Tag Archives: office

Neil Robertson into second round of International snooker Championship

Robertson overcomes passport issues to make it into second round of inaugural International Championship

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UPDATED:

17:52 GMT, 28 October 2012

Neil Robertson advanced to the second round of the inaugural International Championship in Chengdu before revealing a passport mix-up almost cost him his place in the tournament.

Former world champion Robertson beat Welshman Ryan Day 6-3 in the evening session to set-up a potential meeting with Matthew Stevens in the next round.

But the Australian, who is currently living in England, had visa issues ahead of his trip to China and could have missed the chance to win the new 600,000 world ranking event.

Going through: Neil Robertson made it into the second round in in Chengdu

Going through: Neil Robertson made it into the second round in in Chengdu

'The past week has been a nightmare,” he told worldsnooker.com.

'I sent the passport recorded delivery to the DVLA's Peterborough office, but then they sent it by normal post to Swansea and then back to me. The Post Office was no help and I couldn't track it.

'The passport finally turned up at my house half an hour before I was due to leave to go to Heathrow to fly to Shanghai. So I just had to hope that when I arrived they would give me a visa.'

Robertson also praised the sport's governing body for supporting him during the mishap and thanked the staff who sorted the visa upon landing in China.

He said: 'Luckily World Snooker helped me a lot and I was able to provide all of the supporting documents to prove that I am a snooker player and I was going to the biggest tournament in China.

'As it turned out, the immigration staff in Shanghai all knew who I was and wanted pictures with me.

'I was there for about five hours, then I was given the visa and was able to fly to Chengdu. Obviously it was not ideal preparation so I'm just really pleased to have played well tonight and got the result.'

Shaun Murphy labelled the new tournament the “fourth major” on the snooker calendar.

The 30-year-old Englishman needed only 89 minutes to secure a spot in the second round, seeing off compatriot Andrew Higginson 6-0 with breaks of 67, 52, 86 and 96.

Murphy, who lifted the World Championship title in 2005, revealed he has been looking forward to what he considers an important new fixture in the sport.

'It's been a long time coming this tournament, and it's exciting to come to a city in the west of China where we've never been before,' he said.

'In terms of ranking points and prize money it's on a par with the UK Championship, so it can be seen as the fourth major.'

Jamie Burnett will face fellow Scot Stephen Maguire in the first round after beating Niu Zhuang 6-0 in their wild-card match.

Aditya Mehta of India also reached the first round proper after seeing off Zhu Yinghui 6-5.

He is joined in the final 32 by countryman Pankaj Advani after his wild-card opponent Zhou Yuelong pulled out of the tournament.

Fergal O'Brien set up a first round match against Judd Trump after a 6-3 success over Chen Feilong.

Three other wild-card matches were completed earlier in the day with 14-year-old Lu Haotian coming from 5-2 down to beat Michael White 6-5 in front of his home support.
White, who required treatment on an ankle he injured playing tennis yesterday, was forced to compete in just his socks to try and minimise the pain.

Lu will now progress directly into the second round after receiving a bye due to Ronnie O'Sullivan's decision to pull out of the tournament.

Veteran Ken Doherty also bowed out to youthful Chinese opposition, the Irishman losing 6-5 to 15-year-old Zhao Xintong.

The all-Chinese tie between Cao Yupeng and Wang Yuchen saw the former fight from 4-1 down to secure a 6-5 win and secure a meeting with John Higgins in the last 32.

Roger Federer death threat taken seriously in Shanghai

Federer death threat leaves organisers of Shanghai Masters on red alert

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UPDATED:

09:47 GMT, 5 October 2012

Security for the Shanghai Masters is being tightened after an online death threat against tennis legend Roger Federer.

Shanghai's Youth Daily quoted tournament official Yang Yibin as saying police were notified about the threat and that security will be increased for Federer for the tournament, which starts this weekend.

Security: A policeman is seen under a giant poster of Roger Federer in Shanghai

Security: A policeman is seen under a giant poster of Roger Federer in Shanghai

The report says the threat, posted last month on a Federer fan site by 'Blue Cat Polytheism Founder 07', vowed to assassinate the Swiss. It was accompanied by a gruesome image of a decapitated Federer.

An officer in the Internet security office of the Shanghai police on Friday said the threat is being investigated.

In a statement, the tournament said it is aware of the threat and has proper security in place.

Legend: Federer celebrates a win at the London Olympics in August

Legend: Federer celebrates a win at the London Olympics in August

'We are fully aware of the comments that have been made and we take all such issues seriously,' the statement said.

'The Shanghai Masters has security in place for our players and every precaution is taken to make sure players are kept safe and comfortable and allowed to do the job they are here for; to play tennis and provide their fans with the thrill of watching them in action.'

London Olympics 2012: 10 vivid Games memories Neil Wilson

Murder and magic… my Olympic story: Our veteran of 19 Games recalls 10 vivid memories

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UPDATED:

22:45 GMT, 24 July 2012

Masked evil: A hooded Palestinian terrorist on the balcony of the Israeli quarters

Masked evil: A hooded Palestinian terrorist on the balcony of the Israeli quarters

MUNICH — Sept 5, 1972

Security was not tight at the Athletes’ Village in Munich, as the Palestinian terrorists had discovered four hours earlier. I ran into the Village, wearing a British tracksuit hastily ‘borrowed’ from an athlete’s husband still asleep on the couch in my media apartment. The armed guard, seeing an Olympic accreditation card dangling round my neck, waved me through an open gateway, assuming I was an athlete returning from a morning run. Minutes later the village was shut to outsiders.

The only information I had from my London office was that someone had been killed, thought at that time to be a chef. I spent the next 13 hours in an upper floor of the Italian team quarters overlooking 31 Connellystrasse where the Israeli athletes had been taken hostage, communicating what I could see on the internal phone to a colleague in the media village who filed it on to London.

MONTREAL — 1976

Hard
to believe but the controversy of those Games was in modern pentathlon.
Boris Onischenko — ‘Dis-honest-Chenko’ as Fleet Street named the Soviet
— rigged a device in his fencing epee which registered hits when he
pressed a button. British veteran Jim Fox spotted something was up and
asked for the weapon to be examined. With the game up, Soviet officials
rushed their man out of the country but poor Fox was left devastated.

None
of Fleet Street’s finest had been present — the five-day event was
given little coverage and the fencing section none — and when they
arrived hot foot after news spread, they demanded a press conference.
The competition was stopped, Fox was called to account for himself and,
unsurprisingly, returned to one of his worst days, winning only 23 of
his 55 contests. Fortunately, two younger team-mates kept GB in
contention and all three ran a blinder on day five to win Britain’s
first gold in the sport. Years later Fox said: ‘It took an experienced
idiot like me nearly to lose the medal.’

MONTREAL — 1976

No beating around the bush: Jim Rosenthal

No beating around the bush: Jim Rosenthal

Only since Moscow have the press been excluded from the Athletes' Village. Before that we could wander into the British block at will. I conducted several interviews with British athletes seated on their beds. Jim Rosenthal, then covering for the string of BBC local radio stations, had a unique method of obtaining interviews for local consumption. He would stand at the door of the British block and intercept anybody passing in a GB track suit or blazer with three questions: ‘Who are you, what do you do and where do you come from’

TEST EVENT, MOSCOW — 1979

One year out from the Games, before the infamous boycott threatened, the world’s media descended on Moscow to view the test event, the Spartakiad. The basement bar in our hotel was an evening mecca for one and all in a city short on nightlife but for those not staying there transport home after the witching hour was a nightmare.

It was solved on one occasion for Britain’s chief athletics coach Frank Dick by a journalist friend pressing wads of roubles into the fist of the driver of a 56-seater coach parked outside which persuaded him to drive Dick in solitary splendour back to his hotel. The panic an hour later when the massed personnel of a US TV company found their booked transport to their studios missing was a Pythonesque moment.

MOSCOW — 1980

Never was tighter security imposed upon the media at an Olympic Games than in Moscow. Hundreds were accommodated in a single gigantic hotel, the Rossiya, then the world’s largest with more than 3,000 rooms. Entry was permitted only to the accredited and only through one door and airport-style X-ray machines.

Cold War paranoia affected some so much they turned televisions in their rooms to the wall in case they were being filmed. All felt cut off from the real world, an impression brought home when two Dutch journalists, seeking a night on the town, asked the stony-faced doorman where they would find the nearest nightclub. ‘Helsinki,’ he replied.

SEOUL — 1987

There are times when you cannot report what you see and hear because you are in a privileged position. Chatham House rules, the lobby writers call those moments. It happened to me when I was asked to represent the British media on a British Olympic Association recce of the Games venues one year out. Travelling with us was one of Princess Anne’s police bodyguards.

The detail he demanded of bemused Koreans went far beyond the need for her security. ‘Where is the nearest toilet’ he asked at the hockey venue. Why did he need to know ‘If she asks and I don’t know, it’s me who’s in the khazi,’ he replied.

US TRIALS, INDIANAPOLIS — 1988

The US media were never fond of Carl Lewis. Too calculating, too fond of himself. But he would go out of his way for the British, recognising probably that Europe was where his bread was most thickly buttered. Three of us approached his manager, Joe Douglas, when we arrived in Indianapolis for a British-only interview with Lewis and he promised we would have it when the Trials ended.

On the final afternoon, with still nothing arranged, we sought out Joe. ‘He’s has to do a dope test first, then he’s seeing his mother and then he’s flying by a private jet to appear on the David Letterman Show. But somewhere he’ll fit you in.’ The call came mid-evening to meet him at midnight in a restaurant in a shopping mall where he would be eating with his sister Carol. He talked to us on every possible subject for two hours and then went straight to the airport.

Busted: Ben Johnson breaks from the pack during the 100m final in Seoul

Busted: Ben Johnson breaks from the pack during the 100m final in Seoul

SEOUL — Sept 27, 1988, 2am

The news that Ben Johnson had given a positive test reached the media village as a drinks party was winding down. That day’s work was long done and the next was a scheduled rest day in the Olympic Stadium, so the worst case scenario had seemed a nasty hangover. Instead, as lights came on across the media tower blocks and word spread, the eight-hour time difference meant a new day’s work was beginning for the same day’s paper.

The Mail’s heroine of the hour, incredibly, was Carol Thatcher, daughter of the Prime Minister and guest at the party, who tore sheets from columnist Ian Wooldridge’s typewriter after he wrote every second paragraph of a lengthy opinion piece and dictated his words to copy-takers in London against the imminent deadline. /07/24/article-0-033846DD000005DC-625_634x448.jpg” width=”634″ height=”448″ alt=”Return to the ice: Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean took bronze in Lillehammer” class=”blkBorder” />

Return to the ice: Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean took bronze in Lillehammer

ATLANTA — 1996

Security was tight, and tighter still after a bomb in downtown Atlanta. Official media buses to the main press centre involved lengthy checks through X-ray machines but the Mail team, staying in an upmarket hotel reserved for officials, found that the bigwigs’ buses took a short cut where there were no checks.

All worked splendidly for a week until we boasted of our dodge in the bar one night. A Sunday newspaper back home revealed the flaw as an example of weak security that led to the bomb blast and, surprise, surprise, the Mail team were sent to join the long queues.

Tottenham in for Jose Salomon Rondon

Spurs weigh-up swoop for striker Rondon with rumours of financial plight at Malaga

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UPDATED:

21:50 GMT, 16 July 2012

Tottenham are considering a move for Malaga striker Jose Salomon Rondon amid claims the Spanish club are on the brink of a financial crisis.

Rondon, 22, has also been watched by Chelsea and Arsenal in recent months but Spurs are weighing up an offer which could see Giovani dos Santos go the other way.

Going up: Malaga striker Jose Salomon Rondon is a target for Tottenham

Going up: Malaga striker Jose Salomon Rondon is a target for Tottenham

Malaga owner Sheik Al Thani allegedly owes several players wages, has refused to bail out previous debts and the Spanish tax office is investigating payments on salaries and transfers.

Rondon has scored 27 goals in two seasons for the club and Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini said: ‘Rondon has had substantial offers from Germany and England.’

Malaga are also considering selling winger Santi Cazorla and young midfield star Isco to Real Madrid.

Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas may yet revive interest in Internacional striker Leandro Damiao and is also keen on Atletico Madrid striker Radamel Falcao.

Euro 2012: Mario Balotelli turning from boy to man

Big tournaments turn boys into men… perhaps that's what we're seeing with Balotelli

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UPDATED:

21:39 GMT, 29 June 2012

Major championships can do dreadful things to reputations – Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie will tell you that.

The big football events can, however, turn boys into men; perhaps that is what we are seeing with Mario Balotelli.

At his holiday retreat in Sardinia, Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has watched events with interest. Having fought hard to defend Balotelli from criticism inside the Etihad, Mancini will have felt vindicated by his protege's brilliance.

Centre of attention: The Manchester City striker is certainly becoming box office

Centre of attention: The Manchester City striker is certainly becoming box office

Euro 2012 email button

'The moment of his consecration has come,' Mancini said in an Italian interview. However, it remains to be seen if Mancini has also learned something from Balotelli's role here.

Often during his two years at City, the 21-year-old has played wide – usually on the right – in a system designed to bring the best out of Carlos Tevez and then Sergio Aguero. Here in Poland and Ukraine, though, Balotelli has prospered as the central striker.

It has become apparent not only how technically comfortable he is there but also how he has seemed to relish the responsibility.

Looking for a fight: Balotelli is a talent, but also trouble

Why always me: Balotelli is relishing his role at Italy's central striker

Much of his eccentric behaviour at City seems to say, 'Look at me'. Playing as Italy's No 9, Balotelli knows people are watching already.

Whatever the case, his football has been surprisingly impressive. English football followers already know about his pace and the occasionally devastating power of his right foot. But seeing him hold off Germany defenders with his back to goal and bring deeper-lying team-mates into play on Thursday was something new.

However, back at City next season, it will be difficult to fit Balotelli into this role. Aguero will be hard to shift as central striker, while Tevez and even Van Persie could be at the club.

At the double: Balotelli scored a brace in the win over Germany on Thursday

At the double: Balotelli scored a brace in the win over Germany on Thursday

It is not Mancini's style to play two through-the-middle forwards, so Balotelli may well be back as a supporting player.

Spain, though, will be aware of the threat posed tomorrow night by City's problem child.

As Cesc Fabregas said yesterday: 'Those two fantastic moments against Germany were the goals of a proper striker, the performance of a crack player.'

Whether we are seeing the real Balotelli at Euro 2012 or just an apparition will become clear next season.

Family of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain ready for Euro U-turn

Family of Oxlade-Chamberlain ready for U-turn on Euro boycott

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UPDATED:

22:09 GMT, 21 June 2012

The family of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
will end their Euro 2012 boycott and attend England's quarter-final
against Italy on Sunday.

The Chamberlains – including father,
former England winger Mark – decided to stay at home during the
tournament due to the threat of racism.

Family support: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be cheered on in Kiev

Family support: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be cheered on in Kiev

But Sportsmail has learned the teenager's close family and friends will fly to Kiev on Sunday to cheer him on.

Oxlade-Chamberlain's family had joined Theo Walcott's relatives in deciding to stay at home during the European Championship for fear of being victims of racial abuse in Ukraine.

Walcott's brother Ashley confirmed on Twitter that he and his father Don would not take the risk after public warnings from the Foreign Office.

Joleon Lescott, one of eight black players in the England squad, revealed that other families had also opted to stay away.

Lescott said his family had decided to stay at home before the warnings were issued, simply for logistical reasons.

Protest: England fans mock Sol Campbell for warning of racist violence in Ukraine and warning they would 'come back in a coffin'

Protest: England fans mock Sol Campbell for warning of racist violence in Ukraine and warning they would 'come back in a coffin'

'It was quite alarming to see the reports about the situation out there,' he said.

'But even before the reports, my
family weren't going anyway. Maybe if I'm playing and we get to the
final, my family will want to go.

'But it's a shame for some members of the squad that their families feel they can't go.

Oxlade-Chamberlain is in line for a bumper new pay deal at Arsenal.

The 18-year-old, who currently earns in the region of 15,000 per week,
can expect a significant pay hike when talks commence later this
summer.

U-turn: Former England winger Mark Chamberlain

U-turn: Former England winger Mark Chamberlain

Oxlade-Chamberlain's stock has risen
in the past six months with a string of excellent displays for the
Gunners at the end of last season.

His performances culminated in a
call-up to Roy Hodgson's Euro 2012 squad. The winger has impressed
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger on the pitch while club officials are also
happy with how he conducts himself off the field.

Similar discussions will also take place with Spanish midfielder Mikel Arteta, who impressed in his first season with the club.

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Euro 2012: Nicklas Bendtner"s 80k fine "is just pants" – Charles Sale

Bendtner's 80k fine 'is just pants'

By
Charles Sale

PUBLISHED:

22:00 GMT, 18 June 2012

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 18 June 2012


Fined: Bendtner's 'lucky' boxer shorts

Fined: Bendtner's 'lucky' boxer shorts

England players were sent the same branded boxer shorts which cost Denmark’s Nicklas Bendtner an 80,000 fine after he revealed them following his goal against Portugal, it is claimed.

Publicity ravenous bookmakers Paddy Power say they posted the ‘lucky’ underpants to team hotels around Poland and Ukraine — including the one England used in Krakow — targeting likely goalscorers.

This suggests the England quartet of Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck, Jermain Defoe and Andy Carroll were intended recipients.

The way England’s team kit, including underwear, is laid out in the dressing room before matches would make it difficult for any unofficial clothing to be worn unless a player really wanted to do so.

Paddy Power insist they gave Arsenal striker Bendtner, who was also banned for one game, no financial incentive for promoting them.

Their PR spokesman said: ‘There are plenty of our pants out there, so who knows when they will next be seen It’s a bit of harmless fun and the UEFA reaction is completely over the top.’

A Paddy Power statement added: ‘This is a hysterical and deeply cynical move by UEFA dictated by pure commercialism and is a far greater penalty than recent UEFA fines for far more serious incidents.’

Ukraine still off limits

The Foreign Office ban on Government ministers travelling to Euro 2012 in protest at Ukraine’s human rights record is expected to extend to the quarter-final stage.

England’s last-eight match will be in Ukraine if they qualify tonight. But Leigh Turner, British ambassador to Ukraine, still attended the Sweden game in Kiev.

Barking

Roy Keane’s bizarre punditry during Euro 2012, including the opinion that England’s best player Wayne Rooney should be left on the bench against Ukraine tonight, has coincided with the publication of Triggs: The autobiography of Roy Keane’s dog, which has received good reviews.

Paul Howard’s book charts the life story of Keano through his faithful Labrador retriever. On current evidence, the dog talked more sense.

Top dog: Roy Keane's former pooch, Triggs, is the subject of a new book

Top dog: Roy Keane's former pooch, Triggs, is the subject of a new book

Olympic ticket concerns

Prestige ticketing, official corporate hospitality sponsors of London 2012 who had their three-tier Olympic Park pavilion opened by Lord Coe yesterday, were one company who voiced concerns at Ipswich Town owner Marcus Evans becoming the authorised ticket reseller for Greece, Malta and Ireland.

The IOC’s ethics committee are investigating allegations of black market Olympic ticket sales, with Greece and Malta two of the countries reportedly involved.

Russian to conclusion

More from Charles Sale…

Charles Sale: Racism row leads to honour rethink
17/06/12

Charles Sale: Sir Alex is write behind Rooney
15/06/12

Charles Sale: Pearce to pay GB man Beckham a visit
15/06/12

Charles Sale: Hodgson catches Umbro on the hop with boot choice
13/06/12

Charles Sale: Laid-back Pearce is happy to fly solo
12/06/12

Charles Sale: Ticket trouble hits talkSPORT chief
11/06/12

Charles Sale: Coleen leads the parade of WAGs
10/06/12

Charles Sale: England crowded out by BBC staff
08/06/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

The FA will claim a number of mitigating circumstances when they contest the charge of inappropriate conduct by England supporters during the so-called pitch invasion during the Sweden match.

These include fans who bought tickets from UEFA.com being in the vetted England fan area, inexperienced stewarding and no obvious seating strategy. Between 20 and 30 fans celebrating Theo Walcott’s equaliser on the perimeter wall when the crowd surge were sent tumbling on to the running track.

One supporter dressed as St George broke his arm. There are also claims Russian fans wearing West Ham shirts were in the England section. UEFA will hold a disciplinary hearing tomorrow.

Food for thought

The preparation of food at England’s Donetsk hotel before the France game was enough of a concern for team chef Tim De’Ath to go straight there after the Sweden game in Kiev last Friday to give him extra time to prepare for the players’ return.

However, enforcing kitchen standards is not as taxing for De’Ath as it was for the England Under 21 chef, who discovered the pre-match chicken being washed in the hotel swimming pool during a trip to Egypt.

Bye bye Holland

It is rare for England to enjoy airport bragging rights during a major championship. However, Roy Hodgson’s team found themselves taking off from Krakow to Donetsk yesterday at the same time as pre-tournament fancies Holland were heading back to Amsterdam.

Des Kelly: Bigots rule the football family

Bigots rule the football family

PUBLISHED:

21:25 GMT, 25 May 2012

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UPDATED:

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

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.

More from Des Kelly…

Des Kelly: This Anfield farce is like a reality show… welcome to Kop Idol!
18/05/12

Des Kelly: Enjoy the big finish, this could be as good as it gets…
11/05/12

Des Kelly: Roy's good for more than hotel bookings
04/05/12

Des Kelly: Torture by TV for the duelling duo
27/04/12

Des Kelly: I don't pay to see the BBC become part of history
23/04/12

Des Kelly: Cheats like Drogba and Young are diving into the abyss
20/04/12

Des Kelly: The FA have turned their Cup into a breeding ground for bitterness
13/04/12

Des Kelly: Forget loose Premier League title talk, Mancini will get another shot
06/04/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

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

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 family: Blatter and Platini

Happy family: Alf Garnett

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: 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

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

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

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

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

Flagging already: The Roy Hodgson hype

PSST!

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.

Euro 2012: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain"s family fear racism

Euro race fears drive Oxlade-Chamberlain's family away

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UPDATED:

21:55 GMT, 24 May 2012

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's family have joined Theo Walcott's relatives in staying at home during the European Championship for fear of being victims of racial abuse in Ukraine.

The news comes as the PFA announced plans to allow clubs to sack players if they are found guilty of racist behaviour.

Family fears: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (left) with manager Roy Hodgson at Thursday's England training session

Family fears: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (left) with manager Roy Hodgson at Thursday's England training session

Walcott's brother Ashley confirmed on Twitter last week that he and his father Don would not take the risk after public warnings from the Foreign Office.

On Thursday Whitehall officials reiterated their concerns and Joleon Lescott, one of eight black players in the England squad, revealed that other families, like that of Oxlade-Chamberlain, are opting to stay away.

The Foreign Office launched a free guide to fans for Euro 2012 on Thursday. Two of the recommendations in the 130-page guide are:

Travellers of Asian or Afro-Caribbean descent and individuals belonging to religious minorities should take extra care.
Although homosexuality is legal in Ukraine, public attitudes are less tolerant than in the UK and public displays of affection may attract negative attention.

Lescott said his family had decided to stay at home before the warnings were issued, simply for logistical reasons.

'It was quite alarming to see the reports about the situation out there,' he said.

'But even before the reports, my family weren't going anyway. Maybe if I'm playing and we get to the final, my family will want to go.

'But it's a shame for some members of the squad that their families feel they can't go.'

Racism fears: The families Theo Walcott (left) and Joleon Lescott (right) are staying at home

Racism fears: The families Theo Walcott (left) and Joleon Lescott (right) are staying at home

Racism fears: The families of Walcott (left) and Lescott (right) will stay at home

The PFA are getting tough on domestic racism after a season marred by allegations against Luis Suarez and John Terry.

Gordon Taylor, the union's chief executive, is pressing for a small but significant amendment to the standard player's contract clearing the way for clubs to dismiss players guilty of racism without fear of a legal response.

Under the new regulations, the language used by Suarez towards Patrice Evra, which led to an eight-match ban, would be a sackable offence, as would that allegedly used by Terry in the direction Anton Ferdinand.

Terry, who has been stripped of the England captaincy over the case which will be heard in court in July, denies the charge.

Learning lessons: Gordon Taylor vocal in calling for change

Learning lessons: Gordon Taylor vocal in calling for change

Taylor said: 'It's about learning from what's happened this year. It's not been a good year and it's still hanging around with the captaincy.

'There has been strong feeling among all members, particularly young black players, that it's time to progress.

'This will raise the bar and make it a lot more focused. We don't want any ambiguity.'

Taylor's proposal will be raised in July and requires approval from the PFA, the FA, the Premier League and the Football League.

Manchester United twins Will and Michael Keane in England U19 squad

United twins Keane to break through for England… just like the Nevilles

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UPDATED:

14:11 GMT, 21 May 2012

Manchester United twins Will and Michael Keane want to follow in the footsteps of Gary and Phil Neville and become the next pair of football siblings to make their mark for England and the Red Devils.

The brothers have been selected in England U19's UEFA European Championship qualifiers against Slovenia, Montenegro and Switzerland.

'It will be a great occasion for all of the family, especially with my brother being in the squad for the first time too,' said Will, who has featured at U16, U17, U19 and Under-21 level for England as a striker.

Keen: Will Keane is hopeful him and his brother can star for England and Manchester United

Keen: Will Keane is hopeful him and his brother can star for England and Manchester United

Michael is a defender and Will is looking to help him out now he has made the selection.

Will added: 'I’m sure we’ll be rooming together as it’s his first time in the squad.

'Whenever we’re away with United, we’ve always roomed together.

'It’s great for our family that we’re both playing for England now as they can now support the same team and our mum and dad are really proud of what we’ve done so far.'

Will made his debut for Sir Alex Ferguson's first team on New Year's Eve as a substitute against Blackburn.

Twintastic: Sir Alex Ferguson also has the Da Silva twins on the books at Manchester United

Twintastic: Sir Alex Ferguson also has the Da Silva twins on the books at Manchester United

SEE ENGLAND PLAY

England U19’s qualifying campaign sees them play two games at Deepdale against Slovenia (May 25) and Switzerland (May 30). Tickets are available online at mypne.com or via 0844 856 1966 or in person at the stadium ticket office.

Sandwiched in between is Montenegro (May 27) at Rochdale’s Spotland and tickets are available from 0844 826 1907 or in person at the stadium.

Tickets for all three England games are 3 adults and 1 concession.

The 19-year-old won his third England Under-21 cap in a 4-0 win over Belgium at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium in February.

He said: 'This year has turned out to be a great experience for me and we’ve managed to win the league with Manchester United reserves which was good and I’ve made the step-up in terms of training and being involved in the first team which has helped me a lot.

'I’ve learnt a lot, which I can now take into next season and help me push on. I’m not sure what will happen next season yet, whether I may go out on loan so we’ll have to wait and see what happens.

'But it’s been a great season and I just want to keep that going and pushing on.