I’ll start this piece with a quote
“I was incredibly encouraged by the example set by the England fans, I mean, not a single arrest for a football related offensive and the terrible problems that we had in Heysel and Hillsborough in the 1980s seem now to be behind us.”
Who is the quote from? A rival football “fan” intent on ignorantly and provocatively winding up Liverpool fans in the most distasteful way? No folks is it someone from our wonderful new government. Step forward Mr Jeremy Hunt (no, don’t say the obvious) MP for South West Surrey and newly appointed Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.
My first reaction to this was not anger but sadness and profound disappointment. It would be very easy to get angry and many have. All you have to do is to read some of the comments on Mr Hunts blog However, my first thought was what must those who have been fighting for so long to get justice for the 96 victims have felt when Mr Hunt came out with this ill considered nonsense. Mr Hunt is not Home Secretary but part of his brief is sport. What hope do those who are fighting for justice have when one of the cabinet can’t even grasp the most basic of facts behind the events of 15th April 1989? Where has My Hunt been for the last twenty one years he’s an MP surely he keeps up with current affairs? Perhaps this sort of laziness and lack of attention to detail is why My Hunt is only Secretary for Culture and Sport and not say Home Secretary or Foreign Secretary?
I’m not expecting My Hunt to like football. Apparently his pastime is Latin dancing. However, as he Cha, Cha, Cha’s across the floor, it could not have escaped his notice that football is this countries most popular sport more so this summer as there is a World Cup on? In his job preparation and homework I would suggest are paramount so perhaps it might have been advisable to fully acquaint himself with the key issues surrounding the game off, as well as on, the pitch, just a suggestion albeit a bleeding obvious one? A good starting point would be to read the Taylor Report, which cleared Liverpool supporters of blame for the tragedy, or perhaps talking to his Home Secretary about the situation or, better still, the families of victims and how they feel.
Mr Hunts has since apologised via his blog…
“I know that fan unrest played no part in the terrible events of April 1989 and I apologise to Liverpool fans and the families of those killed and injured in the Hillsborough disaster if my comments caused any offence.”
It’s hardly, on the face of it at least, sincere or heartfelt stuff which suggests a lack of interest or understanding about the enormity of his gaff. So should My Hunt go, or should it be “will”. I don’t think he will, how many MPs resigned over the expenses scandal? Perhaps the best thing he can do for all those who he has angered and offended is to throw himself into making sure that the work of those who are fighting for justice is bought to a satisfactory conclusion and that they can finally get some closure. That, instead of a hastily issued statement or enjoying the cushy benefits that his post will no doubt bring, would be the biggest way for Hunt to exorcise the comments which could quite possibly haunt him for the rest of his political career. This of course is assuming that he genuinely cares about the situation. Over to you Mr Hunt.
To South Africa and perhaps the most confusing introduction to a game ever. Spain are playing Portugal and the BBC are covering it. At the start cut to the normally impressive Clarence Seedorf blathering on about Ali meeting George Foreman in Zaire! The penny just didn’t drop with me. I was even wondering if I was wrong and that fight had taken place in South Africa, I knew it hadn’t. And then it clicked, Ali and Foreman are two heavyweights fighting in Africa and so are Spain and Portugal as in footballing heavyweights! Doooh! A bizarre and tenuous connection, different sports and a different country and I would also suggest that the Spain and Portugal style of play does not really bring to mind the description of “heavyweight”? Perhaps, as neither Spain nor Portugal has won the World Cup, Clarence’s little cameo would be more suited to the BBC’s coverage of Saturday’s Germany and Argentina match as they have won it five times between them?
Thankfully the BBC redeemed themselves after the game with terrific piece from Mark Lawrenson about Spion Kop but am I alone in thinking it’s slightly weird that they and others choose to bracket countries such as Zaire with South Africa and see them as the same simply because they are part of the same continent. This is the way some Americans think of Europe? Mind you I guess Africa was “one” until we interfering Europeans started carving it up!
Anyway the match itself wasn’t exactly Ali v Foreman more like a….. no I’m bordering on Lineker pun stroke analogy territory here so move on. Torres started really well with nice cut inside and a long range effort that really tested the keeper but after that he faded badly. Unfit and dreadfully out of sorts with perhaps a small element of no service or support? Whatever the case it was no surprise that he was substituted after about an hour and once more it was left to Villa to get the decisive goal. Paraguay next who held their nerve to beat Japan on penalties.
So mixed feelings for Torres who desperately needs a goal. Still at least with that one effort he contributed more than Ronaldo, a victim of Portugal’s conservative tactics, useless you count a large gob in front of the camera has he moodily trudged off the pitch after the final whistle! Top class as always Ronnie!