vol. 4 #4 â€“ 18 Januari 2011
The Sentinel Amsterdam
Integrity, heart, humour
2011... just sport
russian ascent perspectives OPINION TRENDs CARTOON music SPORT CLASSIFIEDs
In this issue FEATURE
p. 03 Perspectives P. 08 MUSIC P. 14
A darker shade of emerald
‘We’ll probably have to work till ‘Fireworks and alcohol are perhaps not the wisest combination’ the ripe old age of eighty’
p. 26 sport
MTV stole my hat so I grew my hair
‘The ‘lucky’ things that have happened in my career thus far; it was born out of mounds of effort’
p. 30 more:
Russianascent:the2018 The Gold Room challenge
Perspectives p. 10 A lighter shade of emerald
‘the Kremlin sits back and basks in the reflected glory of Russia’s famous snatching of the glittering 2018 World Cup prize...’
ART Anthea Bush
LIFeSTYLES Is smoking still cool?
STUDMARKS p. 23 A name fit for a Mexican wrestler
ColoPHon The Sentinel Amsterdam e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org website: www.thesentinel.eu The Sentinel Amsterdam does not intentionally include unaccredited photos/illustrations that are subject to copyright. If you consider your copyright to have been infringed, please contact us at email@example.com.
Editors – Gary Rudland & Denson Pierre Design, realisation and form – Andrei Barburas & No-Office.nl Webmaster – Simon O. Studios Webhost – Amsterjammin.com
TRENDS Trends vs Resolutions
FILM REVIEW Room 2C CARTOON
p. 25 p. 25
Contributors – Richard Wilson, Simon Conheady, Eoin Morris, Annegien Kok, Dirkje Bakker, David King, Colin Bentley, Maureen Kamp & Ian Lund
2011… Just By Richard Wilson
‘Arriving at Schiphol, random explosions were already echoing around the city’ Leaving my life in Sydney behind, I landed in Amsterdam a few short days prior to New Year’s Eve. Soon after arriving at Schiphol, random explosions were already echoing around the city. For a moment, I thought my plane had landed in Iraq. I decided it would be a good idea to upgrade my medical insurance. New Year’s Eve begins Fireworks and alcohol are perhaps not the wisest combination. This was soon confirmed on New Year’s Eve, after the first wave of do-it-yourself explosions. Once the midnight chaos quietened a little, the sound of ambulance sirens started to echo erratically around the city. In fact, the taxi I caught to a friend’s party was targeted by a group of drunken ‘militia-men’ bearing colourful rockets. Fortunately, they missed the car; and my medical insurance was not needed.
In the majority of Australia (apart from Canberra, where marijuana and porn are legal), fireworks are against the law all year round. The government tries to make up for this by putting on a multi-million dollar firework show at Sydney Harbour every New Year’s Eve. As you’ve probably seen from the TV footage, it’s pretty spectacular. No matter how much money they spend, though, nothing quite beats the ‘hands-on’ (or hands-blown-off) approach of the Dutch. I was given my first firework to light. At first I thought it was a sparkler, and went to light it with the rocket end facing my head. My Dutch friend quickly put a stop to this. It was one of those baby fireworks that you hold and the rocket launches off the stick. I decided to be brave, lit it and hoped for the best. I closed my eyes and thought of the ocean. It worked, and apparently looked spectacular.
All in all, it was a NYE that I’ll never forget. Amsterdam is undoubtedly one of the best cities in which I have ever had At the party, a friend told me about his neighbour’s house the pleasure to welcome in the New Year. Next year, if I’m that had just burnt down in Amsterdam. No-one was hurt, lucky enough to be here, I’m going to ditch the body arbut the house was as good as destroyed. “Somehow” a lone mour and stock up on colourful explosions. Nevertheless, I’ll still be upgrading my medical insurance and wearing firework was the culprit. He looked surprised... I wasn’t. my bullet-proof helmet. I decided that he probably needed my body armour and military helmet more than I did. He looked scared. I took off my bullet-proof jacket and, in the spirit of New Year, www.imdb.me/richardwilson gave it to him. I don’t think I have ever witnessed a greater level of excitement than that of a drunken Dutchman loaded with fireworks on NYE. I have never seen a New Year quite like it. The whole night was a surreal experience, filled with exploding bright colours and merriness. It was hard to believe that a few short days earlier, I was in 37˚C, enjoying the Christmas festivities in Australia.
â€˜I decided to be brave, lit it and hoped for the bestâ€™
a DarKer sHaDe OF eMeraLD
‘Say what you like about the Dutch; at least their house is in order’ By Simon Conheady
Any graduation should be ample cause for celebration. It’s a sign of the times that having a degree conferred upon me, after four years’ worth of hard graft, could leave such a bittersweet taste. The ceremonial pomp and grandeur were overshadowed by a personal feeling of abject dejection; my peers’ collective worry regarding the future was also palpable. I struggled to translate the Proctor’s ominous speech, conducted in Latin, and only caught the gist: “Well, lads, nice one for getting the degree and all that, fair play... But don’t think it’s going to do you much good around here”. I joined the solemn procession as each student trudged from the colonnaded public theatre and back to reality, as we stepped out on to the frozen cobblestones of the university’s courtyard. Parents and well-wishers lined our flanks and offered their congratulations as we were herded towards a reception in the grand atrium. It felt as though the throng of budding adults were being ushered on to a coffin ship, where our inevitable fate of emigration awaited. Stepping back into the warmth, I sparked up a conversation with a close friend who had been awarded first-class honours. We talked of his plans to quit the dole and take the boat. He was diffident about his future and I offered my thoughts and solutions to the systemic problems at hand. As the old adage goes: when one door closes another opens. With so many doors closing, surely our emerging generation has been presented with the opportunity of a lifetime! Instead of consigning myself to a permanent desk-job at the age of twenty-two, my future has been forced to deviate for the positive. Besides, there’s plenty of time to commit to being grounded for life. We’ll probably have to work till the ripe old age of eighty to pay for the Irish banking collapse, presuming life expectancy hits eightyone, of course.
I also spoke to him of my own plans. Having recently applied for Master’s courses in the Netherlands, America and Sweden, who knows what shores I’ll be landing on, come September. It would certainly be intriguing to end up back in Holland. Having spent the previous summer working in an Irish bar in the capital, I’m more than a little partial to the place. Say what you like about the Dutch; at least their house is in order.
‘Austerity is the word on everyone’s tongue as we watch a struggling goliath implode from within’ With temperatures plummeting to record lows, coinciding with the implementation of the harshest budget in the Irish state’s history, it’s a wonder society is continuing to function in any sort of meaningful capacity. Austerity is the word on everyone’s tongue as we watch a struggling goliath implode from within. With our Taoiseach (primeminister) having recently been lampooned internationally for his now-infamous ‘Gargle-gate’ scandal, the public’s faith in our esteemed leaders’ ability to steer us from the brink of the catastrophic abyss has hit rock bottom. Earlier today, as I helped my neighbour with her shopping – she has a broken wrist, due to a lack of any form of snow clearance on the roads or paths – I couldn’t help thinking that the boat isn’t looking too bad from where I’m standing.
‘ ireland is world famous for being the land of a hundred thousand welcomes and we prospered’ By Eoin Morris
a LiGHter sHaDe OF eMeraLD
We have to go back to our roots. Ireland is world famous for being the land of a hundred thousand welcomes and we prospered in times when Yanks came and visited their ‘motherland’, spending thousands on their travels, hundreds on golf green fees, hotels, taxis, Guinness, great food, entertainment, craic and codology. They literally brought money into the country and left it behind. This was a time when money was there to be made. And it was a good time. We loved having them and they loved coming. But then something changed. Something changed for the worse. The Irish developed a sense of economic entitlement, but this came at a price. The hundred thousand welcomes was replaced by €100,000 jobs, mobile phones, flash cars and even flashier smiles. But the loss of sincerity was the biggest loss of all. There was a time when working in a bar or restaurant was a lifelong career. Then, in ten short years, the Irish became too proud to work service-industry jobs. How things have changed: 437,000 people are now registered for jobs seekers’ allowance and other social welfare payments, as a result of not being able to secure employment. Many of those will have been seduced into the property trap, buying houses that they never could afford in the good times, let alone the bad. So how is 2011 looking, on the whole, for Ireland?
‘People are so wary of the property market now that even if a property was guaranteed never to depreciate in value, they’d still be hesitant about buying’ Home truths From a legal point of view, many people are worried about their bank foreclosing on their family home. It’s something I’m asked about a lot. I tell my clients to engage with their bank. If they are open and honest about their situation then, in the majority of cases, the banks are willing to engage. Often, a loan or mortgage can be restructured to meet their needs. The banks are aware of the situation on the ground. They know people have lost their jobs and are in personal and financial turmoil. But they also know that there is very little that can be done with a repossessed house. The market is already flooded with properties for sale. And don’t think that it’s just a matter of undercutting the market, it’s not. People are so wary of the property market now that even
if a property was guaranteed never to depreciate in value, they’d still be hesitant about buying. Once bitten, twice shy and all that. After homeowners, business people seem to have been burnt the worst by the economic downturn. It is transpiring that many business people were asked by their creditors, banks and landlords to provide personal guarantees for their business debts. It seems that most acceded to those requests and, as a result, they are now being pursued for their companies’ debts to the point of having no option but to consider bankruptcy. Bankruptcy law in Ireland is among the harshest in the world, with debtors labelled as bankrupt for twelve years. They lose control over any property dealings and may not operate a bank account or engage in transactions exceeding a value of €635. And, yet, this is the only viable option open to many people whose businesses have failed. It’s a harsh reality.
‘The craic and codology is back, people are not taking themselves as seriously anymore’ Back to basics But how has the economic reality impacted positively, if at all? Well, people seem to be getting back to their roots, which is nice. Customers are more valued and this should lead to improved service standards. Certainly, from what I’ve seen, prices have come down considerably. There was a time when paying more than€5.00 for a pint of plain in Dublin’s city centre was not unusual. It is more usual now to pay less than €4.00. Similarly, the cost of dining has tumbled dramatically with many restaurateurs opting to pursue profits through volume rather than high margins. All of which is beneficial not only to the Irishman and woman looking to have a relaxing night out, but also to the Irish economy as a whole. Let it be known: the Irish way of life is back on the market, even if just for a short vacation. The craic and codology is back, people are not taking themselves as seriously anymore. Great food at great prices is back. The sense of economic entitlement is dispersing, to be replaced by an honest wage for an honest day’s work. And if that message can reach the rest of the world, then I say Ireland will be just fine.
Eoin Morris is a Barrister-at-Law at The Bar Council of Ireland, Dublin.
tickling the familiar www.antheabush.com
copyright: Carlo Cruz
MTV stole my hat so I grew my hair
By Denson Pierre
An exhilarating interview with Juakali, who has made the journey from Caribbean (Trinidad & Tobago) boyband member to agedefining,international, underground music pioneer. DP: Success is relative but good results always seem to follow people who have determination. Are talented performers and artists particularly focused individuals, or just lucky and self-indulgent party people we pay to hear and see enjoy themselves?
of art are supported by the government. I would love to be in a situation of being subsidised by my government for my artistic endeavours. In terms of Amsterdam as an influence, in my first two sojourns to Europe I visited Amsterdam. I was not as well received the second time around. I remember not doing as much research into the city, thinking I had already connected with the folks I needed for mutual support. I was mistaken. I learned that to ‘make it’ involves tireless effort. I guess I became a lot more focused moving forward. I do my homework, pick my battles and realise my dreams a day, week and month at a time.
At this early stage of your career, what is your greatest achievement as an artist and a man? I’m beginning to realise that there are people who respect the work I have done and am doing. Last autumn, I was at a festival in Croatia called Outlook. There, someone came up to me and said that ‘Brighter Day’ – a tune on Pinch’s ‘Underwater Dancehall’ – was his anthem for days when the world got the better of him. As a man, I have learned to stand by my convictions and to stop second guessing my heart and intuition.
When are you next in Europe and what are your plans for co-productions here?
Juakali: I like that you said ‘talented performers’ but I believe it’s a little of both. We are focused, sometimes too much so, and luck has played a part in how our careers have developed, but let’s be clear about the ‘luck’ aspect. Making the winning three-point shot in the final five seconds of the NBA finals is NOT luck. The will to even take the shot with all the odds against you is determination. It’s a culmination of years of dedicated work. That’s how I feel about the ‘lucky’ things that have happened in my career thus far; it was born out of mounds of effort. I’m featured on a song called ‘Crows’ on Badawi’s ‘Unit of Resistance’. In it I sing, “Nah support the root but they want enjoy the fruit”. What most people see from any artist that is in the spotlight is the fruit of their labour. Some artists enjoy and flaunt their fruit more than others. Most folks hate ‘pop’ artists, but let me tell you that there is nothing easy about doing 30 shows in 30 cities in 45 days – interviewing by day and sound checking a few hours before the show, still putting a smile on your face and sweating during your performance.
I am leaning toward a visit in the summer/autumn of 2011, to work on a few songs for a friend’s sophomore album. I have also been collaborating with visual artists, particularly in photography and film, in order to get some images that express the spirit of my tunes out into the world. Documenting my process and my existence now is also important to me and I’m happy when like-minded folk volunteer their time and energy to realise my vision.
When you first sampled Amsterdam, in 2006, what were your strongest impressions and did the city inspire you in any way which aided your rise as an artist?
Juakali: www.juakalimusic.com www.foreignfamiliar.com
Amsterdam was a lot more cosmopolitan than I had imagined and, like most major cities in Europe, all forms
Is this it or can we expect more innovation and organic fusion from your musical universe? There are a lot of things I would like to do all around the world, like cross-cultural art/artist collaborations, but I’m starting with me and this music. I have so much to share… For Juakali’s latest and critically acclaimed music videos and audio files check out: www.mtv.com/videos/misc/595417/12th-planet-juakalireasons.jhtml#id=1568964
copyright: Chris Porzio
copyright: Ngoc Tran
is is is smoking smoking smoking still cool? still cool? still cool?
‘How popular does it make a bar to be known as nonsmoking? And how cool does it make the smoking bars?’
By Annegien Kok
In the second week of the New Year, a well-publicised website was launched that tells visitors which cafes and restaurants in Amsterdam allow smoking and which don’t. Since the smoking ban has been increasingly ignored and, in most bars, customers are allowed to smoke inside after midnight, some folk reckoned a platform was needed that would not so much screw these places over, but inform non-smokers ‘where not to go’. Like most people, I can smell smoke as soon as I walk into a place, but I guess for the people who mysteriously cannot, or the big-time anti-smokers who like to plan their pub crawls in advance, it might just be a good service. At the same time, however, doesn’t a website like this officially differentiate the smoking-free bars as the more uncool places? How popular does it make a bar to be known as nonsmoking? And how cool does it make the smoking bars?
‘Walking into a smokers’ bar already takes me back to ‘the old days’, even though it has only been two years since the official ban’
I understand that the smoking-free bar is a phenomenon that will definitely catch up with us at some point. In these more and more responsible times, our bad manners will be restricted and smoke-free bars will become inevitable. This is too bad, in the sense that smoking bars are already memorable and nostalgic because of the smell of cigarette smoke, and if only because it makes the hangovers greater and the effects are, therefore, still noticeable the next day. Walking into a smokers’ bar already takes me back to ‘the old days’, even though it has only been two years since the official ban. pRoS AND coNS The smoking-ban definitely has a few grand social benefits, because what better excuse to get away from a lame conversation than by sneaking into a smelly smoking room? At the same time, smokers can just as easily choose to go outside with ‘following fans’ that seek the chance to have a chat with them. In those moments, I can imagine the venue for a fag really depends on whether that night’s creep is a smoker or a non-smoker. Unfortunately, on the other hand, you also become more aware of the lack of freshness and other unhealthy aspects of drinking behaviour due to other gassy odours filling up the bars. These smells are no longer masked by smoke. You are no longer dazed by the wall of smoke that blurs your vision and sense of smell, but sobered up by the whiffy downsides. From a woman’s point of view, is there anything more fun than very romantically and spontaneously lighting-up a cigarette when you do not even smoke, just because your hot date offers you one, with a lighter in his other hand?
It spices things up a bit. Now you have to go out into the cold, although, yes, he can offer you his coat, which is also romantic. But being outside is always sobering to a certain extent. Having a legitimate excuse to sneak outside with a date does make it easier to slip into a dark alley to share more than a fag. This said, however, I still prefer the old romantic option at the bar. Additionally, there is no such thing as feeling fabulous when emerging from a bathroom, after a lil’ make-up session, smelling like you just set yourself on fire, since the toilet has been used as an illegal smoking room by the person before you!
Rebels with a cause The funny thing about the ban is that, on the one hand, it seems to have an anti-social side; fewer people go out, and if they do get to the bars, the smoking breaks keep interrupting good conversations. On the other hand, it might just be good in a bigger sense. The fact that many people are disappointed because the government tells them they can no longer light up also promotes ‘rebellious’ behaviour. In these practical times, when responsibility and awareness go before anything, people do not seem to have the drive and/or courage to protest. Even though the smokers are not collectively protesting on Museumplein, they protest in their own way: by continuing to smoke in bars. The group spirit that sustains itself when people smoke where they are not allowed might just bring people closer than it did when smoking was the norm.
chistic times are over, I believe this is our way of creating a ‘lil’ old protest’ now. And if not, smoking where you’re not allowed does, at least, takes us back to that lil’ fence behind which you secretly smoked your first cigarette. And, if you never did that, at least it gives you the feeling that you are ‘alive’, because you are kicking against the law. According to this theory, the website will only make the isolation of the smoking-bars versus the non-smoking set stronger. It is like the kid you never liked at school telling the others who you do not get along with that you did something naughty. The smoking bars might become romanticised and deliberately going to a non-smokers’ bar sounds more like a well-planned evening than a spontaneous good night out. Indeed, if you are more the quiet romantic type instead of the deeply rooted anarchist, there is a strong chance that the smoked-up bar already offers you a nostalgic feeling, because it takes you back to all your pub memories.
‘For now, we should cherish the last remaining smoking adventures and hope that nostalgia in the ‘At least it gives you bars doesn’t disapthe feeling that you pear’ are ‘alive’, because you are kicking against the law’ The new website tries to paint smoking bars as bad seeds but, in my opinion, this will only differentiate this ‘rebellious’ group in a positive way: although the wild anar-
I believe the non-smoking bars deserve great respect for trying to retain their atmosphere even though patrons are no longer able to light one up. At the same time, I am afraid a website like this will differentiate them negatively, which they do not deserve. Soon enough, I believe, all bars will have to be smoke free. So, for now, we should cherish the last remaining smoking adventures and hope that nostalgia in the bars doesn’t disappear. And, unfortunately, unless people find a very interesting way to eat peanuts, romance in bars will never be the same.
Located in the heart of Amsterdam (Voetboogstraat 11, just off the Spui), the ABC Treehouse is “a unique cultural center”. With generous support from our corporate sponsor, the American Book Center (www.abc.nl), we offer an exciting agenda of lively discussions, workshops and cultural events, and have earned a reputation as “a major point of artistic and literary exchange for the city’s Dutch and multicultural communities.” - (www.iamsterdam.com). Our guest authors are writing on the hottest - and sometimes most controversial - topics; our groundbreaking graffiti and gay pride exhibits have broken taboos and visitor records, and our special Discussion Events have brought together Americans and Iraqis, Israelis and Palestinians, Republicans and Democrats for a lively exchange of ideas and viewpoints. And sometimes, it’s just about having a good time: enjoy music and theater during our Theaterworks evenings, or knit a new scarf at Crafty Me. Visit our website to see a full list of our events and workshops: www.treehouse.abc.nl, or stop by and join the ABC Treehouse community!
Min 5 participants – themes: voice, creativity, communication, connection There is a place; times will /can be arranged .
Costs for a workshop are Euro 300 for up to 7 participants & Euro 400 for 8-12 participants.
Feel, want, need? exchange, enable, permit supportive, relaxed, fun
Contact: Fire Lotus Email: Lennie St Luce - firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: +31 (0)6 2866 5886 Feedback vocal empowerment Oct 2010:
“Thank you so much for an extraordinary evening , it’s all still running through my mind....it was spot on.” - Ingrid“The evening was fantastic, all the women were very enthusiastic and happy.” - Truus-
Stud marks By Maureen Kamp
A name fit for a Mexican wrestler As he enters the arena, caped in red, wearing the number nine, his blonde mane waves behind him. Six foot two inches tall – all muscle – masked in the guise of an eagle. The crowd rises, they applaud, they roar, they sing, they love him. He’s their number nine! He is the people’s boy, the one we all love to love. And like an eagle he beats his opponent by waiting for his chance. He watches... and waits, and observes... and then, unexpectedly, he strikes. He smiles, and when he smiles, we all smile. Lethal yet likeable; the blonde boy in the ring. But is he the best? It’s the battle of the boys: El Nino vs El Guaje, The Boy vs The Kid. Torres vs Villa. And lately, it seems, good fortune is more on The Kid’s side. Whereas Villa became one of the heroes of the World Cup, Torres was hardly visible. Being not completely fit was said to be the reason, but what was going on in that dressing room? A freckled boy from Madrid sat together with the hairy men from Barcelona. Maybe he did it to fit in, to be one of the guys, or at least look Spanish. Maybe, but obviously change had come upon him. Behind the eagle mask there was still the fresh-faced, freckled, sun-kissed boy. But the blond mane was no more. And like Samson, it seems that with the mane, the winning spirit has disappeared. His club follows him in his uphill struggle. It will get better, different maybe, but better. And he will enter the arena again, but maybe in a different cape, wearing a different mask and with a different name. Standing in the red corner, for now: El Hombre!
‘Villa became one of the heroes of the World Cup, Torres was hardly visible’
Trends vs Resolutions By Dirkje Bakker
‘Being nicer to people, being more active, taking more exercise, stopping smoking, using less drugs’ Apparently, 90% of resolutions are forgotten or abandoned by February and, when it comes to the classics like weight-loss or fitness, 90% are already out of the window two weeks into the New Year. Generally, people seem to have many good intentions and that is a good thing. But even more generally, we as a species are weak creatures, full of good intentions as long as we don’t have to spend too much energy achieving them. So, spending more time with family and friends, eating less, losing weight, giving up alcohol, giving more to charity, paying off debts, being nicer to people, being more active, taking more exercise, stopping smoking, using less drugs, complaining less, making more money, being more ambitious, reading more books, taking up a hobby, doing charity work, watching more art house movies, being more politically involved, visiting more museums, eating healthier food, being more relaxed, taking more time for oneself, appreciating the good things, being more generous, trying all Belgian beers available, only listening to good music, going to more concerts, and so on, are all hopelessly doomed to be put on the dusty shelves of our minds (and only reachable by using a long ladder, which is very wobbly and has to be held by another person to enable you to climb it) until 2012 looms. As it is, my own resolution is to keep an eye on trends worldwide. Here are a few for 2011 and, personally, I hope to make it to at least February and, honestly, all the way to 2012. The number one consumer trend, according to one of the top trending agencies: Random acts of kindness: in 2011, expect companies to monitor consumers’ moods and act upon them with random acts of kindness. Marketing may never be the same again… So keep your eyes and ears open for free stuff.
The number one fashion trend, according to Italy: Purple and black: black and purple dominate the shop windows in Rome this winter. So clearly we, The Sentinel readers, now know what to do and do not have to wait another two years until the trend finally reaches this godforsaken island in the world of fashion; if it doesn’t perish along the way, that is. The number one trend in food for 2011: One-dish restaurants: in Japan, they have had them for a long time already, and as with everything they do in Japan, it is well worth copying their ideas worldwide. One restaurant specialising in a single dish, targeting customers who know what they like and want it made perfectly every time. Some more (personal) recommendations for some good intrendtions for the coming year: 1. Let fashion be fashionable once again – no more Uggs! 2. Introduce okily dokily into your general vocabulary. Other urgent suggestions welcome at email@example.com and happy 2011!
Room 2c film By David King
Sin City (2005) Damn it, but this is some visual feast of violence and gore, the likes of which we hadn’t experienced before, as we rediscover Del Toro, Willis and Rourke. Copied almost faithfully from Frank Miller’s graphic novel of 2001 (having previously reinvented the Batman legacy in ‘The Dark Knight’), it goes against all the conventional film making processes and, gosh, does it work and excite us. Bless Rodriguez and Tarantino for this one.
Cartoon By Colin Bentley
Don’t get too comfortable...
Didn’t you know? A turkey isn’t only for Christmas!
Russian ascent: the 2018 challenge by Ian Lund
The middle of a Russian winter may not seem the best time to look back on a tumultuous year in Russian football – after all, the football season here has finished and the new one doesn’t begin until March – but let’s take stock. The future has never been brighter than now, as the Kremlin sits back and basks in the reflected glory of Russia’s famous snatching of the glittering 2018 World Cup prize from the jaws of the complacent English lions. The fans should be happy, too, at the thought of the 14 brand new stadia promised in the bid document. And even the grumbling babushka shuffling down the icy street can cheer herself up with the thought of the huge new infrastructure investment promised by the government.
‘The sight of angry football fans and nationalists huntingdownanydark-skinned citizenswithinmerepetrolbomb-lobbing distance from the Kremlin’s walls’ But all this glory and satisfaction was rudely shattered within a couple of weeks of FIFA’s decision by the sight of angry football fans and nationalists hunting down any dark-skinned citizens within mere petrol-bomb-lobbing distance from the Kremlin’s walls. What on earth went wrong? Recipe for a riot First, let’s track back to the halcyon days of the summer, when the Russian football authorities decided to create a fan zone to watch the World Cup outdoors on a big screen. It was advertised as watching World Cup football in a safe, family-friendly environment. It would have been better described as how not to create a calm, relaxing, alcohol-free setting in which to watch football outdoors on a big screen.
‘Howaboutlettingthebeer festival patrons go back to the festival at half time – since there’s no beer in the fan zone’ First, put your fan zone slap-bang next to a beer festival with access permitted to festival-goers. Then seek a beer company to sponsor the fan zone and allow them to set up a bar to sell their overpriced product: ‘Bud, The King of Beers’. Finally, stop selling beer just as the game kicks off and then, to really rub salt in, start selling the beer again under the counter, on a preferential basis to selected fans. Also, as a little twist of extra creativity, how about letting the beer festival patrons go back to the festival at half time – since there’s no beer in the fan zone – but then refuse them re-admittance to the fan zone to watch the second half, even though they’d kept their tickets. Not everyone is refused re-entry, of course. This is Russia, so we need a little selective face-control thrown in for good measure. Confused? I certainly was. So, the fans with children who wanted to watch the football in a safe, alcohol-free environment lost out. They were faced with angry, tanked-
up beer drinkers who were arbitrarily refused their intoxicant of choice. The majority of the beer festival goers lost out, too, as they were refused re-admittance to the fan zone for the second half. Still, Germany vs Argentina was a great game and watching it with a thousand people in the sun was quite pleasant. But when will the authorities here get their policy towards football fans right? Underlying problems The authorities’ handling of this event encapsulates in a nutshell all that is wrong with Russian society: bureaucracy, lack of planning, police stupidity and corruption. Hopefully, things will be better in 2018, when the world comes to watch football in Russia. But hopes should not be pitched too high. In 2008, when the all-English Champions League final between Manchester United and Chelsea took place in Moscow, the event was hailed as a great success by UEFA, the Kremlin and the Moscow authorities. However, this was a one-off event staged in the most developed city in Russia, and many fans were bussed directly from the airport to the ageing Luzhniki stadium (centrepiece of the 1980 Olympic Games). Nevertheless, stories of incompetence, official bungling and delays are legion and the lack of adequate mid-range hotel accommodation in Moscow added to the mess. During the World Cup in 2018, how will the authorities handle hundreds of thousands of fans, travelling between 13 different cities, demanding efficient transport and affordable accommodation?
years in Moscow, one of the most cosmopolitan cities ‘If you throw shed loads of eight in the country, has led me to the conclusion that beneath the skin of even the best-educated, middle-class student petrodollars at an infra- often lurks a totally unreconstructed racism that would be structural problem, you deemed totally antediluvian in the West. can usually get results’ ‘Beneath the skin of even This is probably the easy part. After all, if you throw shed the best-educated, middleloads of petrodollars at an infrastructural problem, you can usually get results. Just ask the government of tiny class student often lurks Qatar! The real problem will be in trying to change the mindset of ordinary people in Russia and, in particular, a totally unreconstructed the mindset of the police. Many of them have done tours of racism that would be duty during the dirty and prolonged war in Chechnya. In any case, it is much easier for the Russian bid committee to find happy, photogenic young people to take part in cheesy deemed totally antedilupromotional videos, than it will be to find the legions of vian in the West’ English-speaking taxi-drivers, police officers and guides needed to welcome hundreds of thousands of Western visitors to the World Cup. Institutionalised racism Russians are naturally suspicious of strangers, don’t or can’t communicate with visitors and, above all, are extremely reluctant to help anybody – let alone dark-skinned football fans. Racism is the great unmentionable subject in Russia. My experience of teaching adults for more than
To compound this perception, in recent weeks and in cities all over Russia, this hatred has burst to the surface in riots and attacks upon innocent people. Unfortunately, racism seems not only to be tolerated by the police but can even inspire the security forces to take sides in nationalistinspired conflicts. This happened on the first day of the disturbances in Moscow, on 7 December. The police stood by as football fans blocked a main thoroughfare and
torched cars. This is an absolutely central issue that has to be addressed before the 2018 World Cup, not just for the safety of foreign football fans but for the well-being of Russian society itself. What price legacy? Our mid-winter reflections have been prompted by a real concern for the future of football in Russia. The bid stressed the positive legacy that will be left behind after the month of the World Cup in 2018 is over. But the recent experience of South Africa has shown that stadia are built as a prestigious project that has little to do with the development of football or the needs of ordinary people. One of the new stadia to be built for 2018 is in the city of Saransk and will be handed over to the local team, FC Mordorvia Saransk, after the World Cup. However, its projected 44,000 capacity, whilst certainly impressive, will be daunting to fill for this second-flight club and could hold last season’s combined attendances in one sitting. Hopefully, the new roads, airports and railway stations will be of more benefit to the population than the 14 new football stadia. Maybe there lies the rub. In England, the stadia are ready, for the most part, and the game is very popular and successful; part of the fabric of society. In Russia, ice hockey is the main winter sport and without the money that has been pumped into it by individual oligarchs and regional
governments, football would hardly be financially viable outside a handful of big cities.
‘It is about modernising the country on the back of a major sporting event and, more importantly still, national prestige’ But the Kremlin has bigger fish to fry. It doesn’t care about the game of football, per se. For the Kremlin, it is about modernising the country on the back of a major sporting event and, more importantly still, national prestige. The Kremlin wants to see Russia back at the top table of nations and secure Putin’s re-election in 2012. An undoubted energy superpower reborn as a political superpower. For the siloviki, the security and military elite who currently control the Kremlin, that is a dual legacy worth spending any amount of money to achieve. Ian Lund is a Business English teacher who has lived in Moscow for more than eight years. You can read more on his blog at: http://business-english-moscow.blogspot.com/
drawing ÂŠ Pieter Bakker
the Gold Room By Denson Pierre
The battle has been truly joined. Every year, it must be repeated, the period during which the FFG-CL is won or lost starts pretty much now. All preceding manoeuvres have simply been tests of whether or not fantasy football managers could keep pace with the pack. Any manager arriving at this point with substitutes remaining and sitting less than 100 points off the lead is yet able to win the coveted golden envelope. As it is, whether or not any fancied players move to clubs offering more advantageous point-scoring opportunities will only become fully known by the end of the month. In the meantime, we can assess whether teams are equipped to approach the climax of the season having as full a complement of players as possible involved in the European competitions, since these are the only reliable source of the extra points needed to triumph. Premier League individual scoring averages have now been established and tactics to directly counter these worked out by opposing managers. Remaining cup competition points are potentially vital but cannot be relied upon, given the levels of rotation practiced by the leading teams in these matches. This means that the possible bonus-scoring impact by the more popular players in those matches is only ever random.
Rafael da Silva
Once more, I should also highlight the importance of unique players. These are players not shared by any other FFG-CL manager and can be viewed as wild cards: should one of them score above the group average for more than eight weeks, it would provide a 30+ point boost to their manager. Having greater numbers of effective unique players substantially increases the likelihood of their manager doing particularly well when the season comes down to that decisive stage of just 10 remaining matches. This end-game scenario is still some way off, however, but the FFG-CL web page now highlights unique players in gold and players listed as injured in red (see: http://thesentinel.eu/ffg/Latest-FFG.htm). From the list of unique players, I suggest the following as being four to watch: Jose Reina (Liverpool) – His team is showing composure again. Rafael da Silva (Manchester United) – Has made the rightback position regularly his, so now only has to fly. Michael Essien (Chelsea) – Tends to get stronger as the matches increase in importance. Marouane Chamakh (Arsenal) – A bit of team rotation should aid his quest to find a decent hairdresser who does not make him appear so ridiculous. A young millionaire sportsman of any cultural background or ‘thin hair’ condition should be easily able to find such a styling professional in London and then resume his decent strike-rate in this attacking side.
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