Posts Tagged ‘ football ’

Poor Sales for Olympic Football…Go Figure.

It would appear that Olympic bods are a little concerned about the state of ticket sales for their under 23 knock about football tournament. The Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, better known for hosting 70,000+ fans cheering on fifteen gents in red, currently looks set to welcome around a mere 15,000 people to watch the so called ‘TeamGB’ join other youth teams from around the world in a contest for the 7th most significant tournament in world football. Why then is this leg of the Olympics, part of what is usually sold as the greatest show on earth, failing to whip up the sort of fervour that competitive sporting fixtures usually invite when hosted in Cardiff city centre?

From a Welsh perspective, attention would well be drawn to the most recent press conference regarding the forthcoming tournament. Plenty has been written over the lack of a Welsh FA endorsement for the TeamGB concept, and there is little point wading through all of that once more. But if anyone wanted an insight as to why Welsh fans are not flocking to snap up their taste of the Olympics, look no further at the figures who made up the press conference panel. At one end, we have the manager of the England Women’s team, Hope Powell, next to her, occasional England Men’s team manager and former England international Stuart Pearce, and then over to the other side could be found Clive Woodward, former England rugby international and manager of the winning English Rugby World Cup squad. So, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, these are the figures spearheading your campaign, do you feel the pride in your English, English, English, oh so very English management team, well, do you? Not even an attempt of tokenism towards the non English elements of this TeamGB farce, a sentiment not helped by manager Pearce asserting that he would have no qualms selecting an all English first XI (though he stressed the same for an all Welsh XI, though that would require having enough of said nationality to put out that many players…we will wait and see on that one).

TeamGB was a pandering to England’s love of their beautiful game, and in it the authorities in London saw a chance to soften up those noisy ‘regions’ of Britain who felt they were being shafted financially in order to give London yet another advertising boost in front of the world for a few weeks. Well London, we are not buying the trade off, and we are not buying the tickets.

Couple that with the fact that the whole concept of football being played out in the Olympics is a farce in itself – remember everyone, if it’s in the Olympics, then the Olympics has to be the pinnacle of that sport’s ambition. Well, I don’t see the football World Cup being downgraded, so Cardiff and Hamden get the pleasure of hosting a second rate tournament which should not even be in the Olympics, which barely represents them, as part of a pat on the head for not making too much noise about being sold out so that the English capital can enjoy another day in the sun. Thanks London Olympic Committee, but no thanks.

TeamGB football has been a misguided concept from day 1, while dropping some events outside of London (hello London Olympic Committee, you do realise that you are shipping off parts of the Olympics to a different country yes? Was that in the French plan, to give Belgium some long distance track events?) is a nonsense. Wales will not be sold on the idea, and Wales will not be sold out for some colourful rings. Sadly, we don’t seem to have much choice about it, apart from not turning up to see any of the meaningless matches, and that, for us, will be exactly what we will do.

Oh, and when you do drop into Cardiff London Olympic Games, clean up after yourselves, London is a filthy little place – don’t treat Cardiff as if it was one of suburbs…which of course, is exactly what you are doing.

Poppies Saved for the/a Nation.

Well, the powers that be have brought FIFA to its knees, and a momentous concession has been made in allowing (if you follow the BBC news coverage) the English football team to wear their poppies in an upcoming game of minor significance of football (if anyone is interested, Wales were also debating wearing poppies, but no one at the BBC seemed to notice or care about that). Plenty of hoopla and wrist wringing went on over this, with members of the Royal family showing their dismay at FIFA’s initial reluctance to allow the poppies to be worn, and then came in the PM, swinging into the poppy fight with a strongly worded letter that really showed FIFA who is boss (good that he could take the time from helping to prevent the world from imploding on itself to write letters on such pressing global economy saving scale issues).

The conclusion of all this – English football players can wear poppies on their arms, and a great triumph has been secured for the British institutions of the poppy, and general decency and what not, and so on… Now, this piece is not intended to belittle the poppy for one moment, or for what it represents, come the 11th, this author will certainly be wearing one. However, one wonders if a moment’s thought on what the poppy signifies will pass through the minds of the English football players as they line up to play hacky sack with the Spanish, one wonders further still how many of those in the crowd will take the time to ponder, to care about what this whole ‘fight for the right’ to wear the poppy is all about. How many of either footballer or fan will be up in silence at 11am on the 11th? How many will take the time to walk down to their local cenotaph and show their respects? I’m happy to be proven wrong, but I’m going to wager a little sum that there will be very few, if any, who make the effort.

It would be nice to think that this campaign to preserve the ‘nations’ right to wear the poppy will do something to raise awareness of those affected by war (one wonders for instance if any England players will demand a white poppy to be stapled on to their little arm bands?), that the battle over the past few days will encourage all involved to take the time to dwell on the significance of that which they choose to, as no doubt we will all be told, ‘proudly’ wear the poppy. Yet, the reality that we probably can’t escape is that this will have no more impact on the nation other than giving a selection of sporting commentators the opportunity to point out the fact that some footballers are wearing poppies, maybe mention what great ambassadors they are for doing so (before pulling the camera away as one of said role models begins a four letter tirade against a man in black for the most insignificant of reasons).

It’s sad to think that this will be the extent of the impact of this story, but there is a very good chance that that will indeed be its extent, and no more.