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Olympic and mix
I’M going to the Olympics, well the football tournament of the Olympics in the form of a quarter-final.
The teams are as yet unknown, though it will definitely not be Team GB who are scheduled to play their games at just three venues however long they may feature in the tournament.
Thankfully, in a way that will mean missing out on the shaven-headed, bull-necked battalion who no doubt will follow the red, white and blue like groupies gung-ho on jingoism and appropriating rights to whatever part of the Union Jack they bellow belongs to them.
It would be hoped the concept of players from across the British Isles who might well represent Team GB would provide a sort of beneficial unifying force. Somehow I doubt it will ever be as cosy as Jeremy Hunt and the Murdochs.
Not seeing GB will also mean both the missus and myself will not have to endure seeing that tired old Beckham brand trotted out for one last hurrah.
For all his so-called ambassadorial achievements, if the tattooed totem temporarily top-toes from LA Galaxy la-la land to the blah-blah of Blighty, then his inclusion will be a spectacle that will translate from sideshow to main event. God help the rest of the Brit squad – they won’t get a look in.
So back to what I hope will be a non-Team GB experience.
Even then, for all the excitement felt by my wife and I at the prospect of seeing some of the world’s best upcoming talent – the bulk of Olympic squads are filled by players under the age of 23 – there is more than a sense that the football is far from the real deal given the rest of the 16 days of Olympic Games competition.
Whatever any player may claim, to possess Olympic gold, silver or bronze surely cannot represent the apex of ambition.
When you are a kid tootling along concrete and flagstones with a ball at your feet, the dreams and visions bouncing crazily around your bonce do not include shifting somewhat shiftily atop an Olympic podium.
For any red-blooded footballer it has to be a domestic championship, an FA Cup Wembley conquest, a European Cup, a national debut leading on to World Cup or Euro Championships glory.
All those would surely surpass an Olympic medal because football is merely playing at the Olympics.
It’s the same for tennis, and it will be the same for golf when that is introduced as an Olympic sport in 2016.
Football, tennis and golf – all are sports laced with derring-do and daredevil exploits from their own championships and tournaments. They have their own private pinnacles.
For the World Cup, there’s Wimbledon, there’s the Masters. That’s where true accomplishment lies for those disciplines. It’s not every four years at an Olympiad, even if that five-circled circus now has even more of a sponsorship pull than its fellow four-year-gapped folly of free market flim-flam, otherwise known as the World Cup.
To include football and tennis and golf – especially when open to its highest-paid professional players, some of whose annual salaries would dwarf the gross domestic product of many a nation competing this summer in London – is pandering to the self-importance of those sports and a specious populism that they indeed merit incorporation to the Olympic ideal.
Some have argued that if amateurs from football, tennis or golf were the only ones eligible for Olympic inclusion then that would be all right. But that trio of sports boasts numerous and highly-rated amateur tournaments anyway.
The tie-up of football and tennis this summer to the Olympic banner is also a distracting insult to those athletes, cyclists, boxers, swimmers, sailors, shooters, etc whose all-hours training and doughty dedication is geared to one shot, or if they are lucky several shots, at Olympic glory.
True, they also have their own world games, continental and national championships. But for them the Olympics are singularly more important, more inspirational and more demanding.
For them the Games are the zenith and should remain untainted and not overshadowed by the ranks of footballers, tennis players and in the next generation, golfers.
So why then are we going to watch Olympic football? It was all that we were accorded after preferences for athletics, cycling and boxing proved unsuccessful. Ah well...
No cash so let’s fine ’em
DON’T get me wrong, I am as far from a fan of Glasgow Rangers as anyone can be – must be my left-footer upbringing, even though my membership has not just elapsed but gladly evaporated.
But surely one of the most bizarre and pointless punishments was handed out to the club drowning in debt by the SFA this week.
Besides a swingeing transfer embargo, they were also fined £160,000. SFA, they’ve got no money – that’s the problem.