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Television review: Trouble for the Titans of Twee


Illustration: Jim Cogan

Illustration: Jim Cogan

Illustration: Jim Cogan

The Chelsea team doctor Eva Carneiro was tending to an injured player on the pitch, while a couple of players a few yards away observed the scene, apparently amused by some aspect of the treatment, discussing the matter with their hands covering their mouths.

Oh what could they have been talking about? What could have been so entertaining to them?

We will never know, we can only take a pretty good guess, because in these days of total TV coverage of everything that happens, players now routinely place their hands over their mouths whenever they are saying something of a sensitive nature. Or something that may be parlayed into a controversy by lip-readers.

Along with all their other responsibilities, it seems that sportsmen are now expected to have well-rounded views on the great issues of the age. And just in case some of them may be found wanting in that regard, they feel it is wise to cover their mouths like bold boys whispering in the back of the class.

But sometimes things just come out anyway.

When Eva Carneiro was publicly disrespected by Jose Mourinho despite the fact that she was doing her job properly - indeed, because she was doing her properly - it created a drama of such global magnitude it seemed to embrace just about every aspect of the dynamic between the male and the female in the workplace and out of the workplace and anywhere you want it to go.

And since there's not much else on television these days, you need that.

It was suggested that there was an underlying problem to do with the players feeling inhibited in general by the presence of a woman in the dressing room, that this in some way took the edge off their savagery - though the fact that Chelsea won the league last year and that they didn't have many injuries along the way, would suggest that they were still savage enough, all the same.


It was all kicking off too on the tennis court, with the Australian blackguard Nick Kyrgios taunting his opponent Stan Wawrinka with the claim that another Australian player, the well-named Kokkinakis, had "banged your girlfriend. Sorry to tell you that mate".

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Tennis being the way it is, they don't cover their mouths because usually there is nothing of great import being discussed on court. But there are microphones everywhere to pick up any trash-talk, and so Kyrgios was nailed.

There was a massive outpouring of anguish, and not just on the part of Wawrinka. Though frankly, you gotta say that this one had more of the quality of a teen soap opera than the darker creations of a Mourinho.

Tennis being the way it is, they don't seem to be able to handle much out of the ordinary. You can hear the crowds at Wimbledon laughing out loud about things that aren't funny, like a theatre crowd really - be it a pigeon flying through the court, or players "clowning" around, there is a certain tweeness in the air, and so it seemed beyond them to say to Wawrinka something along these lines: "Stan mate, he was just being a bit of a bastard, trying to put you off. It's called sledging and it happens a lot in other sports. Maybe you should just get over it Stan. I think it's time to move on mate. "

But Stan was playing in Cincinnati last week and clearly it was still tormenting him. In a post-match interview with the suitably ashen-faced Sky crew he was still saddened at how far Kyrgios had gone over the line.

He seemed unaware that in cricket, for example, the Australian Rod Marsh once said to Ian "Beefy" Botham, "hey Beefy, how's your wife and my kids?"

To which Botham replied ... well I can't tell you exactly how he replied, except to say that the wife was apparently fine but the kids were perhaps not so fine. To such men these over-sensitive tennis folk who laugh at pigeons must seem like the veritable Titans of Twee.

So we return to the good earth that is football, and to Gerard Pique of Barcelona who last week roared at a linesman : "I s**t on your whore mother!"

For once he hadn't covered his mouth, because that, I suppose, would have taken the good out of it.

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