In the Mayors column today in the Daily Telegraph, he clearly thinks as the saying goes ” Football is the gentlemen game played by thugs while rugby is the thugs game played by gentlemen”. Such class distinctions are clear as hell in London and l’m glad to say that when l choose my secondary school it came down to a simple choice between Marylebone Grammar school which played rugby or Quintin Kynaston comprehensive which played football. This for myself was a very straight forward choice to make for the beautiful game.
As for the Champions league final itself, l thought we were still just in the game after the first half but got taken apart in the second, as we gave them far to much space in the front of our box and didn’t have enough counter attacks. I would have played Fletcher in the second half to cover the hole which Messi exploited but that’s history now. As for the different styles of play between the English and Spanish game, this was also evident in the school teams l played for in West London. As the Spanish School in London had a very particular way of playing which was far more skillful but we often overcame with a distinctly English game. Who knows when the English game will rein supreme again in European football as it has in previous eras but the distinctions are much more blurred now as the United team that played was very much a multi-racial and cultural one with a Mexican, Korean and Ecaduorian playing in the first team and play in a style in the premiership where United can itself dominate possession just like FC Barca did on the night.
How did London come out of it all? I suspect many more watch this game and us hosting the final then the figures put around in the media. Its well known that it was prime time TV in Mexico, Korean and yes even Egypt, illustrating well the global reach of the game. This was the biggest club fixture in the world where the teams are often much better then those that national sides can put together for the World cup tournament. So l am very surprised at the rather low figures of the global audience for the game in comparison for example with the recent Royal Wedding. If its suggested that some 2 billion watched the wedding then given the reach football has globally l am sure it would have had at least similar figures for the Champions League final. It would certainly be much greater audience then the Superbowl which is essentially just watched by North America and not the world like professional football. As the Champions League final in London at least offered the two best teams in Europe made up of stars from right across the football world on a saturday evening for the first time.
As for the travel arrangements these could have been much better in London over a bank holiday weekend for sports fans. As we didn’t just have the UEFA Champions League final but also the Aviva Premiership Rugby final between Leicester & Saracens at Twickenham on Saturday afternoon and the play-off between Reading & Swansea at Wembley on Monday. Its all very well getting the transport sorted for one-offs like the Olympics next year but can we get public transport sorted for these annual events as well. These annual sporting events are clearly important to the fans attracted by them but not a priority for public transport planning in London which my previouse investigation at the London Assembly investigated.