Saturday, 12 December 2009

Anti-Sports Personality Thierry Henry and more on Anti-Sectarianism

Tomorrow is the annual BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards, I'll be writing up my views on who I think deserves it most later. However, what I did see in the Grauniad today was an anti-sports personality of the year poll.

In reverse order the result was

Andre Agassi 1.7% for fessing up to using recreational drugs and admitting to hating tennis

Martin Johnson 2.2% for failing to admit England play dull rugby (as an Irishman I say keep it up, we'll take another Grand Slam or at least an English scalp)

Tiger Woods 2.3% for well those 'transgressions' which are tarnishing his image.

Sulaiman Al-Fahim 2.8% whose financial boasting was on a greater scale than Livingston's own Massone during his short ownership of Portsmouth FC.

Mike Ashley 7.2% for his disastrous running of Newcastle resulting in their relegation from the Premiership which even Alan 'God' Shearer couldn't divert in the last 8 games of last season.

Emmanuel Adebayor 7.7% for his incendiary goal celebration at Manchester City in front of his former clubs fans.

Dean Richards 9.7% for his part in Harlequins Rugby bloodgate scandal, and it wasn't to try and get in on the Twilight trend.

Flavio Briatore 12.3% for that race-fixing incident in Singapore I trust rather than all the leggy models.

Sepp Blater 25.7% for introducing seedings into World Cup play-offs which was deemed to be unfair.

Thierry Henry 28.4% for that handball.

The ultimate winner brings me to an interesting point. Recently Iain Dale posted an image on his blog, which I'm not going to link to, of Thierry Henry with a ball under his arm and an Orange sash over his shoulder.

Now I know that Iain is a football fan. I'm pretty sure he wholeheartedly backs the Show Racism the Red Card initiative to stop racist chants from the stand. I'm sure he is also behind the 2005 FA summit to aim to stamp out homophobic behaviour in football as well. So why then does he believe a sectarian football image is OK to publish on his blog?

Growing up in Northern Ireland, as indeed applies in Scotland the one question that kids ask each other is which team do you support. The answer in most cases can determine your religion pretty easily. My answers of Bangor, Liverpool and Livingston don't give the game away too much. But once the question is answered or not answered depending on who is asking the trouble can start. Supporting the wrong team can lead to bullying, physical violence or worse. It is not based in those areas merely on your support of the team but from that teams identification with one side of the religious divide.

As for the claims that all Northern Irish protestant football fans were glad that Henry's handball put the republic out that is also not true. Judging from my friends' online reaction to the news ALL my Irish friends of all sides, in both parts were up in arms about the blatant cheating that he got away with. Having supported the Irish team in USA '94 in the Irish pub across the road from work I can assure you it is one of those things that would have united all Irish football fans again. Indeed we came very close to getting both teams to South Africa next year which would have been something.

I was call 'sanctimonious so-and-so' in the comments on Iain's blog for raising my concerns about this issue and being bold enough to stand up against it. I'm not going to apologise. It is a real issue of concern.

It really is time to kick out bigotry in football.

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