The Road To Equality?
Events have fortunately conspired since we last spoke, making the last fortnight as significant, as poignant, and as revealing as any that I care to remember.
Significant, because the powers that be have finally sought to be proactive in the fight against inequality; poignant, because, just as English football scales great heights on the pitch, we’ve been given a timely reminder of dysfunctional Britain’s snowballing problems off it; and revealing, because both of the above can offer clues in solving that that so many, including football hierarchy and even governments, have so often failed to address.
Firstly, the first of two cans of worms opened recently was Eduardo’s two-match ban for diving. Surprised, as I was, that the Croatian national was on the receiving end of a public flogging for what is a prevalent crime nowadays; and appalled as I was by his treatment by forgetful United and England fans, I do feel, in the long run, it will have a positive effect on the game. Yes, it will inevitably kick-start endless catcalling by players and managers alike, yet still, it sends out a stiff warning regarding all players’ conduct by dems dat make the rules.
Ferguson’s latest display of gambit, might I add, vehemently condemning Eduardo, I found typically hypocritical. This from he, who for the last decade has vocally advocated some of the worst ever culprits of err ‘gamesmanship!’ – and whose team, judging by Rooney’s theatrics for both club and country recently, seem to be the best in the business at pulling off such deceptions.
It is Fifa’s valiant transfer sanction on Chelsea, who were found guilty of inducing French teenager Gael Kakuta, now 18, from Lens, however, which most concur will have much wider implications. So much so, this may not only alter the fabric of football, it may also help strengthen communities that rely so heavily on the faith invested by local football academies and institutes whom offer hope to young local potential footballers.
Of course this sanction, if used as the yardstick, will mean smaller clubs in places like France, and other conveyor belt countries like Brazil, will be better protected, so therefore stand far better chance of holding on to talented youngsters for longer – and actually see the fruits of their own labours. This will hopefully retain a significant interest from football institutes to keep investing in local communities, and to continue to develop local youngsters, whom in turn offer them a prosperous and sustainable future. Not only does this benefit world football, it could mean life-changing opportunities to an abundance of poor families and children all over the world, and bring together disjointed communities.
England’s quick-fix culture clubs might do well to look at clubs in Brazil, France, as well as the archetypes of FC Barcelona, to see how they go about business unearthing so much local talent. I’m certain the hopeless ordinary boys of Moss Side, Clapham and Lambert would benefit immeasurably from the extra money teams like Man City and Chelsea could pump into this area; and so too will England as a society.
Undoubtedly Fifa have hit Chelsea hard and, assuming they don’t waver under appeal, hit them precisely where it hurts most. I have to say they’ve acted judiciously. Nevertheless, if anyone has a squad that can cope it is those dining out on Russian oil; and I actually fear this will galvanise and unite a talented group of players whom, along with English football in general, were desperately in need of a reality check. Let’s hope this sparks a huge investment by Abramovich into local football academies akin to that in Barcelona, that is dedicated to developing local talent, and this becomes Chelsea’s primary focus over the next two years. Let’s hope too that other English clubs follow their example. As we’ve exhausted many times before, money, if used constructively, can endorse our game enormously.
I have to say I was surprised by Wenger’s latest comments suggesting kids best at music should go to the best music school? Does he similarly think Madonna – who seems to endorse misfortune wherever she goes lately (she’s lately been blamed for a plane crash in Bulgaria!) – was within her rights to pluck the two best African children from their respective villages to come and live in her mansion? Whilst I take Wenger’s point, I’m not sure which I find more disconcerting.
That brings us quite nicely to the subject of anti-social behaviour. It seems football has somewhat rid itself of all responsibility of hooliganism in recent years after seemingly eradicating it from its stadia. If ever there was a case of plasters over big gaping wounds, then this is certainly it.
The ugly scenes marring West Ham’s game against Millwall, where violence spilled out onto English streets, is a direct consequence of masking a potentially lethal problem. Misrepresentative statistics so often act as a smoke screen and are used for the sole purpose of subterfuge in such things as lucrative World Cup bids. Such statistics are practically always misleading and solutions are nearly always impractical. If England is to be successful in its bid to host another World Cup, and if indeed they want to win another, then practical solutions are a certainty.
The best thing I read recently was some philosophy from some ancient Hasidic rabbi. Its chief mantra was in the eyes of God, you should learn four important lessons from a child, but a further seven from a thief. I won’t go into detail, but basically it means one can learn more from the bad things than from those which are more innocent and pure. Somewhere else I read, you can learn something from everything – for example, you can learn from a train that life goes by in a blink of an eye, or from a long distance telephone call that your voice will always be heard. Football is no different.
Some football clubs will always be bigger than others, some of their successes will invariably taste sweeter, and some players will always be better at diving. Broken communities need faith and they need hope. Institutions, such as local football clubs, who offer this – and I don’t include those who alienate their local communities by upping their ticket prices in this list – are those that Chelsea’s conduct threatens most.
Chiefly, this last fortnight has taught us that nobody is above the law, and that big money clubs should not go meddling in affairs or infrastructures of other foreign communities (whom offer their kids hope) if it is detrimental to their cause. At least not until a player gains a certain maturity and can decide for themselves or until they have reached a certain stage in their development, where a move abroad will be beneficial to all parties, not just those whose pockets are being lined, and those that will be responsible for lining them.
We can also learn that football is not without its problems, which, if dealt with and learnt from, could maybe help solve much wider problems within society.
With the possibility of another few clubs (both from Manchester) joining Chelsea in their sanction, and if early impressions of the apparent frailties in Manchester United’s squad are accurate, then Ferguson might want to revise his own policies on diving this season, or find himself and his squad even frailer.