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The Confused Politics of Sol Campbell

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Sven-Göran Eriksson once quipped that there is more politics in football than in politics. There are however, precious few examples of footballers involving themselves in politics in the same way as Imran Khan or Vitali Klitschko. George Weah stood, unsuccessfully, in the 2005 Liberian Presidential election and Roman Pavyluchenko once won a seat on a Russian Regional Council in 2008 running, inexplicably, for Vladamir Putin’s United Russia party. That is approximately the full extent of footballers officially partaking in politics. Fortunately for politics and fortunately for footballers, not many have followed a path into power. This Rubicon might be crossed immanently though, following Sol Campbell’s announcement that he aims to stand as Conservative candidate in the London Mayoral elections.

Campbell began to make a name for himself as a sage on social and economic affairs in the latter months of last year when he was vocal in his opposition to Labour’s proposed Mansion Tax on properties worth over £2 million. Of course, Sol’s £25m London residence lies spectacularly on the other side of this threshold. It was enough to make Campbell quake in his boots, or should I say tasselled loafers, at the thought that the Red Brigades might be about to storm our nation’s great capital. He even referred to Labour as ‘communist’, a nonsensical position to take by any standard. Campbell claims that he wants to enter politics to ‘give something back’. As long as that ‘giving back’ doesn’t involve him making any added contribution to the Exchequer.

Campbell takes the view that the wealth of the talented, speculative or downright lucky is hard earned and should be theirs to keep for good. Any attempts to extract a minor percentage from such small fortunes for redistributive purposes is a blow to ‘aspiration’ according to Campbell, a word uttered with such frequency since the election it is beginning to make me wretch. Fine, let him run on such a plank. The red quilt that covered London in May shows he hasn’t much chance of rallying support behind such laissez faire policies.

This is however, a football website and it is the stands Campbell has taken on footballing issues that seem to reveal some confusion within his world view. For all his faults, and there are many, it is to his credit that he has always been a vocal combatant against racism in football. Moreover, he even began to address the issue of institutional racism within the game which is far more pernicious than the vulgar chants and banana hurling from terraces which have largely been stamped out.

Sadly, or rather typically, this took the self-centred form of claiming he would have been England captain for 10 years were he not black. This claim was laughed out of the room, but he was touching upon an important issue. Why is there such a disparity between the number of black players and the number of black managers? Why so few black faces, or the faces of other minority groups, on boards or within the FA? There has to be an answer to these kinds of question.

How peculiar then, that Campbell should choose to join a party still exorcising itself from the ghost of Enoch Powell. Campbell believes that within football there was a network of pinstriped, buttoned down, elderly straight white males conspiring against him and halting his progress due to the colour of his skin. One can argue as to whether this conspiracy is real or imagined. What Campbell seems blissfully unaware of, either through lack of political literacy or sense of history, is that he is affiliating himself with exactly the sort of people that he believes conspired against him.

He hasn’t a hope in hells chance of success in the Mayoral election so perhaps all such points are moot. However, one feels the strong urge to alert Campbell to this contradiction so that he might re considerer his political alliances. At a meeting earlier this year he challenged to the FA’s technical director Dan Ashworth to explain why Gary Neville was fastracked into a coaching role with the England seniors, implying that the FA favoured him because he was white. Ashworth explained, sensibly, that the FA felt Neville was a man of great promise and that they wanted him involved. Campbell’s retort: ‘but I am Sol Campbell’. Referral to oneself in the third person does not always go hand in hand with cloudless mental health.

Sol Campbell is free to take any political position he wishes, but it is surely only a matter of time before he realises the Conservative party have done little to help people who are like him, or grow up on the same streets that he once strode. Campbell after all did attend the memorial service for Stephen Lawrence in 2013, and must be aware of the implications of the McPherson Report that followed his murder which revealed the extent of racist mal practice within the Metropolitan Police.

His venture into politics may be a fad, or an effort to satisfy his need to fulfil a higher purpose, but the confusion within his politics will not go unchallenged. I would argue the contradiction is irreconcilable.

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University of Nottingham History graduate. Freelance sportswriter specialising in Football, Cricket and Golf. Interested in the politics of sport.

Arsenal

One winner and one loser as Arsenal set to retain Nacho Monreal

Arsenal’s decision to keep Monreal will have a major impact on the squad.

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Monreal
Photo: Getty Images

New Arsenal boss Unai Emery is overseeing considerable changes at the Emirates Stadium this summer but the services of Nacho Monreal will be retained.

Highly-linked with a move to LaLiga side Real Sociedad, Mundo Deportivo now state the Basque side have ended their pursuit of the 32-year-old as Arsenal want to keep him at the club and would demand a significant price for the full-back.

Having entered the final 12 months of his contract, the former Malaga man is unlikely to remain at Arsenal for the long-term but the decision to keep the Spain international for the 2018-19 season will have a major impact on the squad.

Here, we have identified one winner and one loser from the latest developments.

Winner: Joel Lopez

Arsenal are set to sign 16-year-old full-back Joel Lopez from the clutches of Barcelona, the Evening Standard states, and will sign a scholarship deal with the Gunners before securing his first professional deal next March when he turns 17.

The highly-rated teenager will join Arsenal’s U18 ranks and will then look to develop into a first-team asset for the Gunners, following in the footsteps of compatriot Hector Bellerin, and Monreal’s experience could provide a key learning curve.

Boasting 22 Spain caps, Monreal is the ideal role model for a young player like Lopez and can help craft the teenager into his long-term replacement.

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Loser: Sead Kolasinac

Signed on a free transfer from Schalke last summer, WhoScored stats show Sead Kolasinac and Nacho Monreal shared first-team responsibilities last season as the Bosnian appeared 27 times in the Premier League and Monreal featuring on 28 occasions.

However, just ten of those appearances came in Kolasinac’s preferred position at left-back as Monreal was first-choice for the Gunners on the left-side of defence and that is likely to remain the case in 2018-19 under Unai Emery.

While Kolasinac’s versatility is a tremendous asset to the squad, it limits the 25-year-old in his quest to become one of the first names on the team-sheet and Goal state that Arsenal will eye a new signing if Monreal leaves, suggesting Emery does not rate Kolasinac that highly.

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Arsenal

Free agent Max Meyer would be Arsenal’s ideal Aaron Ramsey replacement

The Gunners would suffer a huge loss if Ramsey was to leave but this starlet would ease the pain.

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Max Meyer
Photo: Getty Images

Unai Emery’s work in the market so far at Arsenal ahead of the 2018-19 season has impressed but there is still significant room for concern.

The Gunners added Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi to their squad following the losses of Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere but are at severe risk of experiencing a huge blow, as Aaron Ramsey’s future remains shrouded in speculation.

Wales international Ramsey, a figure many fans believe would be the ideal captain at the Emirates Stadium, has less than 12 months remaining on his contract and the Gunners may be forced into a sale as they look to avoid losing the 27-year-old on a free transfer next year.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

While Emery himself has stated that Ramsey is a crucial part of his plans for next year, his own admission that he does not know whether the former Cardiff City man will renew should send alarm bells ringing in north London.

“This is one question for the player, the club, but my opinion – I said to them – I think he is one important player for me. I’m very happy with him. Every day every training session he is with the ambition I want. He is working with quality. I want to work with him.”

Unai Emery discusses Aaron Ramsey’s future

Arsenal are confident of securing a deal with Ramsey, according to Football.London, but plans need to be made for the worse case scenario – and the Gunners could find their own bargain in the market in the form of Max Meyer.

Available on a free transfer after leaving Schalke, the 22-year-old Germany international is a target for Arsenal, alongside Liverpool, and Emery’s side are ready to do a deal as long as he lowers his staggering wage demands, according to TransferMarketWeb.

Capped four times by Germany, and a member of his nation’s squad at the 2016 Olympics, Meyer is widely regarded to be one of the best midfield prospects within European football and his versatility means he could easily fill the void left by a potential departure of Ramsey.

(Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

Additionally, his preferred position as an attacking midfielder could see Meyer stand as the best long-term replacement for compatriot Mesut Ozil at the Emirates Stadium, which would then allow Switzerland international Granit Xhaka to partner new signing Lucas Torreira in a deeper midfield role.

While speculation suggests that any more for Meyer does not necessarily hinge on Ramsey’s future, signing the Germany ace with the squad in it’s current shape would leave huge questions marks over who will play for Unai Emery.

Significant depth is required for the gruelling campaigns in both the Premier League and Europa League but a player like Meyer will demand first-team assurances, which he is unlikely to get if Ramsey renews his deal.

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Arsenal

Could Arsenal’s new project lure Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles to London?

The Newcastle captain had a terrific debut season in the Premier League.

Liam Thomas

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Jamaal Lascelles
Photo: Getty Images

Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles enjoyed a terrific debut season in the Premier League and as such has found himself the subject of many transfer rumours since the window reopened on the 17th May.

However, according to the Chronicle Live, it would take a hefty transfer fee to make Newcastle part ways with one of their prized assets and captain.

Despite this, Arsenal should consider making a move for Lascelles to strengthen their defence and there’s no hiding the fact new Gunners boss Unai Emery is concerned about his sides defensive frailties.

(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

At 24 years of age, Lascelles has the youth and energy needed to survive the harsh Premier League calendar and this is something Arsenal’s defence has lacked in recent seasons; a defence which under Arsene Wenger became lazy and lax.

New Arsenal boss Unai Emery has already invested in Borussia Dortmund’s Sokratis Papastathopoulos to strengthen his back line, but it might take a considerable amount of persuasion to convince Lascelles to follow suit and make the Emirates stadium his new home.

However, it’s not every day a club of Arsenal’s statue come knocking, and to be part of the clubs new exciting chapter may be the perfect antidote to lure Lascelles away from St James’ Park.

“Nothing changes. The speculation might not even be true. Since I was a kid, there’s always been teams interested, speculation, paper talk and stuff on Twitter, and things like that. It doesn’t mean anything to me.”

Newcastle captain, Jamaal Lascelles, regarding the speculation surrounding his future.

But what would Lascelles bring to Arsenal back line? Leadership and stability, two traits that Arsenal’s centre back duo of Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi ultimately lacked throughout the 2017/18 Premier League season and two qualities that the Gunners desperately need to be reincorporated into their defence.

It remains to be seen whether or not the new Arsenal boss will break the bank to bring the talented centre back to North London. However, there are not many other defenders in Europe who could come in and do the job as well as the 24-year-old Newcastle captain would.

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