MARTIN SAMUEL: Selfish UEFA are the plague ravers of football… better we deport Aleksander Ceferin and all his blazered mates than let them march through Heathrow unchallenged
- UEFA look set to get their way over quarantine rules for the Euros semis and final
- They appear to have successfully bullied the UK Government to accept 2,500 VIPs, some from red zone countries, without quarantine for the Wembley dates
- If all the UEFA suits leave London a sicker place than they found it, due to not having to quarantine, this really isn’t their problem. On to the next.
It is called a plague rave. Tulum in Mexico, Zanzibar in Tanzania. A party in a corner of the world in which coronavirus regulations barely exist. Superstar DJs, huge crowds of unmasked, mainly white hedonists, flown in and eschewing social distancing.
Locals provide the services, the plague ravers leave what they brought behind. Invariably, the nation is in a far worse state than when they found it.
Mexico had the third highest death rate in the world when Tulum, two hours from Cancun, began hosting its plague raves. Within two weeks of the New Year events, Mexico recorded its worst week yet during the pandemic: 7,000 dead and record infections.
The Euro 2020 final at Wembley could see the arrival of some 2,500 VIPs without quarantine
Another Tulum party – an ‘awareness’ festival called Art With Me hosting 50 wellness activities and 40 acts, plus 20 food and wine ‘happenings’ – is now regarded as a super-spreader event.
But it still wasn’t as bad as what unfolded in Tanzania. On the island of Zanzibar, governmental ignorance met international selfishness to create a catastrophe the ramifications of which may soon be felt.
The party started with President John Magufuli declaring his country Covid-free last June. He refused to accept foreign vaccines and said citizens should pray the illness away. It helped that Tanzania stopped officially recording Covid cases.
In January, the US Center for Disease Control designated Tanzania a level three country and advised against entry.
There had been a steady increase in Tanzanian travellers testing positive on arrival at foreign destinations.
In March, Tanzania was placed on level four, the highest grade, indicating a very high level of Covid-19. That same month, President Magufuli died. Officially from long-standing heart conditions, although opponents blamed Covid.
It is against this backdrop that the plague DJs arrived. There were raves in February and the superclub Amnesia, from Ibiza, co-promoted one taking place from March 5 to 19. Zanzibar, it was said, was ‘not a high-risk country’ and there was ‘no need for quarantine upon return’.
So what happened next? Later that month, the World Health Organisation reported the most complex strain of coronavirus yet, found in three travellers from Tanzania to Angola. It had 31 amino acid mutations and the WHO is still investigating the consequences of this spread.
‘The source country, Tanzania, has a largely undocumented epidemic and few public health measures are in place to prevent spread within and out of the country,’ read the report.
The entitled plague ravers and the plague DJs had long gone, perhaps spreading as they went.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin looks set to get his way after threatening to move the final
And this brings us to UEFA, the plague ravers of global football. The ones who appear to have successfully bullied this Government to accept 2,500 VIPs, some from red zone countries, without quarantine for the final stages of the European Championship.
If the Government did not acquiesce, the threat was to move the semi-finals and final to Budapest.
Hungary has the second highest per capita death rate from Covid of any country in the world, after Peru, but Prime Minister Viktor Orban permits full stadiums, so UEFA and their plague-raving VIPs couldn’t care. They get in, they get out, no masks and no quarantines. Back to Zanzibar, for all we know.
And what is their mitigation? There is none. The plague DJs, as selfish as they might be, are part of an industry that has been destroyed by Covid restrictions. Clubs, live events, musicians, DJs, all have struggled with little end in sight.
The harshest judgment on those who have broken out to play to crowds of the entitled jet set or just fruitcake anti-vaxxers who think Bill Gates wants to plant a microchip in our brains, has come from within. From DJs, musicians, agents, promoters, who have sat patiently and waited for this curse to be over.
They are the ones naming names on social media, compiling lists, advocating the exclusion of plague DJs from a planned demonstration on June 26 in support of reopening clubs.
UEFA, then, have no such excuse. No justification. They have been through none of the equivalent hardship.
The Puskas Arena in Budapest, Hungary has already gone ahead with hosting two games at a full capacity of 60,000 people in attendance
Their tournament has gone ahead, pretty much as planned. They have their broadcast revenue, their sponsorship revenue, they have dragged fans all over Europe – Baku to Seville is 2,960 miles – when anyone can see mass transit should be avoided.
And now, asked to conform to understandable restrictions around national borders, they threaten this? Worse, the Government apparently feel that not to compromise might harm England’s chances of hosting the 2030 World Cup, for which they will need UEFA’s support.
Not this one again. All the pathetic deals this country has made, all the crooks it has embraced, the sticky hands it has shook, the bowing and scraping to men no more worthy than dirt on the shoe, and where has it got us?
Behind Russia, behind Qatar as suitable World Cup hosts.
And we’re falling for this deception? That we let UEFA’s plague ravers march through Heathrow unchallenged, because Aleksander Ceferin will bestow his fabulous patronage upon us at voting time?
Stuff that. Better we deport him, and all his blazered mates, rather than let one person in without the protocols that would apply to any foreign visitor or returning British national.
Who do they think they are, these people? The football family? It’s a joke. There will be family members who have never seen a match that isn’t a final, that might have attended three games their entire life, each one ending in fireworks and the presentation of a trophy.
Capacity has been capped at Wembley so far by the UK government as they tackle Covid-19
UEFA protect them because they represent the money. They hide behind a desire to serve the fans but if that was genuine no big match would be taken to Baku, and Tottenham and Liverpool wouldn’t have got just 34,000 tickets between them for the 2019 Champions League final, played in a 63,500 capacity stadium.
There were just 4,000 tickets sold to locals, and the rest? The football family. A staggering 25,500, 40.15 per cent of the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid.
So that is what is on UEFA’s mind when they look at Budapest’s Puskas Arena at full 67,215 capacity.
They don’t acknowledge the danger, they don’t consider the message in rewarding a country where fans carry racist and homophobic banners and attitudes to the game.
They just see a lucrative plague rave with all their entitled mates on the floor and them behind the decks, the superstar DJs.
And if they leave the city a sicker place than they found it, this really isn’t their problem. On to the next. They’re always going to party like it’s 2021.
No time to let your hair down
Can we have a moratorium on Phil Foden’s hair? Now the entire England team are going to get the peroxide out if they win the tournament. Good grief, who talks like that after the level of performance against Scotland? Just beat the Czech Republic, then see what happens.
It is never a good look for footballers to be obsessing over grooming and it rarely did Paul Gascoigne any favours. He’d be twitching like a nervous wreck, complaining that paparazzi were following him everywhere, while kitted out like The Joker and never connecting the two.
Phil Foden says England’s players have agreed to copy his haircut if they win the Euros
Please Scotland, spare us any more blather till you’ve beaten Croatia
Scotland were outstanding at Wembley on Friday night and Billy Gilmour’s positive test for coronavirus is a crying shame, but let’s get real: some of what has followed bears scant relation to reality.
After the second round of games there were only two countries without a goal, Scotland and Turkey – and Turkey scored against Switzerland on Sunday.
Lyndon Dykes talking about shaving his head and clattering Luke Shaw, then, is just blather.
Scotland were impressive but let’s not get carried away about their display at the Euros so far
Equally Stephen O’Donnell’s spiel about how he got under Jack Grealish’s skin by complimenting his handsomeness. We all saw O’Donnell versus Grealish. He couldn’t get the ball off him, pursued him back to the centre circle, then kicked him up in the air. It was not a triumph, more the one moment O’Donnell looked like Motherwell’s full back. There is interest in him from south of the border, but the Championship, not the Premier League.
‘There is always something about Scotland that surfaces when they have been written off,’ wrote Graeme Souness in his newspaper column. Souness is usually one of the most astute and uncompromising analysts in the game, but seriously?
This is a country that had not qualified for a major tournament in 22 years, and only got into this one because it was expanded to take in almost half the nations in Europe.
The fact is, it has been possible to write Scotland off across three decades without much fear of contradiction. So why do we allow this historical reshoot? No Englishman would be able to claim his country always pulls it out in major tournaments without laughter and the very relevant mention of a 55-year gap since 1966.
Scotland must beat Croatia to justify even a fraction of this hype.
Scotland are the only team at the Euros who yet to score – having drawn a blank in both games
Pogba’s new Old Trafford deal reflects his brilliance for France… not Manchester United
If Manchester United are genuinely planning to give Paul Pogba a new contract worth in the region of £400,000 a week, it means they think they are signing the player who performs at such a high level for France beside N’Golo Kante. The guy in the Manchester United shirt is worth nowhere near that.
Paul Pogba (left) for France is an entirely different midfielder than when at Manchester United
List of Serie A flops shouldn’t surprise Levy
Since Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain arrived at Manchester City, the club have only appointed managers with a Spanish connection. Manuel Pellegrini, who had worked in La Liga since 2004, took over in 2013. He was succeeded by Pep Guardiola, whose reputation was made at Barcelona. Executives go with what they know, and City’s hierarchy are steeped in Spanish football.
So it is surely no surprise that with Fabio Paratici now installed as managing director of football operations, Tottenham’s candidates to succeed Jose Mourinho have taken a decidedly Italian bent.
The list began with Brendan Rodgers, Erik ten Hag and the forlorn pursuit of Mauricio Pochettino.
When Antonio Conte became available, Tottenham made a vain attempt to convince him. Yet since Paratici was secured, Tottenham appear to have quite an eye for Italian-based coaches, even unspectacular ones.
Paulo Fonseca has had two nearly years with Roma. He nearly got them into the Champions League – they had played in it for five straight seasons before he took over – then nearly reached the Europa League final. When that fell through, Tottenham went for Gennaro Gattuso, another coach who had nearly made the Champions League with AC Milan and Napoli, falling short both times.
Paratici does not formally arrive until July 1 but this sudden fascination with Serie A coaches does not appear coincidental. Nor greatly encouraging, particularly with the need to convince Harry Kane of a bright, coherent future.
Tottenham have started looking at Serie A coaches since the appointment of Fabio Paratici
Farhad Moshiri, owner of Everton, is being pressed to listen to supporters over the appointment of Rafa Benitez and back away from the most qualified coach for the job. Overnight last week, protest banners appeared outside Goodison Park. One read: ‘Rafa — f*** off you fat Kopite c***’. Yes, just the sort of voice a modern, ambitious ownership needs to take on board.
No doubt one of those keen intellects Premier League clubs are being encouraged to embrace in our post-Super League world. Maybe Moshiri could make the author an independent director, or give him a golden share; a regulator in the making, indeed.
Everton fans left signs outside Goodison Park stating their displeasure at Rafa Benitez joining
Who regulates the regulator?
The pressure to appoint an independent regulator for football continues, but one aspect its supporters play down is who makes the appointment. It’s a Government role, so join the dots. We are handing football over to knee-jerk opportunists like Priti Patel who make grandstanding, unhelpful statements against taking the knee because they sniff votes from former Labour strongholds.
To incompetents like Matt Hancock, whose initial reaction to the coronavirus crisis was to call for footballers – no-one else – to take pay cuts. To ministers like Michael Gove, who avoided quarantine after the Champions League final because he was fortuitously part of a pilot testing scheme that was unknown to most of us. And to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who picks up and drops football according to what’s in it for him, and didn’t even know Wales were in the European Championship.
We are told a regulator could not be worse than the governance currently in place. Really?
ITV’s turn this time, but it was still the full Welsh again on Sunday for the match with Italy. Three Welsh panellists in the studio, plus another on co-commentary duties. Unsurprisingly no-one thought it was a sending-off for Wales’s Ethan Ampadu, except Peter Walton, the refereeing expert, and born in Northamptonshire. One can only imagine that Clive Thomas, 84, was unavailable, or Walton would never have got that gig.
Wales’ Ethan Ampadu (left) was sent off this tackle on Italy’s Federico Bernardeschi on Sunday
Share this article
Source: Read Full Article