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Swansea City v Leeds United - Sky Bet Championship - Liberty Stadium

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Roker Ramble: Why wouldn’t we want a world where football’s elite mark their own homework?

This week a football chief exec channels his inner Mao Zedong, Qatar goes on a really bad charm offensive, and Belenenses have a Saturday to forget.

For the People!
| Photo by Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images


Independent regulator in football > Greatest famine in history

Don’t you just love it when the rich and privileged cry “foul”? I do, that’s for sure. It means you’re on to something. It’s like hearing the news this week that Dickensian doughnut Jacob Rees-Mogg - aka the man whose family probably used to own your family - is being investigated for £6m undeclared loans. Lovely stuff - straight to the workhouse for you boy.

Where football is concerned, it’s that a number of football clubs aren’t particularly happy about some of the proposals contained within the Crouch review into the regulation of football.

Apparently, many within the game’s corridors of power consider themselves to have done a superb job of running the sport over the years, despite it “lurching from crisis to crisis” season after season.

Angus Kinnear, the chief executive of Leeds United, has put his head above the parapet to describe the proposals as akin to “The Great Leap Forward” - the Maoist plan for collective agriculturalism which led to the largest famine in history.

According to Kinnear they will “kill the competition, which is its very lifeblood”.

Swansea City v Leeds United - Sky Bet Championship - Liberty Stadium
Have fewer children, raise more pigs!
Photo by Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images

Of course using that as an example will really resonate with the Elland Road faithful, Angus. It’s a bit niche mate; they’re more interested if they can entice Rafinha to sign a new contract on £150k a week. Even The Guardian had to explain that one to its readers.

And... hang on a second, this is Leeds United. We all remember what happened back when Peter Ridsdale was let loose with the chequebook. Even the catering staff had personal assistants so someone could flip the burgers for them.

The result? 16 years out of the Premier League, three in League One, administration, and near oblivion. It didn’t need to be that way. If only someone had been there to oversee things, eh?

He’s not the only one to pipe up mind - Steve Parish at Crystal Palace and Karren Brady have too - but, of course, they are both whining away like a knackered Skoda about what this means.

Personally, I’d say regulation is good: it stops unscrupulous people doing naughty things. Not that I’m saying any of the good folk mentioned above fall in that category.

Still, no proposals are due to be enshrined in law until the season after next. On the agenda though is, among others, greater input from fans, increased oversight of finances and an overhaul of the owners’ and directors’ test - because the last one went so well didn’t it.

Ah, it didn’t.


Anyone fancy an “all-inclusive” to Qatar?

Are you a gay footballer? How about an LBGTQ+ supporter?

If you are, then the thought of travelling to watch or play at Qatar 2022 might be playing on your mind.

However, it turns out that all is not as it seems. Any thoughts of ill-treatment were all a monstrous lie cooked up by the mainstream media. That’s according to tournament organiser Nasser Al Khater, who’s been gobbing off to CNN this week.

“Nobody feels unsafe here” lied Al Khater, in a remarkable demonstration of intentional myopia. Or maybe it was straight-up bullshit.

He even extended an invite to Josh Cavallo, the Australian top-flight footballer who recently came out: “we welcome him here in the state of Qatar, we welcome him to come and see, even prior to the World Cup.” I don’t think he’ll be taking you up on that invite, Nasser.

“I think, unfortunately, maybe he’s getting this perception [saying he was scared] because of reading a lot of these accusations or reading a lot of these news stories that shine a negative light. Qatar is like any other society in this world.”

FBL-WC-2022-QAT
You can tell I’m lying: my lips are moving
Photo credit should read GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images

Ah! That’s it! It was the media wot dunnit! Give me strength.

This Al Khater seems like a right knob. No doubt if he was British he’d be refusing his jab, protesting at Dover about migrants coming over the channel, and would rather drink a cup of cold sick than put his mask on in Primark; he should know therefore that being a gold-plated, self-righteous wazzock is not a medical exemption. Anyway, he’s probably got George Michael posters on his bedroom wall.

Of course, if anyone is not aware, homosexuality is illegal in Qatar. It’s punishable by the triumvirate of imprisonment, flogging and/or death. Now I don’t profess to be the world’s most enlightened man, but I’d say that’s the polar opposite of inclusiveness, and does not make it like any other society in the world. Unless he’s talking about backward oppressive ones, but I don’t think he is.

Until there is an acknowledgement then words are obviously meaningless. It’s like inviting Hatice Kengiz, Jamaal Khashoggi’s wife, to sit next to Amanda Staveley at the Burnley match just because the Saudis promise not to chop up any more folk for sport.

Let us not have any doubt here: if you chose to be open about your sexuality while following your team in Qatar, you could expect the security services to smash into you like you’re made of birthday cake.

So what do you do? Boycott the whole thing? Refuse to watch? Ask your nation to not attend? The Danish FA seem to have found a happy medium, saying that they will put critical messages on their training tops, limit commercial activities and let everyone know who cares to listen that this kind of behaviour stinks.

What England chooses to do is yet to be seen, but personally, I hope it involves Gareth Southgate doing something absolutely fabulous.


Benfica make their numerical advantage count

I’m not saying that I was first on the scene on this one, however, I tuned in at 3-0 and thought “that'll do for the Ramble”.

Sadly, global events have overtaken us and it’s become a bit more... well known.

Nevertheless, for those unaware, top-flight Portuguese side Belenenses played their match against Benfica this weekend with only nine players; a covid outbreak had decimated their first-team squad, who it turned out accounted for the entire quota of omicron cases in Portugal. So, the Blues were made up mainly of stiffs, with goalkeeper Joao Monteiro playing outfield.

Belenenses SAD v SL Benfica - Liga Portugal Bwin
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9..... ah
Photo by Valter Gouveia/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Before the match, Benfica were 1/11 for the victory. Quite the opportunity to make some cash, you might think, especially as it was 7-0 at half time; however two of the home sides’ players didn’t reappear after the break, and on 48 minutes the aforementioned Monteiro required something a little more than a magic sponge and the match was abandoned. Turns out if you can field seven players, the game goes ahead.

Imagine having almost half your team go down injured. Funny, that.

Rui Pedro Soares, the Belenenses president said he had unsuccessfully asked for the game to be postponed that afternoon, despite the Portuguese FA saying he had wanted it to go ahead.

“What is written there is false. I said it was shameful and I was outraged for having to play. I said that in the presence of the police, firefighters and referees. We will see in the courts what really happened”, fumed Soares.

Now if that is true, quite what the Portuguese FA had been smoking to deny that request remains unclear, and given that bizarre decision I think we can all expect a fine and points deduction for the home side.



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