And here are the results: Football 1, antisemitism 0. Boxing 0, antisemitism 1. That has been the outcome of two major sporting events in the UK over the past two weeks.
It’s clear from this that sport and politics do not mix. Sport has been used as a platform by organisations and countries to protest and vent their anger towards political situations, but this reached new heights on Saturday night when Dmitriy Salita experience race hate walking into the ring.
The reason that Salita got into boxing in the first place was to be able to defend himself and stand up to bullying as an eight-year-old. Although I would’ve expected him to have been a bit more thick-skinned in the red-hot atmosphere of a boxing arena in Newcastle, the behaviour of part of the crowd was totally unacceptable and Salita deserves credit for the way he conducted himself before and after the fight. It’s clear to me that antisemitism, as well as racism, in sport continues to be an issue at all levels and must be met by the firmest of hands.
Although the headline on the bac page is dramatic, Maccabi Haifa are not the worst team to have played in the Champions League in my eyes. Priced at 500-1 in the Racing Post to win the competition before the group stages started, they looked in for a rough ride once the draw was made, paired up with former winners Bayern Munich, Jewventus and the defending French champions.
Their nightmare record does not paint a fair picture as having watched five of their six matches (I couldn’t bear to watch the last one), they have lost all but one match by a single goal, and no, I’m not looking through rose-tinted spectacles.
At that level, there is a fine line between winning and losing and the bottom line is that Haifa don’t have the budget to bring in world-class strikers such as a Alessandro Del Piero, David Trezeguet or Miroslav Klose.
Jonathan Tiller, the Zig Zag keeper, has been spending the week soul-searching after conceding a goal via the boot of the goalie standing at the other end of the pitch.
It summed up the life of a No. 1 perfectly as minutes earlier, he had been commended by players from both teams after producing a top-drawer reflex save from the head of FC Marylebone player-manager Jon Davody from, let us just say, a littler closer.
It’s tough being a keeper, especially in these conditions and I have every confidence that Jonathan will overcome his moment of adversity. That said, there’s every chance that Faithfold C fans will shout “shoot” when Dan O’Connor prepares to kick downfield when Zig Zag are the visitors on Sunday. Don’t worry Jon. Just stay on your line!
Temple Fortune player Paul Walker is running the Virgin London Marathon on April 25. Together with his girlfriend, Paul will raise funds for WellChild, a national charity that provides help for sick children and support for their families. You can sponsor him at http://original.justgiving.com/runjoandpaulrun.