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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: November 19, 2009 @ 5:12 pm

    Who said sports and politics don’t mix?

    Harry McGee

    I was in Buswell’s Hotel a short while ago covering a press conference. As I left by the lobby I spotted Dermot Ahern, the Minister for Justice, being interviewed by a camera crew.

    What was it about? Bankers’ pay? Tiger kidnappings? The Criminal Justice Bill that’s going through the House at the moment?

    Erm, no. It was about last night’s game and the little act of Thierry Henry’s that handed the qualification slot to his side.

    The bold Dermo was calling for FIFA to stop sitting on its hands and order a replay. He was fulminating about the lack of justice.

    Nobody is really talking too much about anything else around here today. It’s dominating cyberspace too and it’s one of the lead stories on any news website I’ve looked at, in Ireland and France (obviously) but also in Britiain, the US, Germany and Spain.

    And if you look at the Beeb or Sky New (and I’m sure any of the French channels) you find Ahern sounding off his criticisms.

    Well, I suppose he’s Minister for Justice after all.

    UPDATE; 5.50PM

    The political ante has upped on this. We have had rakes of statements from politicians today calling for a FIFA investigation and for the game to be replayed. When you think about it, there are huge downsides to the lost, to the economy, to national morale, for the careers of the players. So important that Taoiseach Brian Cowen has also called for a replay.

    The French prime minister has now been reported as getting his own dig in, (and I paraphrase from a half-heard radio report) telling the Irish government essentially to mind its own business.

    Are we entering the territory of gunboat diplomacy?

    Remember the soccer war in 1969, when Honduras and El Salvador declared war on each other after a disputed soccer match between both counties.

    Well, we are not there… well not yet anyway.

    • Tom Ennis says:

      Probably lucky really the Lisbon Treaty referendum is done with- this could have swung sentiment back towards the no camp

    • Dan Sullivan says:

      Just want to check but Dermot didn’t make any “Hand of God” type comments that might be viewed as blasphemous by some?

    • No-moss-gathered, Dublin says:

      It was reported on Newstalk – he is probably a litle better than Cullen to comment – Cullen has little to say of interest on sport and you don’t get the impression he would have any empathy except maybe political apects like funds for Waterford teams.

    • Kynos says:

      Hah. Dermo fulminating about a lack of justice. Tell it to the victims of rendition whom you and your colleagues have done nothing to help Dermo. Tell it to the murdered Iraqis beyond number whom you and your colleagues helped murder by facilitating the murder machines at Shannon. Justice my arse. Quit whinging and take it like men for once in yer shleeveen lives Fianna Fail.

    • dave smith says:

      Nobody holds a grudge like the irish, get over it.

    • Kevin Quinn says:

      Connections crippling debts south american style, football craziness south american style, politicians ability south american style, crazy innit, and we export more bananas than any other country in Europe.

    • Liam says:

      as we dont like being told what to do, I’m surprised Cowen didnt turn up the heat a bit when the French politicians told him to effectively stay out of it.

      @Tom , there would have been great versions of that fake No poster with the kid stepping on the sand castle.

    • Ray D says:

      What is really galling, to me anyway, about this outrageous cheating is that we have been told to learn the lessons from the incident. Well then the lessons ar that cheating is bioth an integral and fullty acceptable part of sport and that, to win, one of the essential ingredients is to cheat as much as possible. This attitude, in my experience of working 43 years in our endemically corrupt society, may suit the way we Irish do our business but I find the lessons completely unacceptable.

    • Dan Sullivan says:

      All we need now is for Tommy Tiernan to go on a J’accuse rant about Dreyfus affair and we can close the loop on the two biggest intertude stories of the year to date.

    • mike says:

      I have said this elewhere: The French are a very proud nation, and I am positive that their Football Association will eventually be pressured into the replay by the French media and public – a deadly combination. But I do believe that Henry should be subsequently banned from international soccer for the rest of the season. This is what happens to cheats in other sports, such as rugby and athletics. Under no circumstance should that man be permitted to play in the replay.

      Another general point: I also wonder what youth soccer coaches are actually teaching our young players: do they tell them NOT to reveal to the ref if they have committed a foul, or broken a rule. Seems to me from the discussion I have been hearing from soccer people is that Henry’s actions are par for the course everwhere, and that you would be letting your side down if you were to tell the ref your error. If our young are being taught by soccer coaches to conceal the truth on the pitch, doesn’t this mean that many of our youth are being taught to act dishonestly, and may not this generalise to their lives in general? So, what kind of low moral standards is soccer actually responsible for? What do coaches actually teach in this regard?

    • dealga says:

      Well done Kynos! Even when we’re screwed in a football match it’s about Iraq. That’s absolute quality.

      Still trying to convince people of your righteousness with your protestations that the death rate in Iraq exceeds 25 people, every single hour, of every single day, since the invasion in 2003?

      Dave Smith – are you English? Well your point reads like an outsider looking in so you might be. You know that goal Maradona scored? You know, the greatest goal in the history of football? That was against your bunch of kickers, remember? Or is your memory clouded by another event from that match?

    • mike says:

      Dave Smith

      I find your comment, “Nobody holds a grudge like the Irish” to be irrational and anti-Irish. What on earth is this comment based on? The Famine perhaps? The brutal occupation of a part of our country for centuries?

      Some people would even argue that your comment was in fact a racist one as you brand a whole people, “The Irish” with your criticism.

    • People’s pensions and savings wiped out, by rogue chairmen and chief executives, homes and businesses flooded in many counties, four young women killed on a notorious black spot, thousands without drinking water and all the politicos and media pundits can go on about is about a handball that the Irish would have done in a nano-second. Irate Irish fans that have ignored the injustice to Georgia at Croke Park and marching on the French embassy. Sad, really sad.

    • Jim says:

      Anyone who ever played any sport knows that this goes on all the time. In 1969 playing in a GAA final as a 13 year old I was told by a Christian Brother to “dive” if touched in the square by my big marker. I did, we got a penalty, scored, and we won the (main Dublin) cup by 2 points as a result.
      It happens, move on.
      The really galling thing about the last few days is that on Thursday everyone had sympathy for us, since Friday everyone thinks we are a pathetic bunch of whiners who do not bother to read the laws of the game before (mostly fairweather fans) demanding unreasonable and unrealistic replays.
      Will the FAI replay the FAI cup final if the referee makes a mistake?.Somehow I doubt it.

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      Oh the irony of a gombeen FF like Ahern lecturing FIFA!

      The country is made bankrupt by Ahern and his colleagues doing the bidding of their paymasters and not a peep from the Irish – no storming Leinster House.

      Yet they lose a football match for a competition they aren’t fit to be at in the first place, as if they were they’d have won some of the previous matches so they wouldn’t need to depend on some last second fluke, and they threaten to storm the French Embassy!

      What a truly pathetic country – it seems the Irish deserve everything that happens to them.

    • kynos says:

      “Still trying to convince people of your righteousness with your protestations that the death rate in Iraq exceeds 25 people, every single hour, of every single day, since the invasion in 2003?” – not at all Dealga. Nothing righteous about it. Just a-gittin’ it off me chest. 1.3 million. Say it slowly. That’s the latest informed estimate. Of those murdered in Iraq by the West (including Ireland) for nowt but a percentage. Kinda puts your ballgame concerns into PeRspeCtive don’t it? Never saw Dermo getting “incandescent” about anything like that. Well. When the Council of Europe or was it the European Parliament revealed the true extent of Ireland’s involvement in illegal war and torture he lit up. But otherwise. Not a bother. Shows where his priorities lie, same as the rest of this kip. And ye wonder why we’re where we are? Heh. Let nobody tell you schadenfreude‘s not enjoyable.

    • kynos says:

      Said just after Keane scored that lovely goal sent in a post on Breaking News signed “well done, Ireland” that just said “If you can meet with triumph and disaster…”. Got a weird vibration at that mo. Thereafter sent in a load of posts saying Take It Like Men and No Whinging and Never Let Them See You Bleed (or words to that effect). Moddo never posted them. And what do we see now? Buncha big girls’ blouses boohoooing ‘cos they lost a lickle game a football. I’d say ye’ have picked it up off the pitch and gone home screwing yer fists into yer eyes and hot tears jumping out. All ye need’s a catapult and a bag of bullseyes stuck out of the arse pocket of yer short grey trousers. Fexake. Embarrassing or what?

    • kynos says:

      When ye all grow up maybe take up fly-fishing. Sport for men. And women I suppose. Don’t hear us whinging about the ones that got away. Isn’t whether you win nor lose but how you play the game long time our colonial masters were trying to teach us that clearly we learn nothing and forget nothing.

    • kynos says:

      Flyfishing’s cheating at a very high level of art. So, for many (most) species is reproduction. False advertising. So is much honour or what passes for it. Along with patriotism it’s his last refuge. And hers I suppose. Football’s supposed to be about honour. So’s flyfishing. So’s war. But they’re all as much about cheating. Get over it. When you grow up and stop bawling at silly songs like You’lll Never Walk Alone and Two Little Boys and stop believing in Santa Claus, Battle Action comics and Imperial old chestnuts like fair play. There was nothing fair play about the Battle of the Atlantic and gentlemen do open other gentlemen’s mail. Frequently PRetending they’re deriving virtue from PRinCiple not PRinCipal and in all cases circumstances.

    • what's the point says:

      “All day I’d looked in the face
      What I had hoped ‘twould be
      To write for my own race
      And the reality;”

    • k says:

      (Suppose the point is far far better scribblers than me have tried and failed.)

    • mike says:

      In my opinion people who fish for sport are just bascially very cruel. They lack an appreciation of the suffering and distress that their sport causes the fish. And real pain is experienced, as research has shown that fish will if given the chance actually seek to avoid noxious stimuli. Just like humans and all living creature.

      I can never understand how humans can bore us silly about man’s inhumanity to his fellow man, and do charitable works, but then go off and derive enjoyment from hunting down fish or animals.

    • Kynos says:

      I take it you don’t eat fish mike. I do. All I catch and some more. You’ll likely not eat meat then also. Nor wear leather goods. No leather seats in your car I’ll hazard. I presume chicken is off the menu also. There are worms and bugs all about us. Do you avoid stepping on them? Himsa, Gandhi said, is an unavoidable part of living in this world. Violence. We’re none of us proof against it. These days btw I do try to use barbless hooks. Makes it much more challenging to land a fish and those who get away are not damaged in the least. As for pain, it is a relative concept, fish have a Central Nervous System, they can respond with distress indicators to threats and attack from other predators (man included), but do they feel “pain” as you or I might? I don’t know, and it might seem the better choice to assume that they do and desist from all activity involving fish being caught and caused pain. Including eating them. Same also for all other creatures that swim, fly and creep along the ground. But what then do we do?

    • kynos says:

      Ahimsa is non-violence. The doctrine the Great Soul (tho’ he hated to be called that) preached. He was no saint. I think at one stage he said if India had the Bomb She would use it on Britain. But we can all be excused getting it off our chest in the heat of the moment. There is no such thing as love there are only acts of love picasso it’s deeds not words that count. So I thnk Ahimsa is more of an approach than a principle. Better that way.

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