The Wembley Stadium saga is matching the Millennium Dome disaster.
The ultimate humiliation for all concerned will come if, as seems possible, the stadium has to be re–opened and re–furbished to serve for the next twenty years with its capacity reduced to 60'000.

Whatever happens from now on, Britain's reputation as a centre for international sporting events will have been damaged beyond recovery.
When one sees what other countries and cities routinely achieve in building fine new stadiums and facilities – South Korea and Japan are the current examples, Paris, Barcelona and, more modestly, Palma, are others in the recent past – the Wembley Stadium debacle is a disgrace. A double disgrace, in fact, because in addition to the appalling picture it conveys abroad about British competence, it also reveals the failure of imagination by the government in insisting, at least until now, that the new stadium should be in London.

The City of Birmingham is more than willing and able to take the responsibility from London; Cardiff, standing in for Wembley, has been a success even though the transport infrastructure was not ready for the massive load put on it.

We are now being told a German Bank may bail out the Football Association and the others involved with Wembley and finance its redevelopment. If it does, the day the bulldozers move in will be sweet revenge for the World Cup Final of 1966.

Ray Fleming

A good shot

Mick McCarthy, the Ireland soccer manager, and the Football Association of Ireland, did the right thing yesterday when they told Roy Keane to leave the Irish training camp for the World Cup and take the first plane home.

Keane's initial threat to leave, and change of mind, and then his open criticism of the manager, could only be dealt with in one way. And in taking this decisive step the Irish authorities showed more guts than all the other footballing authorities in Britain, including those at his club Manchester United, have done over the years.

Keane is a player of immense power, skill and imagination – he can turn a game with a single pass – but he is also a man only marginally in control of himself for much of the time he spends on the field. He seems incapable of accepting without protest any referee's decision that does not go his way and his temper is like bone dry tinder waiting to ignite.

That a player of such character should be among the highest paid in Britain is in itself a devastating comment on the standards now applying in the Premiership. That his fellow players should twice have voted him Footballer of the Year is even more disturbing since it appears to say that they condone his behaviour.

Ireland never had much of a chance of progressing in the World Cup finals and now may have even less. But they will gain more than they lose – the respect of countless people who believe that a stand has to be taken to control abusive player power.



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