Letters: Red card for ref at Celtic Park ‘wrestling’ match

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AS A football enthusiast, I enjoyed the European match between Celtic and Juventus. How sad that the game once again pointed out the weakness in the refereeing system that Uefa and Fifa have introduced.

To encourage fair play and to ensure greater fairness, both organisations introduced extra match officials to assist the referee in his difficult task.

The system did not work at Celtic Park where the game of football became mixed up with a wrestling encounter. The whole evening was spoiled by the lack of action taken by the officials to stamp out the unfair and bruising defending by some of the Juventus team.

It is unbelievable that all the match officials missed the goalmouth action unless they had been told not to bother the referee to identify foul play.

The game of football suffered from this appalling display of refereeing, which was fit only for an amateur match on the village green. Football deserves better than this and Uefa would be wise to enforce more team play between match officials and more positive action on wrongdoers.

Viewers of our game deserve better than this and surely the Celtic Park referee has officiated at his last European match. He was certainly not fit for purpose.




Blame for loss to Juventus falls partly at Lennon’s feet

THROUGHOUT Celtic’s spectacular progression to the knockout stages of this season’s Champions League, the adjectives used to describe the team’s achievements have included “brave”, “fearless” and “heroic” – and deservedly so. However, the underlying accompaniment of their journey has been luck.

Unfortunately, for Celtic and Neil Lennon, this most coveted of advantages deserted them when they needed it most against Juventus on Tuesday night. The hapless Efe Ambrose should have dealt much better with a simple long ball, which allowed Alessandro Matri the chance to nick the ball under Fraser Forster and trickle towards goal. This was only a sign of worse to come.

In my opinion, a significant chunk of the blame must fall at the feet of Mr Lennon. He received glowing praise for masterminding the group-stage victories but must now bear the brunt of the criticism that comes with defeat. This almost completely centres round the decision to start Ambrose after the player’s participation in the Africa Cup of Nations final on Sunday, in sweltering heat, and then a journey back to Glasgow, where he arrived only on Tuesday morning.

Hindsight is a wonderful tool, but surely, after a gruelling month of physical endeavour in a climate such as South Africa’s, the sensible choice would have been to start him on the bench with a view using him if and when the defence needed shoring up.

Coming so soon after his side’s capitulation to St Mirren in the League Cup, this will only serve to invite more scrutiny over whether Lennon has the capabilities required to achieve long-term success in his, so far, inconsistent managerial career.




Excluding race walking from 2014 Games is a wrong step

I AM writing to inform of my great concern and dismay at the decision to exclude race walking from the athletics programme at the forthcoming Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014.

I was the first medallist in the track and field programme for Scotland in the 1970 Edinburgh Commonwealth Games, winning the bronze medal in the 20-miles walk, which laid the foundation for one of the most successful Scottish athletics teams. Our then coach, the great Frank Dick, considered the Race Walk as important to our overall success as every other athletic discipline.

Sadly, after being in the past 14 Commonwealth Games, Scotland has, for no good reason, decided to exclude race walking events from its contract. By such drastic action, they are denying a future generation the chance of participating in a major Games as a stepping stone to world and Olympic standard competition.

Worldwide race walking as shown in the Mall in the London 2012 Olympics, watched by around 50,000 spectators, still fascinated the public as it did previously in 1970 and 1986 in the roads of Edinburgh.

The Race Walking Association is trying very hard to develop young race walkers in Scotland, and there is positive interest in Dundee and at the annual Great Scottish Walk in Edinburgh.

This decision to exclude the race walks can still be reversed if there is a will, as it was India in 2010.


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