Archive | December, 2010

Subject To Availability


From school reports to letters, diary entries to folk tales, Dispatches always likes to keep you on your toes.

What began on the eve of the World Cup as a midnight rambling has turned into Dispatches From A Football Sofa and I’d like to quickly take the chance to thank everybody who has read and supported this little blog of mine.

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Sign Of The Times


In last week’s Dispatch, I did promise to write about something positive seeing that the soul of football has taken somewhat of a battering in the last few weeks. It might give you a better insight into my psyche that I find it easier to rail and wail against the wantonly amoral forces which seem to suck the lifeblood out of the game, rather than celebrating the good things but trust me, I will give you something positive to take away with you by the end of this post, in preparation for all the good tidings you will no doubt be wishing upon your fellow man over the coming days. You might have to read closely, but it’s there somewhere.

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Won’t Get Fooled Again?


I was labelled ‘cynical’ this week. In my opinion unfairly so. Because as I understand the term, a ‘cynic’ is someone who readily dismisses subjects and topics with an air of negativity and a lack of faith. A cynic is someone who participates in a grown-up discussion about a particular theme but stifles any possible outcome with sneering suspicion. In short, a cynic for me, is the kind of person who plugs up his earholes with his fingers and says ‘no’. If people are so keen to attach labels to others, than the term I would give myself is that of a ‘pessimistic optimist’.

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Financial Incentives, Filthy Ambitions (Part 2)

Qatar’s Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa a

Part 2 of the Dispatches special on the World Cup bids looks at the reasons and implications behind FIFA’s decision to award the tournament to Russia and Qatar.

In the misguided march to war with Iraq in 2003, US Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld drew a line in the sand. Europe was divided into two distinct and discernible camps. There was ‘Old Europe’, comprising of those countries who had fostered and re-built the concepts of Western liberal democracy in the embers of the Second World War and were reluctant to unthinkingly be at America’s beck and call. And there was ‘New’ Europe’ made up of states who had emerged out of the rubble of Communism’s failure in the last decade of the twentieth century; eager to curry favour with the world’s only superpower and forge their own powerplays on the world stage. The rest, as the saying goes, is history.

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Financial Incentives, Filthy Ambitions (Part 1)


In the first of a two-part World Cup bid special, Dispatches looks at the moral code of the game’s governing body.

What a week! On Monday, I found myself marvelling with child-like excitement at the sheer audacity and breathtaking ability displayed by Barcelona in their beautiful demolition of Real Madrid. I was reminded of how football, when played with such technical skill and outrageous joy, has the ability to be a transcendent and life-affirming pursuit. That’s how good Barcelona are. Such noble and let’s face it, somewhat naïve ideals were brought down to earth with a soul-destroying thud just over forty-eight hours later when FIFA’s executive committee served up two of the most transparently craven and cynical decisions, in awarding the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively. I’ve been grappling with an overbearing sense of ennui ever since. Because for some reason, despite all the evidence to suggest otherwise, I still foolishly believed that this game, no matter how hidden beneath the layers of high finance and political chicanery, contained a semblance of humanity and heart. So why do I keep continuing to care?

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Homage To Catalonia

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Note: This Dispatch is replete with superlatives. Apologies.

It’s Wednesday, I know. Dispatches comes out on Sundays. But there are some times in life when traditions need to be subverted. What needs to be said couldn’t wait until the end of the week. We’d all be too concerned with the fallout of England’s failed/successful (delete where applicable) bid to host the World Cup. We’d all be salivating at a second virtuoso display in the space of a week from Dimitar Berbatov. Or hailing Ian Holloway’s abrasive style of man-management as his Blackpool team laid a buoyant Manchester United to the sword. Football, like life moves very fast… is it really nearly Christmas?

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