Day: June 13, 2012

Euro 2012: Germany 2-1 Netherlands

There are some football matches which transcend mere rivalry and tap into something more deep-seated, as if they tickle a synapse that we may even think that we have evolved away from. Few of these occur in international football, but when they do, they arrive with a force of personality that is almost overwhelming. The story of the Netherlands versus Germany isn’t just a tale of footballing rivalry, though. It’s a story of national identity, perceived injustice, what might have been and occasional bouts of appalling behaviour and violence, and almost forty years after arguably its defining moment, remains a brightly burning flame. To understand the rivalry between the Netherlands and Germany is to pass well beyond sport and into something considerably more fundamental about human nature. In 1974, West Germany came from behind to win in the Olympic Stadium. Fourteen years later, the Dutch got their when a Marco Van Basten goal two minutes from time won a European Championship semi-final in Hamburg. Since then there has been toing and froing but this summer saw the two sides drawn together in the group stages of the European Championships with both sides near the pinnacle of the international game, yet something isn’t right in the Dutch camp. Familiar rumours – whether with foundation or not – surfaced of disagreements within the Dutch squad, whilst on Saturday afternoon they looked...

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New Century, Old Tensions: Russian & Polish Supporters Clash In Warsaw

For those amongst us of a certain age, the scenes from the streets of Warsaw yesterday afternoon and evening had a wearyingly familiar look to them – streets of mostly young men, mostly wearing terrible clothes, trading kicks and punches on the street of a European city whilst others, including, of course, a media that had over the last few days given every impression of really looking forward to this moment, looked on. The Polish police had been aware of the potential for crowd trouble to come from the fixture between Poland and Russia, but even a tightly co-ordinated effort on their part to keep the peace on the streets of their capital city c0uldn’t fully contain those that wanted to fight and the result was one hundred and eighty-three arrests – with more to expected to follow – and ten injuries. Somewhere in the middle of all of this, an effervescent match was played out which ended in an honorable draw which keeps both with one eye on qualification from their group with one match left to play. Where, though, might we start to apportion blame for the scenes in Warsaw yesterday afternoon and evening? Moreover, does it even matter whose “fault” it was? At street level, perhaps, it doesn’t. There were evidently plenty of people in Warsaw yesterday afternoon of either nation that were spoiling for a fight, and to...

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Rangers: The CVA Failure

So farewell then, Rangers’ Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) and farewell too, Rangers’ administrators Duff & Phelps (D&P). The announcement that HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) are going to oppose D&P’s proposals to take Rangers out of administration came as news to many followers of national and local newspapers, TV and radio in Scotland, while it has been flagged as “inevitable” by some bloggers for months on end. The media has long-punted the line that HMRC would agree to take a paltry percentage of the multi-millions of pounds they believe Rangers have underpaid in tax almost throughout this century. “Deals” had been done with organisations such as HM Treasury. “Nods” had been given to prospective owner, the former Sheffield United chief executive Charles Green. When former Chelsea star and current TV pundit Pat Nevin asked on March 19th what would happen if a CVA failed, the BBC’s Roddy Forsyth and Daily Record newspaper journalist Keith Jackson refused to answer the question or even countenance the possibility of a CVA failing. Forsyth was particularly adamant that HMRC had told him they would not oppose a CVA if it was “fair and equitable” and facilitated “regime change” (i.e. getting shot of Craig Whyte). “Their words… not mine” Forsyth said, and wrote in his Daily Telegraph column, smug as you like. He must have misheard. Meanwhile, the bloggers, dismissed as Celtic fans on...

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