So I thought Euro 2020 was going to be played in England with us as the host nation? Well it isn’t, for as the draw showed this week, it’s actually going to be played all over the shop with lots of host nations, and some of it isn’t being played in Europe at all, but more of that later.
The only thing worse than watching a draw on television would be having to listen to it on the radio. It’s usually an overblown, overlong, pompous presentation of a practical process which would sit happily in the background if it wasn’t for the vested interests involved. However, the preamble to this one said it was ‘complicated’, and since I’d no urgent personal hygiene tasks to carry out, I thought I see just how complicated it was.
And there were questions from the off, like why did everyone have to go to Romania to watch it take place? In Eurovision, you don’t have all the judges from the participating countries in the same room – they watch on TV – it’s called technology. Why was everyone wearing a blue jacket like it was some sort of international masonic convention and why were there no women in a very large room containing a lot of men? Actually there was one woman, but again, more of that later.
That aside, it started off reasonably simply - 20 qualified teams in pots. I’ve always liked a draw that starts with pots - gives one a solid foundation to build on I feel.
England were in Pot 1 along with Belgium, Italy, Germany, Spain, and Ukraine, none of whom we were going to play and who had already been assigned to the next stage groups, based on the venues they were going to play at. Again – pots to groups, a good progression I was starting to feel comfortable about this. If this was complicated then I was cruising.
But then the wheels began to come off a bit, and it all started with Belgium, who were a host nation without a stadium so were allocated to a group with Denmark and Russia and were well pissed off about it - cut to several shots of Roberto Martinez with his very stern face on.
And they never really explained why Belgium had to go into that group, but given that three out of the four places had been pre-ordained, then there wasn’t much point in Roberto rocking up at all unless he fancied the free buffet.
I assumed - because it wasn’t explained either - that because Belgium didn’t have a stadium, Baku in Azerbaijan was chosen as a venue. Now Azerbaijan, last I looked, wasn’t in Europe, isn’t in the tournament, and unlike all the other venues isn’t a short Easyjet flight from Luton. Perhaps if they’d explained that the Euro’s covered ‘Greater Europe’ it might have been clearer, but it still didn’t explain why they just didn’t pick say Cardiff and have done with it.
The draw itself featured ‘the only woman in the room’ as co-presenter – standing next to someone who wasn’t Gary Lineker. However, it was obvious they were presenters because they weren’t sitting down and weren’t wearing blue jackets.
In order to ensure that the draw was simple, fair and above board, the only woman in the room invited a lot of people who used to play football, including Andrey Arshavin dressed as a wedding guest from 1973, onto the stage along with the ‘Draw Expert’, who turned out to be the Deputy General Secretary of ‘WAFER’.
The Deputy General Secretary of WAFER explained that the draw was the brainchild of Michel Platini, who used to be big in WAFER. He probably came up with it whilst he was flying around Greater Europe in private jets, until he was exposed as a corrupt, egotistical, criminal megalomaniac.
So proceedings began and all seemed sparky, men with balls on one side of the stage interacting with another group of men with balls on the other side of the stage, but, as they say, the devils in the detail and this is where Platini had probably being plotting his revenge all along, because between the commentator and the man from WAFER, it all got out of hand very quickly.
It was explained for instance that Wales were already in Pot 4 because it had no host nation, but not why Belgium couldn’t have gone into Pot 4 and avoided Roberto’s hissy fit. We were told that Ukraine and Russia couldn’t be in the same group but not why - presumably because they’d try and kill each other.
Then once a team is drawn – starting with Pot 1 – obviously, it’s assigned a Group, even if it’s already got one, which half of them had, in alphabetical order, unless it’s a team that qualified from the play-offs and is a host nation in which case it’ll go into the host nation pot.
Then, its position is drawn from Pot A, which was different to Pot 1 to determine it’s position in the Group and the order in which they’ll play each other. Each pot must be empty before starting a new pot and a computer was ‘on hand’ to indicate which Group a team should go into in case of confusion. I’d lost the will to live before I could see it in action, but I’m sure it would’ve involved a hushed silence, strobe lighting and be wearing a blue jacket.
And it went on. As a TV spectacle it needed a sudden and virulent outbreak of norovirus in the audience to bring it to life. As a major event, it’s format choice of multiple venues across the world when flying has been identified as a major contributor to climate change is nothing short of shameful. Sadly, you don’t expect anything better from either WAFER or FIFA, but it did put the Carabao Cup draw from Morrisons into a new and refreshing light. That’s the future of draws for me from now on.
Chief Scout Bear Grylls has announced the creation of a new proficiency badge for cub scouts. Aimed to position somewhere between ‘Knots’ and ‘First Aid’ in a cub scouts development, the new badge is named ‘Watford Manager’.
In order to qualify for a Watford Manager badge, the scout has to produce a news clipping showing that he or she has been appointed Watford manager for a minimum 12 hour period. It’s yet to be decided whether possession of the Watford Manager badge will be a necessary precursor to attaining the more demanding Community Service badge.