Racism in football

By Cressida Smart

In an attempt to tackle racism in football, foreign players and managers
are to be given lessons in British culture. The move is part of a response
by football’s authorities to the Government’s call for tougher action
to tackle discrimination after a series of incidents that have tarnished
the game’s image. Even in a sport whose diverse factions seldom
agree on most football issues, there is a universal desire to stamp out
discrimination and the FA blueprint is expected to receive the full backing
of clubs.

Titled ‘English Football’s Inclusion and Anti-Discrimination Action
Plan’, the document includes, in addition to such lessons, mandatory anti-
discrimination clauses in contracts and fixed bans for all racist offences,
with a minimum in excess of the four weeks John Terry received for
abusing Anton Ferdinand. The Professional Footballers’ Association
chief executive Gordon Taylor said, “Up until now we have had cultural
awareness courses for our apprentices and the plan now is to extend these
to senior players and coaches, including those coming from overseas. We
want to make sure there is no misunderstanding with regards to the rules
and regulations on discrimination.” It follows a Downing Street summit
on racism in football last February. The FA proposals, which are under
the name of chairman David Bernstein, have been discussed at board level
by the Premier League and Football League. It is expected they will be
rubber-stamped early in the new year following club meetings.
The need for action was further underlined by the recent criticism from
Kick It Out chairman Lord Ouseley over the handling of the Terry and
Suarez cases. Ouseley, who is threatening to resign from Kick It Out and
the FA Council in protest, said there was ‘very little morality’ at the top
clubs and claimed a lack of leadership had left ‘a moral vacuum’ in the
game.

Racism has long been an issue.

The media is awash with its coverage of racial incidents in football.
Yet why are we pretending that racism in football is a new issue?
Furthermore, it is not just the footballers, but fans too that are guilty of
this crime. Racism in football in English football can be traced back to
1930s when the Everton player, Dixie Dean, faced racist comments as he
left the pitch at half time. In the 1960s, West Ham United players, Clyde
Best who is black and from Bermuda, and Ade Coker were subjected
to “monkey chants” and had bananas thrown at them during West Ham’s

games. In the 1980s, racism in football in England reached fever point.
Paul Canoville was abused by his own fans when he warmed up for
Chelsea before making his début. Garth Crooks was regularly subject to
racist chants and banners from opposing fans during his time at Spurs.
Cyrille Regis endured monkey chants from Newcastle fans on his away
début for West Bromwich Albion and was later sent a bullet in the post
following his call up to the England squad. In 1987, John Barnes was
pictured back-heeling a banana off the pitch during a match for Liverpool
against Everton, whose fans chanted ‘Everton are white’.

In 2004, Millwall became the first club to be charged by The Football
Association over racist behaviour by their fans. One of the most damning
incidents occurred in the media by Ron Atkinson. On 2004, he was
caught making a racist remark live on air about the black Chelsea player
Marcel Desailly. Believing the microphone to be switched off, he
said, “…he [Desailly] is what is known in some schools as a fucking lazy
thick nigger”. On 6 March 2007, it was announced that the Metropolitan
Police were investigating apparent anti-Semitic chants by West Ham
fans before the match with Spurs two days previously after a video of the
offence surfaced on the internet.

Last season was overshadowed by the Suarez and Terry incidents.
Only four months into the 2012/13 season and the Premier League has
seen numerous examples with recent incidents at Tottenham Hotspur,
Sunderland, Swansea City and Manchester City.

Will the proposals work?

Why now is there a sudden call to arms to stamp out this type of
behaviour? There has been increased intensity and exposure in the media.
As a result, more criminal cases are being brought to court. Does the FA
feel that because of this, they have been pushed into a corner and must
show to be taking action? The Government has now weighed in on the
subject either because they believe that it needs to be tackled or because it
is a quick way to earn some brownie points amongst his voters.

The proposals are a step towards combating racism in football, but it
is difficult to see exactly how much effect that will have. Suggesting
that foreign players take cultural lessons to learn about England and
the English game will not solve the problem. It is insulting and could
further distance foreign players from a solution which can be accepted.

One of the underlying fundamental problems with racism in English
football seems to lie with certain groups of fans and the way they are
brought up to watch and be involved around football. There is still a
large element of fathers taking their sons to watch football matches and
there is still a huge hooligan element to English football which is where
many racism problems originate. Racism can therefore be engrained
onto younger supporters from a very early age which will naturally be
damaging because 60% of the players in the Premier League are not
British born and raised.

The current method which is being proposed will simply stop foreign
players from using certain words, in a similar way that Uruguayan Luis
Suarez called Patrice Evra a racial term last season which is accepted
in parts of Uruguay. Instead of eradicating racism from the game, it is
side stepping the problem and will simply cause players to think outside
the box in terms of the language they use when talking back to a player.
A much better way to tackle this problem is to educate fans filled with
prejudice and hatred from a very early age and impose bans which stop
any racist fans from watching football. Whilst hard to enforce, education
on racism should extend to the sets of supporters responsible and try to
educate them over the cultural backgrounds from where many players
hail. It may even be useful to engage with English footballers, especially
those accused of racist remarks and identify why it is that they choose to
use language that is offensive.

Racism in football will not be eradicated overnight and it is naive to
think that cultural lessons are the answer. The problem lies as much in
our English footballers and fans. Education at all levels is the answer
and until that happens, the beautiful game will continue to be marred by
racism.

Unpaid Internships: A Rite of Passage?

By Kirstin Fairnie

Discussing our plans for the Christmas holidays, a friend told me that she is going to spend a fortnight working in the London office of a major broadcasting company. “It’s paid!” she exclaimed, clearly surprised herself, as I was to hear this relatively unusual fact. Most students I know take it for granted that unless they have spent every holiday working for free their ‘network’ will be so sparse when they graduate that no matter which institution they studied at they will never be able to catch up with their internship-savvy peers. Most assume too that a 2:1 is the norm so unless you get that basic requirement employers will not even look at your application. The results of a survey commissioned by the NUS last week seem to show that it is not just my friends that are feeling the need to pack their CVs with unpaid work: 20% of 18-24-year-olds have worked for free, whilst just 2-3% of their parents’ generation have.

Working for free devalues the worth of interns’ contributions in the workplace and young people have a responsibility to change this pernicious culture.

Along with a growing number of bloggers and student groups, I have fretted about this for a long time. Last week Hazel Blears MP’s campaign to end the illegal practice of unpaid internships that seem to be a mainstay of so many competitive sectors received widespread support in parliament. Her proposed ban on advertising them could come into force from next year.

Internships offer young people an invaluable transition between education and the workplace and I think they should become a compulsory feature of university courses in order to ensure that everybody has fair access to them. How can we be expected to know what the working world is like if we have never had any experience of it? The government needs to help employers by giving them advice on how to finance internship schemes as well as setting out clear guidelines on the structure of internship programmes and what to expect from interns.

Employers advertise unpaid internships because they know that they can get away with it. The real problem is the lack of transparency: young people are frantically trying to work out the magic formula to impress employers and get a job. At the moment, there are sufficient numbers of young people desperate to take on anything they can to add to their CV to enable the practice to continue. But last week we saw David bring down Goliath all over again with Starbucks being pressurised into contributing a fairer proportion of taxes and there is no reason why the same thing cannot happen with unpaid internships, which are not only immoral, but more importantly illegal.

It saddens me that we live in a society where ethical business is so undervalued that some employers seem to take on interns less out of a desire to share their passion for their profession than an enthusiasm to make the most of free labour. If young people passively endorse unpaid internships, we cannot feign surprise if business is conducted ruthlessly and selfishly; but young people who have been helped into the workplace by the support and mentorship of professionals are much more likely to do the same for their successors.

Yet it is short-sighted for employers not to treat their interns in an ethical manner: not only are they only going to get applicants from a small section of society (those young people who can afford not to be paid), but unless they treat their interns in an ethical manner, they cannot bank on any kind of loyalty from their interns. 18-24s are a notoriously fickle social group, and since companies seem somewhat desperate to establish themselves in the psyches of young people, it strikes me as surprising that they have not clocked that unless they give their interns a good experience, they simply cannot expect to convince young people that they really do care about us as much as their twitter accounts and expensive marketing campaigns profess. Luckily, some employers are less myopic in their approach, and I can only hope that ethical employers like Will Wood, who values his employees as members of a community rather than worker-bees, will influence his peers. Perhaps most importantly, employers should remember that you get what you pay for: if you tell someone they are not worth being paid, it is inevitable that once the novelty has worn off, an unpaid intern will put start putting less and less effort into those little leaves he or she makes on your latte in the morning, and that will only be the beginning.

We need to work to make internships mutually beneficial for both interns and companies: whilst employers should not send out a message that unless you are prepared to work for free, you are not really committed, interns should equally not expect to glide their way into top companies and pump them for information and experiences that will look good on their CVs, before applying to work for someone else. Internships should mark the beginning of a relationship between employers and students and both parties should make an effort to get the most out of the experience. Employers should feel that they are getting an opportunity to invigorate their companies with the fresh perspective of the brightest and best young people, hopefully with a view to offering them a more long-term contract, rather than feeling that they nothing more than a vehicle for a glittering reference.

One of the main problems is that only the richest young people can afford to support themselves through an unpaid internship, meaning that if your parents are rich, it is more likely you yourself will end up with sufficient internship experiences to land yourself a well-paid job. If the focus of the UK media and the location of the head-offices of most of the UK’s most successful companies is anything to go by, London is where it is at if you want to get on in life, but the capital is not only glamorous but expensive too. And not everybody has friends and family they can stay with.

Both of my parents are professionals (and they will hate me for saying this, so sorry maw and paw) but until I got to university I considered myself to have had a pretty fortunate upbringing. But thanks to the huge cost of living in the capital, I simply cannot afford not to spend my university holidays working for no money. In some respects, being in the middle of the socio-economic scale can be just as bad, if not worse, than being at the bottom: the Speaker’s Parliamentary Placements Scheme (Hazel Blears’ brainchild) discriminates against young people from middle-income backgrounds by positively discriminating towards people from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.

This leads to a scenario which in my opinion is no better than a group of privileged individuals using their parents’ contacts to get into highly paid jobs.

The government simply is not working hard enough to enforce the minimum wage laws: their own Graduate Talent Pool, which sounds like a brilliant opportunity to match-make employers and interns, advertises unpaid internships. But to be honest I am hardly surprised that so few voices within parliament are speaking out against them: I have always felt strongly that unless they themselves have worked outside of politics, politicians cannot be expected to accurately represent the views of their constituents. I believe our representatives should be nominated well-respected members of the community, rather than just those people with sufficient political aspirations to put themselves forward as candidates. Many people criticise politicians for being out of touch, but when career politicians like Ed Milliband are heading the Labour Party, is it any surprise?  Unless politics itself becomes more accessible, politicians cannot understand why the wider workplace needs to be made more accessible.

Ghana 2012: the results are in

By Oliver Griffin

Ghana’s 2012 election campaign has come to a close; incumbent president John Dramani Mahama of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) has narrowly won in the poles to secure a four year term in office. Although there have been a few unsubstantiated claims of foul play and vote rigging, these seem half hearted. Since the end of military rule in 1992, Ghana has enjoyed successive peaceful elections with few incidences of trouble or violence – now that the elections are over, the rest of Africa will wait with baited breath to see if this will be yet another non-violent transition from one term to another. Despite the levels of unrest exhibited in neighbouring countries during their elections, Ghana’s ‘model democracy’ has often been held as a ‘beacon of hope’ in West Africa, providing a stabilising influence in the region.

Anxieties were present in this election; Mr Mahama only took over as president earlier this year when his predecessor, John Atta Mills, died of stroke in July. The proximity of Mr Mills’ death raised concerns over potential complications in the course of the election, not least because he had previously been expected to run for another term in office. At present, Ghana is a flourishing world nation, the president of which will oversee perhaps some of the biggest spending the country has ever witnessed. With the discovery of oil off the coast of the twin city of Sekondi-Takoradi, Ghana and its fast developing economy, have been thrust into international focus. As the second biggest exporter of cocoa in Africa after the Cote d’Ivoire, and a major gold mining nation, Ghana is rich in natural resources. Currently hailed as a ‘growth gem’ by investment bankers, Ghana is expected to maintain a growth rate of 8% next year, which, coupled with the slump still being felt in Europe and America, makes it one of the world’s fastest growing economies.

The main opposition faced by Mr Mahama in the election was Nana Akufo-Addo, leader of the New Patriotic Party (NPP). NPP lost the vote only marginally, securing approximately 47.74% of the vote, while Mr Mahama’s NDC won with 50.70%. Ghana’s plethora of smaller political groups gained less than 2% of the vote between them, with the majority choosing between the two main parties. Mr Akufo-Addo previously criticised the lack of jobs that the NDC had created amidst such a spending boom and had promised to turn money into jobs for Ghanaians throughout the country. It is widely speculated that as the son of a previous president, he had been ‘out of touch’ with the many poverty stricken of Ghana, who make just under £3 a day. In a country where education is deemed vitally important, it is perhaps possible that Mr Mahama’s promises of free primary and secondary education may have just tipped the balance in his favour.

As Ghana comes to grips with the results of this election, the world will watch to see what happens next. If the claims of corruption can be proven, it will be a massive blow to African democracy and stability in the West African region; if not, then Ghana is surely in for a prosperous four years as oil reserves begin to fuel its economy.

The Manchester Derby

By Cressida Smart

“The pressure people put on themselves and the rivalry between the teams is much more
marked. And I think that’s a good thing. As long as that rivalry remains within the spirit
of competition, it can only spur everyone on.” (Eric Cantona)

On Sunday 9 December, Manchester United will play Manchester City in the first of their
derby clashes this season. The match will see Roberto Mancini do battle with Sir Alex
Ferguson for the first time since City clinched the League title so dramatically on the
final day of last season. The last derby game in April was won 1-0 by City, with visitors
United not even having a shot on target.

Currently, Manchester United are in the driving seat, sitting at the top of the table with
36 points, three points more than their title rivals, Manchester City, who occupy the
second spot. Although they head to the Etihad Stadium three points clear of the League
champions, Ferguson is adopting a cautious approach, with his side having conceded 21
goals in 15 matches to City’s 11. United keep falling behind in games and conceding
goals – 32 in total now this season. They have conceded first in 10 Premier League
matches and have gone on to win seven and lose three, whilst last season they failed to
win any of the eight games when conceding first.

Glancing at the standings, it may appear that Chelsea and Arsenal are struggling and
that the title race is a straight battle between the two Manchester clubs this season. The
betting suggests it’s already a two-horse race for the title with Manchester United odds
on for the first time this season at 5/6 and City a 13/10 chance; Chelsea have gone from
7/2 to 14/1 in the space of a few weeks. However, Ferguson is not buying into that
assessment. “At this time in the season you can’t really say it’s a two-horse race,” he
said. “If you think back we were 12 points behind Chelsea at one point and when Arsenal
beat us in the league in 1998 we were 11 points clear.” Saying that, City can’t afford
to fall six points behind Sir Alex Ferguson’s side and, just like last season, the derby is
going to be a pivotal occasion in the title race.

On the face of it, City can look positively to the game on Sunday. They are unbeaten in
the Premier League (if they avoid defeat on Sunday they will equal the club record of 22
League matches unbeaten) but haven’t hit the heights of last season. They are looking to
win three successive league games against United for the first time since 1970. Victory
would ensure they return to the top of the table, thanks to goal difference, a developing
theme for the two Manchester clubs.

However, major changes have occurred since the two sides’ last meeting back in April.
Whereas United answered the call to arms and strengthened their squad with some
serious fire power in Robin van Persie, Manchester City have done very little to add
depth to their title winning team. Yes, signings were made during the summer transfer
window, but they can hardly be said to match the brilliance of United’s new goal
machine.

City could well argue that, with an already star-studded squad, no major signings would
be necessary. However, this is a false premise. Winning a league title is undoubtedly
difficult, but retaining it is much harder. Simply put, any signings should match those
of their rivals in order to stay one step ahead. Unfortunately for City this has not been

the case, signings such as Jack Rodwell and Scott Sinclair are simply not to be enough
for a team that wants to remain a likely domestic title contender, let alone a Champions
League winning side.

This is not the only worry City have going into Sunday’s game. They have not been
performing as well as they did last year. Their movement has not been as quick or slick
and several of their heroes from last season such as Mario Balotelli, David Silva and
Yaya Toure have not shown the same flair or impact they showed last season. That said,
City, unlike United, remain unbeaten in the League this season and have turned the
Etihad into a fortress, having not lost at home in the league since 20 December 2010.

Despite this intimidating statistic, Sir Alex Ferguson has surely learnt a lesson from
his last visit to the Etihad, where a defensive mind-set cost him the game. Now surely
the Red Devils will come out guns blazing, with Van Persie spearheading heading an
aggressive, yet intricately planned charge towards Joe Hart and the netting beyond him.
However, a weak defence has been spotted and noted by the Scotsman as he conceded, in
an interview with the BBC, that in regard to his side’s defending, “If we perform like that
on Sunday then God knows what’s going to happen to us.”

As Manchester’s Derby Day creeps closer and tension builds between the two sides and
their supporters, we will be told that it is too early to bill this game as a title decider, but
few will be convinced and many will know that this match will have some bearing on
where their side finishes on the final day of the season.

Should it be your side that emerges victorious, you will wear your team’s colours and
acknowledge all others who do the same. However, if your side is defeated you will most
likely refrain from wearing any of your team’s clothing for at least a week. “What in the
case of a draw where no one wins?” some of you may ask. Yet, even with a draw, the
result will favour one side over the other even if it is slight and one set of supporters will
leave the venue more satisfied than the other.

‘Rights for Shares’ is wrong for Britain

By Alex Bryan

In the Autumn Statement this week, Chancellor George Osborne outlined a series of proposed fiscal measures with the dual intention of trying to rebuild Britain’s economy and trying to hide his failure to do so to date. The overall tone of the speech was of sobriety – the extension of the ‘period of austerity’ for one more year and the acknowledgement of the missed debt target limited the Chancellor’s scope for political point scoring.

Some measures, such as the decision to halt the planned 3p increase in fuel duty in January and the 1% drop in corporation tax, were met with loud cheers from business groups. There was nothing in the speech to convert those who eschew the perceived necessity of austerity (that time has passed), and as such the newspaper response to the speech was divided entirely upon left-right lines.

The generally muted response has not been able to completely protect some of the more controversial measures from dissection however. One proposed measure from the batch is so controversial, so revolutionary, that it could sow the seeds for a complete re-organisation of labour relations in this country.

The plan outlined by Osborne is to give workers the option to give up some of their employment rights in exchange for a minimum of £2,000 worth of shares in the company. The gains made on these shares (up to £50,000) would not be subject to capital gains tax. The rights which could be sold would be unfair dismissal rights, statutory severance pay, work flexibility and some maternity rights. In short, some of the most important ways in which workers are protected.

The idea has predictably been met with opposition from the trade union movement, and, perhaps more surprisingly, also from businesses. Of the 209 companies contacted during the consultation stage of the policy, fewer than 5 gave their full support to the scheme. Businesses said that there would only be significant benefits for unscrupulous employers, and that for good employers the costs of the scheme would at least balance the benefits.

There are two levels on which the proposal is dangerous. The first is the effect it will have on workers. Whether people choose to give up their rights or not, it is not healthy for there to be a significant section of employees who are able to be dismissed, and generally mistreated, more easily than others. It is also difficult to see how regulation could ensure that the employer was not pressuring employees to sell their rights either when the price of shares is high, or when employers simply want their workers to be deprived of these rights. Currently labour laws state that it is illegal for employers to ask a woman if she is intending to have a child in the foreseeable future; that law would have to be extended to make sure that employers could not discriminate against applicants unwilling to sell their rights.

The more abstract problem with the policy is perhaps the most important one though. The very concept that rights can be sold is a vicious bastardisation of the entire concept of a ‘right’. A ‘right’ is meant to be eternal, immovable, something which a person has because their humanity demands it. Whilst maternity rights and right of unfair dismissal may not be universally applied and recognised, this does not stop them from being utterly central. It does not stop violation of them from being a violation of the worker.

The suggestion that by having the option to choose to give up your rights you are somehow empowered is monstrous. Voices on the right of the Conservative Party have been calling for a ‘liberalisation of labour laws’ since the election, and, if this proposal becomes law, they will have got their wish. Too often do those who seek to cultivate private sector growth see the sacrifice of the employee as a panacea.

Thankfully, it seems to be the case that the proposal will not become law; it has too little support from business for the Conservatives to launch it against what would inevitably be a whirlwind of opposition. The fact that such a thing could even be proposed should be enough to worry us though, and with 8 years left of projected austerity, it would be hopelessly optimistic to think that this is the last proposal we will see of this kind.

BBC Sports Personality of the Year

(C) Tab59

Mo Farah become a British icon in 2012, but will he win the BBC’s award? (C) Tab59

By Cressida Smart

The BBC has revamped its shortlisting system for the Sports Personality of the Year to better reflect public opinion and avoid the sexism row that overshadowed last year’s ceremony.  Its panel of 12 experts have produced arguably the most diverse list since the inaugural award was won by Sir Christopher Chataway in 1954, the year he broke the 5,000 metres world record.

Baroness Grey-Thompson, the last Paralympian to make the shortlist in 2000, joined the panel to decide the shortlist as one of three past nominees alongside Denise Lewis and Sir Steve Redgrave.  The BBC used to canvas the opinion of sports editors at 27 newspapers and magazines but nine titles last year failed to nominate a single woman, so the public was presented with an all-male shortlist to the astonishment of equality campaigners.  The new panel includes four representatives of BBC Sport, led by its director Barbara Slater, three national newspaper sports editors, Baroness Campbell of Loughborough, the chairwoman of UK Sport, and one independent journalist (a woman).

Five of the contenders are women and three are disabled. The women include Jessica Ennis, who won the Olympic heptathlon gold medal in London and Ellie Simmonds, 18, the Paralympic swimmer who won two golds to add to the two titles she secured as a 14-year-old in Beijing, and broke her own world record.   David Weir, the wheelchair racer who captured the public imagination after covering more than 35 miles to win four gold medals in seven days, is a strong contender as the bookies’ fourth favourite. A disabled athlete has never won the award.  There have also been only 13 female winners in the history of the award, and only three since the turn of the century. The last to win was Zara Phillips, who took home the trophy in 2006 after winning gold in the World Equestrian Games.

Not surprisingly, Olympians and Paralympians dominate this year’s list, which was extended to 12 names to account for an extraordinary year of sport. The exception is Rory McIlroy, the world number one golfer who won the PGA Championship by a record eight shots.  The bookmakers are not expecting him to cut through a wave of nostalgia for London 2012, which brought the nation together in rarefied pub discussions about the rules of handball and the fairness of running blades.  McIlroy, 23, had the misfortune to win his second major on the final day of the Olympics when all eyes were on the closing ceremony.

On the one hand, you have Nicola Adams, a newcomer as far as Olympic sport is concerned.  However, she has made quite an impact during her short time in the public eye. The 30-year-old flyweight from Leeds became the first ever female Olympic boxing champion this year, overcoming Ren Cancan of China in the historic final.

At the other end of the spectrum, are Ben Ainslie and Chris Hoy.  Ainslie carried the flag at the Olympic closing ceremony after becoming the first sailor to win medals in five different Olympics after taking his fourth gold in the Finn class.  Hoy, another veteran, has already won Sports Personality of the Year once, after bringing three gold medals home from Beijing in 2008. This year, he surpassed Sir Steve Redgrave to become the most successful British Olympian ever. He added two more gold medals to his record in the team sprint and the keirin, giving him six gold and one silver overall in the Games.

Bradley Wiggins is the favourite, at odds of 2-5, to top the public vote, becoming the first Briton to win the Tour de France, then added Olympic gold in the time trial, becoming the first cyclist to do the double in the same year.

The second favourite is Mo Farah, whose 5,000 metres and 10,000 metres Olympic double renewed Britain’s love affair with distance runners.  The facial expression of Farah as he crossed the line in the 5,000m has become an iconic image of the summer Games.  This year was the most successful of the Somalia-born runner’s career and he is now one of only seven men to have won both the 5,000 and 10,000m at the Olympic Games.

Third favourite sits Andy Murray.  It has been a long wait for Murray, and there were many who claimed he would never manage it. However, the Scot proved all his doubters wrong in 2012 with a stellar year of success. After a crushing defeat at the hands of Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final, he took his revenge only weeks later in the Olympic final where he overcame the Swiss with a straight sets victory. He also teamed up with Laura Robson for a silver medal performance in the doubles and went on to claim the first Grand Slam title of his career at Flushing Meadows.

It is unfortunate for some of those on the list that this was such a stunning year for British sport.  Had Murray taken his first Slam in any other year, he could have been assured of a good shot at the trophy, much like Wiggins and his triumph in the Tour de France. Instead, they will be in contention with the superstars of the London Games.

Notable omissions include Laura Trott, who won two gold medals in the velodrome on her Olympic debut; Alistair Brownlee, who won Britain’s first triathlon gold medal; Charlotte Dujardin and Sophie Christiansen, both multiple equestrian gold medalists; Jonnie Peacock, the Paralympian sprinter who beat Oscar Pistorius to the 100 metres gold medal; and Ian Poulter, the golfer who inspired the European Ryder Cup team’s remarkable comeback against the US at Medinah.

It is a tough choice, as each nominee deserves to win.  However, it is also a strong reminder of the many reasons we have in which to celebrate British sport.  Who would I pick?  I would love to see Mo Farah or Jessica Ennis lift the title, but I feel Bradley Wiggins may pip them to the post.

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