Displaying items by tag: football
On 11 June the English football team will play a match against Italy with no fans watching. There have also been a number of recent incidents where pitches have been invaded. Despite the general jubilation of such scenes, they also saw players and coaches intimidated or even attacked. Police data in January showed that arrests at football matches across the top five English leagues are at their highest levels for years. Gareth Southgate, the England manager, says it is an 'embarrassment' that England are playing a home game behind closed doors, as a consequence of the chaos at Wembley before the Euro 2020 final against the same country. He added,' 'Normally when you watch those things happening abroad, we're all grandstanding about how it’s someone else's problem and how this country should be dealt with and now it’s us. That’s not good behaviour for the reputation of our country.' The FA said it was 'reviewing our regulations to help stamp out this behaviour and to ensure the safety of everyone inside a stadium'.
England and Italy players took the knee at the Euro final. Priti Patel publicly opposed this at the beginning of the Euros, saying that she did not support ‘people participating in that type of gesture politics’. Asked if she would criticise fans who booed England players taking the knee she said, ‘That's a choice for them, quite frankly’. After they missed penalties in the final, Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho were targeted by racist abuse. In response Ms Patel tweeted that she was disgusted. Tyrone Mings said, ‘You don't get to stoke the fire at the beginning of the tournament by labelling our anti-racism message as 'gesture politics' and then pretend to be disgusted when the very thing happens which we're campaigning against.’
Many more arrests will follow after Rangers supporters shouted anti-Catholic slogans and songs and damaged property in Glasgow. Violent clashes led to five police officers being injured and thirty rioters arrested. Thousands of fans defied Covid-19 warnings against large gatherings and massed in George Square to celebrate Rangers winning their first Scottish Premiership championship since 2011. Images later showed George Square strewn with hundreds of broken bottles, plastic bags, and spent flares after flag-draped fans attacked each other and threw dangerous missiles at lines of riot gear-clad police officers. Nicola Sturgeon described the scenes as disgraceful: she was ‘angry on behalf of every law-abiding citizen. In normal times, violence, vandalism, and the vile anti-Catholic prejudice on display would be utterly unacceptable. But mid-pandemic, in a city with cases on the rise, it is also selfish beyond belief.’
A ban on children heading the football in Scotland could be implemented due to fears over links between football and dementia. The Scottish FA wants to lead the way on the issue after a report found former players are more at risk of dying from the disease. An announcement on banning under-12s heading footballs in training is expected this month. A similar ban is in place in the USA. Scotland would become the first European country to impose such a restriction. Discussions have been ongoing since an October study found the first links between former players and degenerative brain disease. Although former players are three-and-a-half times more likely to die of dementia, there is no firm evidence linking heading the ball to the disease. A neurosurgeon said that England striker Jeff Astle died from a brain condition normally linked to boxers rather than Alzheimer's disease.
Culture secretary Nicky Morgan has said that she hopes the Football Association will ‘reconsider’ after it allowed a betting company to broadcast FA Cup matches, more than two years after it had said it would end such partnerships. Bet365, which allows fans to watch play if they place a bet via their app, has been showing matches since the start of last season. The partnership drew criticism from viewers and campaigners last weekend, when all matches were delayed by a minute to promote the Duke of Cambridge’s mental health charity.
A Christian footballer has expressed how his family is leaning on God following the recent death of his two-year-old daughter. Benik Afobe has spoken publicly in the wake of Amora's death on 29 November due to complications from a severe infection. ‘We trust in our Lord Jesus Christ and when we're weak he comforts us. He will protect the family and give us strength always’, he said. ‘We want to bounce back and show people that even when we are grieving we can make a comeback and be strong and never need to quit in anything you want to do or become.’ In an initial statement,the 26-year-old Congo international admitted he and his family had been left ‘totally devastated and heartbroken’. In the past he has been vocal about his faith on Instagram. May God continue to support the family in the coming weeks.
Raheem Sterling, 24, one of England's most talented footballers, has described his Christian faith as ‘massive’. He was interviewed by GQ, a news magazine based around music, models, women and news and directed at young adult males. Sterling says he was brought up in the church, and his mum taught him about faith from an early age. When he moved from home, his faith deepened and now he has ‘no doubt’ that God exists. ‘I know for sure. A lot of scientists, the cleverest people in the world, will tell you that there has to be a creator. They need answers, but you just have to sometimes accept that it's bigger than you and you have to leave it at that.’
Community leaders, unions and churches are backing a call for Manchester United to increase the pay of workers employed by contractors, such as waitresses and cleaners, noting a ‘grotesque pay difference’ between their wages and players' salaries. On 1 February Manchester citizens handed a letter to the club, urging it to take a ‘community-first business approach’ to ensure that the cost of living is met for low-paid workers. The group said that if new signing Alexis Sanchez is paid £400,000 a week, as some have reported, it will take him just 82 minutes in a game to earn the annual salary of a low-paid stadium worker. Group chairman Rev Ian Rutherford, minister at Methodist Central Hall, Manchester, said, ‘As the winter transfer window closes many workers at Old Trafford will be choosing between putting the heating on or a hot meal.’
Former Guatemalan football federation official Hector Trujillo, arrested in December 2015 in Florida, has become the first person to be sentenced in investigations into corruption in FIFA. He had accepted almost $200,000 in bribes from a sports marketing company. A further forty football and marketing executives have been accused. Many of the charges involve bribes paid around the organisation of regional tournaments and World Cup qualifying games. Prosecutors in Switzerland have also been investigating, and FIFA has conducted internal enquiries.
On 28 June the Crown Prosecution Service announced that six people will face trial for the Hillsborough disaster - including match commander David Duckenfield and former chief constable Sir Norman Bettison. Duckenfield, 72, faces trial for the manslaughter by gross negligence of 95 of the 96 Liverpool fans who died at the FA Cup semi-final in 1989. Bettison, 61, faces four charges of misconduct in a public office, including two of lying about his role to further his career. However, the FA and Sheffield Wednesday FC avoided action, despite the withering assessment of their conduct which emerged in the Hillsborough Independent Panel (HIP) investigation of 2012. Families of the Hillsborough victims broke into applause when they were told Duckenfield faces charges. Margaret Aspinall, whose son James died in the tragedy, said: ‘No-one should have to go through what the families have gone through for 28 years to try to get to the truth.’