The Mailbox predicts heartbreak for Sancho and Alexander-Arnold. Also: plenty on Qatar, and Irish football…

A real mixed back of mails about England, Ireland, the Qatar World Cup and more. Get your mails in to…
England’s Euros squadOk, it’s quiet and you have asked for some attention. So here is a premature evaluation for your inbox. I hope you will have as much fun as I did. These are the 23 players Gareth Southgate will take to Euro 2020.
Definitely Going:
Jordan PickfordNick PopeHarry MaguireJohn StonesJordan Henderson*Harry KaneMarcus RashfordRaheem Sterling
* The smallest hint that he could be fit in time and he goes. Not quite Wayne Rooney in 2006 but close.
Almost Definitely Going:
Dean HendersonTyrone MingsLuke ShawBen ChilwellKieran TrippierKyle WalkerDeclan RiceMason MountPhil FodenDominic Calvert LewinKalvin Phillips
Right, there are four spaces left. So…
1) Southgate needs another CB. I think it’s between Eric Dier and Conor Coady. Eric Dier is a 45 cap international who has won the vast majority of those caps under Southgate, and he can play in midfield too. Three places left.
2) Southgate needs some creativity and attacking width. He will choose two players from Jack Grealish, Bukayo Saka, Jadon Sancho and Jesse Lingard. Form and injuries between now and then end of the season will inform his decision. I think he’ll go for Jack Grealish and Jesse Lingard. One place left.
3) The final spot depends on the balance and ingredients he wants within his squad. He took three RBs to Russia in 2018, and may well do the same this time around. Using Walker as a RCB means he would need two RBs on the pitch at any one time. If that is the case, I think he will choose Reece James over Trent Alexander Arnold.
However, he may choose another attacking option over a third RB meaning he could take one of Bukayo Saka or Jadon Sancho. The last option, and the least likely, is that he takes a third CF (which he also did in Russia 2018 – Welbeck) and so Ollie Watkins would be in pole position for that.
Ok, I think he’s going to want a third RB. Reece James takes the final slot.
Close but no cigar for Conor Coady, Bukayo Saka, Jadon Sancho, Trent Alexander Arnold and Ollie Watkins. Special mentions also to James Ward Prowse and Jude Bellingham who are also unlucky to miss out. And Joe Gomez who surely would have gone were he not broken all season. And Sam Johnstone who needs an injured GK to make it. And of course, finally, Aaron Wan Bissaka.Naz, Gooner.
Top ten players better for England than their clubs
City’s planning2016 Hart
2017 Zabaleta
2018 Toure
2019 Kompany
2020 David Silva
2021 Aguero
City need some respect not just for the player purchases, but the exquisitely managed player departures, always allowing the team to evolve and refresh but at the same time never needing to integrate several new arrivals at once. Thats really, really clever (and also a little fortunate in the way the stars have aligned and Kompany in particular made the decision for City).
Once again, as fan, I am empty. He has been utterly transformative. But what poetic ruthlessness in the way these heroes have been simultaneously depatched and given heros exits. Most of these players still had a little in the tank, as I am sure Kun does, but emotion has not clouded the fact that its better to make this call slightly too early than a little too late. The club have now given themselves permission to sign Fernandinho for another year if he wants to stay and Kun can speak to one of the few people qualified to advise him on footballing matters, his old skipper Kompany.
Vinny knows a bit about leaving with a boatload of trophies and a goal no-one will ever forget. Sergio, your old mate has set the bar. Over to you
The Kun is dead. Long live the KunMark Meadowcroft
…What a fitting tribute to the premier leagues deadliest striker than to have a statue of him outside the club. His goals (and therere were lots of them) will forever hold a place in my heart.
In recent times though footballers havent had the best relationship with statues. Now that uefa have dropped ffp to allow Real Madrid et al to refill their coffers I hope it means our owners can commission the best sculptures in the world to produce replica pieces for all three players. Nailing three out of three would almost be on the the same difficulty scale as a domestic treble. If I had to put money on them f***ing up one though it will be Vincents. Lets hope the owners nail it because finding a player to replace Kun would be impossible.Rosie Poppins
Martial’s attitudeDid anyone else read the F365 article quoting Rob Lee saying Anthony Martial’s attitude is ‘terrible’ and think, how the hell would Rob Lee know?
He’s not been on the front pages for any non football stuff (I think?) so I’m guessing Rob Lee has assessed Martial’s on-pitch demeanour and decided his body language is dour and therefore his attitude is bad. It’s a lazy accusation often made about talented players who look moody and/or have inconsistent form. It’s usually accompanied by some version of “He’s such a talented player, if only he knuckled down”.
But here’s the thing, has there ever been any credible source or news backing up Martial as having a bad attitude? I think it’s quite an accusation to make of any elite sportsperson.
For the record, I’m not a Utd or even a Martial fan. My armchair take on him is he’s good but inconsistent and probably not quite of the standard to lead the line at a club like Man Utd. No character assassination, no idea about his attitude!
Are there any other players mailboxers can think of with similar media assumptions on their attitude?Graeme, Glasgow
Qatar boycottA number have expressed their opinions with regards to if teams should pull out of the WC in Qatar.Since this is the Mailbox and opinionsare the order of the day, here’s mine…
Players, managers, teams and fans should be boycotting this. Frankly, it is insulting that FIFA hasn’t stepped in already (thus negating the need for any boycott).
Why haven’t they? Money is likely the element that keeps this ball rolling, both from Qatar themselves and from the sponsors lining up who, by-the-way, should be boycotting this too if they have any moral sensibilities. What would make advertisers pull out of this? Well, us quite frankly. If there’s no audience, there’s nobody to advertise to.
If you’re reading this and phrases like Social Justice Warrior, Cancel Culture and Wishy-washy liberal nonsense are going through your head, ask yourself the following question; What level of atrocity would it take for you to join a boycott? Do they actually need line up a few remaining workers and execute them as part of the half-time show (sponsored by Coca Cola & McDonalds) to get you to the point where you’re thinking “maybe for my entertainment isn’t a good enough reason for this?” How close to that threshold are you right now? How many deaths are an acceptable number for your viewing pleasure?
For me, Jeff, teams should complete qualification before announcing that they won’t be competing in Qatar. Even better if those teams can then arrange their own competition in the summer of 2023 somewhere that doesn’t treat humans as an expendable resource and thus begins life after FIFA. I won’t be watching. If we, as fans, can get a boycott started early enough, perhaps we can carry advertisers with us and get FIFA to recognise that, monstrous as their past has been, this time they really do have blood on their hands.
Welcome to the first FIFA Hunger Games and may the odds be ever in your favour…Thom, Bristol-based Spur
The case for an England boycott of Qatar 2022
…I read Johnnys article today about Qatar 2022 and specifically, an England boycott.
Whilst I 100% agree with Johnnys idea, we all know that it is not going to happen. In an ideal stand Im sure the FA would like to make a firm stand against the human rights record in Qatar. Is their strength of feeling strong enough for it to be more important than the huge loss of commercial revenue they would face? Not to mention the sporting sanctions that would be doled out. It is simply out of the question, shamefully.
While Johnny has next to no hope of changing the FAs mind, surely he would have more success in calling for a boycott somewhere closer to home. Wouldnt this be a tremendous opportunity for Football365 to stand behind the stance they have rightfully championed almost since the decision was made to send the tournament to provide? What stronger statement could there be than the worlds best independent football website simply refusing to acknowledge the existence of the tournament? It would make me so proud to be a reader if F365 wilfully refused to give the tournament even a shred of coverage or carry any adverts from companies using it as a promotional tool (Official sponsors, betting companies offering World Cup specials etc).
I think I can speak for a number of football fans and all round decent folk in saying that I would be more than happy to follow suit and support such a tremendous cause. Heck, we could even crowdfund to raise the funds needed to cover the obvious loss of revenue (Although obviously the convictions of the cause would be lessened by doing this).
So what do you say Winty, Johhny et al? Nows your chance to truly fight the good fight and make a genuine difference. Lets all put our skin in the game on this one rather than just sniping from the sidelines at an organisation we know will pay nothing but lip service to the concerns.Paul B, York
…Just read your piece on potentially boycotting the World Cup in Qatar and whilst I agree with the notion of players, the media and supporters standing up to human rights abusers, it does throw up plenty more questions.
Unless a country or a player genuinely refuses to participate next year then it all seems a bit hollow. It’s all well and good the players of Germany and Norway wearing their t-shirts, with the German’s tops spelling out HUMAN RIGHTS. But look at who is wearing the A in Human Rights amongst the German line-up. One Ilkay Gundogan. A man who takes his weekly wage from a human rights abusing dictatorship. The A on his shirt clearly doesn’t stand for awareness. How can we as fans possibly take it seriously when some of the players clearly don’t?
And then there’s the media. If they’re taking it seriously why hasn’t a journalist questioned Gundogan about this? If we’re boycotting Qatar, why aren’t we being asked to boycott the Etihad week in and week out in the Premier League? You can’t just pick and choose which human rights abusers you want to play with and which you don’t. If fans, the media and players are serious about eradicating this issue from the game then there surely has to a zero tolerance policy from everyone involved.
You’ve been clear on this site before about many important issues in the game. Mental health, calling out sexism, battling homophobia and driving out racism. Bravo for that. But if you’re actually serious about tackling human rights and boycotting this World Cup then it’s high time you and the rest of the football media asked more questions about our future Premier League champions. If you don’t, you’ll come across as hypocritical and shallow as Mr Gundogan himself.Ross Taylor
…Did Plato (MUFC) just call wanting to do something about the death of 6500 migrant workers so we can all watch a winter World Cup a “liberal bandwagon”?
Bloody liberals, always moaning about state sanctioned mass homicide. Why cant they just shut up and watch the football?Adonis Stevenson, AFC
…Personally, I think its very noble of Ireland to stick up for the workers in Qatar and start their World Cup boycott on the pitch.
As for the teams with their T-shirts in support of Human rights on and off the pitch, Im with New York Times journalist Tariq Panja when he asks whether this activism will be a factor for the likes of Erling Haaland when Man City, Chelsea or PSG offer him £2million a month. Hmmm Better than doing nothing though, right?
And heres my answer to the European qualifying conundrum. Each league is broken down into two Champions League style groups of four. Top seeded teams go into a group where the top two teams go through automatically. The four bottom seeded teams go into a group where the top two play off against the bottom two from the other group to have one or two qualifiers, depending on the need for places. Easy.
All this recent talk of Mick McCarthy and Brexit football clubs makes me think. If there ever was a footballing Brexit, it was McCarthy leaving Ipswich. Micks unspectacular but functional football miraculously kept the team afloat in the Championship after spending season after season on a Division One budget. Fans got bored on the message boards and started harking back to the glory days when Ipswich played great football (which is true, they did but not with the likes of Jewell and Keane running the show). McCarthy gets understandably antsy and ultimately Mickxit (Mixit?) happens.
Well, the fans got their way, and it turns out that Division One money parks you in the dead centre on Division One. With Paul Lambert.Quarantino Asprilla (I wear blue in the outside, because blue is how I feel on the inside), ITFC
Sunday at the MarshesI lived in Hackney during my peak youth footballing years and recall playing for Sunday league sides at Hackney Marshes. It was a sight to behold at its peak, with as many as 120 football pitches all in use at the same time. You had to get there early enough to make sure you got the right dressing room and found the right pitch. You found the pitch number with a little metal tag on the side of the, then, square goalposts.
Balls would often come in from another pitch during the game. I recall once, just after the big changeover from nylon to aluminium studs (the nylon ones were brutal in cutting you open) an out-of-the-blue lightning strike hit somewhere nearby and almost the entirety of the players ended up on their arses. Fun times.
It also made me think about how many from those Sunday league teams would get into a San Marino side. The Marshes, with 120 pitches, would have 2,640 playing at the same time.
The population of San Marino is 33,931 according to Wikipedia. Looking at the demographics, we would end up with about 4,250-ish males that would be in the right age range to play. Perhaps a few more. So not quite double the number of guys playing one round of games on the Marshes. So perhaps a pretty good chance of getting into their team then.
Hackney has a population of 280,000. Now, I know not all those playing on the Marshes were from Hackney, but with a population 8 times bigger, Hackney could probably put out a better side. There are 4 countries/states with a smaller population and 7 with a bigger population around two to two and half times the size of Hackney.
The point is, many small towns or boroughs in many countries would have enough supply of men in the right age range to supply a team the equivalent of a San Marino? Just because they are considered a country/state, they get the right to compete at the highest level. So perhaps all those calling for some kind of pre-qualifying have a point.Paul McDevitt
MAILBOX: What has happened to Irish football? Nasri > Wiltord and more
Kenny outThe biggest thing that is wrong with Irish football now is that we have a clueless, out of his depth clown in charge. Whod have thought that a manager who was breathtakingly out of his depth at Dunfermline, wouldnt be any use in charge of the national team??
Then weve the event junkies (fans), youve the same morons who were lamenting the style of play under ONeill and Mick, telling us that theyre all professional footballers and of course they can pass the ball more than 5 yards telling us that Kenny, who has pretty much the same squad as McCarthy, doesnt have the players. And giving him a free pass!! Its infuriating.
In international football, you pick a system that suits the players you have, youve 2/3 training sessions with them to drill them on set pieces etc. Trying to turn Bolton into Barcelona just doesnt work at international level. Kenny needs to go. Im shocked that he doesnt have enough professional pride to walk away after that result. It shows the man he is, just another mercenary out to line his pockets. #KennyOutWeldoninhio, Dublin
Kenny inI did not expect Ireland to lose to Luxembourg, it was surely one of those easy win by several goals games that everyone expects, like when England plays Albania.
After the initial depression wore off, I read that Luxembourg have improved a lot over the last 10-15 years (moving up over 100 places in the FIFA rankings, albeit to 85th). They put in place a long term plan for the national team in the 2000s and it has paid off. They held France to 0-0 in Paris in 2017. They beat Cyprus, Montenegro and Azerbaijan in 2020, not world beaters but its been a while since theyve been losing 5-0 or 6-0.
I obviously wasnt paying attention to any of this before we played them on Saturday.
But my real point is where the Ireland team is at now. I have been a season ticket holder for 20 years, have been going to the home games longer than that, through the 90s, freezing in the old Landsdowne Road, paying for wildly overpriced tickets in Croke Park. This may raise some hackles, but I have never seen the Ireland team play as good football as they have played under the new manager Stephen Kenny. Ever. Unless you go back to pre 90s. There have been rare exceptions and some unlikely results. While I was delighted as a young guy, like most of the country, to see us qualify for major tournaments under Jack Charlton, the football was awful. Does anyone remember 0-0 against Egypt in Italia 90? I have watched the Ireland team play like that for years, even when we played teams ranked way below us. Then Trappatoni, McCarthy, ONeill safety first, sideways, backwards, the players just afraid of making mistakes. For about 15 years the most enjoyable part of the evening has been the fish and chips and the pint I had with my similarly long suffering pals in the hotel before the game. About 10 years ago we started to bring our kids along. They were initially excited at the night out, the big crowd, the noise, the nice Aviva stadium, the sweets. For some years the sweets kept them coming back. Now I dont think they are bothered but come along out of loyalty. We have watched some of the worst games I have ever seen in my life. Over the years I would wonder what other teams thought about our long ball / safety first / try to score from a set piece approach. Did any other team in international football play like that?
I know qualifying for tournaments brings in essential money for the association, but I really hope Kenny is given more time. When I saw his team pass it out of defence, not panic and hoof it, pass it up the pitch and score (as against Serbia), I felt like I was watching a modern football team. The approach of the last 15 years did not work. The mismanagement by the crook who was our association president over that period needs a separate email. Football here at an underage level needs a proper strategy too. But an intelligent approach for the national team that is given time might work. It has to be better than the dross weve endured for years and years. Outrage over losing to Luxembourg possibly comes from thinking they are still one of those teams that everyone beats. They are not. I see the FAI chairman is backing Kenny, I hope he means it. We cant fix 20+ years of misrule overnight.Rory, Bray.
The decline of Ireland’s individualsI was caught in two minds whether to write a defence of Stephen Kenny after Saturdays humiliation at the hands of the mighty Luxembourg or to finally compose a mail about the alarming form of the vast majority of Irish players. As Ferg, Cork has outlined the reasons we sought a move away from Kennys predecessors and touched on the primary reason for the decline in Irish football: a corrupt and negligent FAI, I have decided to go with the latter (which does to some extent alleviate Kenny from all the blame for Saturday night).
At the end of the day 19/20 season there were plenty of reasons to be optimistic as an Irish football fan: the League of Irelands profile had been raised through the inclusion of Jack Byrne in the international squad and the appointment of Kenny as the Ireland manger; the Under-21 team seemed ripe with potentially top drawer players and many established Irish internationals had a season under their belt which improved their reputation. Somehow, it has all done terribly awry. The following is breakdown of where Irish players were and the regard they were held in at the end of the 19/20 season to where they are now. No great surprise to see most players stock has fallen, in some cases, quite considerably.
Darren RandolphEnd of 19/20: Rejoined West Ham in January 2020 to warm their bench after two and half seasons of Championship football with MiddlesbroughNow: Still warming the bench for Fabianski and has made the grand total of 1 Premier League appearance.
Caoimhin KelleherEnd of 19/20: Third choice Liverpool keeper.Now: Has displaced Adrian as No.2 and International debut imminent one of the few positives.
Mark TraversEnd of 19/20: Back-up to Begovic for Bournemouth (Premier League). Considered a good prospect.Now: Back-up to Begovic for Bournemouth (Championship). Horrendous and blunder-ridden performance against Serbia has knocked him down the pecking order of Irish keepers.
Gavin BazunuEnd of 19/20: Manchester City youth player.Now: playing regularly for Swindon in League One and the only player to improve their stock after an assured performance against Luxembourg. Another positive.
Kieran OHaraEnd of 19/20: Playing for Burton Albion (on loan from Manchester United though!)Now: Playing for Burton Albion recently dropped.
Matt DohertyEnd of 19/20: Playing European football with Wolves and highly regarded as an attacking right-wing back.Now: Clearly disliked by Mourinho and struggling for regular game-time at Spurs.
Seamus ColemanEnd of 19/20: Everton club captain and regular right-back despite some question marks over his form,Now: Everton club captain and regular right back.
Shane DuffyEnd of 19/20: Played 19 PL for games for Brighton after Graham Potter succeeded Chris Houghton and signed Adam Webster. Irish Player of the Year for two consecutive years.Now: Deemed surplus to requirements at Brighton (who play three centre backs), Celtic (who often play three centre backs) and Ireland (who just played two games when three centre backs). Grim.
John EganEnd of 19/20: A key component of an over-achieving Sheffield United team.Now: A key component of an under-achieving Sheffield United team with 14 points after 29 games.
Dara OSheaEnd of 19/20: 17 Championship appearances for West Brom, not bad for a player his age.Now: Starting week-in week-out in the Premier League at the age of 22 is hopefully a sign of a promising future (even if relegation beckons).
Ciaran ClarkEnd of 19/20: Playing infrequently for a poor Newcastle side.Now: Playing a little more frequently for an abysmal Newcastle side.
Nathan CollinsEnd of 19/20: Promising centre-back destined for Premier League football and a future Ireland captain.Now: Promising centre-back destined for Premier League football and a future Ireland captain.
Enda StevensEnd of 19/20: A key component of an over-achieving Sheffield United side.Now: A key component of an under-achieving Sheffield United side with 14 points from 29 games.
Conor HourihaneEnd of 19/20: Made 27 appearances and scored 3 goals to help Villa retain their Premier League status.Now: Managed 4 games for Villa before being sent on loan to Championship club Swansea in January where he has got off to a flying start (11 games 5 goals).
Jeff HendrickEnd of 19/20: Linked with a move to AC Milan (honestly!)Now: Not playing for an abysmal Newcastle side.
James McCarthyEnd of 19/20: After 17 PL games in his last three injury-riddled seasons with Everton, McCarthy managed 33 PL games for Crystal Palace and seemed to have overcome the worst of his injury problems.Now: Injured.
Alan BrowneEnd of 19/20: Vital player for Preston.Now: Vital player for Preston, fine form rewarded with a new contract and the captains armband.
Jayson MolumbyEnd of 19/20: Expected to feature for Brighton in the PL after a successful loan spell at Millwall.Now: Played once in the PL for Brighton before being shipped out on loan to Preston in January.
Josh CullenEnd of 19/20: Hoping to see some game time for West Ham after a successful loan spell at Charlton.Now: Playing regular football for Anderlecht and by all accounts, impressing in the Belgian league.
James McCleanEnd of 19/20: Voted Stokes Player of the Year by their fans.Now: Still using his endless supply of stamina to run tirelessly up and down the left wing.
Robbie BradyEnd of 19/20: Bit-part player for BurnleyNow: Bit-part player for Burnley who recently suffered the ignominy of being subbed on and off in the same half against Fulham after scoring an own-goal and fortunately escaping a red card for two bookable offences.
Callum ODowdaEnd of 19/20: Playing without ever really impressing for Bristol.Now: Playing slightly less without ever really impressing for Bristol.
Aaron ConnollyEnd of 19/20: Exciting raw talent playing PL football for Brighton.Now: Less exciting talent playing PL football and compiling an impressive compilation of missed sitters (2 goals in 15 games).
Callum RobinsonEnd of 19/20: Sent on loan from Sheffield United to West Brom and helped them achieve promotion.Now: Scored twice for West Brom against Frank Lampards Chelsea in a 3-3 draw in September. Yet to score again since (2 goals in 21 games).
Shane LongEnd of 19/20: Given a two-year contract extension with Southampton. Despite his lack of goals, his willingness to press and work hard off the ball saw him play regularly for Ralph Hasenhuttl.Now: Behind Ché Adams in the striking pecking order and sent on loan to Bournemouth after failing to get regular game-time at Southampton. (2 goals in 18).
James CollinsEnd of 19/20: Lutons top goalscorer (14) for the second year running after helping them reach the Championship.Now: 1 goal in his last 18 for Luton after a good start to the season. Battling to keep his place.
Adam IdahEnd of 19/20: Scored a hat-trick in the FA Cup for Norwich and impressed for Ireland U-21 team. Started making PL appearances for Daniel Farkes side. Future looked bright.Now: Playing occasionally for Norwich as they make a swift return to the PL without putting the ball in the onion bag too often (2 goals in 16 games).
Troy ParrottEnd of 19/20: Making the bench at Spurs, scoring for fun for the Ireland U-21 team and according to the media hype, destined to be Robbie Keanes successor.Now: Associated with unsavoury characters off the field, struggled on loan at Millwall in the Championship (0 goals in 14 games overall). Loaned to League One outfit Ipswich in January where he has at least managed to score one goal in twelve games. (1 goal in 26 games overall).
In conclusion: Our established names such as Randolph, Doherty, Stevens, Egan, Duffy, Hendrick, Hourihane, McCarthy, Brady and Long have either suffered a severe drop in form, are not playing regularly or have had to drop a division to play games
Our emerging youth prospects such as Connolly, Idah, Parrott, Molumby, Collins and OShea have not kicked on to the extent we hoped they would.
We have nobody we can rely on to finish off any chances we create.
The reasons for the overall slump in performances I will leave for others to decide. Perhaps an element of combination on players over-achieving and hyping youth players raised expectations unduly and players have simply reverted to norm. Heres hoping for a better performance against Qatar tonight, some goals and an overall upturn in the fortunes of Irish internationals in the months ahead.Killian, Limerick
…The Luxembourg result, and mailbox, were the catalyst for this email, but my thoughts on supporting Ireland have been brewing for a while.
Going to Catholic schools in Northern Ireland in the 80s/90s, and with family in the South, supporting Ireland was inevitable.
I remember my primary school letting us skip class to watch games; O’Leary’s penalty in ’90; jumping around my grandad’s living room in Galway after Houghton’s ‘lob’ in ’94; being suprised that Jack Charlton wasn’t Irish; and the fun 2002 campaign (lots of mario kart around games in the wee small hours).
But after that the spark started to dim. In the old days, everyone I knew supported Ireland, and largely viewed the Northern Irish team as being supported by bigoted Protestants and England as an enemy.
Then I grew up, socialised more with Protestants at home (sounds weird but given the segregation at school in NI at the time this wasn’t a given) and then moved to London. I realised that a lot of the prejudice was my own.
I started to like NI, stopped disliking England. Now my International team support ranking goes Ireland, NI, Sweden (wife), Scotland, Wales, England…
It’s great not to feel so prejudiced and to like other teams (particularly the one I was born in). The problem is I can’t love any team like I loved Ireland when I was a kid.
On balance, I’d take the older me, but still miss that feeling of jumping around my grandad’s living room.Aidan, Lfc (still miss you grandad)
Camogie correctionQuick point of order to Dave LFC after reading his mail on Irish sport – Contrary to popular belief, The GAA do not in fact run Camogie, it is run by the Camogie Association. Camogie is not even an “official” GAA sport” (and Handball is!).Shows good old bigotry is alive and well in all walks of society.
Cheers,Conor LFC
What’s happened to football in Oz?To Dave LFC, I 100% relate to your mail.
In Australia, where I lived for eighteen years, football was on the up from 1998 to around 2006. It seemed a production line of good players, Kewell, Viduka, Cahill etc was a given yet was always competing with Rugby League, Union and of course Australian Rules (AFL)..
Traditionally the AFL was only big in Melbourne (its a religion), with much much smaller interest in the other cities. But some very foresighted administrators embarked on a plan. They went to many of the poorer/cash strapped suburbs in other cities and towns and identified run down parks and sports grounds. The AFL then went to the local councils and said they would develop the grounds but with a major caveat. On any given weekend AFL and only AFL would be played on those grounds. Often the councils told this to the other sporting codes local associations, but in the main they said go ahead we don’t have the money and who cares about the AFL anyway.
The upshot after ten years was that some schools do not even have Rugby Union on their curriculum any more, and the AFL just gets stronger.
Different scenario to Dave’s, but the outcome will be the same. A sport that is ONLY played in Australia/Irelend (AFL/Gaelic Football) takes many of the potential future football stars so that both countries will likely struggle to qualify for major tournaments, and if they do will be a bit crap.
cheersGed Biglin