Josh Wright

The Not So Beautiful Game

In Football on May 12, 2011 at 3:09 pm

Neil Lennon is attacked at Tynecastle in possibly the next wave of Sectarian violence

Football in this country has escaped the dark days of racism and repeated crowd trouble? On a global scale is it not the most popular sport in the world?  A sport that permeates race, class and politics? The recent events regarding sectarianism and corruption allegations clearly beg to differ, and for the impartial observer threaten to destroy all that is beautiful about the beautiful game.

The evening of the 11th May 2011 will go down as a dark day for football due to the events of an individual who maliciously attacked the Celtic manager Neil Lennon during the crucial SPL clash between his team and Hearts at Tynecastle. The individual climbed down from the seating, ran onto the pitch and assaulted Lennon before being restrained and later arrested. This comes within the recent events of death threats and even parcel bombs being sent to Lennon and a number of other prominent fans of Celtic. It then transpires that the next day a package addressed to Lennon arrived at Celtic Park containing a bullet. These events cannot and should not be taken lightly by all authorities involved, they represent a despicable and cowardly attempt to threaten and endanger a number of individuals.

The Old Firm is more than a rivalry, this is clear; but this connection to and recent revival of sectarian conflict needs to be stopped. We can proudly say that on the whole the issue of racism in football on these shores is no more. The game is now a family game, one in which we can take pride in our teams and enjoy the sport at its very best. It should not be a way to express your damaging political views and in this case an excuse to perform acts of terror.

In a less serious, but undeniably damaging affair, issues regarding Fifa and corruption have once again resurfaced following Lord Triesman’s comments. Triesman, the former FA Chairman, stated that with regards to Jack Warner, Nicolas Leoz, Ricardo Teixeira and Worawi Makudi that their behaviour was “below what would be ethically acceptable.” This is with regards to corruption in the process of bidding to host respective world cups. Triesman’s exact allegations vary from Paraguay’s Fifa member Leoz asking for a knighthood, Thailand’s member Makudi wanting the TV rights between England and Thailand in a national friendly and Brazil’s Fifa member Teixeira asking Triesman to “come and tell me what you have got for me.”

Fifa presidential candidate Mohamed Bin Hammam responded to these claims stating “I will happily and unreservedly restate that I firmly believe Fifa, as a decision-making body and as an organisation, isn’t corrupt,” however it is clear that the appropriate course of action is an independent investigation. With the scandal encompassing the whole organisation, including Bin Hammam and Qatar’s successful 2022 bid, it would be ludicrous to accept a Fifa led investigation.

Both of these events vary significantly from sectarianism to corruption however both threaten the sport that we all love. In many ways people feel disillusioned with the wealth and business culture associated with the modern game however we are now free of the troubles of the past. These recent scandal’s cannot be allowed to progress into anything worse. It is a game first and foremost, and I for one hope it stays that way.

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