Inside Lines: Sacked Nicolas Anelka plans his next move as a gesture of defiance
Sunday 16 March 2014
It's been a tough week for French football, with Eric Cantona getting into hot water with the police and then Nicolas Anelka getting the boot by West Bromwich Albion.
After being sacked for "gross misconduct" following his five-match FA ban and £80,000 fine for the quenelle gesture he made at Upton Park in December, sources in France say the 35-year-old striker intends to continue his playing career. It is believed he will not be short of offers from European clubs and could even return to China, where he was player-coach at Shanghai Shenhua in 2012-13.
"Nicolas will want to continue with another club even if it is an act of defiance," says a French journalist who knows him well. "He will not consider this as an end to his career."
Anelka had himself declared on Twitter that he had decided to terminate his contract with Albion, a day after it was confirmed he would not contest the FA ban. But West Bromwich responded by saying that his purported termination "was not conducted under the proper legal process" and issued him with 14 day notice "as required under his contract".
Fairer funding for have-nots
Team GB's successes in Sochi, with medal targets exceeded in both the Winter Games and subsequent Paralympics, led by visually impaired skier Jade Etherington, have rightly been extolled by funding body UK Sport, who jubilantly cite their policy of Lottery and Exchequer investment on a "no compromise" basis as a prime reason for the current euphoria.
Fair enough. Like the golden days of 2012, it couldn't have happened without such a huge infusion of public dosh. But this "no-time-for-losers" philosophy continues to attract criticism from those less successful sports, notably basketball, wrestling and water polo, which have been cast into the financial wilderness, and now is even causing some embarrassment among some of the more richly rewarded Olympic pursuits. We hear that at least one major sport is to argue that a fairer system should be introduced and would happily take less if this could be distributed among the have-nots. Others may follow and urge UK Sport to re-think their punitive programme.
One campaigner tells us: "There is clearly an increasing groundswell against the policy, which is harming British sport overall, especially team sports." I hope that UK Sport's chief executive, the ex-netballer Liz Nicholl, now the most powerful woman in British sport, will take the argument on board on and demonstrate she is not completely wedded to a policy which so many believe is unsporting.
Hard labour, soft answer
The current UK Sport policy is endorsed by the Government, so we asked the shadow sports minister, Clive Efford, whether he would support those who thought it would be fairer, rather than to award increases to successful, yet less-needy sports, to instead distribute this amount among the others so they are not totally financially emasculated.
His response was disappointingly anodyne. "UK Sport has an outstanding record in supporting athletes and sports that bring success at the highest level. Whilst I am determined to play my part in generating greater participation in sport at the grass roots, I do not think it is for politicians to try to pick and choose which sports are going to be successful and which are not at the elite end of competition."
No boat-rocking there, though one would have thought that fairer distribution of wealth was right up Labour's street.
Lviv and let die
The political turmoil in Ukraine has not deterred Lviv from bidding for the 2022 Winter Olympics. Along with those of Krakow (Poland), Oslo (Norway), Almaty (Kazakhstan), and Beijing (China) their submission, initiated by deposed president Viktor Yanukovych, has been formally lodged with the IOC. Good luck with that!
Ingle's new Naz
Brendan Ingle, 73-year-old doyen of Britain's fight gurus, for years has yearned to unearth another Naseem Hamed in his Sheffield reformatory. Now he reckons the new Naz has come along – with remarkable similarities to the old one.
Like Hamed, Barry Abdul Awad has Yemeni parentage, though born in Qatar. Given the nom-du-ring Kid Galahad by Ingle, and undefeated in 15 bouts, he boxes for the European super-bantamweight title against Spaniard Sergio Prado at the Ponds Forge Arena next Saturday – the same venue where "Prince" Naseem won this title 20 years ago.
Galahad is another teenage tearaway "sorted out" by Ingle, who says: "Just like Naz, the Kid was a pain in the backside. He'd start an argument in an empty room. Now he's one of the nicest fellas you could wish to meet. He does more than help old dears across the street – he gives them a lift in his car to do their shopping."
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