Day: May 12, 2008

Euro 2008 – The National Anthems!

High on the list of things that are usually part of the tradition of international football tournaments but probably won’t be for much longer are the national anthems. For those of us watching at home, the national anthems are one of the great traditions of these tournaments, and are also one of the ways in which we can learn anything from football. If you were to ask 1000 British people to hum the Brazilian national anthem, I would personally guarantee that every single person that could do it at all would be able to do it because of the tune’s ubiquity at the World Cup. At least for those of us watching on the television, the national anthems are on the endangered list. At the last World Cup, ITV frequently disgraced itself by breaking away from the national anthems to show some adverts and, as television heads further and further down the road marked “mindless banality”, others will be likely to follow, seeing them as old fashioned and outdated. After all, who wants to listen to a pair of stupid old hymns that no-one knows the words to when you could be listening to three old pros “bantering” in the studio? So, national anthems are outdated, often unfathomable and mean nothing to anyone that isn’t from the countries that they represent. They have, however, become a musical genre of...

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Falling From Grace

There are few more poignant sights than a prodigious talent that has gone wrong and, for anyone that remembers him in his prime, the descent from grace of Paul Gascoigne has been a long, drawn out affair. Concerns over his substance abuse have long since been replaced over concerns for his overall mental well-being, but the recent life of Paul Gascoigne raises important questions over how football looks after (or rather doesn’t look after) its former players. What happens to a man that had spent his whole life dedicated to the game when he can no longer play it? Does football have a moral responsibility to ensure that players have something else to go to when the crowds stop cheering and the stadium empties? For people of my age, Paul Gascoigne was of the last generation of players that we really looked up to. He is of the last generation of players that was older than I was and, as such, one had expectations of him that one might not have of today’s players. His time at Tottenham Hotspur was a period in which a player, in front of our very eyes, began to mature into one of the best midfielders in European football. At the 1990 World Cup, we saw glimpses of both the genius and the impetuousness that would prove to be the blights over his career....

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