Sunday 21 January 2018

UEFA in denial over scourge of racism

THE PANORAMA exposé of racism among football fans in Poland and Ukraine sparked fury and fear in almost equal measure.

The fear stoked among the English public by comments from Sol Campbell and Mario Balotelli would lead you to believe that there was no such thing as football-related racism in the English game or that football violence was unheard of in that country.

While the reaction of the authorities in Poland and Ukraine, understandably upset that the negative publicity might impact on their tourism revenues, suggests that they feel they don't have a problem either.

But for the most obvious evidence of people being in denial about the extent and dangers of racism in football, you need look no further than UEFA themselves.

Manchester City, you may recall, were fined €30,000 for being less than a minute late out for the second half of their Europa League away leg against Sporting Lisbon, while Porto were fined €20,000 for their fans' racist abuse of Balotelli in the previous round. What does that tell you about their priorities?

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There is a fine tradition of Irish sports journalists contributing to the gaiety of the nation by writing tournament songs.

The late Michael Carwood wrote the Boys in Green before Ireland's first appearance in a major tournament at Euro '88. Mick, who was part of a band called Telephone Bill and the Smooth Operators, appeared on the Late Late with the Ireland squad.

The Rocky Road to Poland is receiving lots of airplay, but 98 FM's Stephen Doyle provides the vocals on the best song so far in our opinion, the Buachaill Boys with Come on Ireland. It has shades of The Game by The Memories in 1990.

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How quickly those unmilked Clare cows have been forgotten if you are to go by a piece on the Eircom SportsHub GAA page that listed off various "important statistics" relating to last weekend's action. The first concerned the number 77; it being, the claim went, the number of years since a county other than Cork or Kerry won the Munster senior football title. Scant regard, therefore, for John Maughan's giant-killing Bannermen, and those suffering bovines, from the summer of 1992.

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When new Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was in charge of Chelsea's academy, he took part in a reality TV programme called Football Icon. The Sky One show was a football version of The X Factor hoping to discover a new star for Chelsea. The series lasted two seasons and the fate of the winners is a cautionary tale for Liverpool's aspiring stars.

Sam Hurrell won the first series in 2005 and he now plies his trade with the New Orleans Jesters in the USL Premier Development League, the fourth tier of American soccer.

Carl Magnay, who won the second series of the show, didn't fare much better. His time at Chelsea was injury-plagued and last month he signed a new contract with Conference national side Gateshead.

Fans on The Kop will hope that Rodgers has better luck unearthing talent on Merseyside while one or two Liverpool players might be checking their sat-navs.

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AS a dual All-Ireland winner and an All-Star, Meath's Liam Hayes has a successful pedigree -- and he has carried that over into the business world. He started Irish Sports Publishing three years ago, and has already published 25 books, all at a profit.

"Our best seller was Brian Cody's book, which sold 30,000 copies," he said at last week's launch of Fred Cogley's memoir Voices From My Past. "We also sold 20,000 of Alan Quinlan's and Michael Duignan's books." In the context of the relatively small Irish market, these are very impressive figures.

Hayes has three more books planned for later this year, and said: "I think the big seller will be Teddy McCarthy. It's not just a sporting story, it's a story of multiple tragedies. It's important on a human interest level on how he overcame all those tragedies in his life."

Fergus McDonnell, Dion Fanning, Aisling Crowe, Dermot Crowe

and Seán Ryan

Sunday Indo Sport

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