Inside Lines: FA facing another leading question over 'captain' Becks


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Fabio Capello is not the only manager with issues over the captaincy of a national team.

Stuart Pearce, England's Under-21 coach who will be in charge of the British Olympic squad in the 2012 football tournament, is known to be less than happy at pressure being put on him from above not only to select David Beckham as one of the three permitted over-23 players, but to nominate him as captain. Sluggish ticket sales continue to concern Games organisers, who believe Beckham's presence is vital to boost interest and that the team captaincy would provide him with a platform to "sell" the tournament – something which would also appeal to sponsors and the FA. It is also felt that Beckham deserves the award because of the assistance he gave as an ambassador in helping London secure the Games.

However, Pearce prefers a more pragmatic approach, believing the Olympic event should focus on youth and that in any case there are better in-form "oldies" than the 37-year-old Beckham to choose from if necessary.

While, unlike with Capello over John Terry, it will not be a resigning issue for Pearce, the situation could lead to more unwanted tensions before the selection of a squad already complicated by the antagonism of other home nations towards their players taking part.

Shear cheek of it

Just about every muscle-flexing activity practised by man – and woman – and quite a few that aren't, is jostling to climb aboard the Olympic Games bandwagon.

From angling to arm-wrestling, chess to cheerleading, bog-snorkelling to ballroom dancing, darts to dominoes, all seem to think they deserve to share the spotlight of the five-ring circus. However, I admit to doing a Victor Meldrew when hearing that sheep-shearers now desire to join the Olympic elite.

"I don't believe it!" I declared aloud at the words: "The time has come to elevate sheep-shearing's sporting status to the ultimate world stage."

According to a New Zealand farm lobby group, "the world's top shearers are athletes who take it to another level". Apparently it is recognised as a sport in New Zealand and Australia and wants to be part of the Commonwealth Games.

But the Olympics? Surely someone's trying to pull the wool over our eyes. It would never make the cut.

Fighting the odds

Exactly 22 years ago this weekend Mike Tyson was left on his knees in a Tokyo ring, senses scrambled, scrabbling around for his gumshield after being knocked out by the 42-1 underdog James "Buster" Douglas in the biggest-ever upset in the heavyweight division.

If Dereck Chisora somehow relieves Vitali Klitschko of his WBC title in Munich next Saturday it will be an upset of similarly seismic proportions, with the odds on the redoubtable "Dr Ironfist" even heavier than those on Harry Redknapp for the England job.

Yet Lennox Lewis, the last man to beat Klitschko nine years ago, thinks the Londoner has a chance. "Vitali is very good but he has other things on his mind with his politics these days and in heavyweight boxing all it takes is one punch," he says.

Saturday's scrap is the first world heavyweight championship to be held in Munich's Olympiahalle since 1976, which also involved a Brit, Richard Dunn, ko'd in five by Muhammad Ali, who at the end of the fourth memorably leaned down to the TV commentators at ringside and urged: "Get those commercials in quick, I can't hold this sucker up any longer."

Taking the Mike

Glasgow, Commonwealth Games hosts for 2014, wantto stage the 2018 Youth Olympics too. However they must be concerned to discover than Argentinian rivals Buenos Aires have hired the ace British spin doctor Mike Lee, who masterminded London 2012's bid PR strategy and subsequently Rio's for 2016 and Qatar's for the 2022 World Cup. Don't mention the [Falklands] war.