Bigots rule the football family
21:25 GMT, 25 May 2012
22:55 GMT, 25 May 2012
Sepp Blatter, the president of world football's governing body FIFA, and his brother in arms, Michel Platini, the boss of Europe's UEFA, are terribly fond of telling us all that the sport is 'one great big family'.
Unfortunately, it appears to be Alf Garnett's family.
If you're black, Asian, homosexual, or happen to be of the 'wrong' religious persuasion, the football fraternities are not particularly concerned about whether you attend their reunions or not.
Beasts: Violence in Ukraine has made Oxlade-Chamberlain travel alone
In fact, it's worse than that. Should you be anything other than white and straight, football has elected to stage their lavish shindigs in locations that pose a genuine danger to your safety.
That much was made abundantly clear when the relatives of England's black players were forced to accept the realities of Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice and scrap plans to travel to Ukraine for Euro 2012 because of the heightened risk of racial incidents.
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Theo Walcott's father, Don, reserved flights and hotel rooms in Donetsk to watch his boy play for his country against France in 16 days, but then the family decided to cancel the trip 'because of the fear of possible racist attacks and confrontations'.
For Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's father, Mark Chamberlain, there will be few prouder moments in life than the moment his boy makes his debut in a competitive international at the European Championship finals.
However, he will watch it on television, since he is not prepared to put himself or his loved ones in jeopardy.
Chamberlain said: 'There have been reports over the last couple of weeks of racist taunts and threats so it's just prudent to keep away from it. Safety is more important than a game of football.'
That isn't what football's showpiece events are supposed to be about.
They are meant to be celebrations, not the reward for years of bigotry and abuse.
But what's next
After Euro 2012 the World Cup in Russia in 2018 is hardly going to be vastly different.
Racism is endemic there too.
Moreover, anyone who even suggests a homosexual relationship is in any way equal to a mixed-sex couple in Russia faces a fine of 10,000 as well as a beating.
Homophobia is certainly rife in Ukraine. Kiev's first gay pride parade was scrapped this week when more than 500 far-right extremist hooligans ambushed the organisers' offices.
Fear factor: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's family will not travel to the Ukraine
The Foreign Office has already issued a travel warning saying any gay fans at Euro 2012 need to 'keep a low profile'.
It will be the same when the World Cup is held in Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal.
The true scandal here is that decent people are being put into these predicaments in the first place.
No fan or player should ever have to put up with monkey chants or abuse or violence simply because of the colour of their skin, their sexuality or their religion.
But football is asking them to this summer. And then again in summers ahead.
FIFA, that great bloated pig of commerce and greed, and its sibling UEFA, have sold their tournaments to countries that clearly do not welcome everyone with open arms – which should surely be the first criterion on any list.
Here in England, the Professional Footballers' Association wants racism to be a sackable offence, with a clause written into players' contracts. It's a noble and principled stance.
Happy families: Sepp Blatter (left) and Michel Platini (top), and Alf Garnett (right)
Sadly, parts of eastern Europe are decades away from such measures.
Amid all the gloomy forecasts, Walcott's brother Ashley asked the most pertinent question: 'Why hold a competition of this magnitude in a place that cannot police itself and where foreigners of any creed cannot feel safe'
Let us not give any weight to the tosh that this is a beneficial exercise in 'educashun' for the locals, where fat white men ask minorities to put themselves at the centre of some bogus and risky social engineering project.
When in doubt, I find it prudent to opt for the obvious answer.
Why is the tournament in such a place
Because someone, somewhere is getting a great deal of money.
Eden, a tart from the start
Eden Hazard is a footballer in demand at the moment and, boy, has he really gone out of his way to put himself in the shop window.
Unfortunately, he appears to think it is one of those windows that you find in the red light district of Amsterdam (or so I'm told).
Hazard: Outrageous 'come and get me' plea
Hazard has teased and pouted his way through the most embarrassing transfer auction of recent times, smiling beguilingly through the glass at his suitors and making it abundantly clear that he is absolutely and totally committed to whoever happens to be walking past with the largest wallet.
Right now, Hazard is on the verge of accepting a huge money deal from either Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City or even – and don't laugh – Arsenal, depending on which paper you read.
City are said to be cooling on the transaction, allegedly because of the outrageous demands being made by agents.
While Arsenal appear to have as much of a chance of signing Hazard as Portsmouth.
But the suggestion kept his publicity machine spinning along regardless.
While there is nothing wrong with the Belgian trying to negotiate the most attractive deal for himself as he exits Lille, the manner in which he has gone about it has undeniably cheapened his appeal.
He broadcast he would reveal his chosen club last weekend, plugging this momentous declaration for all it was worth (which, according to reports, could be anything up to 32million and 200,000 a week).
But it turned out it was another tease and the protracted sale was dragged out a little longer.
No guarantee: Didier Drogba (above) was a hit, but Hazard may not be
Hazard said this week: 'I don't know when I'll make a decision. It will be Manchester City, Manchester United or Chelsea. The decision will depend on the amount of play I would see and the position.'
And the cash, of course.
The danger is that by the time Hazard arrives in the Premier League, everyone will already be heartily sick of him.
There's no guarantee he will be a success either.
For every Didier Drogba that translates success in the French League to these shores, there is a Marouane Chamakh.
When Hazard finally agrees to go somewhere he needn't bother posing with the scarf of his new club, as new players usually do.
He's been such a tart about it all they should just hand him a feather boa.
Word from the Ys: you're such an idiot, Barton
Earlier this year Joey Barton claimed that no journalist would ever tell his story truthfully, usually because they kept mentioning his inconvenient past and ruining his whole image makeover lark.
He complained: 'They projected someone who was not the real me: it was the “me” that the press wanted to project. So I'm doing it myself. People are now beginning to see the man I am.'
Anyone got any updates on how that's been going of late
The Y generation speaks: But will Barton ever listen
Barton decided Twitter was his platform, going as far as to say it was 'the medium of Generation Y – these are my people'.
This will be the same Generation Y that sent Twitter into meltdown after a sizeable proportion discovered that 'Titanic' wasn't just a film, but a real-life marine disaster (OMG!).
So rather than go into the obvious moralising about Barton's reckless violence on the last day of the season, I thought I'd address the issue of how the player's time would be best used during his 12-game ban
And who better to ask than 'his people' Here was Twitter's response.
'National service' @ZolalOM.
'Afghanistan or Iraq' @IanHWilkinson. 'Emigrate' @biglostson. 'Backpacking around the Amazon without a map' @colinread59.
'I suppose a thousand have suggested anger management classes' @Gaz_Anthony. (Yes, they did). 'Guest presenter on Newsnight' @madagi.
'Write a thank you note to Gordon Taylor at the PFA for the 10-week salary he'll be paid for doing nothing' @sutfol99.
Crayola philosophy: Friedrich Nietzsche might have said it's time Barton learned to join the dots
'Learn the ancient, martial art of attacking someone who's actually facing him' @simgeo35 'Google more wise quotes that can be copied and pasted to Twitter to make him seem 'actually quite intelligent' @OllieHarden. 'Is there a Nietzsche colouring book' @turbohat 'Join the Press Pass' @James_Paton. (The offer was made, yet to be accepted).
Maybe devise 140 characters of his own, instead of cutting and pasting those of others @Jugzski1963.
We'll ignore the last suggestion, bearing in mind the contents of this piece.
But there you have it: Barton's 'people' have spoken. It turns out Generation Y is quite smart.
Food for thought… from fatheads
It's pretty clear that Specsavers are not one of the Olympic sponsors.
If they were, some idiot at the top of UK Athletics might not have blurted that Jessica Ennis, the golden girl of the British Olympic squad, is 'fat'.
Heavy or heavenly: We know which applies to Jessica Ennis
The 63 stone teenage girl who had to be winched from her South Wales home once the walls were demolished is fat. Ennis is most certainly not.
I was with Jess in Sheffield the other day and I can assure you she is the living embodiment of female health and athleticism.
But the heptathlete's coach, Toni Minichiello, revealed that a high-ranking Olympic official told him she had 'too much weight'.
Now where might that be found exactly, because I'd be happy to conduct a full inspection.
I suspect the hunt would end on her earlobes.
There isn't much else that hasn't been honed and toned to perfection.
While it would be easy to dismiss this official's remark as ridiculous nonsense, it actually betrays a serious problem in British athletics.
Athletes are far more prone to developing eating disorders than non-athletes, because of their constant search for better times and performance.
For every male affected, there are 10 females hiding a secret fight with anorexia nervosa or bulimia.
And no wonder, when the only fat in evidence at the elite level of the sport is to be found between the ears of some moron in charge.
Flagging already: The Roy Hodgson hype
Roy Hodgson sends his England team out for the first time on Saturday.
Now if they win against Norway, it doesn't mean we are suddenly witnessing the new European champions-elect.
And if they lose, it's not necessarily the end of the world either.
OK You're not listening, are you
Next week, this column will be hiding in a desert somewhere to escape the England hype. Back soon.