Tag Archives: nationality

West Ham will punish minority – David Gold

We will investigate from top to bottom and the minority will be punished



22:40 GMT, 26 November 2012

Like many of the people around me in the directors’ box at White Hart Lane I didn’t hear or see any of the reported inappropriate behaviour during Sunday’s game with Tottenham. If I had then I’m sure I would have been mortified.

We have a clear stance towards any kind of discriminatory behaviour at West Ham — it will simply not be tolerated.

David Sullivan and I are leading an investigation from the top of the club to establish exactly what happened.

Warning: David Gold promised action will be taken by West Ham

Warning: David Gold promised action will be taken by West Ham

If we can identify any individuals who have acted inappropriately they will be sought out and banned by the club as part of our zero-tolerance policy.

We genuinely believe we have some of the best supporters in the country and we will not let a minority of fans — no matter how small — affect the reputation of our great club.

We are a club that promotes tolerance and inclusion of people from all backgrounds, race and religion.

Just a quick look around our boardroom table would tell you that.

I am very proud of my Jewish heritage and have always been made to feel welcome at West Ham since I started watching them as a young boy back in the 1950s.

Disgraceful: West Ham fans allegedly sang ant-Semitic songs on Sunday

Disgraceful: West Ham fans allegedly sang ant-Semitic songs on Sunday

That wasn’t always the case growing up in the East End and I know first-hand how difficult dealing with prejudice can be, which is why I feel so passionately about promoting inclusion in society today.

At West Ham we feel very passionately that every supporter should be made welcome at the Boleyn Ground, whatever their race, religion or nationality and we are keen for our club to carry on taking the lead in promoting tolerance and inclusion of people from all backgrounds and cultures.

We must not let the tens of thousands of supporters who follow our club in exactly the right way be overlooked by Sunday’s events.

Roberto Martinez questions the Rooney rule

We don't need the Rooney rule in England, claims Wigan boss Martinez



14:47 GMT, 25 October 2012

Roberto Martinez has thrown his weight behind the PFA's new anti-racism initiative but insisted there is no need for a 'Rooney rule' to try and increase the quota of black managers in English football.

The Wigan manager welcomed a six-point plan that would make racism a sackable offence and is aimed at preventing disillusioned black players forming a breakaway body to tackle the problem.

But while he fully endorsed sanctions aimed at eradicating any lingering trace of racist abuse from the game, he was less sure that prejudice had any effect on managerial appointments.

Doubt: Martinez says there is no need to increase the quota of black managers

Doubt: Martinez says there is no need to increase the quota of black managers

The Rooney rule was introduced by the NFL in 2003 to ensure qualified black coaches were included on interview lists for job vacancies, and it features in the PFA's proposals.

But Martinez feels it may be an unnecessary part of a package of measures he otherwise supports wholeheartedly.

'I am very much in favour of what they are suggesting, in relation to racist conduct,' he said.

'As a football club, Wigan are very clear about this issue. Racism should not have any space in football, or any walk of life, for that matter.

'I support this 100 per cent and will be happy to help the authorities in any way I can. It is the responsibility of everyone within the game to make sure there are no instances, or even signs, of any racism. We want to stop it completely, and we have been very fortunate here, in never having had even a suggestion of it.

'But the Rooney rule I don't know about that. I don't think anyone has been stopped (from being appointed to a job) because of nationality or race. In my experience, whenever a job has come up, it has been a case of looking for the person who is best qualified to do it. When you consider a candidate, it is important to look at everything about them, not their race or nationality. I have never seen that as an issue.'

London 2012: German Philip Hindes prepped for British team talks by watching "The Inbetweeners" DVD

German Hindes prepped for GB team talks by watching 'The Inbetweeners' DVD



17:59 GMT, 20 July 2012

The man who will lead out Sir Chris
Hoy and Jason Kenny as they challenge for gold in the team sprint at
London has admitted he swapped Germany for Britain primarily to win
Olympic medals.

Philip Hindes said he had not been
getting a chance in the German squad, as there were two faster men in
his role, so he moved to Manchester during the winter of 2010 and joined up
with British Cycling.

British team: Chris Hoy (left), Philip Hindes (centre) and Jason Kenny

British team: Chris Hoy (left), Philip Hindes (centre) and Jason Kenny

Britain had been searching for a quick enough man to front the team from a standing start since Jamie Staff retired following gold in Beijing.

Hindes, 19, has been labelled 'the find of the century' by head GB coach Shane Sutton. He qualifies through his father, who was stationed by the British army in Germany, and he trained as a junior before the switch. He was candid enough to reveal any medal he won would be for himself before his country.

Asked why he changed nationality, Hindes said: 'The German system is not really great. In Germany we were talking about the British team, how professional they are. They have quite a good reputation around the world.

Great Britain's Men's team sprint squad

'The only thing I was really good in was the standing lap. They (Germany) have two really fast man ones and I was half a second slower than them.

'My dad is British and I have quite a lot of family over here. I just thought maybe I could go into the British team. I left everything behind in Germany and start a new life in Britain.

'When I first came over here I was always
thinking at the back of my mind, I could go to the Olympics but didn't
really believe; it was more like a dream.'

Schools out: Hindes brushed on his English with help from The Inbetweeners comedy show

Schools out: Hindes brushed on his English with help from The Inbetweeners comedy show

Asked whether athletes won medals for themselves or their nation he said: 'First for themselves. You want to be good. I want to make myself proud, then your country.'

Hindes said he only spoke German when growing up, adding: 'I was quite lazy. I couldn't be bothered to learn English. I can't really speak proper English when I'm tired, I forget the words. But when I'm in with Chris or Jason my English is better. I can sing the anthem. I need to show respect to the country.'

Hoy revealed he had helped Hindes's English by lending him comedy DVDs such as 'The Inbetweeners' and American show 'Community', while Hindes picked out Yorkshire puddings a particular favourite of life in Britain.

David Haye lighter than Dereck Chisora at Upton Park fight weigh-in

Haye 37lbs lighter than Chisora as rivals exchange final stare down at weigh-in



17:15 GMT, 12 July 2012

David Haye will be conceding 37lbs to Dereck Chisora when the British heavyweight rivals meet at Upton Park on Saturday night.

Haye scaled 210lbs at a feisty weigh-in at the Odeon Cinema, Leicester Square, the lightest he has been for any of his six heavyweight fights.

Chisora, the underdog, will enter the ring with a two and a half stones advantage after totaling 247lbs.

Scroll down for video

Ready to rumble: David Haye and Dereck Chisora are divided by a steel fence at the weigh-in

Ready to rumble: David Haye and Dereck Chisora are divided by a steel fence at the weigh-in


None TITLES None
31 AGE 28
Hayemaker NICKNAME Del Boy
26 FIGHTS 18
24 (23) WINS (KO) 15 (9)
2 (1) DEFEATS (KO) 3 (0)
British NATIONALITY British
Bermondsey BIRTHPLACE Zimbabwe
Orthodox STANCE Orthodox
2002 TURNED PRO 2007
2011 LAST DEFEAT 2012
6ft 3ins HEIGHT 6ft 1.5ins
210lbs WEIGHT 247lbs
78inches REACH 74inches

Both fighters arrived with large entourages that crept within five metres of each other as Haye and Chisora weighed in, cheered on by their supporters in a packed room.

It was the fourth time Haye and Chisora have met since their infamous brawl in Munich five months ago, an incident that created the demand for Saturday's showdown.

As usual a steel fence was in place to separate them and they weighed in either side of the barrier.

When they came face to face through the mesh, Chisora and his trainer Don Charles taunted Haye.

'We drive the same cars and we're going to have the same records,' Chisora said.

Through the wire: Chisora goads rival Haye as the rivals exchange their final stare down ahead of Saturday's fight

Through the wire: Chisora goads rival Haye as the rivals exchange their final stare down ahead of Saturday's fight

'I've had three losses and after the fight he'll have had three losses. We'll be even. I'm coming for you.

'I'm feeling good, I'm excited and I can't wait. It's going to be a great fight, the fans will love it.'

Haye highlighted Chisora's lengthy criminal record and conduct within boxing as the reason for his hatred of the 28-year-old.

And he branded his opponents' supporters 'idiots'.

'Chisora's not a nice guy, the fact
he bites people in the ring, spits water in peoples' faces, slaps people
at weigh-ins, kisses people at weigh-ins. What's to like' he said.

'I don't know how anyone in their right man could support Dereck Chisora, a convicted woman beater.

'Who would support someone like that Someone who says and does the things he does What is there to support

'What type of sane human being supports someone like that Maybe another idiot would, someone like himself.

'There were a handful of idiots here who supported him, they were probably his mates.'

Making a fist of it: Haye poses for the cameras

Making a fist of it: Haye poses for the cameras

On the scales: Chisora weighed in a 37lbs heavier than rival Haye

On the scales: Chisora weighed in a 37lbs heavier than rival Haye

Haye insisted Puerto Rican referee Luis Pabon is equipped to deal with any erratic behaviour from Chisora.

'We've got a good referee who won't stand for any foolishness and I'm confident he will handle anything,' he said.

Charles also faced-off with Haye at the fence and later explained the anger he directed at the 31-year-old.

'I try my best in all the fights Dereck has had in the past to not get emotionally involved,' he said.

'But I can't stand David Haye. The arrogance he shows is beyond belief. He's delusional and lives in a dream world.

'He's a guy who plays a lot of
Playstation games and he gets caught up in that mindset, he thinks it's
all a game, but this is real.'

Frank Warren, meanwhile, has denied Upton Park could be turned into a battleground for warring West Ham and Millwall fans.

Adding a sinister backdrop to the
occasion is the potential for crowd trouble given that Bermondsey-born
Haye is a Millwall supporter.

War of words: Haye and Chisora will finally get the chance to go at eachother in the ring on Saturday

War of words: Haye and Chisora will finally get the chance to go at eachother in the ring on Saturday

concern is that the presence of Lions fans at Upton Park could provoke
any Hammers attending the fight, but Warren stresses the Metropolitan
Police Service are satisfied with the security arrangements in place.

'These fears that have been raised are a load of ********,' said Warren, Chisora's manager.

'I don't know how many Millwall games David Haye has been to but there hasn't been any problems at his other fights.

'Dereck supports Manchester United, so what's the issue

game's at Upton Park but we're not selling tickets on the basis of West
Ham v Millwall and anybody who suggests that is irresponsible.

'The Met Police have said there is no problem with this show. They're happy with the stewarding.'

staging of the fight – which has been sanctioned by the Luxembourg
Boxing Federation as neither Haye nor Chisora are currently licensed by
the BBBC – has been condemned for a multitude of reasons.

among them is that the rivals are profiting from the disgraceful scenes
in Munich, where they traded blows at a press conference in the
aftermath of Chisora's loss to Vitali Klitschko.

Yet the public interest in a contest that sees Haye start as a strong favourite in undeniable with 30,000 tickets already sold.


Haye v Chisora

Haye vs Chisora is live on BoxNation (Sky Ch 437, Virgin Ch 546)

VIDEO: David Haye and Dereck Chisora come face to face as they weigh-in…


London 2012 Olympics: Jessica Ennis to be named in 100m hurdle team

Ennis to be given hurdle spot… just in case anything goes wrong in the heptathlon



21:51 GMT, 5 June 2012

Jessica Ennis, Britain’s golden prospect for the heptathlon at the Olympic Games in London, will also be named in the 100 metres hurdles when Britain’s team is formally announced next month.

Ennis has no intention of running the specialist event in which she ranks as Britain’s No 2 but the selectors have agreed to her request to give her a place.

‘My name will be down in case anything happens (in the heptathlon),’ said the 26-year-old.'

Back up plan: Jessica Ennis will be included in the 100m hurdle team

Back up plan: Jessica Ennis will be included in the 100m hurdle team

Ennis would not be taking another athlete’s place.

Three are available and only one athlete, British record holder Tiffany Porter, has achieved the qualifying time. No others are even close to it.

The move by Ennis is a belt-and-braces exercise to give herself a second option if anything goes amiss in the heptathlon, such as a fall in the hurdles or a failure to clear a height in the high jump, the events that open the competition on the first day.

Ennis confirmed her earlier decision not to contest both events except in those extreme circumstances.

‘I would love to do the hurdles but I just feel it is too close and I want to keep really focused on the heptathlon.

Flying the flag: Ennis is expected to be one of the stars of the Olympic in the Heptathlon

Flying the flag: Ennis is expected to be one of the stars of the Olympic in the Heptathlon

‘If there was an opportunity to do it I would but I just think it’s too close this year,’ she said.

The heptathlon finishes on August 4. The hurdles heats are two days later.
If Ennis were to win the heptathlon, there would be no rest between the events because of media demands on her time.

Ennis is the best of the British-born sprinter hurdlers.

Only US-born Porter, who competes for Britain because of dual nationality, has ever run faster among the British-qualified than Ennis’s 12.79sec.

The two meet for the first time this year in the Diamond League meeting in Oslo tomorrow.

World champion and world No 1, Australian Sally Pearson, is also running and five more of Ennis’s rivals in Oslo have run faster than her this year. ‘I am going to Oslo in the hope of bringing my time down,’ said Ennis.

Wolves confirm Stale Solbakken as new manager

Solbakken excited by Wolves challenge as he looks to guide club back from relegation



10:01 GMT, 11 May 2012

New Wolves manager Stale Solbakken says he is looking forward to the challenge of trying to guide the club back into the Premier League.

The 44-year-old Norwegian has signed a contract and will officially take over on July 1.

As exclusively revealed by Sportsmail on Thursday evening, the sacked Cologne coach met Molineux owner Steve Morgan for an interview on Thursday and has agreed to become Mick McCarthy’s successor.

And Solbakken said, 'I am delighted to be
taking up the important challenge to manage Wolves. It's an exciting
opportunity to manage a great club and I can't wait to get started.'

Hungry Wolves: Stale Solbakken is the new manager of relegated Wolves

Hungry Wolves: Stale Solbakken is the new manager of relegated Wolves

Chief Executive Jez Moxey said: 'Following talks with Stale Solbakken I am happy to confirm that he has agreed to become our new manager. He will be formally introduced to the media on Monday.'

The former Norway midfielder, 44, was kicked out of the relegated Bundesliga club after less than a year in charge. Until then he had tasted success in Denmark with Copenhagen, winning five Superliga titles.

Despite little knowledge of managing in the English game, he has been asked to lead the Black Country club out of one of the most competitive leagues in Europe — the Championship.


Name: Stale Solbakken

Age: 44

Nationality: Norwegian

International Caps: 58; Goals: 9

Clubs played for: HamKam (1989-89), Lillestrom (1994-97), Wimbledon (1997-98), AaB (1998-2000) and Copenhagen (2000-2001).

Honours: Two Danish Superligas (1998-99, 2000-01).

Clubs managed: HamKam (2002-05), Copenhagen (2006-11) and Cologne (2011-12).

Honours: Five Danish Superligas (2005-10), Danish FA Cup (2009).

It is a huge gamble for Morgan to take with his first managerial appointment but Solbakken will have some help.

Caretaker Terry Connor, who will be in
charge for the club’s last Barclays Premier League game of the season
at Wigan on Sunday, will be retained by Wolves to ensure a degree of

Solbakken will be given the cash to
revamp the squad after Morgan told the audience at Wolves’ annual dinner
that he was ready to bankroll an immediate return to the top flight.

‘We are in great financial health,’
said Morgan. ‘We will have a very good treasure chest when it comes to
the playing side. There will be changes. Some players will come and some
players will go but that will be done with one thing in mind — to get
straight back up.’

Temper, temper: Solbakken's last job was with Cologne, who have been relegated from the Bundesliga

Temper, temper: Solbakken's last job was with Cologne, who have been relegated from the Bundesliga

Solbakken is not entirely new to
English football. He was a member of Wimbledon’s Crazy Gang — albeit for
only one season 15 years ago when he played just six games before
falling out with boss Joe Kinnear.

But his playing career is more notable
for the manner in which it ended. He suffered a cardiac arrest on a
training pitch in 2001 while playing for new England manager Roy Hodgson
at Copenhagen.

Hodgson relived those horrific moments
a few weeks ago when he was asked about his own experiences in the wake
of Fabrice Muamba’s collapse at White Hart Lane.

The new England coach revealed how it
was only the proximity of the ambulance station — literally yards away
from the training pitch — and the hospital that was at the end of the
road that saved Solbakken’s life.

Pedigree: Solbakken at World Cup 98

Pedigree: Solbakken at World Cup 98

But for a club whose fortunes this
season have been blighted by the antics of captain Roger Johnson, it
seems that the Norwegian will be well-suited.

Solbakken’s spell at Cologne was not
without similar controversy. Defender Slawomir Peszko was involved in an
altercation with a taxi driver, Miso Brecko was sacked after crashing
his car while under the influence of alcohol and defender Kevin Pozzoni
came off worst in a street brawl.

Meanwhile, chief executive Jez Moxey admitted Wolves could have acted earlier in sacking McCarthy.

He said: 'We can all be smart in hindsight. The most talked-about subject was the timing of the parting of Mick McCarthy.

'We could, and perhaps should, have acted before January but we'll never know if it would have worked had we pulled the trigger earlier.'

Wolves came in for criticism for Connor's appointment but Moxey admits Alan Curbishley's U-turn forced them to alter their plans.

He said: 'Had the manager we offered the job to, and who shook on it, actually gone through with it we'd have been patted on the back.'

Moxey also insists it is unfair to blame lack of spending power from Morgan for Wolves' decline this season.

He said: 'To point the finger at Steve and say he lacks ambition isn't correct.

'He put the money on the table and I hope nobody believes the final outcome this season is because we didn't spend enough.'

London 2012 Olympics: IOC president Jacques Rogge criticises athletes who change nationality for money

Plastic Brits rile IOC boss Rogge… but he admits it can't be stopped



21:52 GMT, 14 March 2012

International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge has entered the argument over ‘Plastic Brits’, criticising athletes who change nationality for money.

The debate reached the most powerful man in Olympic sport after Sportsmail shone a light on the influx of foreign-born athletes coming into the British team ahead of London 2012.

In comments that will deflate UK Athletics’ cheerleaders, Rogge said: ‘I understand the fully legitimate reasons like study, work, marriage or family reasons.

Not a fan: President of the IOC Jacques Rogge is against athletes swapping nationalities

Not a fan: President of the IOC Jacques Rogge is against athletes swapping nationalities

‘The issue of the athletes of the poor countries who get absolutely no support you can understand. Maybe you don’t love it but you can understand it.

Then you have athletes where there is support for them but they go to another country because there is a bigger gain to be made. We cannot oppose it because it is a matter of sovereignty but let me tell you frankly we do not love it.’

Rogge’s remarks could be applied to American-born Tiffany Porter, who was appointed British captain for last weekend’s World Indoor Championships.

Flying the flag: American born Tiffany Porter is expected to compete at the Olympics for Great Britain

Flying the flag: American born Tiffany Porter is expected to compete at the Olympics for Great Britain

The 24-year-old has spent her entire life in the United States but changed allegiance on the grounds her mother is British.

Seeking an Olympic place she was unlikely to gain in the US, she first competed for Britain last year and now receives Lottery funding worth up to 70,000 in cash and benefits.

Rogge declined to criticise Porter directly.

Porter is one of about 50 of Team GB’s likely 550 members who have jumped countries since London was chosen as Olympic host city.

London 2012 Olympics: Plastic Brits – your questions answered – Martin Samuel

It's a question of Plastic – you wanted answers, so here they are…



23:00 GMT, 12 March 2012

Chippy Australians, dopey expats, Manu Tuilagi, Zola Budd, still it continues, the Plastic Brit debate.

Monday's column, which attempted to clarify why the issue of nationality continues to matter in sport, provoked some strident commentary online. Some requested further explanation, so here it is. Plastic Brits: your questions answered.

Plastic Brits: The athletes who swapped their flags

Ekers, from London writes: Anguilla is a British Overseas Colony. Why on earth would Shara Proctor not have the right to compete for us

She has that right, nobody denies that. But isn't it about time we left our colonialist past behind

Proctor runs for Anguilla in the World Championships. Shouldn't stage one of our involvement have been to fight for her right to do that in London, rather than accepting her as the bounty of such fine old trades as slavery and piracy

If it's not our best against your best, what's the point

Read Martin Samuel's column from Monday in which he explains the Plastic Brits debate…

Kerr, from Stroud, writes: The Plastic Brits obsession stinks of double
standards. Where were the headlines when the England rugby team were
trawling the world trying to find players that would play for them But
why rock the boat when a World Cup is at stake In fact one of your
headlines today shows your hypocrisy in all its glory. Manu Tuilagi
being almost canonised for his try against France! No mention there of
plastic Brits, eh Martin Maybe it's easier to have a go at a couple of
female athletes rather than a hulking great rugby player

So let's get this right, Gordon. We wouldn't rock the boat before the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand because that was important, but we're happy to do it before the London Olympics (cost 9billion and rising). Where is your logic

For the record, in a column published on August 10, 2011 – so one month before the Rugby World Cup – England coach Martin Johnson was criticised at length for saying of his cosmopolitan team 'it's what you do, and who you are, not particularly where you're born.'

Flag of convenience: Tiffany Porter won silver in the 60m hurdles at the World Indoor Championships

Flag of convenience: American born and raised, Tiffany Porter won silver in the 60m hurdles at the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul last week

Sample extract from that column: 'If
the English guy in the England shirt cannot cut it, we shouldn't just
be able to get in a better bloke from South Africa on a technicality,
because that is akin to cheating.'

So, rugby's attitude was challenged. As for Manu Tuilagi being
canonised, my report of the France game mentioned him briefly in the
description of the first try: 'Strong running and a nimble finish from
Tuilagi.' Hardly canonisation.

the record, Tuilagi came to England on a holiday visa with his mum when
he was 13, so did not anticipate sporting advantage and a future place
in the England team.

Plastic Brit, London, writes: If you don't understand the shrinking modern world, let me explain. My parents were born in London. I was born in Australia. My Australian wife and I have lived in London for five years and will qualify as British citizens next year. My daughter was born in Australia, and was one year old when we moved to London, but my son was born here. As of right, they both have Australian citizenship, whereas – at the moment – only my son is eligible for a British passport. In the circumstances, would you prefer my children to learn their skills in England, via UK-funded training programs and at the expense of locally-born children, but compete on behalf of Australia Or should they train in England and compete for Great Britain. If the latter, would my daughter be labelled a 'Plastic Brit' because she was born in Australia and lived there for one year

NOT a plastic Brit: Manu Tuilagi never anticipated playing rugby for England when he moved to these shores

NOT a plastic Brit: Centre Manu Tuilagi never anticipated playing rugby for England when he moved to these shores from Samoa as a teenager

Raised in Britain: Laura Bechtolsheimer

Raised in Britain: Laura Bechtolsheimer moved from Germany aged just one

Here we go, one more time for the hard
of thinking. What part of this sentence in Monday's column, 'obviously,
as the planet shrinks there will be increasing numbers of children born
in one country and growing up or moving to another,' did you not
understand I acknowledged the blurring of traditional concepts of
nationality. I always have.

As for your personal circumstances,
they are far simpler than you imagine. Your children grow up British
and are able to represent Great Britain. Indeed, your daughter who
arrived here at the age of one is no different to Olympic equestrian
team member Laura Bechtolsheimer, who came here from Germany at the same
age. She has attracted no heat over nationality whatsoever.

would be interesting, however, was if your British-born son competed
for Great Britain throughout his young life and never set foot in
Australia. Then, as an Olympics in, say, Sydney neared and, struggling
to make the British team, he switched to Australia, having noticed he
would be their No 1.

Wasn't born there, never been there, not good enough to run for his native Britain, but now pure professional convenience inspires acquaintance with his Aussie roots. Doesn't live there, a bit vague on the words to Advance Australia Fair and when he visits says he misses home. You know where this is heading. The Australian Tiffany Porter.

Now I've been to your place a few times, and know how seriously Aussies take their sport. Do you think an athlete with that backstory would captain Australia's athletics team at a home Games

Mervyn Davies, Bedford, writes: I don't understand the difference between this Daily Mail campaign against Plastic Brits and the paper leading the campaign to bring Zola Budd from South Africa to represent Great Britain. Perhaps someone could explain the difference here, or is this a little bit of journalistic myopia and inconsistency

Glad you asked, Merv. The difference is I'm not Ian Wooldridge. My editor is not Sir David English. Times change. People change. Views change. It would be a strange world if I was not allowed to hold a different opinion to the gentleman who did this job in 1984. It would be bizarre if my sports editor had to uphold a stance this newspaper took when he was 14.

A columnist in The Independent made a similar point to yours at the weekend. Presumably, he also believes every subsequent Independent on Sunday editor must stand by the call to legalise cannabis that the newspaper made under Rosie Boycott in 1997. Wouldn't be very independent, obviously, but there you go.

Heaven forbid that, 28 years on from the Budd controversy, a writer has a different view to a predecessor. It's hard to be inconsistent with opinions that were never mine in the first place.

Plastic Brits: If it"s not our best against your best then what"s the point? Martin Samuel

If it's not our best against your best then what's the point


00:00 GMT, 12 March 2012



01:13 GMT, 12 March 2012

Hypocrites, xenophobes, plastic
patriots, we’ve been called a few names this week for daring to question Great Britain’s competitors of convenience. UK Athletics says
we’re banned. Although they didn’t say it directly to us, at first. They
told the cheerleaders. Almost dropped their pom-poms, some of them.

We’re ranting and raving, according to
one newspaper. We have a right-wing agenda. And all for saying it would
be better if international sport had meaning, and the Great Britain
team reflected the true standards of British athletes and coaches, shorn
of false achievement.


How Martin Samuel coined the phrase on June 11, 2011…

It really isn’t such an extreme idea,
when you think about it. It really isn’t about patriotism, purity or
fear of a foreign invasion as these artificial intellects would have
you believe, either.

The Plastic Brit debate, started on
these pages and pounced on by every other newspaper and, Saturday night,
BBC news, will not go away because it cuts directly to the spirit and
meaning of competitive sport at national level and addresses its
decreasing worth in an age of naked opportunism.

Sand storm: Anguilla-born Shara Proctor wins a World Indoor bronze medal for GB in the long jump

Sand storm: Anguilla-born Shara Proctor wins a World Indoor bronze medal for GB in the long jump

If even international sporting bodies
refuse to embrace the principle that nationality matters, that events
should compose the best of yours against the best of theirs, then what
is the purpose

Many of these enterprises are
government-funded. They are financially supported because international
competition is perceived to have significance, to make a statement
about the sporting strength of a people. Yet if Yamile Aldama can win
medals for three nations — country of birth (Cuba), country of
convenience (Sudan), and country of residency (Great Britain)— then why
bother waving flags Admire the athlete, but don’t claim the reflected
glory. The country is a vessel, no more.

Authenticity differs case to case but
as my colleague Neil Wilson, an athletics correspondent of long
standing, pointed out, distinction should generally be made between
changing nationality for personal reasons and changing purely to gain
sporting advantage.

Aldama’s settled life in Britain makes
her current state more palatable, for instance, than her six years as a
wholly convenient representative of Sudan.

More from Martin Samuel…

Martin Samuel: If he were a Bok, a Kiwi or an Aussie, Lancaster would have the job now

Martin Samuel: If Lancaster is the best we have, he deserves England job

Those wise monkeys can teach us a lot

Martin Samuel: Why are these men acting like nervous teenagers at a party

Martin Samuel: Time for FA wise men to speak up in their pursuit of Redknapp

Martin Samuel: Stone me, it couldn't get any worse at Chelsea

Ahoy there, me hearties! I spy spoilsports…


Martin Samuel: Thanks, Stuart… now can we get down to business and appoint England's next boss


Tiffany Porter, who became British
only after finding her professional ambitions thwarted in America, can
be accused of narrow-eyed resourcefulness in a way that Mo Farah, who
progressed through the British system having arrived in this country
from Somalia at the age of eight, cannot.

Those who believe the Plastic Brit
debate treats them as one and the same are either deliberately
misunderstanding the argument or just not very bright. Don’t rule it
out. Dummies abound.

Far from fearing foreigners, this
column is alone in consistently denouncing the practice of accepting
host-nation berths for inferior British teams at the London Olympics.

Last week, a large number of words
were devoted to Great Britain’s rhythmic gymnasts accepting a place that
should have gone, more deservingly, to Switzerland. No similar
attitudes were noted from Team GB’s fawning band of media loyalists;
maybe they are the ones that don’t like outsiders, or perhaps they enjoy
being fed with a spoon.

Now take the case of Shara Proctor, who is British because her native country, Anguilla, a dependent territory, does not possess an Olympic committee and is not recognised at the Games.

Nobody is saying Proctor should be made unwelcome. Use the facilities of Team GB, train with Team GB, live with Team GB if you like. And, while you are here, Britain will use its influence as hosts, and the status of several of its senior figures within the Olympic movement to lobby for your inclusion as an athlete from Anguilla.

If that fails, then we’ll see.

Is that not preferable to just greedily gobbling up an athlete who says her heart will be with her Caribbean island, even if she is performing a lap of honour wrapped in a Union Flag

Trailing: Michigan-born Tiffany Porter (left) won silver for Great Britain in the 60m hurdles

Trailing: Michigan-born Tiffany Porter (left) won silver for Great Britain in the 60m hurdles

Much of this extreme pragmatism is the work of administrators.

Since government funding for individual sports was linked to success, the need for medals and elite performances has greatly increased.

If Charles van Commenee, Great Britain’s head athletics coach, has the opportunity to adopt several world-class athletes, he will, because their performances make him look better. He is in a symbiotic relationship with sprint hurdler Porter, who was not getting the support to match her ambition in her native America.

She gets the status of an elite British athlete, with all the encouragement and investment that entails, meaning her times improve; Van Commenee gets a nice series of podium finishes to make it appear as if his coaching operation merits continued or additional funding.

His figures are built on a basic falsehood, because the groundwork on Porter was done in the United States, but the system demands it.

That is what British Wrestling was attempting with all those dubious Ukrainian acquisitions: increase their funding through success, increase their slice of the pie.

Yet, take the Plastic Brit phenomenon to its logical conclusion and the wealthiest British sports will become little more than colonialist enterprises.

Results business: Charles van Commenee leaves Istanbul with a World Indoor medals record for Great Britain

Results business: Charles van Commenee leaves Istanbul with a World Indoor medals record for Great Britain

When the outstanding Whitgift School in south London has 5million to spend on scholarships and bursaries, what is there to stop scouts of various competing independent educational establishments scouring the Pacific Islands for the best teenage rugby talent, and tempting the boys to Britain with the promise of free private education A whole front row of Manu Tuilagi brick-outhouse types, imported almost to order.

This is not just about rejecting America’s second tier, like Porter; there is also a duty to protect the rights of smaller countries. There is no room for a national equivalent of Manchester City.

Lists of similar instances in other sports or protests that Britain is not alone in taking advantage are more gormless equivocation.

Obviously, as the planet shrinks there will be increasing numbers of children born in one country and growing up or moving to another. More people will have dual citizenship, through parentage or migration. The business of nationality will become more complex generation to generation. Yet that is why it is important to differentiate between cases of human circumstance and commercial or professional opportunism; we risk sacrificing the whole concept of international contest, without proper controls.

Dai Greene, world champion 400 metres hurdler, put this most succinctly. ‘I can understand and sympathise with athletes who are trying to make teams, and all of a sudden they have new people ahead of them,’ he said.

On the money: Dai Greene

On the money: Dai Greene

Perhaps hinting at the added motivation of association with the home team at an Olympics in London — after all, why didn’t Aldama try to declare for Britain prior to the Beijing Games — he added: ‘It is going to be interesting to see how many switch allegiances in the next few years. I’d like to think we won’t be saturated. It would be nice to turn up to championships with British athletes with British accents.’

If this makes him a xenophobe, a hypocrite or a plastic patriot, so be it.

Actually, I think it makes a few other people sound like dopes or dupes. And not for the first time, either.

Milan in a muddle at 4-0 up

Robin van Persie bristled at the idea that Arsenal’s 3-0 win over AC Milan had been glorious failure. ‘Glorious, yes, failure, no,’ he said. Steady on.

It made for a thrilling occasion, but there was a reason for Arsenal’s magnificent fightback last Tuesday, and why it then ground so frustratingly to a halt. Italian teams do not have a clue what to do with a 4-0 lead. The odd goal, they can handle, but four Nobody in Serie A leads by that margin early on; it frazzles their circuits.

At sixes and sevens: AC Milan begin to feel the fear after Laurent Koscielny's early opener

At sixes and sevens: AC Milan begin to feel the fear after Laurent Koscielny's early opener

Remember when Inter Milan raced to 4-0 up in 35 minutes against Tottenham last season They fell apart so badly in the second half, the game almost ended in a draw. The combative spirit of English teams means that, even leading comprehensively at half-time, nothing is taken for granted. In Italy, with that margin separating the teams, the game is over. Inter had no plan for confronting a team that refused to play as if beaten, while four goals down; neither did Milan.

From the start, they were undecided whether to aim for an away goal, or sit back and defend, and ended up playing insipid halfway-house football that invited havoc. Then, at half-time, with Milan up by just a goal on aggregate, the game changed. Defend a 1-0 lead Arsenal had unwittingly blundered into Milan’s field of expertise.

Presented with a simple containing job, the Italians were comfortable once more and Arsenal could not break them down.

AND WHILE WE'RE AT IT… Jumping the Gunner

Oxlade-Chamberlain is ready to gatecrash Euro 2012 finals, stated a recent headline.

Really How Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has never played a full international and England’s caretaker manager, Stuart Pearce, declined to select him against Holland.

This means England’s next permanent manager will need to have already made his mind up about the player remotely, or must fast-track him through two remaining games in time for the tournament, while also keeping abreast of Theo Walcott, Adam Johnson, Stewart Downing, Ashley Young, James Milner, Daniel Sturridge and perhaps even Steven Gerrard in the wide forward roles. Always presuming he is installed in time to name his own squad, of course.

Still, no pressing need for resolution is there Piece of cake, this England lark.

On a fast-track: Oxlade-Chamberlain is yet to make a senior appearance for England

On a fast-track Oxlade-Chamberlain is yet to make a senior appearance for England

A limp apology

Remember last year when Michel Platini, president of UEFA, apologised for the extravagant cost of Champions League tickets

Prices for this year’s final in Munich have now been announced, and do not look so very different. The cheapest admission, available only to fans of the finalists, has dropped from 80 to 60, which is good news, but still carries a 17 booking fee per ticket beyond Germany.

The top price appears to have risen, from 294 to 310. So Platini was sorry, just not quite as sorry as he would like you to think. Let’s see how sorry he is when the match returns to Wembley next year.

Moyes is mistaken
Short memory: Moyes

Short memory: Moyes

Did David Moyes, the Everton manager, glean nothing from the furore around the signing of goalkeeper Tim Howard from Manchester United

It is no longer possible to strike a gentleman’s agreement over players — that is third-party interference and illegal. Harry Redknapp was right to say Tottenham would honour no such deal on Louis Saha.

The only reason Everton and Manchester United were not in serious trouble for the Howard arrangement in 2007 — his loan was made permanent in the January transfer window, but on the proviso he did not play against United later in the season — was because it emerged as Sir Alex Ferguson was about to clinch the title and Premier League chairman Sir Dave Richards knew of the agreement.

Maybe Moyes did not fully understand the possible consequences after the Premier League brushed the scandal aside. He needs to have it explained, though.

Redknapp was right to ignore the suggestion on Saha, but it cannot be allowed to happen again.

A desperate measure in desperate times

Confronted by angry fans, Steve Morgan, owner of Wolverhampton Wanderers, told them he would have scored had he been playing against Blackburn Rovers on Saturday. A foolish statement, unproven and irrelevant.

Wolves do not need Morgan to hang around the penalty box looking for knockdowns; they need him to make sensible executive decisions to steer the club through a crisis. This seems beyond him.

The calamitous aftermath of Mick McCarthy’s dismissal now includes defender Roger Johnson turning up drunk for training. This does not happen if there is respect for the manager. Sadly, nobody thinks Terry Connor is a long-term appointment and recent results suggest surrender.

Morgan’s decision to settle for a familiar member of the backroom staff, safe and cheap, was dire stewardship and may prove to have sealed Wolves’ fate as comprehensively as any failure in front of goal.

UEFA must learn

Donetsk’s status as a European 2012 host city is built on a lie. To meet the criteria for the number of hotel rooms needed to host a semi-final — as the city will on June 27 — UEFA had to extend Donetsk’s supposed radius to 155 miles. Hotels are thinking of a number and cubing it, knowing fans have little choice but to pay big or stay home.

And, delightfully, many are doing just that. There is increasing panic in Ukraine that overpriced hotel packages remain unsold. France versus England was the hottest ticket at Euro 2004, played in Lisbon at the accessible Estadio da Luz.

Memento: France coach Laurent Blanc receives a gift from the city of Donetsk, where England will play his side on 11 June

Memento: France coach Laurent Blanc receives a gift from the city of Donetsk, where England will play his side on 11 June

Yet both the Football Association and the French federation have already returned tickets for the rematch in Donetsk. Good. It serves UEFA right. Executives cannot continue this we’re-alright-Jack approach, cosily ensconced in five-star accommodation and stuff the rest of you.

A few banks of empty seats and a few hoteliers crying into their unused pillowcases and maybe they will learn.

And finally

The best documentary about football The Four Year Plan wasn’t even the best film made about Queens Park Rangers.

That accolade should go to The Final Score, the composer Michael Nyman’s homage to Stan Bowles and his Saturdays spent at Loftus Road.

The music, naturally, is stunning, but the evocation of a football age long passed is beautiful and moving.

If the Rangers commercial department wants a film their fans can watch without hiding behind the sofa in embarrassment, they should buy the rights to Final Score and have it in the club shop in time for the end of the season.

With Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Sunderland still to play, fans may need a warm memory to cheer them by then.

London 2012 Olympics: Plastic Brits insult our Games – Des Kelly

Plastic Brits insult our Games



22:26 GMT, 9 March 2012

When the American-born Tiffany Porter took her first, awkward bow as captain of the British athletics team, everyone was told she did not deserve the label 'Plastic Brit'.

Who said so Britain's head coach, Charles van Commenee, while alongside him world 5,000m champion Mo Farah complained he felt 'disgusted' by the line of questioning Porter had to face.

And so a Dutchman brought up in Amsterdam and the Somalian-born runner who lives in Portland, Oregon were on hand to refute the accusations that Porter was not 'British enough'.

Bit of a Tiff: Porter (left) in action at the World Indoor Championships on Friday

Bit of a Tiff: Porter (left) in action at the World Indoor Championships on Friday

I'm not sure whether this proves the Brits do irony better than any other nation or the exact opposite. It's all too confusing.

But, ladies and gentlemen, this sums up the problem of nationality in a nutshell. The world is shrinking. Travel has broken boundaries. Nationality is not as straightforward a call as it was a generation or two ago. It's often a choice, however complex and emotive. Especially in sport, with all its flag-waving tribalism and patriotic baggage.


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'I have always regarded myself as British, American and Nigerian – I'm all three,' said the new GB captain Porter recently. Not quite the message a British captain usually trumpets.

But I can understand that. Because of my family background, I'm English and I'm Irish, depending on the day and the drink in my hand. If a certain someone asks me nicely I'll be Welsh for a while too, just to keep them happy.

But the boundaries are now so blurred when it comes to defining who is and who is not qualified to represent their country that we are fast approaching the point where any regulations might as well be scrapped.

The rules are practically redundant now. Ask England's successful cricket team, including captain Andrew Strauss, coach Andy Flower, Kevin Pietersen, Matt Prior and Jonathan Trott – all born in South Africa.

Or maybe we can go through the England rugby union side and discuss it with New Zealand-born Dylan Hartley, American-born Alex Corbisiero, South African duo Mouritz Botha and Bradley Barritt and ferry-jumping Samoan Manu Tuilagi, who entered Britain on a holiday visa, stayed on illegally and had to appeal against deportation.

Why should our Team GB Olympians be any less opportunistic when it comes to the concept of nationality Van Commenee thinks the very idea is 'a nonsense' and has clearly wrapped athletes from elsewhere in the Union flag to boost Britain's medal potential.

Aside from Porter, there is Shara Proctor, a long jumper from Anguilla; Michael Bingham, a 400m runner from North Carolina born to an English father; Shana Cox, a New Yorker with British-born parents and Yamile Aldama, a triple jumper born in Cuba, who represented Sudan, but married a Scotsman and moved to the UK. That's one melting pot.

No rules were broken, they are all perfectly legitimate recruits, but the regulations are so ridiculously lax the phenomenon of 'athlete tourism' is allowed to thrive.

/03/09/article-2112899-1214C59E000005DC-250_634x445.jpg” width=”634″ height=”445″ alt=”Case for the defence: Mo Farah (left) has labelled the criticism of Porter's appointment 'disgusting'” class=”blkBorder” />

Case for the defence: Mo Farah (left) has labelled the criticism of Porter's appointment 'disgusting'

Irked by an enquiry from this newspaper's reporter Jon McEvoy about whether, in keeping with her new captain's role, she could recite a little of God Save The Queen on the eve of the World Indoor Championships, Van Commenee said: 'I chose the team captain for her leadership skills, her athletic skills and her credibility … not her voice'.

I defer to his knowledge on all, except credibility. Because it's hard to see how Porter can be a credible British captain ahead of the likes of Jess Ennis.

Porter was born in Ypsilanti, Michigan, to an English mother and a Nigerian father and she still lives and trains in the USA. She won silver for the USA at the World Juniors in 2006 and only started using her British passport in 2010 when she failed to make the cut for the American team.

More from Des Kelly…

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Des Kelly: Memo to Harry: this job ALWAYS ends in tears…

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Des Kelly: No hope of calm in this climate of tribal warfare

Des Kelly: Now, you didn't see that coming!

Des Kelly: Mancini's memory operates like an Etch A Sketch.. his card trick is a farce


She headed to the UK, was welcomed with open arms, handed a GB vest and some generous funding because she offered a better hope of boosting the UK's medal tally than the existing, and somewhat ordinary, contenders.

The merits of her selection are a moot point now, but for Van Commenee to make her captain is a needless slap in the face for all those who have proudly represented Britain – and only Britain – for many years.

The country is now heading down the path well trampled by the likes of Bahrain and Qatar where overseas medal prospects are lured in. It's cheaper and quicker than developing athletes, but how much pride would the nation take in following the sort of practices employed by Russia, for instance, who recently gave a South Korean three-time gold medal speed skater special dispensation to become a citizen in time for the 2014 Winter Games – which happen to be in Russia.

The UK is not far off that kind of cynicism. Out of around 550 members of Team GB, approximately 50 will be foreign-born athletes with dual nationality who jumped on board the Olympic bandwagon after London was selected to host the Games.

Britain has imported the wrestling team almost as a job lot from Ukraine and Bulgaria. Add to that a British handball team that has 19 foreign-born players, mostly from Scandinavia; a British basketball side that has 10 players born as far afield as Nigeria, Holland, Sudan and Canada, and nine more foreign-born competitors in the GB volleyball side and it's clear the team meeting will resemble Heathrow Airport's Terminal Three during a baggage handlers strike.

If the concept of nationality is watered down any further and talent continues to be effectively 'bought', the whole Olympic ethos essentially become meaningless.

One could argue athletes might as well dispense with the flag and just run or compete for themselves, not their country. But then some appear to be doing that already.

Three jeers for Flavio

Pure panto: Former QPR chairman Flavio Briatore

Pure panto: Former QPR chairman Flavio Briatore

you watch one football documentary this season, make it The Four Year
Plan, a fascinating look behind the scenes of Queens Park Rangers’
cack-handed attempts to gain promotion.

miss the moment of comedy when the former ‘chairman’ and Troll doll
lookalike Flavio Briatore stands outside the ground and yells this
infamous sentence at supporters.


right. He wanted supporters to provide him with the identity of each
and every fan who had jeered him, or else he would stomp away with his

It was beyond parody.
But if you really were one of the hundreds of people who booed Briatore
that day, do let me know via the usual email and Twitter addresses. I
may even run a ‘roll of honour’ on this page in recognition of your fine

A sickening bounty

One the most sickening acts of sporting cynicism has been uncovered in the United States.

NFL investigators have produced evidence that New Orleans Saints American footballers were rewarded with cash sums for seriously injuring their opponents.

Dubbed ‘bounties’, these under-the-counter payments were set at $1,500 (950) for a ‘knockout’ — a hit that put a rival completely out of the game, and $1,000 (640) for a ‘cart-off’ — a collision that caused an opponent to leave the field on a stretcher.

American football can often be brutal. It is a high impact, explosive sport and inevitably there are casualties. Players are concussed, limbs are fractured and, on occasion, even necks are broken.

But a line is crossed when it is a deliberate policy to injure or maim an opponent — and then celebrate with a ‘bonus’ payment.

Imagine if a footballer received cash for breaking Lionel Messi’s leg That is the level we are at here. It defies belief.

So I hope everyone caught up in this ‘bounty’ scandal is banned for life. Let that be their reward.

The best by smiles

Asking whether Lionel Messi is a ‘greater’ player than Pele or Diego Maradona is a largely futile exercise.

Comparisons through the years are nigh-on impossible and the best that we can agree on is each is the outstanding talent of his generation.

Plenty of reason to smile: Lionel Messi (left) hit five goals against Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday

Plenty of reason to smile: Lionel Messi (left) hit five goals against Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday

But there is one reason to suggest Messi may indeed be on a higher plane of brilliance. It is because of something we definitely can quantify, regardless of the era and changes in the level of athleticism.

Messi plays with a permanent smile on his face. I’ve never seen a footballer perform with such joy. For that, he gets my vote.

All aboard for Ukraine

I’m revising the contents of my
luggage before a trip to the European Championship after hearing about
the lengths to which Ukrainian customs staff are going to provide a

All 500 border officials have
received free professional make-up and hairdressing tutorials. What’s
more, they had their photographs taken and were told to replicate the
look throughout the tournament. Immaculate uniforms, blemish-free skin,
short skirts and high heels are mandatory.

My plan is to land in Kiev with a few
hundred cigarettes and extra bottles of booze stashed in my suitcase.
That should at least earn me a comprehensive pat down. Bet I still get
the one with a moustache and a rubber glove, though.