Roger Alton

Football’s growing shame


It would take a brave man to pick a fight with Roy Keane, and nobody could quarrel with his view of Liverpool’s Scotland fullback Andy Robertson after a skirmish at Anfield. Robertson appeared to be feebly elbowed in the face as he approached linesman Constantine Hatzidakis at half time. The Scotland captain reacted in the traditional way, as if he had been waterboarded. Keane’s view was as ever imperious: ‘You know what he is that Robertson? I’ve watched him a number of times – he’s a big baby.’

If a linesman can’t smack Andy Robertson for getting handsy and lippy, then the game has gone

Anyone who has ever seen Liverpool should be all in favour of referees’ assistants sticking one on Robertson every now and again. Karma or what! All that verbal abuse, finger–wagging and head-shaking over every manifestly correct throw-in decision. Hatzidakis now appears to have been stood down while some investigation into the incident trundles on.

Someone should knock up a ‘Je Suis Constantine’ T-shirt: really, if a linesman can’t smack Andy Robertson for getting handsy and lippy, then the game has gone. Keano was spot on. And the harassment, physical and verbal, of officials at football matches across all levels of the game and increasingly all age groups is a growing source of shame.

But for real fun and games you need look no further than Stamford Bridge. This is how Chelsea’s own commentator on Chelsea’s own website introduced the highlights of last weekend’s abysmal performance at Wolverhampton: ‘Wolves welcome Planet Football’s most fascinating, surprising and wonderfully bonkers football club.’ So I guess we can assume that ‘wonderfully bonkers’ is now the official company line. Cartoon fun! That crazy guy Todd! Changing managers – that’s our business! Meanwhile, the fact is that Raheem Sterling has now had more managers in a week at Chelsea (three: Graham Potter, stand-in Bruno Saltor and Frank Lampard) than he had in seven years at Manchester City.

Rugby’s elite stamped their authority on the game with some superb European Champions’ Cup quarter-finals.

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