The end of the World Cup

Today is the World Cup final of what has been a very good World Cup. It isn’t up to Spain 82 or Mexico 86 in terms of a classic mix of great football and entertainment, but it’s better than Italy 90 (strip away World in Motion and actually talk about the football, you’ll find most who can remember a poor competition) or the averageness of the last few competitions.

Today sees France play Croatia. France should win but Croatia could easily pull off a shock which isn’t bad for a country¬† that hasn’t even existed for 30 years yet. But what of the next World Cup in Qatar?

The next World Cup isn’t going to be held in the middle of winter for northern hemisphere teams, and also in the middle of league and cup seasons. It’s also going to be held in stadia built on the blood of thousands of dead workers in a country where holding hands in public could be problematic. Imagine the fan parks in punishing heat or players growing tired quickly because they’re playing in a desert in a country run by strict authoritarians who care nothing for human rights.

Sod that.

So I’ll be back for the World Cup in 2026 in Canada, Mexico and the US who by then, will have purged themselves of Trumpism.

Hopefully today’s final is a classic because I think quite a few fans will be boycotting Qatar, but for now lets celebrate today’s final and personally, I’d love Croatia to win it, but France will likely win it. We’ll see…

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Why most Scots won’t support England

Another World Cup is nearly over which means for Scots (as well as the Welsh and Northern Irish) don’t have to put up with being told by people (who all seem to only pay attention to football every major tournament) who elect themselves arbiters who what people should do in relation to supporting football teams. This time though it has been totally unbearable in Scotland as media commentators trip over themselves to display how glorious they are by saying they’ll support England. Take this nonsense from Stephen Daisley as an example of this.

This is of course an example of the cringe; but before the Anyone But England argument comes from England fans hurt that not everyone will support England, especially people from the three countries of the UK used to be downgraded, insulted and ignored (If you’ve you’ve ever called the UK ‘England’ then you’re a dick) but this isn’t about hating the English, but the bullying, sometimes patronisingly smug attitude that places England at the centre of the galaxy.

It boils down to not supporting your biggest, and oldest rivals (Scotland/England is the oldest rivalry in football) so Celtic fans won’t support ‘Rangers’, Spurs won’t support Arsenal, Man City won’t support Man Utd, and on. If you then say ‘ah, but we’d support our nearest neighbours’ then I ask you how many English folk will be supporting France tomorrow in the World Cup Final?

But really it’s the entitlement and the way that England transforms into a place where if you’re not from England, it becomes deeply unwelcoming and in the case of this week, dismissive and insultingly so of opposition. Roy Keane hit the nail on the head.

Yet this year England had a likeable, decent man as manager and players who never seemed as arrogant or entitled as previous teams. Gareth Southgate represents the more civic side of England you rarely see these days, especially since Brexit, and England’s ethnically and culturally diverse team is a step in the right direction. Imagine had Sam Allardyce dragged a team to this World Cup. It’d be like Nigel Farage’s wet dream.

So good luck to England in the third place playoff. You’re learning but you need to remember it isn’t always about you so come on Belgium!

A World Cup favour…

Please Croatia, can you beat England.

Because if I hear cries of ‘It’s coming home’ every time I turn on the TV, or see that in the UK media I think I may lose whatever mind I’ve got left. I also can’t bear the jingoism that’ll come if England play either Belgium or France. It’ll be unbearable, so please our Croatian cousins, go out there and do small counties like yourselves proud!

We’ve now had two years of Brexit

Two years ago the UK, well, England mainly, voted to leave the EU and the world went mad.The vote was won with no plan, no idea of how to leave and with experts promising total collapse if we just up and leave with no deal, but hardline Brexiters from the right and the left on the morning after the vote demanded Article 50 (the procedure that kicks into motion the UK leaving the EU)invoked and the UK leaves with nothing more planned than the fact we’re leaving. Two years later this is sort of the situation we’re still in. Both the right and left of Brexit want to leave ASAP to bring about some sort of nirvana based upon their own political ideology so both push the line about ‘respecting the result’ because to veer off course now would mean they don’t get what they want.

Problem is ‘respecting the result’ means buying into the fact the referendum was built on racist lies and possible (probable?) criminality and corruption. This Bloomberg article reveals part of the problem, while the work of journalists like James Patrick and Carol Cadwalladr are exposing what is a massive perversion of democracy, not to mention people’s real concerns about being stuck in eternal austerity which has lasted a decade with no end to come.

Tens of thousands marched the streets of London at the weekend just gone protesting Brexit but with the Tories locked in a death spiral trying to put off the day when the likes of Jacob Rees Mogg gets his cold hands on the PM job, and Labour stuck in a nostalgia trip there is no way a political end to Brexit can be found. Anyhow, it’s far too late. As soon as Article 50 was invoked the UK lost any control on what will happen, apart from the ‘no deal’ option where the UK walks and carnage happens overnight. Business is making that clear with a series of warnings falling on arrogantly deaf ears. Basically the type of country you want to live in is at stake and frankly, the extremists have all the Trump cards.

We’re heading towards reality with a sickening thud. When the smoke clears and things calm down we might not like the look of where we are, what we’ve done and the irreparable damage done to people’s lives. So, I’ll be blunt. Be prepared for next year as if we do drop out with no deal and off that edge, or even just take what we’re given because we gave away any power in March 2017, we could face something people in this country haven’t faced since the early to mid 1970’s. I hope I’m wrong but unless something major happens we’re fucked.

A quick word about the Glasgow School of Art fire

Glasgow’s School of Art suffered a second devastating fire in four years last weekend which has left what’s left of the historic building facing demolition. MacIntosh’s masterpiece will probably never look as it did, even with the best restoration in the worls.

There’s going to be months of investigations as to why the School of Art suffered a second fire, and indeed, the rumour mill is in overdrive but apparently Private Eye have reported on the restoration since the 2014 fire and lack of sprinklers thanks to one or more of the trustees.

This is also the second major fire to hit Sauchiehall Street this year that’s left buildings to be demolished and a large part of the street closed while demolition takes place. Today it also became clear that the fire may not have started at the School of Art, but at the ABC/O2.

Conspiracy theories are ablaze across Glasgow but considering we’ve went from wondering how a fire could start in the School of Art to how on earth it could have started at the ABC, the best word of advice to wait to hear what the investigators say in the weeks and months ahead. It might end up being more fantastic than we can all imagine which is often the way with the truth.

Solidarity for Scotland

After Wednesday’s extraordinary events where the SNP walked out of PMQ’s, we have a situation where yet again in a matter of days everything that seemed fixed and certain is nothing of the kind. The walk-out is international news as well as the talk of buses, workplaces and every corner of Scotland and the UK, while Yes groups are reporting boosts in membership to go along with the SNP reporting a sharp increase in new members since yesterday afternoon. People now know the Tories plan to grab powers devolved to Scotland and the walk-out did more to raise the issue than anything else has so hopefully this don’t give a fuck attitude carries on.

We even have Murray Foote, the originator of the infamous ‘Vow’ in 2014 coming out now in support of independence. Not just supporting efforts to protect devolution, but actual independence.

Basically if the man who helped win it for the UK government and the establishment in 2014 goes ”fuck this, give me a Saltire, Indy now!’then we’re at the point where anything is possible.

But before we all get ahead of ourselves let’s remember that although the Tories are against the ropes, they still have the entire UK establishment (and other useful idiots) supporting them, and the Union. Then there’s Labour eternal promise of jam tomorrow which, for now, has the supposed ”radical left” (though I don’t see anything radical about Labour supporting a system designed to create poverty and inequality) still making doe eyes at it in the hope that it’ll work out. Support needs to be won but right now it does seem like the tide has turned and maybe, just maybe we may find ourselves getting out of the mess we’re in.

So caution for now, but a wee bit of positivity is allowed.