Who said sports and politics don’t mix?
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.
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.