Home > An Englishman In Australia > EURO 2012 32 hours and 10 minutes to go – Expectation, Selection and Racism

EURO 2012 32 hours and 10 minutes to go – Expectation, Selection and Racism

Have England ever entered a tournament with expectations so low?  It’s hard to find anyone prepared to confidently predict progress to the quarter final.  With England fans now having such a cautious view we can hope it alleviates some of the overwhelming pressure that stifles the England team.

In the midst of the Rio Ferdinand & John Terry controversy, the issue of how to cope without Wayne Rooney for two games has been all but forgotten.  Hodgson could have created more options for himself by copying Marcello Lippi.  The notion of Italy’s habitual caution is genuine and legendary.  It’s proved fatal on several occasions. But Lippi, wily old warhorse that he is, contradicted this regular policy of football suicide by taking six forwards to Germany in 2006. SIX. and more to the point, in the semi against Germany used five of them. That Italy side was there to attack. And it proved fruitful. Like Enzo Bearzot 24 years before, breaking the fear led them to victory. There was a lesson for Roy to take on board in all that. Instead of filling the squad out with holding midfielders take an extra attacker. Take 5 forwards. You can’t have too many attacking options.  It would have addressed the issue of Rooney’s absence with positive sympathy.

While lacking the diversity of a World Cup, one great thing about the European Championship is the sheer quality on offer.  There are few dud teams in the Euros and many have genuine aspirations to win the trophy.  Enjoy this tournament because in 2016 that will change.  The decision to expand the finals competition to 24 teams will dilute the quality.   Did they do it because the cash cow that is England didn’t reach the 2008 finals?  I’m guessing it’d be a significant factor. There doesn’t seem to be any other reason.  UEFA forget that England didn’t qualify because we simply weren’t good enough. Europe has 52 nations and almost half of them will be in the tournament.  Financial gain may be assured but stripping the prestige away could prove to be self defeating.  There are already problems finding bidders to host for the 2020 competition.  UEFA’s number crunchers are clearly oblivious to the current precarious state of the global economy.

The issue of racism has dominated the build up. Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s families have decided  not to travel  over fears for their safety.  Mario Balotelli has stated that if he is the subject of racial abuse he’ll walk off the pitch.  Michel Platini has stated that any player walking off the pitch will receive a yellow card, adding that only referees have the authority to halt a match.  He did emphasise that if  referees choose to delay a match for this reason, UEFA would support them.  How can the black players trust the relevant bodies to protect them when for so long they proved themselves to be inept?  Both UEFA and FIFA have paid vacuous lip service to the subject for years.  During the bidding process for the 2018 World Cup, delegates were even instructed not to take racism into account when voting.  The result being that Russia will host.  Russia where racism in football crowds is sickeningly prominent.  If a player does have the courage to walk off the pitch the ruling bodies will have to face up their own responsibility in failing to adequately address the issue for so many years.

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