HOW did it ever come to this? A global game made all the more beautiful by its innocence and simplicity being dragged through the gutter because of the corrupt motives of its global leaders whose mercenary values and arrogant self-indulgence has proven to be the ultimate betrayal of all those who love, and play, football for the very best of sporting ideals.
The game that Britain gave to the world is no longer the people’s sport; it now finds itself at the mercy of ruthless leader like the near-tyrannical Fifa boss Sepp Blatter, and those of his cronies now under arrest for systemic fraud, money laundering and other offences, and who stand accused of exploiting football’s popularity for personal self-aggrandisement on a scale normally associated with the very worst of Third World dictatorships.
Their deplorable example – bankrolled by the sale of TV rights for iconic events like the World Cup and the grubby money which reputedly changed hands so the footballing backwater of Qatar could win the race to host the tarnished tournament in 2022 – has permeated down to football at a domestic level where the inflated megariches commanded by the most modest of Premier League players could not be more at odds with the sport’s working class and ‘jumpers for goalposts’ roots.
It should not be like this. Until now, football has always been a strong force for good – it has united communities and countries alike while embracing pioneering players like the Leeds United legend Albert Johanneson whose family will be guests of honour at tomorrow’s FA Cup final in belated recognition of the wing wizard’s wider contribution to sport and society alike.
However the lengthy shadow of corruption is so long, and all-encompassing, that football will struggle to regain its soul while Mr Blatter and the current Fifa regime are at the helm. Until they are replaced by leaders motivated by the best of interests, the once beautiful game will be no more – and supposedly showpiece events like the World Cup forever blemished.
Lame excuses over double murder
ANOTHER day and another report that sets out a series of lame excuses for the failings within community health services which culminated with James Allen, a patient with fragile mental health, killing 81-year-old pensioner Colin Dunford before stabbing to death Julie Davison, 50, at her flat in Whitby.
Though family and friends of the deceased will be comforted by the fact that the double murderer was caught after a manhunt, and jailed for at least 37 years, this does not mask the fact there was “a significant probability” that Allen would commit such crimes – and that the authorities knew of this likelihood.
And, while Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, the body primarily responsible for the litany of failings outlined yesterday, has made the usual platitudes about lessons being learned, this mantra has been said before and the same mistakes continue to be repeated.
Until the NHS professionals concerned place a greater premium on public safety, these avoidable tragedies will continue to be recurring incidents. And the only way for the mindset to be changed is for the Government to invest in mental health services so staff are not struggling to deal with deeply troubled individuals, like this double killer, with one proverbial arm tied behind their back. This is the most important lesson of all, one which Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt needs to learn before more innocent lives are needlessly lost.
A Hull of a story...
Turner Prize reflects landscape
THE TURNER Prize and Hull might seem unlikely bedfellows – but they will be a perfect fit in 2017 when the winner of contemporary art’s most prestigious, and controversial, competition will be announced in the sedate splendour of Ferens Art Gallery.
Not only will this be one of the centrepieces of Hull’s UK City of Culture celebrations, but this event is also a tribute to the area’s thriving, and slightly irreverent, cultural scene – 40 giant toad statues were erected at prominent locations to illustrate the distinguished poet Philip Larkin’s local links.
As such, perhaps aspiring artists could be persuaded to come up with a creative piece of art which depicts the remarkable journey being undertaken by Hull as part of the area’s renewal. JMW Turner himself would have been inspired by the changing landscape, the city is brimming with self-belief as it looks to the future with optimism – whether it be from an economic or cultural perspective. It is a Hull of a story.