You will all know that Manchester is a city divided into the red half and the sky blue half by soccer loyalties. This week Manchester was confirmed by the government as the city to have the only Super Casino in Britain. Well, Manchester United fans already have a joke ready. The Super Casino will host poker, roulette, and slots, BUT the crap games will still be played at the City of Manchester Stadium !!
In Nyon, near Geneva in Switzerland Michel Platini won a closely contested vote to topple Swedish encumbant Lennart Johansson for the UEFA Presidency. The former French World Cup captain and FIFA World Cup 98 organizer was supported by Sepp Blatter, and wants a 'hands on' approach and is moving his family to Switzerland. Already the Swedish General Secretary Lars-Christer Olsson has handed in his notice and rumor has it that Blatter's Rotweiler, FIFA Deputy General Secretary Jerome Champagne will take over the job. Bringing French work practices to Switzerland will make Harry Kewell look like a workaholic. Maybe Mardi Gras(Fat Tuesday) will be preceded by Lundi Gras, and then followed by Mercredi Gras, Jeudi Gras and finally TGIVSD (Thank Goodness its Vendredi, Samedi and Dimanche), when the bloated staff can really stop work and go skiing.
One of my favourite soccer memories goes back to 1987. I was a guest at AC Nancy-Lorraine, at Stade Marcel Picot. This was Platini's first pro club, prior to playing for St. Etienne and Juventus. After 80 minutes of France vs The World the announcer said that No. 10 Michel Platini departs. Entering the field, No 10 Laurent Platini, his 9 year old son. WHAT A MAGIC MOMENT. Anyway, I have been keeping an eye on the progress of young Laurent, who is now a 27 year old Law Professor at University of Burgundy (Bourgogne) in Dijon, and also works for Paris Saint-Germain PSG. I fully expect him to move to Switzerland to help in the UEFA 'Family Business' -if he can cut the mustard !!!
The tragedy in Sicily this week was just waiting to happen. The problem is governance, and there isn't much of it in Italy, a 2nd World country(that's a country where you can't drink the tap water) with some 3rd World administrators. Look at www.calciocatania.it which has its web site in black, with a message of condolence for the family of Inspector Filippo Racini. Platini offered support for emergency measures. He knows such tragedy, when in 1985 he scored the only goal of the match Juventus vs Liverpool from a penalty given for a foul outside the penalty area after 39 fans died at Heysel Stadium, Brussels due to fan violence at the European Cup Final. England tackled the problem after hooliganism almost ruined The Beautiful Game, and only serious no nonsense government legislation will stop the violence. Often the Italian clubs look the other way and The Ultras get away, as they did on Friday-with murder.
Liverpool FC won't have Middle Eastern owners after all, after the Dubai based group thankfully pulled out of negotiations, and so The Reds won't have racist owners who discrimate against Jews and Israelis. A few days ago United Arab Emirates won the Gulf Cup after a 35 year wait and the team were ushured to the Palace and given $60,000 each, and journalists $4,500 each so they can also celebrate. After Ismail Mater scored the only goal in the semi-final win over Saudi Arabia a fan gave him 2 racing camels worth over $110.00 each. In the final against Oman he again scored the only goal in front of 60,000 fans at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dabai . Liverpool FC will probably be in American hands by next week, with George Gillette and Tom Hicks, owner of the Texas Rangers, Dallas Stars and Mesquite Rodeo taking charge.