Multiple choice examination.  Tick one answer only. Only one answer is correct. (Answers now in bold – apart from Number 2, in case she sets her lawyers on me. But you know the answer, m’lud.)

  • Q1:
  1. Gary Lineker is a left-wing snowflake
  2. Gary Lineker is responding correctly to an important ethical issue.
  3. Gary Lineker is not a patriot.

What did Lineker ever do for his country?

  • Q2
  1. Suella Braverman is a deluded fascist
  2. Suella Braverman is a delusional fascist
  3. Suella Braverman is a patriot
  4. All of the above.

  • Q3:
  1. The Tories are justifiably aghast at Lineker suggesting that the Tories are like the Nazis
  2. Some Tories have Jewish backgrounds and are therefore correct to criticise Lineker’s referencing and label it ‘offensive’.
  3. Lineker is not comparing the Tories to the Nazis but is suggesting that Braverman and Sunak’s discourse is similar to that used at the onset of Nazi fascism.  The message is therefore an important one.
  4. Suella Braverman’s discourse is not, and has never been, remotely offensive.

New mug for BBC employees

  • Q4
  1. The right-leaning reaction to Lineker is correct because he has broken an impartiality clause with the BBC.
  2. The BBC impartiality clause is a convenient way for the Tories to avoid discussing the actual ethical issues surrounding the proposed law.
  3. Lineker is an ex-footballer and therefore unqualified to talk about issues of importance.

  • Q5:
  1. The Tories are not ex-footballers and are therefore qualified to determine the fate of people experiencing persecution and war.
  2. The Tories are genuinely concerned about these people, and that is why they want them to go to Rwanda – a stable democracy.
  3. The UK is not a stable democracy.

Democracy – this way

  • Q6:
  1. Lineker cannot express his views publicly because he is an employee of the BBC and his salary is paid for by the British tax-payer.
  2. Tory MPs cannot express their views publicly because their salaries are paid for by the British tax-payer.
  3. Lineker doesn’t give a fuck about (a) above because he is so outraged by the issue that he has decided to use his platform to speak out.
  • Q7
  1. The Tories are a party of moral probity and exemplary ethical behaviour.
  2. Marcus Rashford and Gary Lineker have achieved far more for the country than the Tories.
  3. Tories, and the media who float their boat, admire people like Rashford and Lineker and would never try to discredit them.
  4. The Nazis never tried to discredit anyone unfairly.

Here’s a wee clue to Number 4 above.

  • Q8:
  1. Lineker has taken in refugees and looked after them, but has not made a song and dance about it.
  2. Rishi Sunak would also take in refugees if he had the time.
  3. Suella Braverman would also do this if she had the time.
  • Q9:
  1. Right-leaning people favour freedom of expression.
  2. Right-leaning people favour freedom of expression until it contradicts their views.
  3. The left-leaning tofu-eating wokerati do not favour freedom of expression.
  • Q10
  1. Ian Hislop, editor and contributor to Private Eye, has been expressing his views politically on the BBC’s ‘Have I Got News for you?’ for years.
  2. Karren Brady works on a flagship BBC show but also sits in the House of Lords.
  3. Richard Sharp, chairperson of the BBC, is a Tory donor.
  4. Gary Lineker is not a Tory donor.
  5. All of the above are true.  

Impartial buddies

(Tick three only). Having successfully completed this examination, you now realise: (answers now in bold)

  1. That the fuss is not about the BBC and impartiality but rather about populist criticism of (Tory) government policy – which rarely occurs in mainstream media.
  2. Gary Lineker is wrong, on all counts.
  3. The BBC is left-wing.
  4. Impartiality clauses were invented before the age of social media.  They are therefore ineffectual and should probably be scrapped/re-worded.
  5. Suella Braverman is a first-rate intellectual.
  6. Match of the Day might be better without fucking pundits anyway.  

Phil Ball, March 11, 2023 (amended March 1th)

Squid Game

Just finished Squid Game, and before you say ‘What took you so long?’ I have the pre-prepared retort that I prefer to let the hype settle before I tune in. I came late to Game of Thrones for the same reason, but returning to the Korean series, I wasn’t expecting that ending.  I won’t deliver a spoiler, but unexpected twists are hard to deliver these days….and in football terms, you probably know where this is heading.  It seems as if Spanish football is in need of ‘a Leicester’, a twist – and has been in need for some time now.  

Continue reading “Squid Game”

No dispute

As Paul Gascoigne once remarked ‘“I’ve had 14 bookings this season—eight of them were my fault, but the other seven were disputable.”   What is not in dispute is Real Madrid’s current leadership of LaLiga, or the fact that they won fairly and squarely on Saturday night in Anoeta – or if you really insist, in the Reale Arena in San Sebastián.  As promised last week on these very pages, I attended the game in the flesh, alongside my son who had flown down from Amsterdam to see the event. He was released from footy obligations, with the Dutch leagues below full-time pro forced back into lockdown.  So you would have thought that Real Madrid could have gifted us a magical evening together, but alas, Ancelotti and company were not in the pre-Christmas spirit. 

Continue reading “No dispute”

Of Xavi’s flower and Mateu Lahoz’s alternative universe

I’d been hoping to mark this debut round-up for the noble pages of Football España with a rant-free feeling to it, but why change the habits of a lifetime?  It was actually an interesting weekend’s action, to quote that over-used English adjective, but not without its controversies.  I refer of course to the hand of Piqué, as opposed to God, and to the strange antics of Mateu Lahoz, Spain’s refereeing equivalent to Boris Johnson.  Like Johnson, Mateo Lahoz talks a lot but rarely makes any sense, and his talk tends to be focused on explaining away yet another crass mistake he has just made.  Johnson has  better hair, but Lahoz can run faster.  More on his bizarre decision in the Espanyol v Real Sociedad match later.

Continue reading “Of Xavi’s flower and Mateu Lahoz’s alternative universe”

Huffin’ and puffin’

That was the weekend that was, although the Camp Nou clásico turned out to be something of a damp squib – not that anyone was complaining to the wild west in Madrid.  Barcelona huffed and puffed but they never really blew Madrid’s house down, and by the time Agüero had scored his first for the hosts in his first clásico, the dice had settled.   Madrid stay second, a point shy of Real Sociedad (more of them in a moment) and can be pleased with the way they coped with Koeman’s predictable tactics. 

Continue reading “Huffin’ and puffin’”

Beach Wisdom

It was Monday night and I’d just nipped down to the beach for a cooling dip, as you do.  It’d been a muggy day in San Sebastián and I’d been suffering a bit in the office all day.  The good thing about going for a swim early evening is that most of the day-trippers have gone home, and I can usually count on bumping into a sort of mate of mine, an ex-pro neighbour who played for several top-flight clubs but who has been retired for a while now, living the life of Riley as an agent.   Good bloke though, and always up for a natter.  Sure enough, he emerged from the sea five minutes after me and we had a drying-down chat in the fading bronze light of the beach.  

Continue reading “Beach Wisdom”

Happy with Mbappé?

Before we get onto the minor stuff – Messi, Mbappé, Memphis, let me just tell you about my weekend.  Live football is good, particularly after pandemic-based confinements, and so like many other dysfunctional members of my species I’m trying to attend as much as possible.  As Stephen Fry said of religion, ‘It’s what some people do with their madness’.  My madness is more ball than Bible-based, and my pilgrimage sites tend to involve terracing.  Which is why people should never get married on Saturdays.  Why Saturdays, ffs? The wedding reception I was invited to unfortunately coincided with Real Sociedad v Levante on Saturday, meaning that another lucky madman got my seat (I gave it to him, in a Christian act of altruism) but it really isn’t good enough.  Why can’t people have wedding receptions on a Thursday night?  They would then only coincide with the Europa League, and the loss would be of little consequence.   Propose this soon to your local MP. You know it makes sense.

Continue reading “Happy with Mbappé?”

A rough night in Lisbon

After events such as Lisbon, one can always count on Shakespeare.  Macbeth, sitting down in the morning for coffee and porridge after murdering the king in the night and having had a bit of verbal with the missus, is asked by fellow party-goer Lennox if he’s had a decent night’s sleep.  ‘Twas a rough night’ replies Macca, deadpan.  This is often used to teach the concept of dramatic irony to GCSE students in England, but if Shakespeare were alive today you’d probably prefer to just ask him – ‘You were taking the piss, right?’ Continue reading “A rough night in Lisbon”

It’s The Balls! 2019-20 LaLiga round-up.


Never mind the bullocks – it’s The Balls

Yes – it’s that time, albeit rather late this year.  The annual look-back on Spanish football antics normally takes place just as the new-born lambs have stopped their gambolling and the strawberries are beginning to look like mush.  It’s been a weird season, and you may well be asking yourself whether I’m referring to Real Madrid winning the title, Deportivo dropping to Segunda ‘B’ or the irruption onto the scene of a pandemic.  Perhaps all three. Continue reading “It’s The Balls! 2019-20 LaLiga round-up.”

A weekend with Drew Carey and the galácticos

Originally written March 2006 (adapted)

There was an interesting moment in the Bernabéu on Sunday evening, sometime around the 30th minute.  Cicinho played in a clever diagonal ball from the right, near the half-way line, intending it for Ronaldo to run onto.  But the striker saw it too late, thought about it, then decided not to waste his energy on a ball that was running inevitably to the opposition (Depor) defence.  As the crowd fidgeted with impatience, several boos began to float into the mild evening air.  Madrid were winning 1-0, but Ronnie was still unloved and unwanted.  Get thee back to Italy, the boos seemed to say. Continue reading “A weekend with Drew Carey and the galácticos”