World Cup: Pelé's beautiful game can still be found in Scotland, despite Premiership break – Scotsman comment

When the incomparable Pelé named his 1977 autobiography, My life and the beautiful game, he reminded us all of just how marvellous football can be.

Pele is hoisted on the shoulders of his teammates after Brazil's 4-1 victory in the 1970 World Cup final against Italy (Picture: AP photo, file)
Pele is hoisted on the shoulders of his teammates after Brazil's 4-1 victory in the 1970 World Cup final against Italy (Picture: AP photo, file)

Admittedly, it has its ugly side too, and not just in the shape of brutal tackles. The sometimes corrupting influence of money can also rear its head on occasion.

Fifa’s decision to award the World Cup to Russia – where the tournament was held in 2018, four years after Vladimir Putin’s illegal annexation of Crimea from Ukraine – and Qatar, a country with a dubious human rights track record, dismayed many. There is no beauty to be found in the sportswashing of such regimes.

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However, for those fans whose interest in the World Cup, set to begin tomorrow when hosts Qatar play Ecuador, is diminished, there are alternatives. Although the Scottish Premiership is suspended, that creates an opportunity to sample the men’s lower leagues and the Scottish Women's Premier League instead.

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The Scottish Championship must surely be one of the most competitive leagues in the world. Table-topping Ayr United are currently just six points ahead of the team in sixth, Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

League one is almost equally as close, with the league enriched by the relative giants of Dunfermline and Falkirk. FC Edinburgh will face Alloa Athletic at 3pm today, with a spot in the playoff places on the line. And in Dumbarton, there’s a chance for the home side to consolidate their position at the top of League Two, or for bottom-place Forfar Athletic to pull off a giant-killing upset.

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The Women's Premier League is shaping up into a contest between Rangers, Glasgow City and Celtic with a top-of-the-table clash between the former two the pick of this weekend’s fixtures, kicking off at 4.10pm tomorrow – just ten minutes after Qatar-Ecuador.

There is drama and excitement, controversy and skill to be found at all levels of football – as well as some rather tasty pies that can put some bigger clubs to shame. So, especially after the hard times for smaller teams during the Covid lockdown, Premiership fans may wish to lend their support to a smaller club for a few weeks.

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It could be a grand day out. And you never know, you may find yourself watching the next John McGinn, Erin Cuthbert or Pelé.

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