Don’t say the ‘F’ word

The media have started reporting certain details of the FIFA corruption scandal.

For example, this link takes you to the BBC coverage entitled Fifa crisis: Ex-official Chuck Blazer details bribe-taking. It includes this:

Former top Fifa official Chuck Blazer has admitted that he and others on the executive committee agreed to accept bribes in conjunction with the choice of South Africa as 2010 World Cup host.

The American said he also helped to arrange bribes over the 1998 event.

The admissions come in a newly released transcript from a 2013 US hearing in which he pleads guilty to 10 charges.

And this link takes you to the Guardian coverage entitled Fifa whistleblower Chuck Blazer: I took bribes over 1998 and 2010 World Cups. It includes this:

An American former Fifa executive cooperating with the FBI on a major corruption inquiry has admitted that he and other members of the all-powerful executive committee were bribed in return for voting for South Africa’s bid for the 2010 World Cup.

Chuck Blazer, a 70-year-old soccer chief, made the admission in testimony to a New York judge in 2013 which was made public on Wednesday.


Blazer, an eccentric power broker for American soccer for decades, and a member of the Fifa executive committee for six years until 2013, also admitted in the court facilitating the payment of a bribe relating to the 1998 World Cup.

Notice anything interesting about the presentation of the information? Anything missing?

Without further reading, I can see that the 2010 World Cup was in South Africa. Where was the 1998 World Cup? It was in France, but it is nowhere in either coverage. Why? Just an oversight? Deliberate policy? Sloppy reproduction of some sloppily written press release? Or is it OK to mention probable corruption in South Africa, but not in France? Or,  is old corruption no longer corruption?

By way of contrast, the ‘F’ word is in the CNN coverage, here.

Friday’s ride


Today, Susan and I did the bike event in Jerusalem. In our case, the 40 km ride round the city and surrounding hills. And that’s part of the event that lingers longest: the hills. There were same great runs down, and some tough hill climbs.

The other parts that linger include the fun of riding with Shosh and Elaine (thanks!) and the views. Early on there was fog or mist in the valley. Later on it was clear and we had the green, green grass of, er, Jerusalem.

We are now safely home, tired, but happy, and getting ready for Shabbat.

The beautiful (walking) game

From the Guardian:

As a 73 year old with a serious heart condition, retired electrician Keith Salmon thought his football playing days were well behind him.

He had to give up five-a-side games in his 50s when the pace became too much, and he’d grown used to taking it easy. “I’d be sitting around at home reading the paper or watching the television, being bone idle,” he sayd.

That was until he started playing walking football. Now it’s the highlight of his week, and on a crisp morning on a semi-frozen astro pitch outside Newcastle-under-Lyme, Salmon is rubbing his hands in anticipation of another kickabout with the Chesterton Crusaders. “I absolutely love it,” he says.

Salmon is one of thousands of older men who have rediscovered the joys of playing football again through a sport that makes the basic elements of a match accessible to them by slowing the game down. Walking football, which is supposed to involve a free kick every time a player runs, was only invented six years ago and already there are 225 registered clubs all over the country, with new sessions springing up every week.

The pace of walking football may be more leisurely, but the game is still fierce, which is the way Salmon likes it. That and the camaraderie. “They’re all smashing lads,” Salmon says of his mostly grey-haired teammates.

A brilliantly simple idea.

Barclays – yes, the bank – gets the credit for causing interest in the beautiful walking game to explode after featuring the activity in an advert.

Read the whole piece, here.

Head on

If you are squeamish, look away now.

If not:


Short story:

I was cycling, at night. (I was probably daydreaming. Can you daydream at night?)

Anyway, the area I was in was badly lit. I wasn’t that familiar with it and could not see as well as I would have liked.

The pavement I was cycling on came to a sharp turn. To avoid the turn, I tried to cross the adjacent area of grass. There was a steel rope pylon coming down from the roof of the nearby block of flats to the corner of the grass. I cycled straight into the pylon. The rope hit my neck and took me off my bike. I landed badly.

After the initial shock wore off, realized I had been incredibly lucky. My head is still on and connected to my body. (And my bike is OK…)

I must try not to repeat the stunt ever again.

Roy’s master plan

Given circumstances, I have largely been ignoring the World Cup. It’s the first time I have seen so few matches (one) and cared so little about the football.

(This may be a late sign of maturity. But don’t hold your breath.)

Maybe the World Cup can play a part in the return to life, as the inevitable happens and we all move on. If that’s so, where to start?

I know.

England may not be in the tournament, but they and their manager are still of interest.

What are they up to?


I hope it brought a smile to your face. It made me laugh, and that’s a good start.

[Thanks to Martin for the graphic.]

Cycling news

I’m not sure whether to laugh, cry, or get back on my bike.

First, the Telegraph reports here on a neurosurgeon who claims bike helmets are useless.

“I see lots of people in bike accidents and these flimsy little helmets don’t help.”

After you have read the article, however, you might wonder if it’s the surgeon who is flimsy. I’m going to continue wearing mine, for sure.

Secondly, there’s a report about the bike sharing scheme in Baltimore. Apparently some people thought that rather than share, they would keep the bikes. See here. Sad. I do wonder about the lack of security, but maybe that’s normal in Baltimore. It’s still sad.


Definition of Scottishness

Scotland played Nigeria in a friendly football fixture on Wednesday night. You can see a report, here. That Scotsman article features the following wonderful nugget:

Strachan gave Derby County striker Chris Martin a half-time debut and was impressed by the new addition to his squad. He also handed out praise to Dundee United left-back Andrew Robertson and Watford winger Ikechi Anya. “Nobody has disappointed me tonight,” said Strachan. “Chris Martin gave us a new dimension. Andrew Robertson and Ikechi Anya were terrific down the left side. “

Quizzed by Nigerian reporters over Anya’s decision to play for Scotland, rather than the nation of his father’s birth, Strachan replied: “I didn’t know there was a furore about him choosing Scotland over Nigeria. Of course he’s Scottish – you don’t get any better than being born in Castlemilk!”

Scots all over the world may read that and have something of a wry smile afterwards. Nothing better? A great quote.

Maccabi Tel Aviv wins Euroleague

I wasn’t a basketball fan before now…

From the Times of Israel:

Maccabi Tel Aviv wins Euroleague final 98-86

Israeli champions beat Spain’s Real Madrid in overtime, crowned kings of Europe in Milan

Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv won the Euroleague basketball final 96-86 Sunday night against Real Madrid in Milan in a nail-biting overtime victory.

Maccabi chalked up its first European championship win since back-to-back wins in 2004 and 2005, and its sixth overall.

The Tel Aviv team had not been fancied even to make the final four, and only secured its final place with a last-seconds victory over the mighty CSKA Moscow on Friday.

Maccabi point guard Yogev Ohayon, speaking on Israel Radio seconds after Sunday’s victory was sealed, described the win as “unbelievable… I’m in complete shock.” Fellow player Devin Smith said the fans had been crucial, turning the Milan stadium “into Nokia” — Maccabi’s home Tel Aviv stadium.

Other Maccabi players and coaches called it the greatest victory in the team’s history, eclipsing even its first, legendary 1977 championship, when then captain Tal Brody had proclaimed, “We are on the map.” The delighted surprise at the triumphant culmination of the season contrasted utterly with the team’s shaky start in 2013-14, when it lost numerous domestic games, to the point where there were calls for the sacking of Boston-born coach David Blatt.

Read it all, here.

Quite something. Well done, Maccabi.

Now, if only our soccer teams could get a portion of that success…