By Tony Attwood
Oh what mixed times we live in. Just after it seemed that Alex Iwobi could stand out as the one player not being attacked, so the first articles appear on the issue of the club’s “biggest mistake” in the summer. It appears it was not buying a winger, because Iwobi is not good enough. Which just about makes a full set of complaints against the team.
Although perhaps not quite as big a crisis as allegedly hitting Manchester United after 5% (yes a whole 5% of the season) is completed, for there we have the talk of a plane with banner flying over their game this weekend with a protest against Ed Woodward and the Glazer family. (And I did love Mr Wenger’s comment about what do you call fans who fly planes over matches? The answer: “Rich”).
But unlike Arsenal where it is widely expressed in the media that the players all need changing, all at once, at Manchester United the crisis appears to be of a simpler nature, for as the Telegraph says, “Man United crisis is of Ed Woodward’s making – he knew what he was getting with Joe Mourinho and should have backed him in [the] summer.” (I’m not sure why the definitive article is missing there – after all the Telegraph has that thing that Untold so obviously lacks – proof readers).
And thinking of protests elsewhere we are told that, “Sussex police breached the Freedom of Information Act… after failing to explain why they had alleged Crystal Palace supporters were armed with “knives and knuckle-dusters” at the game against Brighton last November.”
The police apologised after saying, “Significant number of people attempted to enter the ground with pyrotechnics, knives and knuckle-dusters, which were found following efforts to gain access through fire exit doors in the south stand.”
It wasn’t true, and a Palace website Five Year Plan, sent in Freedom of Information requests, which Sussex police rejected on public interest grounds and then ignored totally. The police were deemed to have broken two sections of the Act and they had to comply or or give a valid reason why not, or face being charged with being in contempt of court.
Their response was that one officer said he found the weapons, but that it was later found that there were none. Unfortunately that doesn’t explain why they then tried to bluster their way through the affair by a wall of silence, nor why they went that far on the evidence of one person. From the outside that looks like a case of institutional corruption to me, but as so many readers regularly say, what do I know.
Elsewhere news of the sentencing of leading figures in the world of Fifa now seems hardly to be news at all. The US federal court in New York has sentenced José Maria Marin to four years for corruption, money laundering, wire fraud and conspiratorial racketeering. The sentencing took place in Brooklyn, New York, by US District Judge Pamela Chen.
He was ordered to forfeit $3.3m and was fined $1.2m. He is the first official to be sentenced following the US Department of Justice investigation into corruption at Fifa. Juan Ángel Napout, the former president of CONMEBOL (the South American body), was also found guilty of corruption charges at the same time as Marin and is to be sentenced on 29 August.
But it makes no difference – the World Cup run by Fifa still carries on, as if nothing had happened. Just as in a much smaller way, Sussex police carry on as if there had not been a cover up, and a set of fantasy comments invented and supported by its officers. A very different scale of corruption of course but someone now it just all seems to be acceptable. Put it in the papers, pay a fine or issue an apology and it is all over. Organisations can, it appears, get away with anything.
And while looking through such matters one more popped out to make me think, maybe nothing much is changing.
Some fans of Società Sportiva Lazio (that’s Lazio to you and me) and put out a notice about the part of the ground where the hardcore support stands saying “Women, wives and girlfriends are not allowed” in their part of the stadium, “so we ask them to sit from the 10th row back… Those who choose the stadium as an alternative to a carefree, romantic day out, should sit elsewhere.”
Now there, the authorities are investigating. But will things change or will the old traditions continue? Non-questioning of Fifa, refusal to answer legitimate questions, antediluvian attitudes… Underneath it always seems to remain the same.
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