Saturday, June 26, 2010

Hod one out...

NICOLAS Sarkozy has been shown a yellow card as the French farce that dumped the country out of this World Cup could now see them barred from future competitions - though the threat could puzzle one ex-England boss with a penchant already for scratching his head...
The French president has ordered an investigation into all that went so disastrously wrong with Raymond Domenech’s revolting squad, who flew home in economy and as first-round flops this week.
But world football chiefs have already been on the phone, warning French politicians to be careful – after all, government interference could break Fifa rules.
Other countries have been suspended from playing international matches – and receiving Fifa money – when governments have meddled in football federation affairs.
At least 15 nations have not only had their wrists slapped but their Fifa membership suspended during the past few years – including three-time offenders Iraq, Euro 2012 hosts Poland and then-reigning European champions Greece.
Euro 2008 winners Spain have also been threatened with Fifa action, a case cited today by Fifa chief executive Jerome Valcke as he insisted the ‘bigger’ footballing countries were not protected species.
He said: ‘It’s like Iraq and other countries, it’s not that because it’s in Europe it’s treated differently.
‘I spoke to the sports ministry office and told them to be very careful, that there can’t be political interference in what’s happened.
‘They can meet, they can discuss, they can ask for apologies from the different people that have been involved.
‘But any time there is interference Fifa will react, for France as for any other country in the world.’
Suspension also means a country loses its vote at Fifa congress – something El Salvador recovered just in time for the summit earlier this month, when their recent ban was lifted.
Iraq received their third sanction in quick succession last November, when the country’s government ordered security forces into the Iraqi Football Federation’s HQ.
Other nations to suffer similar punishments in recent years include Peru, Madagascar, Chad, Ethiopia, Brunei Darussalam and Kuwait (twice).
Poland almost had the Fifa whip withdrawn in 2008 when the government threatened to replace the country’s football association with an administrator, in a row over co-hosting plans for Euro 2012.
And Spain were threatened with similar that year, when the sports minister demanded all sporting bodies hold new presidential elections – before backing down when the Fifa call came through.
What Sarkozy or his motormouthed sports minister Roselyne Bachelot could have done is express their disapproval on a French equivalent of This Morning – Ce matin, perhaps?
After all, it was when subjecting himself to yet another of TV’s toughest grillings that Tony Blair did for England coach Glenn Hoddle, over his comments about the disabled in 1999.

Blair gave just the simple, fateful word ‘Yes’, when worn down by fearsome interrogator Richard Madeley and the query: ‘If Glenn Hoddle has said what he is reported to have said, should he go?’
Within hours the Evening Standard was splashing with his alleged demand for Hod’s head, and sure enough FA bosses quickly made sure Glenn atoned with his job for his current-life sins.
To be fair, this was one regime change that Mr Blair did swiftly regret.
Alistair Campbell’s diaries tell of a genuine camaraderie between the men, sharing sympathy over scrutiny of their respective ‘toughest jobs’ and both being committed to England’s bid to stage the 2006 World Cup.
Well, someone had to be.
Campbell does seem genuine – or, at least as close to genuine as can be – when describing the gloom he and the PM felt, when realising the effect of those This Morning words.
The man who allegedly ‘never said them things I said’ would later admit feeling ‘surprised’ at the PM’s intervention – ‘because he didn’t know the facts, that is what saddened me’.

Glenn’s goose was probably already reaching roasting point, alas, after that diary of his own and the lacklustre opening Euro 2000 qualifiers.
But it’s still sad to recall just how his truly-promising England team of 1997-1998 – well-knitted, composed on the ball and with added Owen – under-achieved, their qualities so quickly squandered.
Graeme Le Saux’s doziness against Romania, David Beckham’s petulance against Argentina – two aberrations that prematurely ended England’s World Cup, in a tournament where only Brazil looked unbeatable.
Only to go on to half-beat themselves.
Tony Blair and the English FA escaped back then – though perhaps it’s only fair Fifa inexplicably weren’t tuning in to Richard and Judy that day.
Both parties would put themselves through plenty of suffering, if not actually sanctions, in the torrid and conflicted years to come. Could be karma...

No comments: