The Moeen Ali “Booing” incident dominated twitter yesterday after Angus Porter of the PCA was quoted as saying “Take it as a positive, you’d rather be booed than ignored.” Thus implying that racism should be ignored and not dealt with. Twitter was alive with understandable outrage (myself included); coming so quickly on the back of the misguided LMA, Malky Mackay “it’s just banter” statement, the sense, certainly by myself, of a bunch of middle class, middle aged blokes just not getting it was palpable.
I posted a tweet that read “….this is everything that is wrong with middle class male run sport” as a result three great blokes (Graham Meech - @FOMEECH / Steve Denison - @SteveJDenison / Peter Smart - @petercsmart1) all responded saying that whilst they in principle agreed with the “How on earth can this be acceptable? So just ignore racism..?” element of my tweet, that perhaps as, middle class, middle aged blokes in sport (Graham is a CC Chairman, Steve is a NED at YCCC) that this element was perhaps a bit damning.
Of course, they correctly have a point. Over a few responses, I attempted to qualify that the nature of a tweet in 140 characters had made the comment generic and all encompassing, which was not at all what I meant. I know many very lovely, smart, non bigoted men (and women) in sport who I know would’ve been appalled by the PCA statement (and equally the LMA statement). The point I was trying to make, in relation to sport, was that it is, in the main still run by middle aged, middle class men who often appear to be out of step with current societal thinking - this is not just my “female” point of view, remember Will Carling’s famous “57 old farts” comment about the RFL and love or loathe Stan Collymore’s approach, his one man stand against racism on Twitter?
As a woman in business the level of sexist and racist bigotry has been a key focus over the last 20 years and yet it is still there, often bubbling just under the surface - women are still paid less than blokes in business for doing the same job; on disagreeing with a male colleague (within the last 5 years) I was asked whether he reminded me of my ex-husband and I was just effectively being petulant by disagreeing with his opinion as a way of getting back at my ex (seriously!) - I also know this person not to be at all misogynistic, just he didn’t see his language in anyway sexist…; and I see veneer thin homophobia and racism in business on an all too often basis. There are still only 12 out of 289 top FTSE100 boards that have a woman on them, and less than half of FTSE100 companies have non-white leaders at board level with two thirds having no full time minority executives at Board level (cfoworld.co.uk/news/people-management/3501195/all-male-white-boards-jeopardize-ftse100-future-success/).
That said, I do believe there is a ground swell in business to address and balance diverse board rooms culturally and ethically - the 30% club (@30percentageclub) (a body designed to get FTSE Boards to 30% female representation) suggests “…change is possible, but takes concerted, consistent, patient but intense actions on the part of many.” The fact is though, there is a group of people dedicated to this concerted and consistent effort - I’m just not sure I’ve yet to see the same efforts in sport - but I will stand corrected if someone can point me in the right direction…..
Having tried the simple question “How many county cricket boards have female members” there is no obviously definitive list to be found and if I go to the FTSE equivalent in sport of say the ECB, FA, RFU there is, in total, in the top tier, 4 women out of 32 positions - c.12% (ECB 14/2; FA 11/1; RFU 7/1) again it’s difficult to confirm how many non-white, as the stats are not obviously produced or available, but in reading the names, they all look pretty white, pretty middle aged, and pretty middle class to me. That is not to say they are in any way bigoted, but they are certainly not diverse.
I don’t think for one second Angus Porter intended his comments to read as condoning racism; I do however think the PR surrounding sport at present isn’t doing the sports that many millions of us love any favours; the Moeen Ali comment being in a long line of PR gaffs within cricket - most recently surrounding KP, allowing the twitterati to get on all and everyone’s case and providing oxygen to some fans desire to get a once great cricketer back into the England squad. (If ever one mans cause isn’t helped, it has to be KP’s and the odious support of Piers Morgan - most people, it would appear agree, which ever side of the KP fence you sit*, that Morgan is a rather unpleasant man) *for the record, as previously commented, I believe KP to be one of the most brilliant cricketers I’ve ever seen, but at 34, with a dodgy knee and no desire to play anything other than T20 cricket, his time as an England Test cricketer is over for me.
So, in summary, no I don’t think all middle aged, middle class men in sport are bigots; many are outstanding Chairs, Boards, Execs and CEO’s; however, that said, a lot of sport is still run by a waspish set who haven’t openly adapted from historical and societal embedded viewpoints. There appears to be an acceptance of these as norms, and until, like in the business world, sports governing bodies take true diversity to the heart of their agendas, these mistakes (one hopes) will continue to occur and people will continue to take understandable offence.
As for me and my tweet? I guess as much as Angus Porter or Paul Downton had some of their comments misrepresented, or at least come across in a way they didn’t quite want or realize they’d be construed, I recognize trying to get such serious points as diversity, racism, sexism, homophobia et al in 140 tweets really is quite difficult.
If we accept all of the reports then the footballing genius that is Luis Alberto Suárez Díaz (to give him his full moniker) is off to Barcelona for the “mouth watering” fee of £75m….subject to a medical and all that… we can contend then, yup the lad is off.
Note. If you want a brilliant article on the true likely profit Liverpool will make on the Suarez deal then look no further than The Tomkins Times - http://tomkinstimes.com/2014/07/ffp-and-the-amortisation-of-suarez/ As ever, Paul has nailed it. However, I’m just a simple girl from Barnsley, so the ms.fagpacket figure I have (£75-28m) is a £47m profit, which, on any player is a staggering return on investment…however, as a Liverpool fan I have mixed emotions.
Do I want one of arguably the best football players in the world to leave my club? Not really. But then I didn’t want Torres to leave either, but on reflection, that worked out better for the fans than for Fernando. The trouble with Luis is he’s so decisive - there is no doubt about it, he is a footballing genius; his touch, his foresight, his passes, his goals are all just sublime. Beautiful in fact. But then there is “bad” Luis, “naughty” Luis and downright “wrong” Luis. So, before we all get over emotional about losing one of the best players in the world, let’s also think about what has been the cost of having Luis at Liverpool Football Club - the cost to the clubs reputation?
We knew when we bought him, we were buying a maverick footballer who had a win at all costs mentality - again read Paul’s brilliantly posted article http://tomkinstimes.com/2014/06/thrice-bitten-once-shy/ which provides an excellent insight into what makes Luis tick - but I’m not sure we thought that we’d bought someone who even when we supported them through the thick and thin of the race allegations, he’d repay us by publicly humiliating Dalglish, the greatest No.7 who’s ever worn the shirt by refusing to shake Evra’s hand; that despite everything the club had done for him, he put in a transfer request, which, it has to be said, our owners and Brendan Rodgers brilliantly rebutted; or that we were buying someone who’d sit on the bench for months at a time because he couldn’t stop biting people.
You know what, I am so bored of the Luis Suarez circus. John Henry and Rodgers orchestrated an excellent bit of business for this club. Their refusal to sell our prized asset last year, knowing in World Cup year, he would still play his socks off to ensure he was the star at Brazil, ensured a magical season for Liverpool fans. We got what we needed from Suarez, Champions League football, worth somewhere between £30-40m by all accounts. If Luis wants to go, well good for him, like Owen and Torres before him, he’ll probably look back and realise, no-one will ever love him like Liverpool fans loved him, no-one will ever care for him like Liverpool fans did and no-one will ever defend him like Liverpool fans did.
Thanks for the memories Luis Alberto Suárez Díaz; there were times when your footballing genius brought tears to my eyes and I would just be speechless at how you caressed a football around the park. I adored you, but I could never really love you, because in my heart, I always knew you never really loved us and that your love was purely for yourself.
You’ll never walk alone because as Liverpool fans we will never let you; one day, you will look back and realise that your dance and your twist and your turn with a football was made easier because you had the wind of angels beneath you, a million Kopites with unrequited love in their hearts.
Holidays are for reading books, well they are in my opinion. I always go for a serious and intellectual one and a feel good make me smile and cry one, the latter often more enjoyable as you’ve dragged yourself through the intellectual one.
The intellectual one this time was The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall, which was truly brilliant and at several stages made me think he’d been living inside my head so true was some of his observations on life. In many ways the book made me feel like I’d saved my own life just by reading it.
I read it in 4 days. With 2 days of my holiday to go, I pondered on what next and then remembered @JimmyRiceWriter had incessantly been tweeting about a book he and his Uni mate Laura had written together - The Best Thing that Never Happened To Me - and given the reviews were generally fab and included phrases such as Notting Hill and Richard Curtis, I rationalized this would be a great chick lit, easy read to take me through the last two days and journey home to Blighty.
Right, let’s pause there. To say this book is nothing more than a chick-lit novel does it a huge disservice. First and foremost the chapter interchange between the two lead characters, Alex and Holly written by Jimmy and Laura respectively is really smart, giving you the boy/girl perspective really rather brilliantly; the perspectives of love and life slanted knowingly through the lens of each author. As a girl you so believe in Holly and because you know Laura has written it, as a girl, you kind of believe in Alex even more because you know a guy - Jimmy has written it. And then there’s the plot line, which is just delightful and lovely and yes a bit cheesy and you kinda know the boy maybe is going to get the girl and it’s all going to be (probably) super at the end (a la Richard Curtis) but that’s kind of the point, and even knowing all of that, it still made me cry towards the end, which is well, just lovely.
The key thing is this is a story we’ve all lived, the one that got away, the one where your heart still quickens at the thought of, the one where if you could stop time and go back to that moment you would. The one that even now if they called, you would stop the bloody world to be there for…wherever they were in the world. And what’s truly lovely about this novel is the guy really does have every chance to get his girl; and the girl really does have every opportunity to get her guy. And just for a moment, every single one of us who has a mended, fractured or still bloody broken and decimated heart, well it makes us believe in fairy tales. And that’s where the tears come from. The hope. The deep downright keep putting one foot in front of another belief that one day, dreams really will come true.
Oh. The only annoying thing about the book? It was mean to last 2.5 days and I consumed it in a day! A total page turner. So, my recommendation, go buy it, just buy another one as well. And read this one first, because there’s no better way to get into the holiday spirit than a love story. And who doesn’t want to love and be loved?
Has there ever been such a cack handed handling of an exit than that of the ECB’s of Kevin Pietersen? I’ve written in an earlier blog (A disappointed and disillusioned fans view of the Men’s game…) my view of the whole affair, notably that as one of the most charismatic and entertaining cricketers I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching, it’s with a heavy heart that I think it best that KP is no longer part of the England set up. No team can pander to one man alone. Both sides are at fault. However, the ECB should fire their PR agency for the utter debacle that they have allowed themselves to fall into. Their statement was misguided and simply allowed the social media keyboard warrior a field day.
Given the fall out following the recent TMS interview with Paul Downton, it certainly feels akin to Shriver’s 2003 novel… there is a massacre of commentary currently in English cricket. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/tms)
I can’t quite understand why the interview got so much aggro – if Paul Downton had not been asked about Kevin Pietersen the entire twitterarti would’ve been up in arms saying the programme had bottled it. Yet, when it did, it got utter vitriol for not being “tough enough” - the TMS style is relaxed & what millions enjoy - this isn’t newsnight this is cricket!
It is great that The Full Toss got the right of reply interview; it was insightful, engaging and responded well to the criticisms received. Maxie Allen took a very positive approach to the interview and it felt balanced.
Opinions are what make twitter fun and engaging, I just can’t see the point in throwing a keyboard punch at someone. In a world where celebrities and experts are prepared to engage in conversations why take an approach of abuse when your carefully worded frustrations can be responded to so positively?
The last time I was at Crystal Palace it was 7am in the morning and I’d just completed a 100km through the night bike ride for one of my best friend’s charities - Bowel Cancer. I’d arrived at 11pm the previous night full of optimism, spirit & a we can do it attitude. By 7am, one lost person down, not one but three punctures and having had my brakes fuse to my front wheel for the last 20km I was dejected, knackered and frankly fed up.
I felt the same last night at Crystal Palace. I honestly thought we’d win. Not hoped or believed we would but actually thought we would. I came away feeling like we’d lost. I know we got a draw but after giving up a 3:0 lead I honestly thought we’d lost. I came home dejected, knackered and fed up.
And then I remembered something. We weren’t even meant to be in it never mind win it this season. We were hoping for 4th. We thought it would be a massive achievement for us to get to 4th. We nailed that position weeks ago and then we confirmed 3rd too. And with one game to go, we could still win it. Yes the momentum is with Citeh and yes it’s theirs to lose but to be going into the last game of the season with everything still to play for well I for one think it’s bloody amazing.
Two weeks after I got off my bike at Crystal Palace last August and vowed never to get on the thing again, I looked back at how 4 mates dragged themselves around London, through the night & that our efforts raised over £1,000 for the Bowel Cancer Charity and was proud of our achievements.
This morning I look back at 37 games and what my team, our team, Liverpool Football Club have achieved and think wow. How proud am I that in one season they’ve made me believe, made me dream and made me feel so disappointed that we have fallen short. How amazing that I can feel like this so soon into Rodgers reign. He was brilliant last night. No excuses. Just acceptance we were naive and made poor decision on the ball. We Go Again LFC and if not this season then it will be soon because we have our mojo back, our desire to win and importantly our absolute total and utter devastation and gutted feel when we don’t. I have spent so many years expecting to be mediocre & lose I love the fact that I so now expect us to win that I’m gutted when we don’t. How far have we come in one season?
We are Liverpool Football Club. We hold our heads up high and dream of golden skies. Yes our dreams may have been tossed and turned but we carry hope in our hearts and know that we never walk alone.