Football Diary


by Patrick O'Connor




LOVE the idea being suggested by a part-time professional league which operates in the north of England.


The Northern League, said to be one the world's oldest professional leagues, is set to introduce “secret shoppers” to spot officials and players who swear during games.


The plan is that the League could then “name and shame” the worst offending clubs. The League covers 46 clubs from Northumberland, Tyneside, Teesside, County Durham and North Yorkshire and chairman Mike Amos said: “People say to me 'it's a passionate game' and it is - but it is also a disciplined game. If you go to a Premier League game with 50,000 people there and the players and management are effing and blinding, you can't hear it, and so in a sense it doesn't matter.


“But if you are at a game with 100 people in the ground, you can hear.”


Now it looks as a “swearing league” will be published on a club's website, in programmes and the league's own magazine.


Mr Amos added: “We have to get it through to the managers that the crowd is a few feet behind them. If they are swearing like that on a main street on a Friday night they would be arrested, so what makes it acceptable at a ground?”


Find it difficult to argue with that.


Euro 2012 is now upon us and many top footballers are virtually playing the whole year around.


Dr Jiri Dvorak, the chief medical officer for Fifa, has warned that the “abuse” of painkillers is putting the careers and health of international footballers in jeopardy.


He said that the last World Cup almost 40 per cent of players were taking pain medication prior to every game.


He told the BBC: “Unfortunately, there is the trend to increase the intake of medication. It is something that we have to really take seriously and ask what is behind it?”


Pressure to win is what is behind it – but at what cost?


As for the tournament itself, the big debate is whether teams will try and emulate Chelsea by stifling Spain's Barcelona type passing game.


Chelsea knocked the Spanish giants at the semi-final stage of the Champions League and former Liverpool midfielder Jan Molby said: “It shows you how quickly football evolves that teams have got used to playing against Barcelona. Even with the Spanish team, I'm thinking where does the width come from with pace? So they are becoming a little bit predictable.”


We shall see but I still think Spain are favourites.


I see that England are rated the fourth best team in Europe, according to Fifa's latest world rankings which I think is rather generous.


Newly appointed manager Roy Hodgson will no doubt turn out a well-drilled, disciplined side but for me England lack flair, especially with star striker Wayne Rooney suspended for the first two games.


There has been plenty of talk pre-tournament about how to tackle racism if it rears its ugly head in Poland or Ukraine.


The Uefa president Michel Platini says the best way is for referees to stop a match whenever there is abuse. But he also warns that any players who walk off the pitch at Euro 2012 due to racial abuse will be booked.


And how sad it was to read that the Dutch players, who had the day before visited the nearby Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz, had been subjected to racial chanting during a open training session.


Will we ever learn?