9.9.09

Pardon for Liverpool fan, Micheal Shields

Finally, Jack Straw sees sense:

Liverpool fan Michael Shields, who was jailed for 15 years in Bulgaria for the attempted murder of a barman, has been pardoned.

Justice Secretary Jack Straw issued the royal pardon, saying that Mr Shields was "morally and technically innocent".

Link to BBC coverage

Statement by Liverpool Football club

Shields, 22, was convicted after a disturbance following Liverpool's European Cup victory in Turkey in 2005.

He was later transferred to a prison in the UK.

His pardon follows a campaign by his family, MPs, clergymen, Liverpool players and many others, who believe he is innocent.

In 2005 another man, Graham Sankey, originally admitted involvement in the attack on the barman, but subsequently withdrew his statement and now denies any involvement in the attack. However, it has since been reported that at the time of the attack, Michael was asleep in his hotel room.

This man spent 4 years in jail for a crime he did not commit. I'm just glad that he is finally free.

Michael Shields, You'll Never Walk Alone.....

6.9.09

The ‘World’ Cup?

I remember watching this year’s Olympics football finals between Nigeria and Argentina. It was a good tournament, and one of the highlights for me was Nigeria beating Belgium 4-1. However, looking at the makeup of the 16 teams that qualified, it’s pretty straightforward:

2 from South America
2 from North+Central America and the Carribeans
4 from Europe
3 from Africa
3 from Asia
1 from Oceania

(Source)

So, the places are spread out among all the continents, very fair, very evenly distributed.

So how about the World Cup? Well, the South Americans started, and the Europeans pay the most when it comes to TV money. And the number of qualification places is skewed HEAVILY in their favour. Out of the 32 finalists we will have:

Africa – 53 teams/5 places (9.4%) + 1 place for this year’s hosts
Asia – 43 teams/4.5 places (10.4%)
Europe – 53 teams/13 places (24.5%)
North, Central America and Carribean – 35 teams/3.5 places (10%)
Oceania – 10 teams/0.5 places (5%)
South America – 10 teams/4.5 places (45 %)

(Source)

So percentage wise, South America has the best deal, while Oceania has the worst deal, with Africa second from bottom. But both Europe and Africa have 53 teams, but Europe has more than twice the number of places in the tournament.

Some will argue that South America and Europe have produced all of the previous winners of the tournament, and as a result, they have every right to hold on to most of the places available. Africa has had 2 quarterfinalists but that’s it. Asia, one semi-finalist, and so if we don’t do well, we shouldn’t get any more places.

But isn’t this just going to be a vicious circle? As long as the tournament favours the Europeans and South Americans, the teams from that region will keep getting exposure to top level competition, which helps to develop the players, giving them opportunities to shine on the World Stage, and sign with top clubs. So teams like Bulgaria and Slovenia will occasionally make the tournament, while teams like Gabon will remain in the backwaters of world football.

I propose a ‘reset’.

South American, thank you for giving us the World Cup. Europe, thanks for giving us leagues for our players to play in.

But it’s a WORLD cup. If FIFA is serious about developing football in Africa and Asia, then our teams need more exposure at the very top level.

Each region should have a number of places based on the number of participating teams.  The Olympic model looks very good to me, just double the number of spaces to make 32 teams. They’ll be an extra space (only one host), which can be used for co-hosts or even a wildcard place.

It’s only fair.

27.8.09

Spot the difference

"We have to fight it and there is only one way to punish people diving obviously: suspension. Once it is in the game it is difficult to get it out. Once a guy knows he might be punished he will not dive.

"My view without going into any individual case is that we are all as managers to fight against it. Sometimes the players dive just because they pushed the ball too far and the only way to get something out of the situation is to dive. We are all managers who can never say that one of our players has not dived. Nobody can say that in our league. I can say that when my team are not involved I am 100% against it"

- Arsene Wenger, March 24, 2006.

"Is it acceptable? I have never asked in my life any guy to dive to win a penalty, but sometimes players go down because there is no other way to escape the goalkeeper's tackle, sometimes they dive. We got a penalty against us two years ago in the Quarter-Final of the Champions League that made the difference when Babel dived. Nobody ever apologised to us, it was a blatant dive and nobody spoke about it"

- Arsene Wenger, August 26, 2009.

Source

So which is it, Mr. Wenger?

7.7.09

Rest in Peace Michael



Like A Comet
Blazing 'Cross The Evening Sky
Gone Too Soon

Like A Rainbow
Fading In The Twinkling Of An Eye
Gone Too Soon

Shiny And Sparkly
And Splendidly Bright
Here One Day
Gone One Night

Like The Loss Of Sunlight
On A Cloudy Afternoon
Gone Too Soon

Like A Castle
Built Upon A Sandy Beach
Gone Too Soon

Like A Perfect Flower
That Is Just Beyond Your Reach
Gone Too Soon

Born To Amuse, To Inspire, To Delight
Here One Day
Gone One Night

Like A Sunset
Dying With The Rising Of The Moon
Gone Too Soon

Gone Too Soon

We miss you Michael........

12.5.09

The beautiful game – It’s just a freaking game !!

"Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that."

Bill Shankly

 

The first time I ever saw an English football match was 20th of May 1995. That was the day ABG came to install our ‘cable TV’ (which was really an antenna) in Lagos, just in time for us to catch the FA cup final. Everton was playing Manchester United, and Nigeria’s Daniel Amokachi was playing for Everton, so of course I was rooting for the boys in blue. The antenna was not set up properly, so we watched the whole match with a very grainy, snowy picture. 4 days later, we got to watch Ajax lift the Champions League with a win over AC Milan, with 2 Nigerians in their team (Finidi George and a very young Kanu Nwankwo). Yes, those were the good old days, when Nigerians were ruling the football world, but I digress, let me get back to where I was heading. (I have a post in my head about this, coming soon)

Anyway, the next season, we got to watch the English Premier League live. I didn’t support any team in particular, I just loved watching the football. My uncle lived in Liverpool, so I assumed he was a Liverpool fan, and was very disappointed that he turned out to be an Evertonian (In 2001, when I went to live in Liverpool, I found out that almost EVERYONE who lives in Liverpool is an Evertonian !!) So, my natural affinty to Liverpool began, they had some really good players in their squad, most notably Robbie Fowler and Steve McManaman. And McManaman was the reason I eventually started supporting Liverpool.

Liverpool was a ruthless team, and their passing game reminded me of the clinical. methodical game Ajax played in the 1995 and 1996 Champions Leagues finals. But as we didn’t get the Dutch league on TV, Liverpool became my Ajax. And on the 19th of August 1996, it was sealed. Liverpool beat Arsenal 2-0 at Anfield, and McManaman gave one his best performances ever. The rest of the team were playing a one touch passing game, but once McManaman got the ball, the ball seemed stuck to his feet, he dribbled like a master, went past anyone who dared challenge him. ESPN’s Tommy Smyth said “He’s a good player, but he doesn’t score enough goals”. And Stevie scored 2 goals, and shut him up. Mangerless Arsenal were no match for the men in Red. And that was the day I started to support Liverpool “Full time”. (Bruce Rioch was sacked by Arsenal at the start of that season. In October, a few weeks later, Arsene Wenger became Arsenal manager)

Anyway, the next few years saw more and more Nigerians get access to cable TV, satellite TV, and most importantly, Premiership football. Most people started ‘supporting’ the teams who were winning things at the time, namely Arsenal and Manchester United. I stuck with Liverpool. After researching the history of the club, I couldn’t let go. All you need to do is read one Bill Shankly quote, and you’re hooked. The history around the club is inspiring, and their record second to none in England.

Over the years, it’s been an interesting journey, I went to University of Liverpool in 2001, and finally got to watch a few matches at Anfield.

So, why did I give all this ‘history’?

Well, last week, after Arsenal lost to Manchester United, a Kenyan Arsenal fan hung himself. He was still wearing his Arsenal shirt.

This has shocked people in Kenya, as to why he took this so far. But coming from a similar background, I can understand where the passion came from. But I would obviously not go that far (following Liverpool, I would have killed myself a million times in the last 14 years!!).

When I went back to Nigeria in 2003, I was surprised to see how well the Sky/Premier League marketing machine was working. Everyone was a fan of a club in England. Arsenal, Man. United mainly. We watched so much Premier League, it felt like we were English. In 2006, sports shows were inviting listeners to dial in and debate who would be a better England captain, John Terry or Steven Gerrard. I remember listening to the show online, and amazed at how people called in to argue their points, even more effectively, than the people I listened to on English radio !!

In the last few years, fights have broken out when the big teams have played each other, and people have been killed. Africans are very passionate people, and sometimes, all we need is a cause to fight for, and we’ll fight it to the end.

Sadly for Suleiman Omondi, it’s too late. What a tragic waste of life. Reading this blog post, apparently, there have been Premier League related brawls in Kenya as well, so it’s not a uniquely Nigerian problem. Sadly, you can still see the Africna passion of the writer :

PS: This is a wake up call to Arsenal. This is how much it hurts all the fans when you play hopelessly. It might just be financials for the Arsenal stakeholders, might just be business for the Arsenal Board of Directors, might be just another job for Arsene Wenger, might just be a career for the players … but this club is the LIFE for all the supporters…! May Suleiman Omondi R.I.P.

Taken from here.

I’m sorry, but I don’t agree.

Arsene Wenger and any one of the Arsenal players probably make more in a week what this guy makes in a years, and that’s assuming he’s either abroad, or has a very, very good job. And the people who can claim to have a real connection to Arsenal, the North Londoners, when the team loses, they drown their sorrows with alcohol, and are back at work with a hangover the next day.

Please. It’s a beautiful game, but it’s just a game.

10.5.09

It’s been a while

My name is Boso, and I’m a blogger.

It’s been 44 days since my last blog post.

I could blame so many things. Since we moved house last May, my commute went from 12 minutes to 1 hour (if there is AVERAGE traffic). By the time I get home, have dinner, put the little one to bed, catch up with email, watch a little TV, I’m exhausted. Not only have I stopped blogging, I don’t read the blogs I used to anymore.

But this is just part of it. To be honest Facebook, and Twitter has been where I’ve been getting my ‘Web 2.0’  fix for a while. It’s easy, it’s quick, and I can do it on the move, with little or no thought.

And Facebook is another reason why I’m blogging less. You see this blog, it’s semi-anonymous. Some readers know who I am, but most of them have never met me before. Facebook on the other hand, I know EVERYONE personally. When I decided to import my blog feed into Facebook, all of a sudden, I realized that these two audiences were very, very different. I could write about a diet I was trying out on my blog, but when that got to Facebook, my whole family knew about that. So, I couldn’t blog about stuff I would normally do.

Anyway, there have been a few things I’ve wanted to blog about, but have never gotten round to it. So, I’m gonna give this another shot.

I’ll try and blog about stuff I’m passionate about. This means loads of :

  • Football
  • Politics (Both Nigerian and UK)
  • Raising my little girl (nothing personal, just share thoughts, tips, etc.)
  • Technology

And whatever pops into my little head. So, let’s see how long I can keep this up for…….

27.3.09

UK Education, too easy?

2 years ago, I had a post showing the difference in what was expected from UK university students, and Chinese University pre-entry candidates (See here).

In today's news, this topic has come up again, with the exams regulator demanding immediate action, after finding out that GCSE science standards have fallen. Top private schools have already started to dump the normal GCSE in favour of the International GCSE exams, I did the IGCSEs back in 1994, and they compared favourably with the Nigerian O'Level exams.

So how easy is the Science GCSE? Well here are some of the multiple choice questions, I leave you to judge for yourselves:

GCSE Science (Edexcel, 2006)

Our moon seems to disappear during an eclipse. Some people say this is because an old lady covers the moon with her cloak. She does this so that thieves cannot steal the shiny coins on the surface. Which of these would help scientists to prove or disprove this idea?

A) Collect evidence from people who believe the lady sees the thieves

B) Shout to the lady that the thieves are coming

C) Send a probe to the moon to search for coins

D) Look for fingerprints

GCSE Science (Edexcel, 2006)

Many people observe the stars using

A) A telescope B) A microscope C) An X-Ray tube D) A synthesiser

GCSE Biology (AQA 2008)

When we sweat water leaves the body through…

A) Kidneys B) Liver C) Lungs D) Skin

Higher paper in science GCSE, Edexcel

At the astronomical club Alec and Louise discuss the possibility of intelligent life existing on other planets.

Which of the following statements supports the possibility of existence of intelligent life in our galaxy?

A) The galaxy is expanding very quickly

B) The earth is over four billion years old

C) The search for extra-terrestrial intelligence has spent millions of hours analysing signals from space

D) There are so many stars in the galaxy

20.3.09

Britain's first black CEO

We’re taking over, one company at a time…..

This man left Ivory Coast as a refuge 10 years ago, and he is now a CEO at 46 !!

(Although he was a government minister at the time, which is impressive, government minister at 36!)

The sad part of the interview:

“……..in a previous interview with the Guardian Thiam revealed he had refused to attend any more job interviews unless headhunters told potential employers that he was black before they met him: "I was tired of the usual answer, which was, 'We like you, you are a great guy but this is a division with 10,000 employees and we just don't think they would understand having someone like you at the helm.'"

It's sad that there are still people who think like this. I had a 'similar' incident a couple of weeks ago, someone called me and left a voicemail saying he was exicited by my CV, and that he thought I was a very good match for a job role he had going. I looked at the role, and it was spot on, very good role for me. I called him back, and left a voicemail. This was 5 minutes after he called me. He calls 5 minutes later to say, or sorry, technically, you just haven't got it. I was bemused. What could have changed in 5 minutes? Then it hit me. My voicemail. He heard my accent.

21.2.09

17.1.09

Still here.....

Hey everyone, just to let you all know (well, I think I only have one reader left, thanks Jason!), that I'm still here. I've been really busy, but that's not an excuse, I have simply lost the will to blog. I'm not sure why, but let's see how it goes.

Happy New Year in arrears to everyone. I should be back blogging soon, once I sort myself out.

So, here we are, a few days away from the inaguration of the first black president of the USA, knee deep in the worst recession of our lifetime, but hey, hope everyone is doing ok.

Baby O is doing great, she doesn't stop talking now, and she loves to sing !! We listen to the radio on the way to work/nursery and she's picked up all the hits of the day, from Pink to Rihanna........scary !!

Anyway, I should soon find something interesting to blog about, and hope that at least one person will read it.

Take care !