Fayed's act of charity spurned

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The Independent Online

The Harrods boss Mohamed Al Fayed is not a man used to having his offers of cash turned down. But the Football Association have done just that. Fayed wanted to donate £5,000 a goal for every penalty scored in the celebrity shoot-out which precedes the kick-off to the women's football season at his Fulham ground today. But the FA have said thanks, but no thanks - which means the women's charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer could be up to £100,000 poorer. Officially, the new enlightened FA didn't want their existing sponsors, AXA and Nationwide, to think anyone was muscling in on their territory. Unofficially, sources close to the event say the organisers are relieved that Fayed will not be involved - even though they are happy enough to accept the use of Fulham's facilities for the occasion. "They don't want Mr Fayed taking over the show, parading on the pitch and presenting cheques." Mel C, Gabby Yorath, Anna Friel, Anthea Turner and EastEnders past and present Patsy Palmer and Tamsin Outhwaite a

The Harrods boss Mohamed Al Fayed is not a man used to having his offers of cash turned down. But the Football Association have done just that. Fayed wanted to donate £5,000 a goal for every penalty scored in the celebrity shoot-out which precedes the kick-off to the women's football season at his Fulham ground today. But the FA have said thanks, but no thanks - which means the women's charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer could be up to £100,000 poorer. Officially, the new enlightened FA didn't want their existing sponsors, AXA and Nationwide, to think anyone was muscling in on their territory. Unofficially, sources close to the event say the organisers are relieved that Fayed will not be involved - even though they are happy enough to accept the use of Fulham's facilities for the occasion. "They don't want Mr Fayed taking over the show, parading on the pitch and presenting cheques." Mel C, Gabby Yorath, Anna Friel, Anthea Turner and EastEnders past and present Patsy Palmer and Tamsin Outhwaite are among the 20 celebs putting their best feet forward in the shoot-out and, if all scored, Fayed, whose Fulham Ladies are the first women's club to go professional in this country, would have had to cough up £100,000. With Fulham Ladies on duty elsewhere, the opening match at Craven Cottage will feature Arsenal against Charlton Athletic, who used to be Croydon Ladies. Women's football is the fastest-growing UK sport - there are now 400,000 players and around 1,000 teams. The FA want a professional league within three years, but this is the same FA who have just banned an 11-year-old girl from playing with a boys' team in the Midlands. Her name is Chelsea. However, the global website womenssoccer24seven.com have cheekily invited her to take part in tomorrow's shoot-out.

Time for a no-logo area

It is just getting sillier and sillier, this dispute between British swimmers, the British Olympic Association and the swimwear manufacturers Speedo over the logo to be worn - or rather not to be worn - in Sydney on the Captain Webb-style bodysuits, which are claimed to be performance-enhancing. It might even end up with some competitors being thrown out of the Games. Last week lawyers representing the swimmers, some of whom have individual deals with Speedo, asked the company to withdraw their 16mm-square logo to meet the requirements of the BOA, whose official suppliers are Adidas. Speedo, however, have dug their heels in.David Sparks, chief executive of the Amateur Swimming Federation, has e-mailed Stephen Rubin, head of Speedo's parent company in the United States, asking him to intervene and instruct his chief executive here, Joe Fields, to meet the swimmers' request. Jason Smith, a sports rights lawyer with the Manchester legal firm James Chapman, which represents them, warns: "If the swimmers are provided by Speedo with branded bodysuits and they decide to swim in them they will be in breach of individual agreements with the BOA and risk being sent home. However, it does appear that the BOA and Speedo are working to find an acceptable solution." That may be so, but surely the only acceptable solution is for Speedo to back down. They have filled their boots, not to mention their bodysuits, with acres of free publicity, so now's the time to log off that logo.

Princess lacks team spirit

The Princess Royal probably thought she had enjoyed a rather good press this week - that is, until she looked in the Mirror. The tabloid's caricature of her as a rocking horse and a viciously disparaging accompanying piece about her expressed views on the Olympic Games smacked of sourness of the grape variety. It had nothing to do, of course, with the fact that the Mirror was absent from the lunch she gave to a number of journalists, including one from the rival Sun, at Gatcombe Park last week. As president of the British Olympic Association the Princess was absolutely charming, totally relaxed and informally chatty - but still gave nothing away about either the Games or herself. Indeed, it was those who had anticipated that she might denounce Juan Antonio Samaranch as an old fascist well past his sell-by date who were the ones off their rockers. No, she told us, she had not read a line of Andrew Jennings' latest highly critical tome orindeed any of his earlier anti-Olympics works ("That's something I can live without"). But while she did not actually say so, it is evident that she is determined to carry on regardless as one of Britain's two representatives on the IOC. However, she did register one own-goal when she regurgitated her views that team sports are expendable in the Games. Had that been the case in 1968, her own sport of eventing would not have collected gold in Mexico, and four years later her friend Jim Fox would not have led the British modern pentathlon team to gold either. It may be a point remembering, Ma'am, when you give your next interview, to the BBC, later this month.

Fit for everything

A nation of couch potatoes? You wouldn't think so judging by the numbers who have been running, jumping, swimming, indeed indulging in just about every sporting exercise recently. But the biggest bash of all is the BAAA Millennium Youth Games grand final, scheduled for Southampton on 17-20 August, with 7,000 youngsters from 11 to 15 taking part in what is claimed as the world's biggest youth sports event. Around 250,000 kids have taken part in area games leading up to the final which will feature, uniquely, able-bodied and disabled competitors together. Theorganisers tell us that some 474,240 minutes of sport will be played during the four days including 600 football matches - almost 20 times the number in Euro 2000.

insidelines@independent.co.uk

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