Last week, I met up with an old friend after work for a quick beer or seven. During the discourse of the evening, he began to lament the change the Political Correctness movement has had on life on the Britannia Isle.
Turns out a bloke he works with is being investigated by what he termed, “those f**king Human Resource Nazi’s” engaged within his employer’s Personnel Department – his supposed ‘crime’? In a meeting, he apparently addressed one of his female colleagues as “darling”. She complained and a full enquiry is currently underway to establish whether or not he holds sexist opinions.
“I mean, it comes to something mate,” friend told me, simultaneously shaking his head from side to side. “When a term of endearment can be flip-reversed just like that and you find yourself portrayed as a knuckle-dragging misogynist, doesn’t it?” It most certainly does, I had to agree.
And his bewilderment didn’t just stop at the baffling nuances of contemporary corporate culture. Between sipping at his lager; he imparted a further example of the hypocrisy of life in the Noughtie’s Britain: Just recently he had been present a business dinner. One of those attending had excused herself from the table after the starters had been served. When she returned, she was questioned by one of the other diner’s — an incredibly-noisy hand job of a bloke, according to said friend – as to where she had been. For a crafty cigarette, she had bashfully confessed. And thus began a chorus of condemnation from many present – led naturally by the offensively loud chap.
“Oh. My. God! Why are you doing that to yourself? Do you realise that every time you suck on a Marlboro Light, you take a minute off your life expectancy! Smoking is slow suicide! You’re killing yourself!”
To her credit, the woman on the receiving end of this barrage of abuse was contrite, self-depreciating and modestly accepting of the criticism. Yes, she had said, she fully realised the detrimental implication her nicotine habit might eventually reap on her well-being; it was indeed a filthy habit; one she was forever trying to kick but, sadly, without success to date.
After mains, came the dessert menu. Most declined but one bloke who – according to friend — could best be described diplomatically as “a bit of a large gent” ordered a pudding astronomically-high in calorific content. And no one said a word. Why, friend silently wondered to himself, was it considered okay to berate a smoker but not someone morbidly obese? How come no similarly-indignant outburst from those around him?
“Oh. My. God! Why are you doing that to yourself? You’re already the size of Luxembourg and you think it okay to fill your face with tiramisu?! Keep on eating like that and the chances are you will self-destruct! You’re killing yourself!”
“Why didn’t you say something at the time?” I asked him.
“Well, I did think about it but…well, it’s not the done thing, is it?” he replied.
“And the reason it’s not the done thing is.” I began.
“…Political Correctness!” we both said in unison.
The world is full of double standards and we are all guilty of displaying them from time to time.
Pot. Kettle. Hypocrite’s.
Speaking of which, last week also saw the resumption of football’s premier club tournament, The Champions League. Once upon a time, it was the World Cup finals that were billed as football’s greatest show on Earth but now its title has been usurped. It is a fact that of the 22 player’s named in Brazil’s world cup squad to complete in Germany last summer, only two of them play their football in their country of origin. Freed from the obvious selection constrictions of international football, it is Europe’s CL that’s emerged as the great football competition on the planet. The lure of big Euro’s and pounds sterling meaning the world’s best players are now concentrated in one area of the world. Therefore, club football has become more enthralling than its international brethren.
But the success of the CL does have a downside, borne out the tournament has come the dark force of G14.
G14 – an unelected, unaccountable, invitation-only pressure group – was formed in the year 2000 by Europe’s self-appointed ‘elite’ clubs. The original 14 teams involved – Ajax, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Internazionale, Juventus*, Liverpool, Manchester United, Marseille, A C Milan, Paris St-Germain, Porto, PSV Eindhoven, Real Madrid — became 18 with the expansion of membership in 2002 with Arsenal, Bayer Leverkusen, Olympique de Marseille, Valencia added. The club conspicuous in its absence from the list above is Chelsea – more later…
Visit G14’s website (http://www.g14.com/) and read their Mission statement – tell you what, I’ll save you the trouble…this is what it says:
“The main objectives as they are specified in the G-14 foundation agreement are:
- To promote the cooperation, amicable relations and unity of the member clubs.
- To promote and improve professional football in all its aspects and safeguard the general interests of the member clubs.
- To promote cooperation and good relations between G-14 and FIFA, UEFA and any other sporting institutions and/or professional football clubs, paying special attention to negotiating the format, administration and operation of the club competitions in which the member clubs are involved.”
Despite the use of deliberately opaque language and the organisation’s claim that it speaks for the good of football and its supporters generally, even the visually-impaired could clearly see the fundamental objective for the existence of G14 is to perpetuate the dominant position of its membership within the game.
Forget dodgy player-owning consortium’s and the Russian geezer’s bottomless wallet — the likelihood is MSI and Roman Abramovich are no more than dark cloud pseudo-threat’s that will, with the passing of time, float by into the oblivion of irrelevance. The G14 Mafioso, on the other hand, is the mob those of us that worry about the future of the sport should be losing sleep worrying about.
Though to date, they have stopped just short of explicitly demanding it; their ultimate objective is the formation of a closed European League. This was confirmed in March this year when an astonishing internal document – intended strictly for G14 eyes only — entitled, “G14 Vision Europe” was leaked to The Guardian newspaper (click this to view article). The document laid out the plan of G14 to hijack the champions League tournament from European’s football governing body, UEFA, by asserting their assumed ‘right’ to financial and regulatory independence.
The quote in response to its content – attributed in The Guardian story to UEFA’s Communications Director, William Gaillard – certainly didn’t mince any words, “This is apartheid: it would be the end of the European model of football. They want to get rid of promotion and relegation and introduce the American model of a closed league….”
And Gaillard’s outrage is nail-on-the-head justified. At a time where the gulf between the rich and poor clubs seems to widen with every passing season, G14 seem determined to consolidate the place of its members at the summit of club football by building an exclusive camp and pulling the ladder up after them.
The staggering single-minded arrogance of the organisation means they do not respect authority — not even the game’s ultimate governing body, F.I.F.A. A long-running dispute in regard recompenses G14 member believe they should receive for the release of players for international duty has gone legal. And some G14 affiliates have threatened to forbid their respective player’s permission to represent their countries in future internationals until this issue is resolved. F.I.F.A. as a result, has put its metaphorical gloves on saying it will expel any club that dare carry out the threat from all European cup competitions. This undoubtedly could best be described as ‘a war of attrition’. At present, the stand-off continues but appears to have all the makings of a major ruck – we should follow developments closely as and when they occur.
If further evidence of the G14’s destructive intent is required, try this: In May this year, one of the organisations most vocal members — legendary German striker and current Bayern Munich president – Karl-Heinz Rummenigge was called as a witness to participate in a European parliamentary debate on the future structure of European football. What he said almost beggars belief.
Rummenigge began by attacking Chelsea’s spending, claiming it distorts the sporting value of European competition. “We make a â‚¬35m profit; this is required for our investment,” he said. “Chelsea lost â‚¬204m; Mr Abramovich obviously stumped up for it. This [means] unequal competition but we are playing against each other in the Champions League. This is not acceptable.”
It’s funny — funny-ironic not funny ha-ha — how it always seems that Old Money has such disdain for the nouveau-riche, isn’t it? Moreover, his condemnation of the west London Massive might offer reason why Chelsea’s numerous applications to join the G14 party have been consistency refused at the entrance door.
G14’s answer to this problem of financial inequality within the game is a radical overhaul of the way football clubs operate — including the introduction of a ceiling on player’s wages. Rumminigge expanded the theory thus: “We could have a salary cap: when a big proportion of turnover is spent on wages clubs are going to be in the red. We should have an overall salary budget capped at, say, 50% of turnover. Across Europe there should be harmonisation. 80 to 85% of professional clubs in Europe are losing money….”
On the face of it, this proposal seems plausible and, some might say, reasonable even. The adoption of a cap would certainly curtail Chelsea’s excesses and therefore restore at least a semblance of parity. But, think it through, and what it also means is limited expenditure, based purely on a club’s annual turnover, would only truly benefit those teams at the top of football’s tree. In other words: The adoption of this system would mean (I think the French say: quelle surprise) the clubs that make up G14’s membership would be the greatest beneficences.
Most fans have come to accept that in 2006 it would be v. difficult for a minor team to climb the leagues and challenge the big boys (a’ la Wimbledon’s famed “Crazy Gang”) but, should this system be implemented, it would make such a happening nigh on impossible. But, then again, maybe that’s the idea.
By far and way Rumminigge’s most telling quote as to the real motives of the G14 came when he was questioned about the organisation’s belief its member clubs should be granted automatic – and perpetual – qualification to the Champion’s League. He said this: “[Bayern Munich has] taken part in the Champions League on 12 occasions it is fair that there should be a body where participation is guaranteed [for certain clubs i.e. G14 members]”
It’s amazing, isn’t it? Rummenigge bitches and moans (and moans and bitches) about Chelsea’s unfair financial advantage. Then, in more or less the next breath, confirms G14’s belief that member clubs should be guaranteed entry into the CL without having to go through the tediously bothersome business of qualification via position in their respective domestic leagues. Words fail me.
The world is full of double standards and we are all guilty of them from time to time but those G14 James Blunt’s don’t just take the digestive; they take the entire f**king biscuit barrel.
Pot. Kettle. Monumental hypocrite’s.
* Presently, a motion has been raised within G14 to expel Juventus from its ranks. The reason cited is — of course – the Old Lady’s demotion to Italy’s Serie B and expulsion from this year’s Champions League in the wake of Il Calciopoli match-fixing scandal.