Uefa: A joke, but no one's laughing
Uefa, European football's governing body, descended into further farce during this week's Champions League fixtures while another incident of racism is threatening to overshadow their blue ribboned event.
In Moscow, Manchester City defeated CSKA Moscow 2-1 in the Russian capital, but they overcame greater adversity on the pitch, which was deemed as 'unbelievable' 24 hours prior to kick-off by manager Manuel Pellegrini.
CSKA requested City refrain from training on the pitch the evening before the game such were there concerns, an offer which the visitors declined, and following Pellegrini's complaints, groundstaff spray painted the surface green and planted grass seeds on the pitch. The frivolous use of a watering can pre-match emphasised the fears over the fixture.
Allowing CSKA to go to such ludicrous lengths to stage the match is laughable. Romanian referee Ovidiu Hategan should have called the match off without hesitation when he learned of the extremes the hosts were going to in order to complete the fixture. For Uefa to stand by and not act is spineless. They were fortunate a City player did not suffer a serious injury.
Hategan's colleague Alberto Undiano suffered similar moments of ignorance in Lisbon meanwhile as he refused to call off the rain-ridden draw between Benfica and Olympiakos. Torrential conditions consigned the second half to complete farce and denied the Greeks a certain winner late on.
In the Spaniard's defence, with Olympiakos having taken the lead after 29 minutes through Alejandro Dominguez, the official was threatening to upset at least one side had the game been called to a premature halt.
In that case, an on hand Uefa official should have seen sense and made the decision for the referee. Regardless, how Undiano can justify that he had the players' safety at heart is beyond me. Gutless.
You wonder why Uefa have allowed their premier competition, the leading club contest in world football, to descend into such a circus.
And should they fail to act sufficiently in the wake of Yaya Toure's complaint regarding racial abuse, Uefa's role as the continent's governing body will be in name only. Having belatedly increased punishments for clubs guilty in the summer, they must start to make an example of sides.
Stadium closures and bans are short-term solutions. If they really wish to spread the word across Europe regarding their no-nonsense racism stance they must throw clubs out of their competitions. Repeat offenders, indefinitely.
Punishments might have increased but Uefa's awareness program is feeble at best. Anti-racism signs accompanied press conferences while a pendant was passed between players in an almost obligatory manner. Some message.
During last month's World Cup qualifier between Ukraine and England, both captains read out an anti-racism message before kick-off. Such a pre-meditated act is merely box-ticking on Uefa's part rather than meeting the issue face on.
While CSKA are attempting to belittle Toure, making the Ivory Coast man out like he has a minority, irrelevant view, you fear that should referee Hategan not include any evidence of the chanting in his report to Uefa, then charges will not be met.
This is down first to Uefa's pathetic approach to racist compliant, which must be backed up by official reports before being investigated, and Hategan's complete neglect of Uefa rules in refusing to both stop the match and eventually abandoning it altogether following Toure's direct complaint.
At least one thing can be established, Uefa are spineless from top to bottom. Some achievement.
Ian Holloway's Premier League career is over
You'll find few Premier League managerial departures accompanied with less acrimony and more grace than that which saw Ian Holloway leave Crystal Palace after eight games on Wednesday.
Holloway is among the most effervescent characters in league management but his guise as his departure was confirmed was a shadow of the man we've come to know and love. The ex-Blackpool boss said he had lost the energy for the job at Selhurst Park, and it showed.
In admitting that he couldn't keep Palace afloat in the Premier League after a raft of summer signings, Holloway has provided a public admission that his career belongs outside the top tier. After failing with Blackpool he leaves Palace without controversy but with his career in tatters.
He joins a list which includes Neil Warnock, Mick McCarthy and Dave Bassett, of managers who failed to make the sufficient step up. Football's loss.
Rugby League World Cup - What Legacy?
The Rugby League World Cup starts this weekend, tell your friends. Actually, tell anyone. Man, women, child, dog, deceased; the organisers need a favour.
Since London 2012, the Games' value has been judged on legacy, so subsequent (major) sporting events should anticipate similar treatment. For a sport such as Rugby League, one which remains incarcerated in its northern roots, plenty of strides are there to be made.
On the official website linked to the World Cup, there is a whole section devoted to legacy - good start. What I struggled to grasp was the sporting aspect. Bar the 'World Cup Festivals' which sound like glorified fan parks, there is little attention paid to participation.
For those worried that dance, cheerleading and reading would be neglected by the Rugby League World Cup need not worry, but plans to fundamentally develop the sport are lacking.
The BBC will naturally be providing coverage to those interested but organisers can hardly claim the corporation can spearhead an upturn in participation. With only one tournament match staged in the entire south of the United Kingdom, it doesn't feel like much of a 'British' event.
Whereas the Rugby Union World Cup in 2015, in order to reach out to a northern audience, will stage over 10% of the fixtures across Leeds, Newcastle and Manchester, including one England pool match.
As for its Rugby League counterpart it's the case of a missed opportunity. Unsurprisingly tickets remain available for all matches, which most of the country can't attend.