Football Racism

Aston Villa Players on Kick it Out strips
Aston Villa Players on Kick it Out strips

 

The number of reports of discrimination in English football have risen in the past year to 184.

The anti-discrimination organisation Kick It Out have reported a 35% increase in the period August-December 2014.  This compares with the same period in the 2013-2014 football season when there were 136 grievances received by the organisation.

The breakdown of these complaints shows that racism and anti-semitism were the most common forms of abuse recorded.

The complaints received came from every level of English football, from grassroots to premier league, and involved top footballers as well as fans.

At a sweeping majority 60% of the discrimination that was reported originated online, in social media.

While these figures may at first give the impression that football discrimination is on the rise, both the Football Association and Kick It Out are treating these figures as a positive sign. It is believed that the increase in the number of reports of discrimination denotes a growing refusal to accept bigotry in football. Moreover, it is thought that this increase demonstrates that people are less tolerant of prejudice generally and more willing to come forward and complain about incidents.

However, Roisin Wood, the director of Kick It Out, said that she believes these numbers “barely scratch the surface of a widespread problem”.

These figures are released in the same month that the Metropolitan Police are investigating an alleged racist incident involving Chelsea fans in Paris and while the British Transport Police are making inquiries about a separate incident involving Chelsea supporters on a train to Manchester.

Lord Herman Ouseley, Kick It Out chairman, said that “Major improvements have been made over the last 30 years” but that the incident in Paris “reminded people that such things still go on below the radar.”

Lord Ouseley went on to point out that these problems are not solely the responsibility of those in football: “there is a persistent problem, there is prejudice in society, which is being increased by the anti-Europe, anti-immigrant, anti-benefit scroungers drip-drip in politics.”

 

 

 

Stewart Lee Review

stewart lee

“Comedy is the new opera” Stewart Lee quipped at the outset of his new show, referring to his Grand Opera House surroundings. He might just be right too. Lee’s brand of comedy is dramatic, intense and, at times, beyond his audience.

 

Throughout the ninety minute set Lee effortlessly kept everyone laughing. However, underneath the mirth, omnipresent, lay a didactic, challenging style. Lee is unforgiving of ignorance and regularly broke from his set to goad punters (not unkindly) for failing to grasp some of his more cerebral allusions.

 

I imagine that many English comedians may find playing Belfast a daunting experience, there must be something of an internal struggle about whether or not to mention the troubled past and present of the city you’re standing in. Lee had no such reservations:

“Unlike you I don’t live in a culturally divided war zone. I live in Hackney.”

 

The locals rewarded him for his frankness time and again; there was no shortage of spontaneous applause. But then perhaps this was not your average Belfast audience. As Lee pointed out, if all the Guardian readers of Belfast were in the Grand Opera House  who was going to smooth over any pub brawls.

 

Lee’s intelligence is palpable; nothing leaves him speechless or gag-less. When improvising, which he did frequently, you didn’t see the struggle for material register on his face.

 

This comedian’s greatest talent is for building seemingly endless and meaningless hilarity only for the punch-line to hit you entirely unexpectedly.

 

However, the most arresting aspect of a Stewart Lee show is his vitriol. The stand-up’s capacity for hate is far-reaching, no one is too big or too small and he has no fear of making enemies. If he has you in his sights and he doesn’t respect you, watch out: I’m looking at you Michael McIntyre.

 

Lee’s latest show is yet another work of artistic brilliance. But it isn’t for everyone; this is exclusionary comedy for an intelligent, sharp, liberal minority. Lee uses this show to talk about the world as he sees it, his understanding of it and, often, his utter exasperation with it. You can tell Lee really couldn’t care less whether he has universal appeal or not, he won’t put on a front; his satirical meanderings, his irony, his fury are who he is. This isn’t a character, or an act, this IS Stewart Lee.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Super Council’s and Ratepayers Clash over Bills

Figures from the Department of Finance have shown that up to 350,000 households in Northern Ireland have been affected by increased rates due to the formation of the super councils.

Finance Minister Simon Hamilton has said that the people affected will be able to get a discount and that he will address the increases which are a direct result of the creation of the new councils.

Mr Hamilton said: “Differences have built up in the level of district rates chargeable by the old councils and those that will be chargeable under the new larger councils”.

Finance Minister Simon Hamilton has said there is help for ratepayers
Finance Minister Simon Hamilton has said there is help for ratepayers

The executive has put aside £30 million to assist ratepayers.

The SDLP’s Alex Attwood has previously said that more help is needed for ratepayers. Mr Attwood said: “The consequence of convergence is that the rate burden will change within the new council areas. If anyone is pretending otherwise they are not being fully honest with people.

“Thirty million was secured by me to help that transition, and if hard figures are coming in that say the burden is even greater than people might have anticipated, then there should be a budget discussion in order to help people to ensure there is no further burden placed upon them.”

The SDLP's ALex Attwood has criticised the lack of assistance for householders
The SDLP’s ALex Attwood has criticised the lack of assistance for householders

The District Rate Subsidy scheme only applies to domestic and non-domestic ratepayers in certain areas and the only exceptions are public bodies and social housing landlords where rates are already standardised.

Mr Hamilton continued: “The scheme will be of most benefit, however, to the 23,000 Lisburn, Castlereagh and North Down ratepayers falling within the new boundary of Belfast City Council, as well as around 30,000 ratepayers in Fermanagh that will be served by the new Fermanagh and Omagh Council.

“Typically, an average domestic ratepayer in these areas will receive a discount of around £40 or £50 off their rate bill this year.

“Castlereagh ratepayers who are moving into Belfast will, on average, get a discount of around £90.”

26 district councils have been replaced by 11 super councils
26 district councils have been replaced by 11 super councils

An elderly couple from Loughbrickland, who are under the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council have seen their rates rise due to the new super council.

Mrs Graham said: “There are just so many bills to face it’s hard to cope to sometimes. I know there is a scheme to help but it will probably not make much difference. The councils need to think about the community when they decide to do these things because some of us just can’t afford any more bills”.

A spokesperson for the Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP) said: “The new councils are free to strike whatever rate they consider appropriate to meet their new expenditure needs.

“DFP expects that, where there is a significant disparity between the existing councils that are coming together, the new district rate will be struck at a level that lies between the existing district rates but DFP cannot control this in any way.”

Northern Ireland’s 26 district councils were replaced by 11 larger, super councils on the 1st April 2015 and while they continue to provide the same services as the previous councils they also have a number of new powers and responsibilities.

These include:

  • Off-street parking (except park and ride)
  • Local economic development
  • Community planning process
  • Control of alterations, extensions and demolition of listed buildings
  • Conservation area designation and management

Van Gaal accuses his players of complacency after Everton defeat

Manchester United witnessed another defeat on Sunday (26th April) after losing 3-0 to Everton. The match, held at Goodison Park inflicted a second Premier League loss on Louis van Gaal’s side.

While the game ended in defeat for Manchester United, van Gaal must have been glad that he would not suffer the same fate as his predecessor. David Moyes was famously sacked last April, only ten months into his job, following a 2-0 defeat against Roberto Martinez’s team.

While Manchester United went into Sunday’s match as favourites to win, Gary Neville believes that Everton’s win was aided by a clear, well thought out game plan. He said; “Roberto Martinez prides himself on being a possession manager but today he resigned himself to sitting off a little, and playing a little deeper”.

Martinez celebrates Everton's goal
Martinez celebrates Everton’s goal

Goals from man-of-the match James McCarthy, John Stones and Kevin Mirallas gained Everton their biggest victory against United since October 1984.

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Kevin Mirallas scored Everton’s final goal in their 3-0 triumph over United

Mark Jardine, a Manchester United supporter was at the match. He said: “They (Manchester United) had the majority of ball possession but Everton counter attacked well. Our defence was bad and Everton got an early lead when they scored in the first five minutes”. He added: “It was all downhill from there for United”.

While supporters of the Red Devils are still behind their team, Louis van Gaal accused his players of complacency. He said: “It is the first time that I have seen our motivation, inspiration and aggression was not so high as the opponent”.

Marouane Fellaini missed a golden opportunity to equalise seven minutes into the game. He blazed from over 20 yards but his presence on the team meant United’s attacking sense was predictable. This was highlighted just before half-time when Everton scored for the second time. At half-time van Gaal changed his approach replacing Fellaini with Radamel Falcao. Juan Mata was also substituted at 63 minutes by Di Maria. Mirallas heightened Manchester United’s misery when he scored at 74 minutes, Everton’s third goal.

Manchester United were labelled 'toothless' after their performance on Sunday
Manchester United were labelled ‘toothless’ after their performance on Sunday

The match showed that United need to up their game and the absence of centre midfielder, Michael Carrick exposed their lack of pace up-front.