Friday, 28 September 2012

Balls Of All Kinds. Also Cars.

The main football (if you can call it that) story of the week has revolved around John Terry and his racial court case. Sadly in 2012 this is the state that football finds itself in. Added to the Suarez/Evra insult/handshake debacle, it has been far from a stellar year in terms of promoting football as a sport worthy of the same respect as those represented at the Olympics.

For a start, there has been no consistency shown by the FA in the scales of their punishments. Terry, the former England captain, was handed a four-game ban and a £220,000 fine for his misdemeanour, despite having been found not guilty in a Crown Court. My understanding of the legal systems in the country lead me to believe that this means he was probably guilty (he even admitted making the remarks) but that it could not be proved beyond doubt that he meant them in an insulting or racist way.

Luis Suarez was last year also found guilty of racist abuse, but was banned for eight games - twice as long as Terry. To add to the confusion he was fined only £40,000 - much less than the Chelsea skipper. I, and many other football fans, would like to know the reasoning behind this. A large part of the sentencing system in this country is based on precedence. The FA may not have exactly the same authority - nor should it - but why does one person's punishment focus on his time on the pitch, but the other's on his pocket? I'm not suggesting any preferential treatment, as both could feel hard done by, but the FA should come under pressure to outline fixed punishments for racial abuse or risk further unpleasant headlines.

Back to happier, more relevant ground, and it was a successful week for most of the bigger names in the Capital One Cup (typed Carling Cup before swiftly realising my error). Only Man City will feel they let themselves down in their 4-2 defeat to Aston Villa - but then they have always had bigger fish to fry this season. That the competition's previous two winners are Liverpool and Birmingham shows its lack of importance.

On to cricket, and England's World Twenty20 defense is creaking worse than my gran's old attic floors. The mighty Afghans were swept aside initially, before India and West Indies threatened to spin England out of contention. Eoin Morgan is doing his best, but when he watches his openers stagger to 0-2 in the first over he must think to himself: if I wanted to be the one man in a one-man team I could have stayed with Ireland.

At the time of writing, the Ryder Cup was just getting underway - the scoring is pretty even so far, but we've already seen a magical chip from Rory McIlroy to set the course alight. As I write this sentence I am passing through Holywood on the train. If that's not a sign I don't know what is.

Finally, Formula One is currently making the headlines again. This writer loves wordy metaphors, and Lewis Hamilton's decision to leave McClaren for the Brawn-backed Mercedes is ripe for the picking. The 2008 world champion is about to find out what it's like to be a man who has decided to leave his wife for another woman but has to stick around for a week for his kid's birthday. Awkwardness awaits. It is hard to imagine team principal Martin Whitmarsh going all out now to help Hamilton win his second world title. It is very easy to imagine Jenson Button silently pumping his fist and whispering to himself, "I win."

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