The umpire at the centre of the ball-tampering row has a record of making decisions against players from the Indian subcontinent
Most extraordinary scenes surrounded the test match between Pakistan and England yesterday. The Australian umpire Darrell Hair declared that the Pakistanis had tampered with the ball, a grave accusation, and proceeded to award England five runs and then allowed their batsmen to choose a new ball. The Pakistanis understandably were deeply aggrieved. The umpires failed to consult the Pakistan captain prior to their decision nor offer any kind of explanation for their decision. This is not an isolated incident as far as Darrell Hair is concerned. He has a history of making decisions against not only Pakistan players, but also those from India and Sri Lanka.
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Corruption results from the transformed cultural and economic position that these global events have come to occupy
The summer, of course, is the high noon of sport. The World Cup, the European Athletics Championships, Wimbledon, the Tour de France and the British Open are among the highlights. Over the last 10 years, the prominence that sport occupies in global culture has been transformed. It has become one of the key components of the global entertainment industry: great sporting occasions can be accessed by the press of a button in our living rooms, television sports rights have become hugely valuable, sports stars are global icons and role models, commanding millions in both income and sponsorship deals.
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The World Cup is a marvel of global representation. So why is it getting whiter?
This World Cup, therefore, should not be confined to the quality of the football (surely a disappointment, with a truly great team failing to emerge) but also deal with its broader cultural meaning. In this respect it has been an even bigger disappointment. With this World Cup, global football has taken a step backwards.
The importance of football has grown in direct proportion to its ability to become genuinely global and not primarily European. Unlike virtually The World Cup is not just a great global sporting event, it is also inscribed with much deeper cultural and political importance. Any evaluation of every other human activity – from politics and economics to universities and the military – football has managed to give a growing place in the sun to those who are normally marginalised and unrepresented. The growing importance of Africa and Asia in football are testimony to this.
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We turn a blind eye to Berlusconi, but a huge amount is at stake in this weekend’s Italian general election.
With just a few days to go, there is a profoundly discomfiting fact about the Italian general election: Prodi is only three points ahead of Berlusconi. The result remains on a knife edge. I make no apology for returning to the subject of Berlusconi. He is the most dangerous man in Europe and poses a profound threat to democracy in Italy. The attitude displayed towards him by western leaders like Blair and Bush – treating him as a friend and ally – has been nothing short of disgraceful – the word appeasement is buzzing around in my head. While they busily denounce “extremists”, terrorists and “authoritarianism” around the world, they turn a blind eye to the corrosion and degeneration of democracy in one of the historic centres of Europe, not to mention one of the most important countries in the European Union. Berlusconi represents an incipient fascism, a fascism born of the conditions of our age rather than the interwar period. I choose my words carefully, without hyperbole.
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