Open letter to the Confederation of African Football

Flag Togo
Togo needs your support

For those who don’t know the story behind this, please check this BBC News article. A load more links at the bottom.

I hope I am one of thousands who email you to voice my and our disgust over your treatment of the Togo national side. To not only suspend them, but to fine them also is, frankly, sickening. Your organisation decided to host this year’s Cup of Nations in a known warzone. Despite this, you blame them for dropping out after suffering two deaths and numerous injuries.

I simply cannot comprehend how you could even conceive of passing this judgement, especially when your own regulations (Article 80) states that such a withdrawal *can* be understood and taken into account.

Looking around in various places on the internet I have seen countless messages of anger and disbelief at what you have done. I have yet to see a single one which takes your side.

Wake up. Realise that what you’ve done is incredibly wrong and repeal this awful decision.

I’ve sent this to their email address. You can find this and other means of contacting the organisation via this page on their web site.

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Keep St James’ Park as St James’ Park

Photograph of St James Park Stadium, Newcastle
It's already got a name

Copy of an email sent to the following addresses:

[Ampersand are the company who will be looking to find a sponsor for the whole rebranding mess surrounding Mike Ashley‘s attempts to sell a part of Newcastle’s heritage in exchange for some money. Money he lost by being a complete idiot when it came to running a football club.]

Along with tens of thousands of others, let me assure you that any company paying towards the rebranding of St James’ Park with from that day forth receive no money whatsoever from my pocket. If you’re looking for a way to get the name of a company out there on a wave of bad publicity then you’re going the right way about it.

Not just Newcastle fans, but fans of many other clubs are up in arms over the horrendous way in which our history and part of our identity are being ridden over roughshod by a man who has no shame, no knowledge of the footballing world and no idea of the amount of ire he’s capable of dragging up.

Whereas sponsoring one half of a rivalry could result in the other half boycotting your products, the rebranding of St James’ Park has had a negative response across the board – irrespective of the clubs supported. I even know of Sunderland fans who regard it as an insult. Believe me, for those people down the road to side with us against anyone shows the depth of loathing for Mr Ashley throughout the footballing world.

Do yourselves a favour and distance yourselves from him and his companies as best you can. Sure, you stand to make a fast buck (in the case of Ampersand) but whoever ends up with their name on our stadium – should this lunatic plan go ahead – will rapidly find themselves out of favour with a huge number of footballing fans. Already many sections of the media have pledges never to use the “new” name when reporting on the games so surely it’s just money down the toilet. Or into Mr Ashley’s pockets.

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A soccer ball that is "thermally bonded"
Kick this - not my shins!

After many false starts and things not being organised, I met up with some of my fellow students for a kickabout in the park after lectures this afternoon. In all, there was a whacking four of us. And the other three were girls.

I will no longer call women the weaker sex. Fairer, certainly – but only when we’re talking about looks as this lot cheated. I have the bruises on my shins to prove it. Catherine, I’m looking at you. Through the tears in my eyes.

In fairness, I’m flipping unfit. The most exercise my legs get is shifting between the clutch, brake and accelerator pedals. This, of course, is no excuse for taking advantage and kicking me in the legs every time I walked past. Next time I’m taking my shinpads.

The conditions certainly didn’t favour football either. We were on soft grass and it was quite cool. The last time I played a full match, I was on an all-weather pitch in 35-degree heat at 8:30 in the morning. Admittedly in Hanoi. This obviously suits me much better.

So aside from the pain, battering, humiliation, wheezing, and the fact that I got caked in mud… I had a pretty good time. Thanks to Catherine, Laura and Mhara (I think I have the names right) for sorting things out and not hurting me too much. Good luck on your placements, ladies!

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Footie shirt winner!

Front of shirt
Front of shirt

Raffle entries closed yesterday and a huge “thank you” to the entrants, of which there weren’t many but each was very generous indeed. Please, if you missed the competition do consider still making a donation. As happens annually, the east coast of Vietnam has taken a weather-related battering and Blue Dragon needs your funding to help them rebuild their homes, and eat in the meantime.

I snipped up a few bits of paper and dropped them into a hat (actually a Tesco carrier bag, but let’s not be picky). A quick rummage and the winner that came out was…

*drum roll*


Which is good for me as I think she’s the only UK-based entrant so it will keep the postage cost down. I actually met her a few days ago and I could have handed her the football shirt personally. Instead, I will trust it to our increasingly dodgy postal service. Keep an eye open for it in a week or so, Janice.

Again, thank you all for your entries and generosity!

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Exclusive football shirt raffle!

Front of shirt
Front of shirt

OK, folks. Here is a chance to own a very exclusive Real Betis Vietnam football shirt as worn by the amazing kids at the Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation. There were never many of these shirts and BDCF are looking for new sponsors so there simply will not be any more of this particular design.

Featuring the Real Betis badge and name, BDCF logo and Catholic Relief Services on the sleeve, the shirt has a large number 7 on the back along with the charity URL. It’s lightweight material with “breathable” fabric under the arms and down the sides. It is brand new – I’ve worn it once to check it for size and fit.

The size is “XL” and this is a western XL by my judgement, not a Vietnamese one. The V-collar means it hangs off me. I’m an average size for a 35 year-old white guy.

Back of shirt
Back of shirt

So here’s how it works. I will cover all costs involved in this little raffle including postage to wherever the lucky winner resides. Hopefully we’ll raise more than the overheads! “Tickets” are one Australian Dollar each and you “buy” them by making a donation to Blue Dragon via PayPal. When you donate, please leave a comment here (or if you’d rather not make it public, contact me directly) and tell me how much you donated and therefore how many times your name will be popped into the hat.

The donation page is here

We’ll say the deadline is October 15th 2009 which gives you the thick end of a month to save up. I’ll pick the winner at random then and get in touch with them via email, so please include a valid mail address on your comment. Don’t worry – nobody can see your email address except me and I promise with hand on heart that I will only use said address to let you know if you’ve won and to get a mailing address from you.

So… what are you waiting for?

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