Tag Archives: football

Has Elon Musk broken Twitter?

When I want to know what politicians are saying, including Lib Dem MPs and peers, I turn to Twitter. When I want to get a message out to a broader community than my town (for which I use Facebook), I use Twitter.

But Twitter is in trouble. Serious trouble. That trouble goes by the name of Elon Musk.

True, Twitter was languishing. Failing to effectively monetise its product. Too many staff. Not enough innovation.

But Elon Musk’s shock and awe approach to managing a company he wasn’t that interested in running is weakening the Twitter brand and weakening its credibility. Mass sackings. Mass resignations. Mass closure of accounts. Defections to Mastodon. Record Twitter use but much of that criticising Musk and bemoaning what Twitter is becoming.

Will I join the mass movement and leave Twitter? Not yet. But I don’t rule it out.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 2 Comments

How Britain brought football to the World

It would be fair to say that the question of Britain’s contribution to world history is a pretty controversial one right now. Obviously Britain has contributed hugely to the world in areas like, for instance, literature and science. However, people have also become much more aware of the damaging effects of colonialism.

However, one aspect of British culture and its effect on the world that has perhaps not received the study it deserves is football. It came from Britain and yet today, it is played all over the world. It was British, and yet today, for each country, football is theirs, it is part of their community and their heritage.

Obviously there are some negative aspects of football culture around the world. Homophobia is an obvious one, but there is also still racism and sexism in football, and crowd violence is still a problem sometimes. The Qatar World Cup is, of course, hugely controversial. Yet set against that, is the huge fun, passion and excitement that football has created, the sense of community pride, and, of course, the positive physical benefits of great exercise. There is a lot in there that Lib Dems can readily support.

So how did we get from people kicking a ball in Victorian Britain, to the situation today? My brother Phil (recently retired history teacher and massive Chelsea fan) and I were aware, obviously that football came to the world from Britain, and we knew a bit about how it reached some of the nearby countries like France and Germany, but we didn’t know how it got from here to much more distant places, and some of the less major footballing powers. So we set off to find out. And because we didn’t know what was happening in, for instance, women’s football in Argentina today, we set off to find out a bit about that as well.

Posted in Books | 1 Comment

The beautiful game is coming home but not in politics

Trollies are being wheeled out of supermarkets stacked with booze. The BBQs will tomorrow be lit to sear burgers and sausages to the point of incineration. It’s party time because it’s coming home. And the final is against Germany, our nation’s favourite enemy in what used to be called the beautiful game.

Today’s newspapers are not only full of coverage of the Lionesses, they cover the other contest gripping the nation (or probably not). The battle to become Tory leader and the prime minister of our nation. With the backing on Ben Wallace and Tom Tugendhat, Liz Truss probably thinks it’s all over. It is not over until the final whistle.

I think most of us wish it was over. Why has the Tory party imposed this lengthy torture on us? It’s a huge home goal for the party, which is showing itself in the worst possible light.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 5 Comments

We should boycott the 2022 Qatar World Cup

Embed from Getty Images

A Pakistani man working on the roads in the heat, felled by heatstroke. A disorganised at best response to his emergency, with no medical treatment. His body hauled into the back of a truck, dead like so many other migrant workers in his position. That was what my mum saw one day when she lived in Qatar and unfortunately, that man’s story is not unique. Just like many migrant workers in Qatar before him and many since.

Since that day, the World Cup has been awarded to Qatar, and last year the Guardian has reported the deaths of 6,500 workers in Qatar, though other reports put this number even higher. The stadiums they have died to build will be abandoned after the tournament, leaving only a legacy of death and sportswashing from the Qatari government.

This is not just a World Cup with a morally questionable regime in charge – nothing new for FIFA. This is not just a World Cup with a questionable process of selecting the host country by an organisation with a history of corruption. This is a World Cup quite literally built on the death of migrant workers in Qatar.

I love football, and I’ve never enjoyed watching England as much as I did in 2021, with young, exciting footballers taking England through to the Euros finals. The players and Gareth Southgate did more than just win matches –  they gained some respect back for the sport, as they acted with dignity and class.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 14 Comments

LibLink: Christine Jardine: Football racism shows why those who oppose taking the knee are wrong

In her column for the Scotsman this week, Christine Jardine tackled the racism we saw against the three England footballers after the Euro 2020 final.

A young colleague told me that some black friends had abuse shouted at them while making their way home from the England-Italy game. “It’s always your kind that lets us down.” We all knew it was there, simmering amongst those who booed any team taking the knee this summer.

But watching it boil over against fans, footballers and someone who has made a real and determined difference to the well-being of vulnerable children should be a wake-up call for all of us.

She expressed her admiration for Marcus Rashford and the other players:

A young man, hugely successful, who doesn’t just remember where he came from but carries it with pride and channels his success into making a difference.

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged and | 19 Comments

Is Boris Johnson gambling on tonight’s Euro final to boost herd immunity?

Crowding together. Shouting. Singing. Welcome to the excitement of football. As England and Italy prepare for the Euro final, scientists are concerned that football is helping drive up Covid-19 infection rates by allowing potentially super spreader events such as the finals at Wembley and Wimbledon. It is predicted that seven million pints will be served during the Euro final tonight in pubs across the land. Health secretary Sajid Javid has suggested we might be heading towards 100,000 new cases a day. Did he take sporting events into account?

It’s coming home but could coronavirus also be coming home with the fans? Maybe Boris Johnson and Sajid Javid want that. Could the Euro final be a booster jab that gets us closer to herd immunity.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 9 Comments

Why I’m thanking residents for getting behind Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions

Today I did something unusual for a Liberal Democrat councillor. I thanked local residents for being patriotic.

The area I serve always likes to join in big events. People make huge efforts at Christmas and major national occasions. At the moment, the place is consumed with football fever and many houses are flying England flags of all shapes and sizes. Football truly is coming home in Oakley ward.

That’s why today I delivered a letter of thanks to every home displaying an England flag.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 85 Comments

The European Super League is a Liberal Democrat issue

The news that six of England’s biggest (if not currently best) football clubs are intent on joining a so-called European Super League is dominating both back and front pages today, and rightly so. This is a story about football, but not just football: it drives home the point that excessive foreign ownership of many of our industries is not in the public interest, and illustrates the grotesque outcomes we get when we allow market and consumer logic to totally dominate the economy at the expense of citizen and community power. As such, this an issue on which the Liberal Democrats should have a very clear point of view, and a very loud voice.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 19 Comments

A European Super League – do politicians need to step in?

The breaking news that a group of the most prestigious football clubs across Europe (in reality, Western Europe) are expected to announce the formation of an elite league has triggered widespread reaction across the British (actually, make that English) political spectrum. As Ed Davey put it;

Indeed, all three Party leaders have publicly condemned the proposal.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 35 Comments

Liberal Democrats: The party of football?

There are ninety-two football clubs playing in the English Professional Football League structure and forty-two in the Scottish equivalent. With AFC Wimbledon’s return to Plough Lane taking them out of the Kingston and Surbiton constituency boundaries, none of these are currently represented by a Liberal Democrat MP. For those of you interested, the highest ranked football team currently represented by a Liberal Democrat is St Albans City who are sat 5th in the sixth division at the time of writing.

This may simply be the nature of football geography in this country, with top professional football teams mainly representing the big cities that have become Labour heartlands over the years, the old working class, industrial clubs falling under the so-called red wall and our typically rural heartlands tending to be Rugby/Cricket country, nevertheless, it does beg the question should we be consider reaching out to the countless football fans up and down this country that have votes and are seemingly an untouched market of voters?

Posted in Op-eds | 19 Comments

Racism in football still hasn’t been kicked out

It’s been 27 years since the establishment of Kick It Out, English football’s equality and inclusion organisation, which works with the football, education and community sectors to challenge discrimination and encourage inclusive practices.

Sadly, racism, abuse and discrimination are still rife in society, but the very nature of chanting in football stadiums makes some believe it is a licence to hurl insults at team players.

On Saturday 5 December 2020, at a Millwall home match against Derby County, some of the 2,000 fans booed players who “took the knee” before the start of the game. Although players, officials and staff at Premier League and English Football League games have been taking the knee before games since June, Saturday’s match was the first to host fans since the second lockdown was lifted. Boos were also heard amongst the 1,000 fans in the JobServe Community Stadium, Colchester, prior to the match between Colchester United and Grimsby Town.

Although Millwall’s supporters’ club claimed that the motives behind the booing were not racist, no other explanation was given as to what the motive was. As Kick It Out Chairman, Sanjay Bhandari said, “Racists rarely admit they are racists — they try to hide their backlash under a seemingly respectable cloak.”

On Monday 30 November, BBC One aired the documentary Anton Ferdinand: Football, Racism and Me, in which the now retired Queens Park Rangers’ footballer spoke about the constant racial abuse that he suffered, including an on-pitch incident in 2011 in which Chelsea player, John Terry, used racially abusive language. Terry was eventually found guilty, fined £220,0000 and banned for just four matches by the FA. Ferdinand also received bullets in the post and missiles were thrown at this mothers’ house.

A House of Lords’ Library Briefing earlier this year (Racism in Football: Tackling Abusive Behaviour) showed that there has been an increase in the number of racist incidents reported in professional and grassroots football in recent years.

According to the Public Order Act 1986, a person is guilty of an offence if, with intent to cause a person harassment, alarm or distress, he uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, or displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting, thereby causing that or another person harassment, alarm or distress.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 14 Comments

14 October 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Jane Dodds: TV License changes detrimental to dementia sufferers
  • Swinson: Queen’s speech is a charade
  • Fifa and UEFA must take action against racist abuse of players

Jane Dodds: TV License changes detrimental to dementia sufferers

Jane Dodds, MP for Brecon and Radnorshire, is calling on the Government to restore BBC funding in order to protect free TV licenses.

The BBC recently announced that, due to budget cuts from the UK Government, they are moving to scrap the blanket free TV licenses for over-75s and instead only offering them to people claiming Pension Credit.

These licenses have been provided by the BBC since 2000 and approximately 4.5 …

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , , and | 6 Comments

29 January 2019 – today’s press releases

“Alice laughed: “There’s no use trying,” she said; “one can’t believe impossible things.” “I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”.

I’m afraid that we’re now well into the Lewis Carroll phase of Brexit, but on the plus side, my beloved Luton Town went five points clear at the top of League One…

  • Lib Dems: Safe standing an important opportunity for football fans
  • Travel insurance not guaranteed with no-deal Brexit
  • Lib Dems: Govt continue to scaremonger

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , and | Leave a comment

The cost of football

Embed from Getty Images
My two grandchildren both love football, and one of them takes it very seriously indeed. We all know the huge social and health benefits from taking part in sport and I have a great respect for all those parents who help to keep community sports clubs alive and kicking, as it were.

But children who love a sport also want to watch professionals playing, so it is very sad to learn that major clubs are effectively pricing out younger supporters. The BBC has published its annual report Price of Football 2017 and found that most ticket prices have remained steady. But in parallel it commissioned a survey of 18 to 24 year olds – all football fans – which showed that 82% said that the price of tickets was a barrier preventing them from going to more matches. OK, so I have jumped there from children to younger adults, because that’s the group that was surveyed, but the inference is that ticket price is a problem for young people in general.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 32 Comments

Things are changing in women’s football – but is it just a clone of the men’s game?

A football groundFrom showing games on mainstream TV to featuring in the sports pages of newspapers, a lot has happened in women’s football in the last 5 years. In a country obsessed by football the women’s game is beginning to gain the recognition it deserves.

I have long believed that equality of pay would be the best way to get the football business to focus on promoting the women’s game. Change the economics and there is an incentive to stimulate the demand – generating gate receipts, TV rights and brand endorsement. I …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 3 Comments

LibLink: Tim Farron – “As Millwall’s crisis shows, football is about far more than just sport”

 

It’s not often that a senior Lib Dem is quoted in the Sports pages (Ming Campbell excepted). But today Tim Farron has been explaining his concern about the decision of Lewisham Council to compulsory purchase Millwall’s land.

He is quoted:

Football clubs are a crucial part of British society and are at the heart of our communities. I know how heartbreaking it would be for Millwall’s fans and the local community if their club was forced to move against their wishes. The details of this case seem quite extraordinary and I hope that the council don’t take actions that could risk the club’s future in the area.

Since that was published Tim has written a longer comment piece.

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged | 8 Comments

Congratulations to the Welsh football team

So Wales did not get beyond the semi finals in Euro 2016. Or rather; Wales got through to the semi finals of Euro 2016. An awesome performance which highlighted real teamwork and courage. They had tenacity in the face of people expecting so little of them. They believed in themselves and gave it everything.  They stood out as a team who felt privileged to be in the contest, wanted to make their mark and will come home to Wales with their heads held high having made it to the semi finals. Llongyfarchiadau Cymru/Congratulations Wales.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 3 Comments

Lord Martin Thomas writes…The Red Army

I am six inches taller this week. Wales smashed Russia in Toulouse! Russia was our heroic ally during the war but for most of my adult life, we were living under the threat of a huge looming Stalinist empire.

I grew up with soccer, as we used to call it. Saturdays were school rugby in the morning, and the Boys’ Enclosure at the Wrexham Racecourse soccer ground in the afternoon. Tunnicliffe thunders down the wing, crosses to Les Speed in the centre who puts the ball in the net. At our end, the amiable Ferguson tries to keep his knees together in goal – he famously let one through his legs at Stoke in the FA Cup. Soccer was simple then.

Then Hungary with Pusckas put six goals past England in 1953 and the world turned upside down. Russia invaded Hungary  and Pusckas fled to Real Madrid. Soccer became Football. What you have to do now is  stroke the ball to each other in your own half, send it back to the goalie and back again –  intricate patterns of play with the only hope of a goal to wake up the crowd from a penalty, corner or free kick. 

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 3 Comments

Liberal Democrats can define themselves through football reform

 

In the world of football, all is not good. FIFA is undergoing the trials and tribulations of reform, whilst acting like some sort of pseudo- authoritarian state, corrupt to the very core. The FA is blind to the locking out of many fans and seemingly unable to push real reform. The Premier League can’t hear complaints over the cash pile that they find themselves eternally drenched in.

This matters, to a lot of people. In the UK, 32% of the adult population is engaged with the Premier League. This is before we address the Championship, where historically popular teams such as Derby and Nottingham Forest now lie. In 2013-14, Championship teams averaged 17,000 spectators per game, and in League 1 that figure still stood at a very reasonable 8,000. Football matters.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 32 Comments

Fifa World Cup row: Lib Dem members say no to Qatar but split on 2022 boycott

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what our sample of Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. 747 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

Yesterday, Fifa’s independent ethics investigator Michael Garcia quit in protest over the handling of his report into bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Here’s what Lib Dem members had to say about Fifa in our latest survey…

Do you think the 2022 football FIFA World Cup should go ahead in Qatar, or should it be hosted elsewhere?

Posted in LDV Members poll | Also tagged , , and | 2 Comments

Senior Liberal Democrats sign letter praising former FA inclusion adviser Edward Lord after his abrupt sacking

Earlier this month, Edward Lord, who until last Thursday sat on the FA’s Inclusion Advisory Board, criticised the FA for not taking inclusion and diversity seriously enough. In an interview with the Telegraph on 3rd September, he said:

The public and the rest of the sport industry are getting fed up with football’s inability to tackle discrimination in the game.  Most other governing bodies have really embraced the need for change, to make their sports more inclusive. It always seems as though football is lagging behind. The FA must take action when participants so flagrantly breach their rules against discrimination.

He was referring in part to the fact that the FA took no action against Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore when his highly sexist emails were published.

Last Thursday, the FA sacked him from his role on the Inclusion Advisory Board. You have to wonder what this says about their actual commitment to tackling discrimination. Their statement was uncompromising:

It is not about what Edward has stated publicly, but a matter and question of conduct and respect for colleagues. The group collectively felt that all trust in Edward, due to his repeated failure to work in the spirit of collaboration, had broken down irretrievably.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 1 Comment

Safe standing at football grounds: “an idea whose time has come,” say Lib Dems

I can still remember my first ever live football match. It was a glamorous encounter between Everton and Newport County in the second round of the League Cup on 24th September 1986. A big part of what made it memorable was the electric atmosphere of the Gwladys Street stand at Goodison Park. I was nine, so everything seemed huge but the big scousers around me, shouting and cheering, made sure I could always get a good view of what was happening on the pitch.

I was reminded of all this by the headline in the The Mirror yesterday reporting Lib Dem plans to allow football clubs to introduce ‘safe standing’ areas at grounds:

mirror safe standing

Posted in News | Also tagged | 6 Comments

Stephen Williams calls for zero tolerance of homophobia on football terraces

Stephen Williams MPLiberal Democrat Communities Minister has called for the FA, football clubs and the Police to work together to combat homophobia on football terraces.

From Pink News:

He said: “We need to stamp out homophobia on the terraces with the same vigour that we banished racism. It isn’t acceptable that footballers still feel the need to hide their sexuality out of fear of abuse.

“I want homophobia to be treated with zero tolerance just the same as racism and I want clubs, stewards, the police and FA to work even harder to

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 5 Comments

Football fan? Lib Dem? Then why not join LDV’s Fantasy Football League?

ST_evertonMy co-editor Caron Lindsay isn’t, it turns out, a big fan of football. But I am — that’s me there, aged about 8 — and there are a few other Lib Dems who are too.

The new season properly kicks off in a fortnight’s time, 16th August. So if you fancy pitting your skills selecting the most successful team of players from the English Premier League against the skills of fellow party supporters here’s what you need to do:

Posted in LDV Awards | Also tagged and | 4 Comments

Actually, this having the World Cup in England might be a good idea

I am not a huge football fan. Unless it involves Inverness Caledonian Thistle, I really don’t care and even then it’s more of a spiritual thing. I don’t actually need to watch 22 men kick the bag of wind around the field. But my antipathy to the game wasn’t the only reason my heart sank when I saw the new Liberal Democrat campaign, “Bring the 2018 World Cup to England” this morning.

Certainly, having just had a month of nothing but football anywhere, I was screaming for respite. It’s bad enough on the other side of the world but if …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 205 Comments

When is someone going to do something about football culture?

Wembley Stadium photo by Brent FlandersThere’s so much going on in the world at the moment, yet much of the media are obsessed with Luis Suarez. Even Question Time and yesterday’s Radio Scotland’s Big Debate had questions about the Uruguayan player who is now serving a 4 month ban for biting a fellow player in a match the other night.

This is far from the first time that footballers have behaved badly on the pitch. I remember watching in horror as David Beckham was sent off during the 1998 World Cup? …

Posted in News and Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 18 Comments

Opinion: Time to deliver on safe standing

Saudi football supporterAt Autumn Conference in 2008, the Liberal Democrats passed a motion backing proposals to change the regulations that prevent football stadiums in the Championship and Premier League from providing ‘safe-standing’ areas. The motion called for the Government to:

Replace any regulations requiring spectators to be seated with new regulations clearly setting out standards under which a safe standing area may be licensed.

And

Direct the Football Licensing Authority to prepare suitable guidance under which domestic football clubs, working with their supporters, may introduce safe standing areas.

Fast forward to 2014 and those regulations, …

Posted in Op-eds | 3 Comments

As football’s January transfer window closes why not play ‘Ukip Manager’?

Here’s a snippet from Ukip’s 2010 general election manifesto:

“Ukip would place a maximum of three foreign players in the starting line-up, as this would free up places for British players in the youth academies of these teams and spur the future development of home teams.”

As Paul Haydon points out here,

That would force managers to make some pretty tough decisions about who they would keep and who they would give the boot. Where would that leave your favourite team? Who would you keep and who would you send home? Toure or Silva? Negredo or Aguero? Oscar or Hazard?

Well, …

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 11 Comments

Opinion: Football, Freedom of Speech and the Y-word

spurs yid armyIn the last few days, the Crown Prosecution Service has taken the decision to charge three Tottenham Hotspur supporters with “using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour or disorderly behaviour”. The charges relate to the use of the word “Yid” by the fans.

The decision to charge the fans should be a cause of major concern to anyone who values freedom of speech and freedom of expression.

For those unaware of the history and context behind the use of the word by Spurs fans, it’s worth a quick …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 26 Comments

LibLink: Paul Marshall – England should run football the German way

A football groundToday is the first day of competitive action in the Premiership. To mark the occasion, The Times has published an article by Paul Marshall, ‘England should run football the German way’.

Paul is well-known in Lib Dem circles as chair of the liberal CentreForum think-tank and co-editor of The Orange Book. He’s also a passionate Manchester United supporter and was one of the so-called ‘Red Knights’ who fought for a supporter-based buy-out of the club. And his article sets out what English football needs to learn …

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged , and | 12 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • Paul Reynolds
    Thanks for the well-informed comments. There is an implicit political point in the article (as opposed to a public policy point) which is that the media have pi...
  • Alison Willott
    We should say firmly that we want to rejoin the single market and customs union, to make a better future for our fishermen, farmers and businesses and reduce fo...
  • Barry Lofty
    Expats: You are probably correct in saying that returning to the EU fold will not be easy and yes we were a somewhat troublesome member which only goes to show ...
  • expats
    Joe Bourke 7th Dec '22 - 11:40pm.............UnBrexit referendum for November 1, 2023. The ReJoin vote wins”..... That, along with much of the 're-join' rh...
  • David Evans
    Joe, I don't know why you chose to mention it at all, but I think you have inadvertently missed out the most important part of the blog you refer to. Specifica...