Sport on TV: Alien invasion of the Rolex-wearing Bosmanoids

NOW WE are at the stage where never a weekend goes by, for this observer at least, with at least one more foreign journeyman making his debut, it is hard not to conclude that the Bosman ruling was A Very Bad Thing.

At the beginning of the week, English newspapers picked up on Franck Leboeuf's whinging to L'Equipe about being "club cretin" at Stamford Bridge. The poor petal is underpaid, he reckons, and should be getting at least as much as Chelsea's other World Cup-winning Frenchman, Marcel Desailly. This point is highly debatable given that he is essentially a reserve centre-back for his country, only playing in the World Cup final thanks to Davor Suker, whose despicable play-acting led to Laurent Blanc's dismissal in the semis.

Accomplished though Leboeuf is, there is always the impression that he thinks he's a better player than he actually is, and his gripes sat oddly with the portrait of him in First Edition's "The Football Foreign Legion" (Carlton, Tuesday). Over film of him shopping with his wife down New Bond Street, he insisted that "I try to have my heart richer than my wallet." No Ferraris for him, he says. "I prefer to buy flats and houses," he says. "It's a better investment."

The prospect of reviewing a Carlton documentary is not generally an occasion for gleeful anticipation, but this one exceeded expectations. I was expecting a blast of Hello!, Leboeuf relaxing in his beautiful home with his beautiful wife. It was fairly tough-minded, though, asking whether all these Johnny Foreigners are just over here on Bosman holidays.

West Ham was cited as an example of how not to import foreign talent. Mind you, the conclusion - that the way to do it is to fork out for the best rather than mooch round the "everything must go" department - is blindingly obvious, really.

The low point for the club's manager, Harry Redknapp, was the faith he placed in Florin Raducioiu, who turned out to be the archetypal Bosman tourist, according Rob Shepherd of the Express: "Five years ago he was queuing up for a loaf of bread. Suddenly the guy comes over with a Rolex on his wrist - two Rolexes he had on the same wrist at one point."

At the other end of the guestworker continuum is the Hammers' Israeli, Eyal Berkovic, who, despite having his face famously rearranged by John Hartson's fancy footwork, has settled down on and off the pitch. He was born on a kibbutz and possessed "not a word of English" when he came over - even now, when Rio Ferdinand and Frank Lampard get together, he says, "I understand nothing - they speak Cocknik".

So he wasn't keen on Southampton, his first foreign posting, where there is no Jewish community to speak of. The move to London worked though, and he's happy living in Golders Green, a ready-made community that most foreigners don't have. He's sufficiently at home, on the film's evidence, to indulge in a spot of mock road-rage banter with bewildered fellow motorists.

So what do incomers have to look forward to when they get here, apart from foul weather and thousands of pounds a week? The likes of Dennis Wise, that's what, whose idea of a joke is teaching the new boys to say "fank you hairy crutch" to waitresses instead of "thank you very much". It's a cheap shot (and an old gag) to observe that his English is worse than some of his foreign team-mates, but I don't usually let that deter me, and I'm not about to start now.

One fruitful direction taken by the film was Crystal Palace's Chinese connection - "tactical decision or cunning move?" The signing of Fan Zhiyi and Sun Jihai more than simply bolstered midfield and defence, providing an entry into the vast Asian market, with a club shop in Beijing and a television audience of 1.2 billion for a game against Sheffield United described in the Independent at the time as "a tedious encounter to which [Fan] contributed little."

Shepherd, who, you gather, isn't enamoured of the alien invasion, is scathing about Palace's motives. "If they can half-play," he says of the Chinese pair, "they put them in the team." Cynical, but probably spot- on.

The highlight of the week was watching Hermann Maier win the downhill at the skiing World Championships in Vail (BBC2, Sunday). He is Jean- Claude Killy, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ian Botham, James Bond, Michael Schumacher, Indiana Jones and Vinnie Jones, all packed into one imposing frame. When he comes over the top of a ridge, it's like he's ski-jumping. Gates tend to be flattened. This human avalanche makes skiing compulsive viewing - some achievement.

The highlight of the week wasn't Will Carling's cameo on Norland Nannies, (C4, Thursday) a docusoap series about the school for childminders to the rich and famous. The occasion was polo at Cowdray Park, with the gels given quality time with rich kids and, more importantly, the chance to put down markers with the parents.

Carling and his girlfriend were there with their baby, and one of the young things caught their eye. They'd be getting in touch, they said. Sadly, a couple of weeks later, the relationship was all over, and nursie would have to look elsewhere. "Another career wrecked by the tabloids," said the acid voice-over.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
people
Life and Style
Visitors look at a drone equipped with cameras on a police car at the Gitex Technology week in Dubai
tech
News
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
News
i100(More than you think)
Arts and Entertainment
John Hurt will voice Prince Bolkonsky in Radio 4's War and Peace
radioRadio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
News
i100
News
people
News
news

Lincoln MP Karl McCartney 'denied all knowledge' of the Twitter activity

Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
filmDirector said film would 'never have been financed' with ethnic minority actors in key roles
News
The author PD James, who died on 27 November 2014
people

Detective novelist who wrote Death comes to Pemberley passed away peacefully at her home, aged 94

Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
arts + ents
Life and Style
tech

Sites using the popular Gigya comment platform were attacked by the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA)

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Argyll Scott International: Service Desk Analyst

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Argyll Scott International: Service Desk Analyst Re...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Executive - Software

£20000 - £25000 per annum + 55,000 OTE + benifits: h2 Recruit Ltd: Software Sa...

Argyll Scott International: 2x Service Desk Analyst

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Argyll Scott International: Service Desk Analyst Re...

Langley James : IT Project Manager; 6 month FTC; Brighton; £400p/d

£400 - £420 per day: Langley James : IT Project Manager; 6 month FTC; Brighton...

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?