Aug 2006
More football rants
With the start of the football season upon us now, I thought about our summer of football with the World Cup and its associated disappointments.

The thing that everyone was talking about was the play-acting by nearly every team. The diving was an absolute disgrace, and I heard and read commentators in England, Germany and Switzerland all deploring it. You may say with the German voice included, that this was a case of the pot calling the kettle black, but to be fair their team were at least aggressive and played attractive, offensive football - in fact the best game I saw was between Germany and Italy!

So, how do we sort this out? I would refer the Football Association to a case in Germany about 8 or 9 years ago, where Andreas Möller dived for a penalty for his club Borussia Dortmund. The dive outraged the German public in such a way that the German Football Association viewed the video evidence and fined the player heavily and banned him for about 6 games. I would suggest that the Football Association, UFEA and FIFA employ a similar process to stamp out diving at the top level, because even though we do not have our games videoed on the village green, the players are influenced by the actions of the top professionals.

Just image how a José Morinho or Arsené Wenger or Sir Alex Ferguson would react to half of their stars out of action for league or cup matches if they were suspended because of diving - the play-acting would go the way of the Dodo very quickly.

I would also like to bemoan the standard of footballing brain many of our players seem to have. We all know that they generally lack brains in terms of vocabulary and their social behaviour, but on the pitch, I see many of the players running into crowded spaces, hiding behind opposing players whilst awaiting a pass. Any schoolchild knows that you can't pass solid objects through other solid objects, and yet these multi-millionaires are trying to do just that, or expecting others to do it.

Whatever happened to footballers playing the ball into space? And players running onto the ball - everything seems to have to played to feet, slowing the game down and allowing defenders to get behind the ball. The direct game as, famously played by Watford and Wimbledon, worked very well because it gave the defenders no time to think. It is normally seen as a less professional and less skilful way of playing football - but I would disagree - you need to think far faster and a few moves ahead of the current play to perform in this way.

I suppose it does come back to the fact that modern footballers are not the brightest, and need extra thinking time. It is certainly the case with the large number of players, worldwide, who are ridiculously one-footed - you will always have stronger side, but you should be able to put a half-decent pass together. Only using one foot is obviously another way of limiting the neural load on these 'stars'.

Having had my rant, I must say that I am looking forward to the new season, both for professional and local football. Players such as Ballack and
Shevchenko at Chelsea, and the fact that clubs such as Liverpool are likely to provide more competition for Chelsea this season make for a mouth-watering Premiership. Locally, we are celebrating our centenary this year, and are very confident that the season will be successful for both teams, and the new teams we are planning.
Finally back infront of a computer after meltdown!
So, sorry for the silence from me! It has been a busy time for me, combined with the heat-wave and the World Cup.

In fact, it is the heat-wave I want to address today. Global warming - maybe - but can we take the chance that it isn't? Whilst hot summer temperatures is a pleasant change - blue skies and that unusual thing called the sun in the midst of the 'blue' - our houses, infrastructure and lives are not geared up to temperatures of 30 degrees plus for weeks on end. As I write, I am watching some 'affordable housing' being built on a Greenfield site (don't get me started on that), and they will probably be OK for the temperate temperatures we have had for the last 10 or so years, but excessive heat or cold, and these places will offer little comfort, unless the owners use heaters and air conditioners - hey, don't they add to the problem?

This week, the Government in the UK mentioned that speed limits should reduce on motorways, and the Chelsea Tractors (urban 4-wheel drives) should be taxed at a rate 1,000% higher than 'normal' cars. This, they reckon, will reduce the UK's carbon emissions. I do not dispute that these measures will have an effect, but how about enforcing existing speed limits, and slapping 1,000% import tax on the Chelsea Tractors to kill off demand for them before they hit the road?

Unfortunately, the UK is unlikely to listen too hard, and the politicians will have little courage to implement such regulations. In Liechtenstein they encourage the population to leave their cars behind, with 'Car-free' Sundays when special cycle lanes are created and buses are put on for free. During the rest of the year, bus transport is very cheap and reliable. A small state can do these things, but surely a cheap, reliable service is not too much to ask for - I for one would make more use of the public network if that was the case.

Europe is aware of the issues of Global Warming - some countries more than others, of course. The biggest polluter, however, is oblivious to all the uproar - the USA continues to ignore the Kyoto agreement, increasing its dependance on fossil-based fuels, and using excessive petrol, electricity, etc. I remember my first visit to the US in 1979, air conditioning units were set so high that you froze in the stores and public areas, and almost passed out as you stepped out onto the street.

The problem with the US is that they are likely to wake up only when it is too late (someone recently told me that this is what almost happened in the last two world wars too!), So do we have to experience a collapse of the Gulf Stream, plunging Northern Europe, and the North-Eastern US seaboard into a mini-Ice Age?, or the melting of the Ice Caps that will flood areas such as the Netherlands, East Anglia in England, and more importantly for the Americans - Most of Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina, and important centres such as Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington DC, as well as the Caribbean and West Coast ports.

Nations such as the Maldives and Bangladesh will disappear, and many of the world's island playgrounds in the Pacific and Caribbean will be swamped. And what of the knock-on effects. Salt water flooding subduction zones could trigger massive earthquakes and volcanic activity, especially around the Pacific rim - California and the Rockies be warned.

So what can we do about it? Not being a scientist or environmentalist, I cannot claim to have the answers, but I would say that everything and anything we can do now should be done. I also believe that it is already too late, and unless we can find some way of removing the greenhouse gases from the atmosphere from the atmosphere, reinvigorating the ocean currents, etc., we will experience a catastrophe - the level of which is the only question for debate. I, for one, would not buy a property on land under about 50m above sea level - just as well that I love the mountains!

Internationally, the polluters - the USA, Russia, China and India to name but few - should be forced to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, and product manufacturers forced to make their products more environmentally friendly in their manufacture, usage and disposal. Taxes can go some way to do this, but consumer power is the main driver here - use this wonderful (and probably not too environmentally friendly) medium of the Internet to inform yourself of the impact buying one product has over another.

Finally, I would like to ask if I am being hypocritical? I love my cars and I love travelling, so I probably am a net contributor, despite planting trees, trying reduce the emissions, etc. I just feel that I want to try to do all I can, even if I am adding to the problem slightly - give me cars that have no carbon footprints, allow me to generate my own free electricity, etc., and I would do it.

How about you?