GP’s Bloodbath investigative team, having returned from a bad-tempered Batley and Spen by-election battleground ballot box bust-up, thought they could take a relaxing break in front of the England v Italy Euro 2020 final. How wrong they were.
The first half belonged to England with the home side going ahead in the second minute through an unstoppable in-off-the-near-post volleyed goal from left fullback Luke Shaw. After which, The Three Lions dominated the first half-hour with Italy coming back into the game closer to halftime. The second half belonged to Italy with a well deserved scrambled goal from Bonucci in the 67th minute.
Not much of significance happened in extra time other than two last-minute substitutions. 23-year-old Marcus Rashford and 21-year-old Jaydon Sancho came on for the more experienced Henderson and Walker.
With little chance of being involved in open play, the two youngsters had been brought on to take spot-kicks in the ensuing penalty shoot out.
In the 70th minute, 19-year-old Bukayo Saka had replaced Kieran Trippier.
Kane took England’s first penalty, Beradi having scored for Italy. The Tottenham number nine struck firmly to the goalkeeper’s right, close to the post, where Italian stopper Gianluigi Donnarumma had no chance of making a stop despite anticipating correctly. 1-1
Belotti took Italy’s second, not from the textbook, too near to Pickford who made the save.
Maguire put England’s second into the top corner where no goalkeeper can reach.
Italy scored their next despite Pickford going the right way and his trailing arm being tantalisingly close to making contact with the high shot.
There followed three bad England attempts which cost the home side the championship trophy.
Rashford broke his stride on the run-up allowing Donnarumma to twitch his legs but not dive. With the Italian number one still standing, Rashford did not know what to do. The resulting miserably weak shot hit the post.
Sancho tried a parctice ground skip and jump and kicked the ball too close to Italy’s number one allowing for a simple ‘fall to the left’ stop.
Saka didn’t take a run-up, preferring a pointless jump up and down before an attempt so near to Donnarumma he could well have saved it without a dive.
What did the three missers have in common? All were young. All were inexperienced. All were black. All of which is significant.
Between the five of them, opposition penalty-takers Berardi, Belotti, Bonucci, Bernardeschi and Jorginho had taken 117 penalties for their clubs and country. Saka had taken none.
Berardi is 26 years of age, Jorginho is 29, Belotti and Bernadeshi 27, Bonucci, 34. An average of 28.6 years old. In other words, in their prime.
Of the three black players who lost the match for England, the average age was 21. Young for internationalists. Liverpool and Scotland captain Alan Hanson’s truism begs repeating: “You’ll never win anything with kids.”
In the immediate aftermath, ITV pundit and former Manchester United and Republic of Ireland midfielder Roy Keane queried why younger players had been used and criticised the older team members for not ‘stepping up.’
If you’re Grealish or Sterling, you can’t have a young kid step up in front of you. You can’t sit there and say, “I see a 19-year-old kid walk in front of me, when I’ve played a lot more games, a lot more experience.” ….. And Sterling, who has won trophies. I’m not saying he wasn’t prepared, he might have been [penalty taker] six or seven, [but] you can’t sit there. It must be hard to take. You’ve got to get in front of this kid and say, “Listen, I’m gonna step up in front of you.”
In terms of experience, Keane hit the target but in terms of the process behind selection, he was as high and wide as a Chris Waddle 1990 World Cup semi-final effort in Turin.
In response, Jack Grealish’s social media people issued a diplomatically worded tweet.
I said I wanted to take one!!!! The gaffer has made so many right decisions through this tournament and he did tonight! But I won’t have people say that I didn’t want to take a peno when I said I will…
Matt Law in the Daily Telegraph confirmed it was Gareth Southgate’s decision who should take the penalties and in what order. The dressing room was surprised by his choices.
Law went on to write of England’s meticulous attention to penalty-taking over the last three years with assistant Steve Holland analysing kicks in training and logging player’s records for their club sides.
Those logs will have shown Saka had never taken a penalty in senior football, having taken two for England at U-18 level, one of which he missed. He had only taken one other penalty, successfully converting in the FA Youth Cup.
So why were unsuitable players chosen at the climax of the national team’s most important game since the World Cup win fifty-five years previous?
Because it wasn’t a football decision.
Ominously, in the same piece Law quotes Southgate as saying,
“We have been a beacon of light in bringing people together and people being able to relate to the national team and the national team stands for everybody. So, that togetherness has to continue.”
Throughout the tournament, looking and sounding like a Sunday school teacher being held hostage, Southgate’s press conferences were of ‘the knee’, inclusion and values.
In contrast, when Italy captain, 36-year-old warhorse Giorgio Chiellini, was in front of the cameras he spoke of tactics and opponents with a relish suggestive of an escaped murderer desperate for another victim. A feat he almost accomplished when taking Saka by the neck just before the 90th minute of the final.
In the following days, any sensible analysis of the penalty debacle was drowned out by the race card. Monkey and banana emojis sent to the missers via social media were amplified beyond their significance by hysterical mainstream newspaper and TV coverage.
A narrative distracting from Southgate’s choices was being established. Despite reality, the three black players were ‘three lions’, or even ‘three kings’ who had ‘bravely stepped up.’
Graffiti appeared on a Withington gable end mural of Marcus Rashford. At first, the Manchester Evening News described the vandalism as,
‘indecipherable lettering, daubed in blue paint on Sunday night, [which] can barely be seen over the powerful black and white image’
In reality, the words were easy to decipher. They read, “Fuck”, “Shit”, “Bastard” and “Sancho.” No mention of race. With Rashford being a Manchester United player and with Sancho known to be about to sign for the Red Devils, the abuse seemed to be aimed at the Old Trafford club rather than at black footballers.
However, the next morning Greater Manchester Police issued a thunderous statement in response to a 2:50 am call out to the damaged Copson Street artwork. Chief Superintendant Paul Savill fumed,
“This is disgraceful behaviour and will absolutely not be tolerated. Greater Manchester prides itself on being made up from a number of diverse communities and hate crime in any form is completely unacceptable and not welcome here in our city.”
Fleet Street took up the baton. Across the Atlantic, the New York Times and CNN joined in. As the fake mural racism story ran out of control, there followed a series of low points.
Robert Peston on ITV News at Ten was not able to remember the players’ names while referring to the ‘Marcus Rashford Memorial’.
Prince William consoled the missers.
Mural activists took the knee while waving pre-printed Black Lives Matter placards threateningly subtitled, ‘No justice. No peace’.
Jason Sudeikis (whoever he is) wore a ‘Jaydon & Marcus & Bukayo’ tee shirt at the West Hollywood premiere of Ted Lasso (whatever that is). Perhaps Mr Sudeikis’ ‘Dave & Tommy & Chopper’ bomber jacket is in the wash?
On the 16th of July, the police declared the Withington incident not to be racist. With no arrest, the suspicion is CCTV footage showed a person of colour painting from a tin of Manchester City blue.
By which time, Rashford and Sancho were covered in bling and flying to the Turks and Caicos Islands. Their Instagram accounts showed food poverty activist Rashford dining on a private jet, accompanied by rapper Chibz Artist, and travelling as part of the ‘Roc Fam’.
Rashford’s relationship with Nike, Roc Nation and their parent company Live Nation Entertainment was explored in a previous article The Revelation of St Marcus.
It was also announced Rashford had been selected for the Euros despite a shoulder injury requiring surgery that would keep him out of football until October.
International football’s third-biggest sponsorship deal is between Nike and England. According to Daily Business, it is worth £33 million a year and represents ten percent of the FA’s £330 million per annum turnover. Nike’s sponsorship marketing is based upon values and a story. The values triumph through the story. The brand is associated with that success.
This is called ’emotional branding’ and is promoted via a ‘branded content campaign’, explained in another previous article The Confession of St Gareth of Southgate which refered to Nike’s and Southgate’s June 8th Take the Knee / Players’ Tribune, Letter to England promotion.
In a sentence, Nike’s strategy is to be emotionally Black Lives Matter woke. A glance at their @Nike Twitter page shows a header of solid black with the longstanding strapline ‘Just do it’ in white. In front of the header, the rounded image is of a white Nike tick on a black background, echoing Black Lives Matter branding.
Beneath the header is the slogan ‘#BlackLivesMatter and #StopAsianHate’. Below are pinned tweets, dozens of which feature athletes of colour, only two of which feature whites.
Although controversial in England, Oregon based Nike is totally committed to Black Lives Matter hence England’s controversial taking the knee before matches.
As an individual, Rashford is also signed to Nike. On 21st June 2021, the sports apparel multinational announced a ‘re-signed multi-year partnership’.
Nike has been part of my life for a long time now and there was no hesitation in wanting to build upon this relationship to create real impact.
Originally as an 18-year-old, Nike spotted the Manchester United striker’s massive marketing potential and signed him on a 5-year deal worth £400,000 a year. Sancho is also signed to Nike with his first signature boots appearing in August 2020. Sancho is signed to Live Nation Entertainment too.
Who else is signed to Nike? Colin Kaepernick, inventor of the knee, who has his own apparel line within the brand.
Football’s biggest two international sponsorships are between Puma and Germany and Puma and France, each worth £44 million a year. Although both were eliminated in the earlier Euro 2020 rounds, another Puma sponsorship, Italy at £22 million per year, won the competition.
Puma’s Twitter feed shows their strapline to include,
PUMA has changed the game with speed, spontaneity, and performance innovation. #ForeverFaster.
Puma will have been thrilled to see their shirt badges holding up the trophy and enjoying a success that dovetails with ‘speed, spontaneity and performance’.
In a parallel universe, a young black man scored the winning penalty for England and took the knee before the cameras, Nike tick prominent on the jersey. Nearby stood a beaming Gareth Southgate.
The conclusion must be England’s main sponsor’s corporate priorities, added to Southgate’s own woke-based storyline, led to inappropriate players being chosen to take the potentially championship-winning third, fourth and fifth penalties.
It is relentless. At the start of the Olympics, Great Britain sprinter Dina Asher-Smith lobbied for athletes to be allowed to take the knee on the podium in contradiction of an International Olympic Committee ruling.
Asher-Smith is a Nike athlete.
Her ghostwritten Players’ Tribune article has already appeared.
Asher-Smith is represented by Pace Sports Management who also represent Sir Mohammed Farrah (who has battled asthma to become an Olympic champion), and 400m runner Christine Ohuruogu who was banned for a year after missing three out-of-competition drug tests in eight months, the last one being just before the European Athletics Championships in Gothenburg in 2006.
In the game played on the spreadsheet, Nike continues to make money. In the year ended May 31st 2021, revenues increased to $44.5 billion. A net profit of $1.8 billion was made in the twelve weeks to May 31st alone.
If you’re wondering about murals, tweets, Instagram opportunities on private jets, ghostwritten articles, lobbying the Government over school meats et al, such things have a collective name, ‘demand creation’, on which Nike spent $3.5 billion in the last financial year.
Nike may have gone woke but, unlike Southgate’s integrity, they are not going broke any time soon. Expect much, much more of the same. Get used to it, or stop following elite level sport.
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file