Flying in the face of danger at African Cup of Nations (32)

  • Steve Wilson
  • 30 Jan 12, 02:29 PM

I am a big fan of the African Cup of Nations having been lucky enough to cover the tournament three times, in Mali in 2002, Tunisia in 2004 and Angola in 2010.

Of these, the most enjoyable was the first, and without question the most inaccessible place I have ever watched a football match was in the heart of the Sahara desert in western Mali in Kayes, a town of about 100,000 people.

According to my guidebook, Kayes was noteworthy for one thing; being Africa's hottest town. Kayes, more than 300 miles from our BBC base in the capital, Bamako, was not accessible by road at all.

Only a driver with an intimate knowledge of how to survive in the desert would attempt to cross all those miles of the Sahara in a vehicle, and even then it would take days.

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Cut the men in black some slack (434)

  • Steve Wilson
  • 16 Jan 12, 02:27 PM

I'm not sure that there is a European president, a cabinet minister or a city banker anywhere who is doing a tougher job under more critical scrutiny just now than Premier League referees.

Every weekend there is a catalogue of evidence made up of slow-motion, frame-by-frame replays to prove that the men in black are becoming less adept at applying the laws of the game appropriately. Managers criticise them, players swear at them, fans lambast them and the press hammer them. Even some of their former colleagues supplement their income by joining the throng.

How often have you heard people demand both "common sense" and "consistency" in the same sentence? Have a think about that one.

What is actually meant by a referee using common sense? As far I can see it is suggesting that a referee should see each decision within the context of the game; therefore not necessarily applying the absolute letter of the law. For example, we have all heard that a referee has ruined a game by sending off a player too early for a borderline challenge that he could have punished with a yellow card.

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