and the flagrant way in which fanatics are now attempting to spread such practices into other lands.

  13. @nicky
    Glad you are “appalled” and hope you are similarly appalled upon a self reflection – by which I mean not a personal self-reflection but of your “free-world” and its practices around the world. There are quite a lot of similarities between the two. Anyhow, that would be my last comment on this.

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