Great Britain coach Stuart Pearce has once again shown he is hopelessly out of his depth and has unfortunately lived up to the “Psycho” nickname
As the best football tournament in the world concludes at Euro 2012, would it be heresy to suggest that Spain is boring. I know, the beautiful passing and intricate movement and strategic triangles that make the world champions who they are, has thoroughly worn me out. I for one wanted to see Portugal sweep them aside.
Perhaps, it’s not that Spain are boring, more that their opponents are filled with fear and lack adventure.
It’s that lack of adventure that strikes me as I cast a wary eye towards the next big football tournament, the London 2012 Olympic Games. Amid the disappointment of Portugal’s departure, I am truly shocked to see that David Beckham won’t be performing in the most adventurous sports tournament of all.
What has the game come to when its most popular player is not selected to play in his home country’s biggest sporting event in a century. Great Britain’s participation in the football tournament was a triumph that promised to enlighten the 2012 Games.
As an East Londoner, who made the journey from obscurity to football immortality, through hard work and perseverance. He more than most has understood what these Games means to the area.
Without Beckham, the Games will surely miss something special. Beckham, more than any other athlete deserved to be in the Olympic squad. His larger than life support for the tournament helped bring it to the UK and it is unfathomable that we won’t get a chance to see football’s most popular entertainer perform on the biggest stage available in sport.
Sport at this level is after all a wonderful mix of spectator enjoyment and athletic competition. The best events marry those two elements. Beckham’s strong, positive global image has helped football spread to areas that we could hardly imagine just a few years ago. Beckham as a McDonald’s poster boy in the US. Beckham modeling in men’s magazines. Beckham as a Hollywood star on par with Tom Cruise. Beckham as an icon in places where surviving on a few pence a day is a miracle.
It’s not just his diverse appeal and genuinely refreshing willingness to cross social barriers and articulate socially inclusive messages that made him a must, but his talent and passion for the game. Beckham, as much as any professional sports star out there, embodies the Olympic dream and it is a travesty that he is unlikely to be part of the on field action.
Great Britain coach Stuart Pearce has once again shown he is hopelessly out of his depth and has unfortunately lived up to the “Psycho” nickname he so ably sported as an uncompromisingly tough player. His ridiculous omission of Beckham is indeed mad.
Just like his unexplainable decision to appoint Scott Parker as England Captain ahead of Steven Gerrard in his one game in charge of the Three Lions, Psycho has lost the plot.
The romance of the Olympics is driven by young hopeful’s desire to perform at the top level. The desire to be remembered beyond your performances. In the minds of youth around the world as a champion par excellence.
To omit Beckham is to completely misunderstand the Olympic ideal and in fact the nature and rules of the football tournament.
The Olympic football tournament was dominated for many years by Eastern Europeans. When in 1952, the great Hungarian team, including such players as Ferenc Pukas, won the tournament, it stayed in the Eastern Bloc until 1980.
By 1984 LA Games professional players were allowed in and the rules were again changed for Barcelona in 1992 as the Olympics moved into the modern era.
The football tournament is basically an under 23 competition until the finals, when three “over age” players can be added. To improve the marketability, quality and allow for the addition of star names, each football qualifying nation can include three “mature” players. The very purpose of the additions was to enhance the attractiveness of the tournament.
Beckham has apparently been overlooked in favour of three top quality players. It is no slight on them but he should have been in the GB squad. The great Wales and Manchester United star Ryan Giggs has rightly been selected, joined by Wales former captain and Liverpool forward Craig Bellamy and Manchester City defender Micah Richards.
Yet, even Giggs should not have been selected before Beckham, who’s claim on the spot should have been undeniable. To include Bellamy and Richards at the expense of Beckham is to eschew the entire purpose of the additional selections and turn your back on the greater Olympic ideal. To suggest that such lunacy is acceptable in the name of winning is, ugly and unseemly to put it politely.
Would Psycho not have picked an aging Pele or Maradona well past their prime. Would he really have preferred a young talented right back in favour of stars that could illuminate the world stage. Stars that we as paying customers and spectators deserve to see.
Football coaches often learn the hard way. That sport is a wonderful blend of entertainment and reality. Forget the need to entertain the watching public and that your job is in peril.
Pyscho should never have been placed in the position of leadership he now finds himself and will undoubtedly produce an insipid, lack lustre unadventurous brand of Olympic football. At least one thing is assured, Pyscho’s lack of respect for Beckham will define his professional career. He will never recover from his silly, misguided lack of commonsense that has ruined Great Britain’s football tournament before it has even started.
Amid all this talk of a lack of respect for Beckham, it has been near impossible to avoid the word at EURO 2012. RESPECT has been plastered on our screens and images.
It has been almost impossible to watch Euro 2012, I can’t help thinking that the RESPECT campaign has been a massive success. If it isn’t a shirt sleeve or hoarding, its an arm band or advert. Amid the grave pre-tournament warnings of catastrophe, the reality has been far less challenging. Yes, we’ve seen incidents of racism on and off the field. But as Gazzetta dello Sport’s incredible cartoon of Mario Balotelli pictured as King Kong illustrates, it’s not just the beautiful game that has some work to do when it comes to race relations.
UEFA’s RESPECT campaign has been one of the most high profile and best sports inclusivity and diversity programmes I can remember. Race has rightly been at the forefront of the campaign but it has stretched far beyond that. The four core areas, RESPECT Fan Culture, RESPECT Diversity, RESPECT your Health and RESPECT Inclusion have done an excellent job of highlighting critical social issues.
Social projects around the games have included show case games for disability football at the quarter finals stage, a major diversity campaign during the semi-finals, street kick diversity programmes in host cities, monitoring at games by Football Against Racism in Europe, fan friendly spaces, blind, deaf and Cerebral Palsy teams and a host of other exciting activities all based around the main games in key areas.
Spare a thought for another Olympic hopeful far less illustrious than Beckham.
Few will have heard of Beth Lygoe, who is poised to make history as the first female St. Lucian sailor to compete at the Olympic Test Event and possibly the 2012 Olympic Games. In this small island of St. Lucia where we are based, just four Olympic hopefuls are likely to take part in the summer games. You’d think we would be bubbling over with pride that our two high jumpers, Lavern Spencer and Darvin Edwards, are solid bets to make it into the last rounds of the competition and the elite dozen jumpers going for gold. Swimmer Danielle Beaubrun is likely to give a creditable performance in the pool. Yet it is controversy surrounding our fourth hopeful,
Lygoe is a Laser Radial sailor who is extremely proud to represent St. Lucia. Yet during a popular morning sports talk show here the conversation was not one of congratulations but recriminations.
Shockingly, some local callers were suggesting it was a “shame” for Beth to represent the nation. Why, you may ask? Because she is white.