Thankfully there isn’t an event in the Rio Olympics that involves having a party in a brewery as I think The International Olympic Committee would struggle to organise it.
Their stance over the aftermath of the Russian doping scandal actually beggars belief. There has been a clear case of not only drug cheating but an elaborate cover-up in the aftermath. There should be no grey area here. The entire Russian Olympic team, over every discipline, should be banned from the Rio games, with the edict coming from the top of the IOC with no leave to appeal.
That sends out a clear message to any individual or regime considering breaking the rules. Drug cheating will no longer be tolerated and a blanket ban, while regrettable for all the clean Russian competitors, might be the catalyst for long-term change and cleaner sport as a result.
Instead, the IOC have fudged the whole issue, sitting on their hands, doing what they do best. It’s a far cry from four years ago when London arguably produced the greatest games in modern times.
Like the World Cup, even when England don’t qualify, the Olympics is one of the great global sporting events that fans, from all races, creeds and cultures around the globe look forward to.
For the first time since 1972 an Olympic Games arrives and, in general, I really couldn’t care less. I will of course watch the boxing as Team GB take their biggest squad since 1984 but the black cloud created by the Russians and all but ignored by the IOC will cast a shadow and an element of doubt over every medal the Russians win – whether the relevant competitors are totally clean or not and regrettably that will also impinge on the boxing event. So, ladies and gentleman of the IOC, you’ve tainted the whole event for me before the flame has even been lit.
Although not universally welcomed in certain quarters, I’m actually encouraged by the appointment of Sam Allardyce as England manager.
While in many observers eyes never ‘winning anything of any note’ is a drawback, his record as a manager stacks up and, with the best players in the country at his disposal, who knows what can be achieved. From the outset he’s put down a marker, calling off the first international friendly in favour of working with the squad on the training pitch in preparation for the first World Cup qualifier.
Driving home the other day listening to the radio, former Albion and one-time England manager Peter Taylor made a very good point which clearly gets overlooked but ultimately might have hampered England’s progress in world football.
Taylor pointed out that if bored on team coaches at the high end of our domestic game, most of the players will have head phones on, or be concentrating on various devices, phones, tablets etc.
But the point Taylor made was that technology has all but destroyed the art of conversation on team busses and, in turn, perhaps stifled the development of good communicators in our game.
With better communicators/leaders, could we have beaten Iceland?
We will never know the answer but as Taylor pointed out, communication and leadership is key to success, yet there’s an argument that a serious change in the traditional team coach environment might ultimately hamper progress.
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