Outside the Box: Soccer Aid proves that critics are wrong to put boot in

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The Independent Football

A shame that some commentators chose to use the admirable Help for Heroes rugby union charity match at Twickenham as a tool to bash football. "If only greedy football could put on such a show" was a headline in one newspaper. Actually it did, all of three weeks ago. Soccer Aid, at Wembley, in which an England team coached by Harry Redknapp played a Rest of the World side, raised over £1 million for Unicef, to add to the £2.6m from an even bigger event in 2006. Last season's 200 community visits by leading players under the Creating Chances scheme included Owen Hargreaves working as a tea-boy in a Manchester hospital, Jonathan Woodgate washing hair in a Teesside hospice and Michael Johnson learning sign language for a basketball session at the Royal School for the Deaf. The Premier League and their clubs may have a lot to answer for, but ploughing £122m last year into community initiatives is one of football's prouder achievements.

Sweet on a job at FA?

After recent controversies such as which foreign owners are fit and proper to own a club, Danny Guthrie's leg-breaking assault on Hull's Craig Folan and England captain John Terry's scot-free escape at Manchester City, there should be no shortage of candidates who think they could improve the Football Association's disciplinary procedures. Now is your chance. The FA are seeking to appoint a grandly titled Director of Football Governance and Regulation, who will oversee areas such as doping control, child protection and legal advice. Judging by the job specification, qualifications required include an ability to decipher business jargon, as in "an understanding of multi-stakeholder environments" and being "solution-orientated". A six-figure salary plus bonuses and benefits awaits you. They might even throw in a couple of Cup Final tickets.

Get refs in and on the box

One thing the Premier League do not do well is referees' public relations. Retired refs Dermot Gallagher and Paul Durkin are supposed to be attached to BSkyB and the BBC "to provide insight into referee decisions", but are rarely seen on screen. Last Sunday's dust-up between Chelsea and Manchester United was always likely to provide talking points (United had seven booked) but Gallagher was neither seen nor heard. The previous night, there was exasperation in the 'Match of the Day' studio at the absence of any explanation of why Steven Gerrard's "goal" for Liverpool against Stoke was disallowed. A Dermot or Durkin would surely be worth a seat on the sofa; if only for a row with Mark Lawrenson.

Crowd a turn-up for books

And finally... Newcastle may be in the mire but they are gaining new supporters by the minute. The attendance for the Carling Cup tie against Spurs, given as an embarrassing 19,743 with quarter of an hour to play, had by full-time become 20,577. Remarkable.

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