Hidden Agendas: The Media and The F.A.

There has been discussion in the media, again, about the bahaviour of Liverpool Football Club and it’s fans, in relation to Patrice Evra and how he was treated at Anfield on Saturday. Evra was roundly booed, but rather than take this as a matter of football fans showing thair displeasure for a player who they believe lied to an FA Disciplinary hearing in order to get a fellow professional, and his club, into serious trouble, certain sections of the media have again mis-represented the situation deliberately in order to continue with their agenda of portraying Liverpool, as a city and a club, populated and supported by racists.

The media agenda is disgusting, nothing more than a smear campaign designed to damage the reputation of LFC as a club, its players, and its management. It has precisely nothing to do with Racism, as I am fairly certain that every 2 bit London Hack knows fine rightly that whatever Suarez said was mis-interpreted and hardly a racist comment.

This is a re-emergence of the Southern press’ hatred for Liverpool which reaches back to the 1970s and 80s, when Liverpool were by far the best team in the land and none of the Southerners could get near them. The militant political climate within Liverpool, strikes,riots, and the famous Heysel disaster were all factors in creating the animosity felt towards Liverpool as a city, a football club and a people. This manifested itself most clearly in the media’s and particularly Celvin Mckenzie’s, that disgusting wart of a weasel, Murdoch’s Sun editor, attempt to blame Liverpool fans for the Hillsborough tragedy in which 96 LFC Fans died (R.I.P.). The twisted lies reported by and published in The Sun, other Murdoch publications and the mainstream press had no foundation in truth whatsoever, and were in fact, completely disproved by the Stevens Enquiry into the disaster.

It is  no surprise that this hatred should surface again now that Kenny Dalglish is back at the helm, as he is the person most synonomous with the Liverpool of that era,both as a player and a manager, but also as a spokesman and an ambasssador. It was Dalglish who attended the victims’ funerals, who visited the victims’ families, who fought tooth and nail for the media’s, and in particular, Mckenzie’s/Murdoch’s lies to be exposed and for the truth to come out. Since Dalglish’s return, these same elements have been looking for any way possible to discredit him and his team, with the Suarez incident, they have found their stick and they won’t be letting trivial matters such as facts and decency get in the way.

I have no idea why we, as a people, read newspapers. We all know, I mean really know, that they are filled with untruths, gossip, and downright lies. We all know too, that they are written to coincide with agendas, sometimes secret, other times not so secret, of the owners/editors.

We have now been shown, in no uncertain terms, as if we needed any more proof, that these owners/editors, are power hungry, corrupt, amoral, in fact, practically sub-human. They are perfectly willing to illegally tap and bug peoples phones and residences, and hack into the private mailboxes of anybody, from politicians to murder victims and their families, in order to dig up any semblance of dirt to use to further their own agendas. Yet we still read them, still listen to them, and, despite all our knowledge, many of us still believe them. I don’t know what that says about us as a nation, but it’s nothing good.

The booing of Evra was justified, and will be justified in future, as many Liverpool fans believe that he embellished his claims of racist abuse in order to get a fellow professional, who had shown him up on the pitch, into serious trouble. The FA Enquiry, and the 115 pages of vaguery and fudge they called a report does absolutely nothing to dispel this belief, rather, it strengthens it, as the inconsistencies in Evra’s evidence are forgiven time and again, despite the fact that he’s been found guilty of misleading this exact type of procedure on a previous occasion; whereas any slight discrepancy in Suarez’s version of events has been seized upon as evidence of his “shady” character and used against him.

The FA itself has acted repehensibly, it has punished a player and disgraced his name publically based on no credible evidence, in order to score political points. This issue aside, the FA is a disaster of a governing body, which is not fit or able to govern the game in this country, and it isn’t just me who thinks so. Let’s take a look.

The FA’s inability to successfully communicate the rules of the game to referees has led to one of the most inconsistent seasons in living memory. Nobody, it seems, knows the rules of tackling, for example; not the players, the managers, not the referees nor the pundits; it has gotten so bad that we’ve got managers using video evidence in press conferences to try to find out what the rules are and how they will be applied. If communicating the basic rules of the game and how it is to be played in England isn’t the FA’S primary function, I don’t know what is.

Then there’s the England management debacle. Millions spent on Sven, who turned out to be average at best when it came to delivering at major tournaments. When he left pundits bemoaned his close ties with the players, which many felt hindered his ability to manage the team, and the concensus was that a real change in mentality was required.So what does the FA do for a replacement? They go and hire his assistant and probably the one person in England who had a closer relationship with the players than Sven himself. Brilliant, a master-stroke, I’m sure you’ll agree. Only it wasn’t, as England failed to qualify for a major tournament for the first time since 1994, and Steve McClaren became the shortest serving England boss ever.

What next for the FA, well most people in the country still wanted an Englishman for the job, but the FA, now looking for a change in mentality, didn’t agree, and they brought in Fabio Capello(after Scolari had turned the job down of course). Now, granted, Capello had a good track record as a club and international manager on paper, two major problems arose, however, which the FA, in their wisdom, failed to identify.

Firstly, Capello’s knowledge of English football, the players, the style, was patchy to say the least, but that’s ok, maybe he’d pick it up as he went. The second problem though, there was no getting away from; the man did not speak a word of English, not one word worth saying, and now, after close to four years, millions of pounds in salary, and a disatrous World Cup campaign, he’s still barely intelligible! I mean, I’m no expert, but you would think that the one, most important pre-requisite for the consideration of an application to be England Manager would be, a good command of the English Language. Call me old fashioned but I’d say that’s a no-brainer, wouldn’t you? Clearly the FA didn’t think so.

Then there’s the whole disciplinary situation, the FA seem to be very good at punishing players from other countries and letting their own, particularly England players, off the hook. Luis Suarez banned for 8 games after a one sided hearing based on no evidence. John Terry’s case taken up by the police after the FA decided not to take any action, even though, Terry is caught on camera calling Anton Ferdinand a “F**king Black C**t! It’s called passing the buck! John Terry is THE player that the FA should be dealing with officially, he is the England Captain for goodness sake! If that does not make him somebody that the English FA should devote their attention to investigating and disciplining, under the circumstances, then what does?

I doubt Terry will be found guilty, as in court, it requires a lot more evidence to convict somebody than it does at a Mickey Mouse FA hearing, if Suarez had appeared in court, the case against him would have been laughed out within 5 minutes. However the FA’s decision to allow the police to handle the Terry situation is another political move. It has ensured that nobody, neither the media nor anybody else, has been able to discuss the situation concerning Ferdinand and Terry, even though it is by far the more serious and clear cut of the two cases; allowing the media frenzy to be coveniently focussed on Suarez, a foreigner. When Terry is cleared, the FA will take no further action and Terry will travel to Poland and Ukraine free as a bird and wearing the Captain’s armband. If by any chance he’s found guilty, the FA will say that the punishment has been decided and no more action will be taken.

Then there’s the case of Wayne Rooney, sticking 2 fingers up to the FA’s respect campaign. Rooney showed a total lack of respect for a fellow professional when he launched an unprovoked assault on a Montenegro player in England’s last Euro 2012 qualifier, viciously kicking out at his opponent when the ball was gone. Rooney has consistently shown himself to have thuggish tendencies and a lack of respect, and this is far from the first time that he’s let his country down. What do the FA do? Punish him further? No, they go cap in hand to UEFA and appeal on his behalf to get his ban for violent conduct reduced from 3 games to two. Magnificent! There’s nothing like practicing what you preach, and setting an example to others is there!

The more recent cases surrounding Manchester City again lay bare the FA’s willingness to punish foreigners and protect their own. Mario Balotelli was given a retrospective 4 game ban for stamping out at Scott Parker, he didn’t connect, and there has to be some doubt about whether he ever meant to connect, nevertheless the FA handed the punishment out. In the same game, Joleon Lescott, England centre-back, smashed Kaboul square in the face with his forearm in a deliberate act, the FA, hiding behind referee, Howard Webb, who’d put in an inept display during the game, missing both incidents, failed to take any action whatsoever. Disgraceful!

Then there’s the disciplinary panel that Luis Suarez faced. First of all, it was all white. Hardly representative of the English game is it! There are more foreigners in the Premier League than there are English players, that’s a well known fact, so why is this not represented within the FA, especially on matters of player discipline where cultural differences can play a massive role, and understanding them is key.

What about the blatant conflict of interest as Manchester United’s Chief Executive, David Gill, is a member of the FA disciplinary committee which dealt with the Suarez/Evra incident. How can the Chief Executive of a Premier League club sit on a committee that deals with Premier League players from his own and other clubs? One that decides on the severity of bans and punishments to be handed down to these players. It’s a shocking state of affairs, it would never be allowed in any other sector and an end must be put to it, sooner rather than later.

Finally, I’d just like to bring into focus, once again, the FA’s remarkable 99.5% conviction rate at disciplinary hearings. Sports lawyers agree that this is an anomaly which is not repeated within any other sporting nor legal body, and it clearly suggests that the FA believes itself to be, and sets the rules to make sure that it is seen to be, infallible. This is, of course, impossible, and it suggests that they only take on cases that they believe they will win, and it also suggests, that perhaps the decision upon a player’s guilt is taken long before the hearing itself, well before the facts of the individual cases are known.

I could go on and on about the ineptitude of the FA, their early booking of facilities for Euro 2012 in Krakow for example, only to find out that England will play all their group matches hundreds of miles away in Ukraine, requiring lengthy travel to each fixture. However, I believe I have painted enough of a picture for you to get what I’m saying. Rather than pointing the finger at Blatter and FIFA, the FA be well advised to look closer to home.

The Football Association in England is not fit for purpose. It is a closed shop, run by an unaccountable Old Boy Network, which conducts it’s business in an opaque fashion for the benefit of the few rather than the many. It requires a radical shake-up, meaning, it needs to become vastly more representative of the game as it is in England now, hugely more transparent in the way that it goes about it’s business, more accountable for it’s own decisions and the decisions of match officials who it advises; conflicts of interest must be removed immediately and disciplinary committees which deal with players should be seen to be impartial and culturally representative. Then and only then will we have the something like the Governing Body that English football so richly deserves.

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