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Showing posts from March, 2015

A Foreign Field: Why English Footballers Should go Abroad

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Greg Dyke believes the England football team would be stronger if more English players were playing the the Premier League (EPL), but his strategy is ill-founded and set to backfire. The chairman of the Football Association has called for changes to key conditions governing home-grown players in the EPL. These include a  redefinition of ' home grown ' to mean players registered in England by their 15th birthday; a reduction (from 17 to 13) in t he n umber of non-home grown players permitted in a club’s first team squad; and a t least two of these home grown players to be club trained players. The argument runs something like this. Since foreign players are filling up squad places, we should limit the number of foreigners in the domestic league. This allows more English players to get first team experience. Consequently, the England national team manager has more high-quality players to select from .  There are a multitude of problems with this view of things but let&

28 days in Qatar: Painkillers and FIFA's duty of care

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In order to facilitate the Winter World Cup, FIFA has agreed to cut down the length of the Qatar tournament to just 28 days. In doing so it has put players at risk . Football's aberrant governing body has  officially confirmed that the World Cup Finals of 2022 will be held in November/December, with a final to be played on 18 December. Naturally, since this will cause a significant interruption to numerous league calendars across the globe, FIFA have been pressed by clubs, leagues, and the bodies which represent them, for compensation. Recent news  suggests that clubs will be receiving remuneration to the tune of £142m ($209m) for the release of players for World Cup duty. This level of compensation may yet prove to be substantially too little to cover losses incurred by clubs. Why so? A few years ago FIFA conducted a study into footballers' use of painkillers during the World Cup. The findings were remarkable. The study, which was published in  in the British Journal

Sweet Science gone Bitter: Boxing and the Civilising Process

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Following the recent death of a young Australian boxer, there has been a renewed call in some quarters for a ban on boxing. Braydon Smith, who was just 23 years old, is the latest in a line of boxers to have been killed as a direct result of his participation in the sport. In response to the incident, President of the Australian Medical Association's Queensland branch, Shaun Rudd, called the sport 'barbaric'. But what is it that makes boxing 'barbaric'? Surely not the death toll? Deaths caused by 'the Sweet Science' are not nearly as numerous as deaths from motorcycle racing or mountaineering, for example. So why aren't we hearing calls to ban these sport forms? Sociology may have an answer. ' The civilising process ' is a term first coined by eminent sociologist Norbert Elias, and is the title of his seminal work on the way in which society and culture tend to shift from barbarity to refinement. Elias saw this as a long, slow process occu

Knock-Off at 2:00, Kick-Off at 3:00 - The Legacy of Enclosure

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I studied A Level Geography at school. Occasionally, my teacher would arrive at the start of the lesson, give us a chapter to read from the course text, and then leave us to it. This may not pass for great teaching these days but I loved it. I remember those lessons fondly, and more to the point I remember what I learnt. The textbook was ‘ The Making of the English Landscape ’ by W.G. Hoskins. I learnt that the layout of the land both restricts and enables, that hedgerows are symbols of power, and that Acts of P arliament have consequences that are far-reaching and unintended. Prior to 1773, much of the land of England was held in common. Lords would allow peasant farmers to either cultivate or graze livestock on the land. There was also waste land, or ‘wastes’, which was good for little besides grazing. In 1773 however, the  Enclosure Act  literally changed the shape of England for ever. The Act allowed landowners to demarcate their own land - the boundary of choice being th

FIFA's Resident Geographer

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It turns out that July in Qatar is a bit on the warm side. Daytime temperatures during the summer can reach a scorching 50 ° C (122 ° F). No doubt by now we've all seen this graph from the BBC, or something similar. FIFA awarded the 2022 World Cup Finals to the emirate on 2 December 2010 apparently unaware of the impact these conditions might have on players, officials, and fans. After much public debate and discussion, FIFA finally gave in to the climate and recommended the Finals to be moved to the (slightly) more temperate months of November/December. With FIFA blundering its way through the self-induced mess, the voices of discontent grow louder. Clubs, leagues and federations are pressing Football's governing body for compensation. And as FIFA digs in its heels, who do you suppose will come out worst from this fiasco? Qatar get to keep their World Cup and its associated revenue. The Big European clubs may just have to wait a little longer for the concl

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