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Kicking the Political Football



There was once a politician from Sheffield named Clegg. He was a member of the Liberal party, and took very seriously his role as a local politician.

This Clegg was not named Nick, however, but William, and in addition to being the Lord Mayor of Sheffield and the leader of the Liberal party on the council in the early 1900s, he was also a former Sheffield Wednesday and England international centre-half.

Most politicians do not have such good credentials when it comes to football, as David Cameron proved at a recent campaign stop, when, the victim of brain fade, he suggested he was a West Ham fan, rather than an Aston Villa one.

What’s one claret and blue team from another between friends?

Cameron does have a reasonable connection to Villa, his uncle Sir William Dugdale was Chairman at Villa Park between 1975 and 1982 – breaking up the reign of Doug Ellis, and overseeing the period which lead to Villa’s 1982 European Cup win.

Election campaigns do tend to bring out the Everyman in politicians. There is a necessity to appear personable, relatable, to the average voter, and by picking the right team, there’s a fair chance of also picking up a few votes.

Tony Blair – whatever his flaws, the most successful modern politician at winning elections – did a good turn at this. Alongside the rubbing shoulders with Britpop acts, he also expressed his love of Newcastle United. Two expressions of popularist sentiment, very unlikely to offend. Picking Oasis instead of Blur was more likely to be divisive than supporting Newcastle. Mind you, Alex James from Blur is now a neighbour of David Cameron’s, so Blair perhaps called that one right.

During the 1997 election campaign, Blair was filmed playing an impressive game of head tennis with Kevin Keegan. A modicum of footballing ability going a long way. All part of a larger plan to build Blair’s image. It didn’t even matter than this was the same Kevin Keegan who had posed on the steps of Downing Street with Margaret Thatcher less than 20 years previously, kissing the then Prime Minister on one cheek while Emlyn Hughes kissed the other. Hughes also joked that Thatcher he bet Mrs Thatcher wished she could grab Arthur Scargill’s balls like the football she was holding. A bemused Prime Minister held the pose for the cameras.

Like William Clegg of Wednesday and England, some footballers turn to politics when their playing careers come to an end. Hughes never returned to the steps of No 10 as a politician, and Keegan is unlikely to, but Sol Campbell, for one, seems to have his heart set on a political career now that his footballing one has drawn to a close.

Campbell has been courting the Conservative Party, with aspirations of being the party’s next candidate for London Mayor. In a city which has elected Boris Johnson twice, and where Eddie Izzard has expressed interest in standing as a Labour candidate for Mayor, Campbell’s name recognition would prove useful. He’s unlikely to garner much support in significant portions of North London, however.

A model for Campbell to follow is that of Brazilian legend Romario, who is now a Socialist Party senator representing Rio de Janiero. Romario’s fledgling political career has already seen him chairing a congressional committee for sport, speaking out against corruption during the 2014 World Cup and campaigning tirelessly in support of the rights of disabled people in Brazil.

It’s hard to imagine many Premiership stars finding contentment in the life of a public servant – albeit one with a high profile – although perhaps the routine and structure of bureaucracy suits those who have spent their entire adult life living to a timetable. And perhaps party politics suits those who are used to an us versus them approach to their work?

At least our politicians rarely combine public life with running a football team, as AC Milan owner, former three-time Italian Prime Minister and all-round good-time guy Silvio Berlusconi does. He, of course, also owns a media empire. We should all be thankful the closest we have is The Lord Sir Alan Sugar – mostly harmless by comparison.

When discussing football and politics, a special mention needs to go to the Right Hon Andy Burham MP. A former cabinet minister in the last Labour government and now Shadow Health Secretary, Burnham was instrumental in the formation of the Hillsborough Independent Panel after being heckled during a memorial service to mark the 20th anniversary of the tragedy. When he returned five years later for the 25th anniversary, it was as a man who had listened, heard, and acted.

There’s a lesson there for everyone. Especially in politics.

Arlen is a Reading fan. Which means he knows a lot about losing in play-off finals, 0-0 draws, and disappointing FA Cup away ties.


The never-ending thrill of sports



Today, the world of sports is not just limited to the real ground and fields, but have moved on to the virtual world. One can enjoy watching their favourite sports such as football, cricket, rugby, tennis, cycling, and horse racing online. They can book their tickets for their favourite sports or watch them online right from within the comforts of their home. It is no surprise to see the mix of sports betting and casinos.

After all, it is hard to keep one segregated from the other. Browse NJ online casino to learn more about those popular sports and online betting. Many sports lovers love to make bets on sports to show their passion for the game.

The sports media

Sports journalists paly an essential role of maintaining the of press provision at the famous venues of the sports. The idea is to spread awareness regarding the high standards of sports and keep the buzz alive around them. Ever since the advent of the internet, the websites and now the smartphones, the sports media has taken off in a big way.

Now fans can enjoy their favorite games with just a few clicks or use social media apps to keep a tap on the current scores, almost anywhere at any time. There are Sports apps that provide updates, game schedules and much more. Sports fans can enjoy real-time results right when it happens. They need not be at the game or at home in front of their television to see how their favorite sports star is doing.

This is a good scenario for all the sports fans as they can now get regular updates on their favorite games and teams anytime. Online sports betting is not far behind and is fast gaining popularity. There are plenty of websites such as NJ online casino where one can enjoy casino games and bet on their favorite sports.

The experience takes their thrill to a whole new level. The gambling opportunities are quite abundant and comprise betting online sports and loads of others games. The software used for online sports and gambling are very easy to install. This is good news for all the novice gamblers out there.

Basketball and football have always enjoyed immense popularity across the world, and their total revenues are already breaking records. Football leagues around the world are raking in more money than ever before. N.B.A., the American sports league, is still one of the most popular brands in China and has more than 70 million followers. Spain’s biggest basketball teams are getting affiliated with their football counterparts.

However, it is the football that is the most heavily financed and dominant one. Popular sportsmen and international athletes get followed on social media. Cristiano Ronaldo leads with more than 127 million followers on Twitter and Facebook.

Do not miss out on any of those best sporting events happening across the world. Indulge your sporting passion and make sure that you get the best experience.

Featured Image: All rights reserved by kangkang300402

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The biggest fixing scandals in the history of football




Of all the sports played across the globe, football has had some of the most spectacular match-fixing scandals ever seen.

Of course, football isn’t the only sport that is prone to fixing scandals. History’s top fixing incidents have occurred in horse racing, cricket, and even tennis, showing just how widespread the issue really is. FIFA’s Chris Eaton has described fixing as a crisis that threatens the entire integrity of the game, and when you take a look at history’s 7 most notorious football-fixing cases, you’ll see why.

Calciopoli (2006)

In May 2006, the Italian police cracked open the massive scandal that involved many of Italy’s top teams. Juventus, AC Milan, Reginna and Fiorentina were all involved, with the teams’ managers and referees having been caught conspiring to fix major league matches. Juve was relegated to Serie B and lost several league titles, while other team presidents were banned and fined.

Marseille (1993)

This French FC inspired outrage with its fixing involvement. The team apparently approached members of other local teams and asked them to throw games away, with former manager of Monaco Arsene Wenger dropping a big hint that uncovered the ordeal after losing to Marseille in the two years prior.

The Referee Robert Hoyzer Scandal (2005)

Referee Robert Hoyzer was banned and sentenced to two years in jail after he was caught accepting bribes to fix football matches for Croatian bar owner Ante Sapina. Hoyzer was convicted of fixing numerous matches in the 2nd and 3rd German tiers along with Bundesliga cup matches, in which he also awarded many controversial red cards and penalties to further his cause.

Plateau United Scores Too Many Goals (2013)

To earn a spot in Nigeria’s professional ranks, two teams fixed their matches, but their winning totals cast a spotlight on their plan and the Nigerian FA banned all 4 clubs involved for 10 years. The Plateau United Feeders scored an unbelievable 79-0 win, and the Police Machine FC won their match 67-0.

Belarusian Ghost Match (2015)

Two major betting agencies were caught offering bets and paying out on the results of a ‘ghost match’ in Belarus that never actually took place. The 2-1 result of FC Slutsk and Shakhter Soligorsk was confirmed by an official from the former team, only to have the story unravel later on. A former data collection company employee was found to be the brains behind the con.

SEA Games Fixing (2015)

Singaporean player Rajendran R. Kurusamny received the highest-ever prison term given to a fixer on a single charge when he was caught conspiring to fix 2015 SEA Games matches. The player received a 4-year sentence after his plot was ousted, having made over eight payments to Malaysian players to ensure they lost.

Spiked Water Bottles in Italy (2010)

Players in an Italian 3rd division match began to feel very lethargic and disorientated – only to find out goalkeeper Marco Paolini had spiked his team’s water bottles to fix the match in an attempt to pay off gambling debts. Paolini was banned for 5 years, and some believe the scam was linked to notorious fixing mogul Dan Tan.

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Four international football tournaments you’ve probably never heard of…



We all know the big boys get all the glory in football – well, nine times out of ten they do. Tournaments like the World Cup, Premier League, Champions League and Euros may be the most lucrative and widely broadcast tournaments, but that doesn’t mean they’re the “biggest”.

There’s no shortage of other international tournaments to tickle your fancy! And they’re well worth watching – with thousands of players and thousands of goals – they can be some of the most entertaining football tournaments to watch. Here are four to get you started:

1) The Norway Cup

Running every year bar one since 1972, the Norway Cup is more like a football festival – and the whole world is invited.

Held on the green expanse of Ekebergsletta in Oslo, the week-long 2016 tournament broke new ground with 2,199 teams competing over the course of 6,000 games – all aimed at crowning the best youth outfits in the world.

From hosting 10-19-year-old footballers, the cup has expanded to include three-a-side football so those from the age of six can join in the fun.

So not only is it the world’s largest youth football tournament, it’s already got more than three decades of history behind it. In fact, the only reason it probably doesn’t get more coverage is the work it would take to cover the 6,000 games taking place in one week!

It’s certainly not because it doesn’t deserve it. There are great stories of success and even the occasional bit of controversy to keep things interesting during the brief interludes between games: this year, the Russian team were thrown out after its players were said to have “gone berserk” on the field, violently attacking their rivals.

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2) The Gothia Cup – otherwise known as The World Youth Cup

So Norway has the biggest youth football tournament but did you know it has a neighbourly rival called the World Youth Cup?

The Gothia Cup in Sweden runs every July and caps its entry at 1,600 teams – be them school teams based either locally or abroad. It started back in 1975 – yet that first tournament included girls’ teams; a huge success and far from the norm.

Over the years, more than a million – yes, a million! – players from 141 countries have participated. It’s well worth watching too: in an “average” year more than 22,000 goals are scored, more than five per match!

As if the goal bonanza wasn’t enough, it’s heritage is first class. It’s featured some of the world’s most famous players who played at the 2006 World Cup including: Xabi Alonso (Spain), Emmanuel Adebayor (Togo), Andrea Pirlo (Italy), Ze Roberto (Brazil), José Montiel (Paraguay), Kim Källström and Teddy Lucic (Sweden).

If you didn’t catch it this year on TV, head over to the website. It carries its own live coverage for a subscription charge – but you can’t help feel it deserves a bit more. Especially that opening ceremony.

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3) The Conifa World Football Cup

Conifa – the acronym – sounds like one of the fir trees you might expect to see in Sweden – where its first “world football cup” was held in June 2014, in Ostersund. But it stands for the Confederation of Independent Football Associations – also known as a different world for the beautiful game to thrive, and the result is something quite remarkable.

Conifa puts on its tournament for a veritable feast of states and stateless people, regions and minorities unaffiliated with Fifa such as Greenland, Tibet and Western Armenia – Conifa gives them a chance to show the world exactly what they can do.

“Our main goal is to give football outsiders overseen by Fifa or left behind by their mother country’s FA the chance to win their place on a global stage and advance, football-wise and personally,” said Conifa general secretary Sascha Düerkop.

It’s more than a noble cause. It’s essential. And it’s competitive. Occitania top the current rankings from Panjab and Northern Cyprus – yet it was hosts Abkhazia who won the 2016 tournament in June. The Conifa World Football Cup feels like it’s about something more than just glory hunting – a stark contrast to Fifa’s World Cup.

It’s growing in popularity too with four new members joining in 2016. Two from Africa: Western Sahara and Matabeleland, and two from Europe, Délvidék and Karpatalya.

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4) The Gulf Cup of Nations

Sure, the Euros and Copa America fire up football imaginations across the world – the best nations in Europe and South American respectively doing football battle on an epic stage. But there is something captivating about a little-covered equivalent in the Gulf.

Also known as the Arabian Gulf Cup, the four-yearly tournament is not sanctioned by Fifa – which probably adds to the charm, as some of the world’s wealthiest states thrash it out on the pitch.

On the calendar since 1970, Kuwait is by some way the most successful nation with 10 titles – not bad for a country with a population of approaching 4,000,000. Saudi Arabia, for contrast, is second place with three titles to their name.

It’s Qatar’s turn in 2017 – five years before the state will host the Fifa World Cup. The eyes of the world should be on how they perform and with improving TV coverage in recent years, it may be the world is about to experience more of the Arabian Gulf Cup.

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