We’re now mid-way through the Tour de France and it surely goes without saying that up to this point, everything has gone entirely to plan for Bradley Wiggins and his Sky team. I’ll admit I was one who did not think Wiggins was deserving of his ‘favourite’ tag before the race began (perhaps not until next year) but I seem to have been completely wrong.
Wiggins took the yellow jersey from Fabian Cancellara after dropping the Swiss multiple stage winner on an early climb and hammered home his advantage by crushing all opposition on the first time-trial on Monday. Before Wednesdays stage he maintained a 1:53s gap over his main rival for the win, Cadel Evans. If Wiggins can retain any sort of lead over his rivals while negotiating the mountains, there will be one last time-trial on the penultimate stage to once again increase his lead.
Wiggins is usually a pretty cool customer in front of interviewers but every now and then he lets the questioner know what he really thinks. The following transcript is an exchange which took place not long after a stage finish when an interviewer asked him what he though of those who accused the team of doping:
“I say they’re just f*****g w*****s, I cannot be doing with people like that. It justifies they’re own bone idleness because they can’t imagine applying themselves to do anything in their lives.
“It’s easy for them to sit under a pseudonym on Twitter and write that sort of shit rather than get off their own arses in their lives and apply themselves and work at something and achieve something. And that’s ultimately what counts. C**ts.”
That’s a fantastic bit of plain speaking rhetoric which is pretty much what you should expect if you attempt to ambush a rider minutes after a stage finish with a ludicrous question about drug abuse.
Also entertaining is a video taken in the press area in which Bradley Wiggins expresses his unhappiness after nearly being decapitated by a fast-moving cameraman. Check it out:
A few weeks ago now we wrote about how FIFA were heading into a pre-World Cup contretemps with hosts Brazil over a couple of items – the sale of beer within the stadia (which is currently prohibited in Brazil) and limits on the number of discounted ticket available to pensioners and students.
In typical amateurish FIFA style, the Secretary General of the much-derided organisation, Jerome Valcke, decided it would help things along to say that the Brazilians needed a ‘kick up the backside’ and were more concerned about winning the competition than setting it up. The fact that Mr Valcke’s organisation is clearly the one needing a ‘kick up the backside’ had clearly passed him by and Brazil, through sports minister Aldo Rebelo, responded by rightly saying it wanted no further contact with Valcke.
Valcke consequently backed down immediately and sent a letter to the Brazilian sports ministry to apologise. The elderly head of this FIFA, Sepp Blatter decided he would apologise too, stating that he wanted to “apologise to everyone who may have had their honour and their pride hurt, especially the Brazilian government and President Dilma Rousseff.”
Being the greedy commercial organisation that it is, FIFA want to restrict the sale of beer inside the stadia to it’s corporate sponsors, forcing everyone to drink a low quality, mass produced product. The first hurdle to overcome is the illegality of beer consumption within Brazilian arenas and there is currently a bill passing through the Brazilian Congress. That bill is facing some pretty stiff opposition and it seems that FIFA are now trying to surreptitiously impose their own will on the Brazilian congress. If that’s the case, FIFA’s actions are completely unacceptable and an apology is the least it should be offering.
It’s fair to say that Brazil is experiencing one or two issues regarding it’s preparation for the 2014 World Cup but nothing which won’t ultimately be overcome. Nine of the twelve stadiums will be either renovated or constructed by the end of 2012 and the remaining three will be finished during 2013. This is alongside a number of other infrastructure improvements which will contribute to Brazil’s world cup legacy.
It’s no secret that Manchester United are one of the most disliked teams in the English Premier League. You can dislike them because of their success, because of their legions of far flung fans who will never get to see them live but buy into the ‘dream’ or perhaps because of the perceived arrogance of the players and manager.
For some of us lower league supporters though, the reason is a little different. Manchester United is the embodiment of the ruthless business ethic that took hold of the Premier League in the early 1990s; before the Glazers took over it was the PLC which used its reach and influence to hoover up the spare fans and pounds from every provincial town in the country and by extension help many of those town’s clubs on their way to significant financial difficulties. That those smaller teams managed to survive owes nothing to any ‘trickle down’ wealth from the Premier League but everything to local supporters and communities and occasionally a charitable benefactor.
My point is that there are very good reasons why we still want Manchester United to lose when we watch them play but on Saturday lunchtime, Liverpool’s Luis Suarez somehow managed to make us forget all that and back United against possibly their biggest rival.
What happened all dates back to the well-reported racism incident between Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra which led to an eight match ban for Suarez and a general recognition that he was in the wrong. Saturday’s match was the first meeting between the two players since the incident and all Suarez had to do was shake hands with the man he abused in the pre-match line up. Evra offered up his hand and Suarez ignored him, instantly re-igniting the whole unsavoury business. The guilty party had failed to shake hands with the victim and that is why, in that moment, we suddenly didn’t mind if Manchester United won the match.
Far, far too late on Sunday, Suarez apologised to everyone involved (apart from Evra) after Liverpool’s owners apparently realised the negative effect on Liverpool FC was getting out of control. Manager Kenny Dalglish, who has so far rather unwisely stood by Suarez, was also asked to apologise after berating a Sky Sports journalist who asked him about the missing handshake. Dalglish said he never saw it.
This whole sorry saga should never have reached the point where Liverpool’s owners had to step in to advise their employees to do the right thing and it remains to be seen whether the apology will draw a line under the affair.