Now we know why the football hierarchy is all fingers and thumbs when it comes to making delicate decisions about the game - the boys spend much of their spare time in the fantasy football world of Sony PlayStation.
Michel Platini’s fears that introducing goal-line technology would lead to “PlayStation football” is the second time in a week that a top football figure has drawn an analogy between the real game and a video game.
However, while Platini made a negative connection, Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti, in describing in-form striker Florent Malouda, as a “PlayStation footballer”, inferred that the Frenchman’s similarity to the mini-me version of himself was a good thing, and I have to agree with him.
Before I continue, I must confess that I don’t own a PlayStation, though I do have a Wii, and routinely get thrashed by my 10-year-old son on his FIFA Soccer game, even though he plays kick and rush and I take the tiki-taka approach favored by Spain and copied, with varying degrees of success, by my home-town club, Arsenal. Shoot, why don't you!
A day ago Wayne Rooney was on his way to becoming a pariah at Old Trafford, not just for rejecting the offer of a new contract, but for damning the club as un-ambitious and a spent force in terms of its ability to sign big name players and win major trophies.
Wazza was on his way to Real Madrid, Manchester City, Barcelona, or Chelsea, take your pick, and was destined to be a target for the Red Devils’ boo boys for the rest of his career.
So what happened? Did Sir Alex Ferguson, already earmarked as “a genius” by Rooney in the midst of all the kerfuffle, work his magic again? Well that’s what Wazza says, though can we believe him after the schizophrenics of the last few days?
Well, may I introduce his evil step-brother, Wayne Rooney, “The Pug-Faced Assassin”, who’s just driven a stake through the heart of his Manchester United boss, his Manchester United teammates, and Manchester United fans worldwide.
Rooney’s unexpected desire to leave Old Trafford was surprising enough, but his reasons for wanting to quit are truly jaw dropping.
To paraphrase the essence of his statement, Manchester United, the most decorated club in England in the last 20 years, is not ambitious enough, and his teammates, assembled at a cost of millions of dollars and with the help of one of the finest scouting systems and youth academies in the world, are not good enough!
When does a hard man become a bad man? That’s the issue currently being debated by the football fraternity following claims by FIFA’s top medical official, Dr. Michel d'Hooghe, that professional football is being disfigured by what he called "criminality" and "brutality" on the pitch.
Those are some harsh words from one of the longest-serving members of FIFA”s executive committee, and they've obviously raised the hackles of many in the game, notably the global players' union, FIFPro, which rejects the idea that any player would deliberately try to injure a fellow professional.
However, that flies in the face of the old football ethos in which managers would often advise the more physical of their players to “let him know you’re there” in reference to dealing with a tricky opponent.
News of Alberto Contador’s positive test for Clenbuterol may have been a shocker to those of us outside the cycling fraternity, but I get the impression that it was an accident waiting to happen for those in the know.
Contador may have been portrayed as the poster boy for the new era of cycling, in which rigid testing would weed out all the cheats and eventually make doping scandals a thing of the past. But it always looked a bit like clutching at straws when your poster boy is a previous doping suspect – Contador lost his place in the 2006 Tour de France in connection with the Operacion Puerto scandal, before facing further insinuations of doping a year later, and again in 2009.
Unfortunately, however, it’s also become a double-edged sword. On the positive side, tweeting and other forms of social networking does bring the fans closer to the players, helping sports men and women develop an individual platform that’s good for business.
PGA Tour Commissioner, Tim Finchem, said as much when I spoke with him recently at the Tour Championship.
“Anything that creates more interest, more exposure, things that people can talk about or relate to, that’s in our interest.” he said.
Some years ago there was a footballer in the top flight of the English game called Vinnie Jones.
A committed hard man, for sure, but also a player who only had to breathe on an opponent to get the referee reaching for his card and the football authorities up in arms in righteous indignation.
It was a monkey see monkey do situation, a self-fulfilling prophecy which played right into the hands of the tabloid media whose stock in trade is negativity.
We see it off the sports field too, with wayward celebrities singled out by the tabloids as the “It” girls or boys.
Is it ever right to challenge the status quo? Should you not say yes when you mean no? Should you ignore the consequences to question, criticize and reject that which you find unpalatable?
Well, if you’re anything like Nicolas Anelka, you should. "Le Sulk," as he’s known, has just completed a typical period of extremes in which he was banned from international football for 18 games following his dismissal from the French World Cup squad for insubordination.
His response was to laugh at the French Football Federation’s (FFF) public show of righteous indignation before promptly showing that he’s unaffected by their finger wagging. Two goals in Chelsea’s 6-0 defeat of Wigan in the English Premier League, followed by a mock act of contrition with Didier Drogba during one of the goal celebrations, suggested the Frenchman remains unbowed.
Atlanta (CNN) - As the road to the 2012 European Championship begins with a ludicrously timed set of international friendlies that come too soon after the World Cup and too close to the start of the European club season, English football is in a quandary.
The English Premier League prides itself, rightly or wrongly, on being the best league in the world, yet the abject failure of the England team at the World Cup made it the laughing stock of the tournament. And it wasn’t just because Fabio Capello’s men underachieved, it was because so much of England’s failure was self-inflicted.
At club level, the physicality of the English game is unmatched. And, at the pace and intensity it demands, you just can’t play football for 11 months of the year and expect to stay fresh. But still, that’s what the England players are required to do, and will continue to do until the powerbrokers in the English game put aside their egos and mercenary mentalities.
Atlanta (CNN) – "Good interview." Alex Ferguson shakes my hand. "Good interview, son," he says again, patting me on the back. Alex Ferguson is my dad!
Could that be the same Alex Ferguson who can freeze a journalist at a hundred paces with his curt replies and icy stare? The same man whose infamous "hairdryer" blasts of discontent can turn superstar footballers into quivering schoolboys? The same Alex Ferguson who signaled the end of David Beckham's Manchester United career with a much-publicized kick of a boot that gave Becks an eyebrow parting that certainly wasn't a fashion statement?