Inside Lines: Why Bale is putting his shirt on playing in the Olympics
If evidence was needed of the impotence of the football associations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to prevent their players from representing Great Britain in the 2012 Olympic football tournament it is shown by a picture of Tottenham's Welsh star Gareth Bale posing in a Team GB supporters' shirt.
You can bet he will be pulling on the real thing next July, because Bale knows that if he and any other chosen non-English players – men and women – stand firm, there is sweet FA their home associations dare do about it. The phrase containing "nose" and "face" would come to mind if they considered banning those players from future international tournaments. As would "restraint of trade".
So no use intimidating the likes of boyos Bale, Ryan Giggs, Aaron Ramsey and Scots Charlie Adam and Darren Fletcher. Remember that Argentina became Olympic champions in Beijing with the assistance of the great Lionel Messi, who won a legal battle against his club, Barcelona, after they refused him permission to take part.
Incidentally, Sir Alex Ferguson may argue there is no way Wayne Rooney could participate in both the European Championship and the Olympics next year, but he forgets Cristiano Ronaldo did precisely that in 2004. I wonder whether it would have helped the team's "Britishness" had the FA not settled on an Englishman, Stuart Pearce, to manage it.
Fergie was initially approached by Lord Coe but declined as he reckoned he would still be too busy with Manchester United next year. Yet wouldn't the Ulsterman Martin O'Neill, currently available, have been a greater unifying influence?
Frankie goes AWOL
What is it with Frankie Gavin? As we reported last week, the pro career of Britain's only world amateur champion has been stuttering. Now it seems it may even be over – or at least hanging in the balance – after he inexplicably walked out on the eve of his scheduled bout against the Frenchman Frank Horta in Manchester on Friday.
Gavin, 26, who also withdrew from the Beijing Olympics because of weight difficulties, later cited personal problems and says he needs a break. His promoter, Frank Warren, says: "I'm not chasing after him. This is a hard business. He was on good money and he is going to find that it is not around any more. What he does now is up to him."
Gavin is not the only fighter to cause Warren grief of late. His lightweight star Kevin Mitchell has been banned following a drink-drive conviction and is currently tagged and doing community service after a knife was found in his car. The Board of Control have suspended his licence.
"It's things like this where boxing really doesn't help itself," says Warren. Quite.
Hockey joins pink list
Several members of the GB men's hockey team went topless to enter Men's Health magazine's cover-model competition while gearing up for their last world-ranking event next month, the Champions' Trophy, before the Olympics.
The uninhibited guys also insist they have no problem with the newly unveiled colour co-ordinated Olympic hockey pitch, bright blue with a shocking pink surround.
"I actually like the colours," says Richard Alexander, known as Ratman. "I wear pink occasionally. Pink polo shirt, pink shorts. I even thought about buying a pair of pink chinos, but realise the guys would rip me mercilessly if I did."
The Olympics will also feature a yellow ball. "I think the colours reflect that the sport has been revolutionised," adds Alexander. "The pitch makes it special. There will be a 'wow' factor when the crowds turn up."
Truly, excitement will be at fever pitch.
What's this ear, Mike?
The former world heavyweight champion Mike Tyson reveals that he is now a vegetarian. Alas, the conversion has come 14 years too late for Evander Holyfield's shell-like.
Had Iron Mike been a non-carnivore when they first fought in Las Vegas doubtless he would have resisted infamously chomping on Holyfield's ear – unless of course it was of the cauliflower variety.
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