Phil's blog

Victims of football

The football - probably the greatest toy ever invented.

If played with properly, it can control an entire nation. At its best, football matches bring people together from different walks of life on a stage that is enjoyed by millions. Even a World War has been postponed, albeit on Christmas Day, just for a chance to get one up over the other side on the pitch.

But what is it about the football that turns so many footballers into hooligans, adulterers and petty criminals?

Football writer's beware

Phil Simms writes: I recieved an interesting email from my chief-sub at the Times and after some research the writer of the email (below) is quite correct. Bare this in mind all you budding sports reporters. Dear Times Sport Re: Martin Samuel April 14, 2008 : Safety First, Progress Last - Inequalities of fortune (paragraph heading). Although not a professor of English or usually a pedant, it continues to frustrate that the phrase "stoneWALL penalty" has recently become ubiquitous in football ? Now, even award winning journalists at The Times have succumbed to the habit.

Letters to the Editor

Some gems from years gone by: Dear Sir... Hats off to the England cricketers for their achievements in the Ashes this summer, which rightly earned Andrew 'Freddie' Flintoff BBC Sports personality of the Year. Winning a two-team tournament against a nation with a much smaller population once in every ten attempts, then never shutting up about it makes me proud to be British. Ben Hunt The government tells us that we are eating too many pies and dying of heart disease, then in the next breath they're telling us we Are living too long and there'll be no more pension money left for us. I


By Phil Simms ARSENE WENGER'S young gunners showed they were prepared for Sunday's showdown with Chelsea after a routine 2-1 win over Steaua Bucharest to finish second in Group H of the Champions league. After suffering their first league defeat of the season at struggling Middleborough last Sunday it was vital Arsenal provided a performance that meant they ended their group campaign on a high.


By Phil Simms SALOMON KALOU missed an open goal to sum up what was a dismal 0-0 draw with Valencia to finish unbeaten winners of Champions League Group B. The Ivory Coast international hit the crossbar from just eight yards out in the 74th minute, with Santiago Canizares left stranded, leaving the home fans wondering how they managed not to win the game.

Spin King Reigns Supreme

Phil Simms writes: MUTTIAH MURALITHARAN is a cricketing phenomenon and has never been far away from the headlines. To some he is a spin master that can take wickets on any surface at any time of an innings. To others the Sri-Lanka sensation should have been banned years ago, due to his  'suspect' bowling action. But what can't speak can't lie and there is no arguing with his record.

Sudan's Teddy Bear Fiasco

Fanatics demanded the execution of expatriate British school teacher Gillian Gibbons for  'insulting' the Muslim Prophet after her pupils in Sudan decided to name a Teddy Bear Mohammed. For me the Islamic world had a perfect opportunity to show the infidel West what the Muslim faith is all about: peace, love and above all  — tolerance, writes Phil Simms.

Iraqi's show how football can unite a warring nation

Phil Simms writes: IS IT true that sport, particularly football, can unite a nation? Following Iraq's 1-0 victory in the final of the Asia Cup we have witnessed the one thing that politicians and armed forces have failed to do  — bring a nation together. The Iraqi cup-winning squad is full of Sunnis, Shias, Kurds and Turkomans. Socially the different factions are almost diametrically opposite and it has been an intense power struggle in the country to leave one of these groups in overall control.

Has Goodman spiked investigative journalism?

Phil Simms

Ex-News of the World Royal editor Clive Goodman was caught doing something illegal and he should be punished for it. But, I ask, if the journalist had unearthed a world-beating scoop would he have faced the same unfortunate consequence?

A great deal of investigative reporting works on the basis of tip-offs, or indeed, stumbling over some information that somebody had carelessly mislaid. With Goodman he was not looking for anything in particular - he wasn't trying to stand up any particular story.

Editor Resigns Over Royal Phone-tap Row

Phil Simms writes: News of the World Editor Andy Coulson has resigned following the imprisonment of Royal Editor Clive Goodman. Goodman has been jailed for four months for plotting to intercept voicemail messages left for royal aides. Clive Goodman, 49, of Putney, London, tapped some four hundred messages, the Old Bailey heard. Glenn Mulcaire, 36, of Sutton, Surrey, was jailed for six months after pleading guilty to the same charge. The paper's editor Andy Coulson later resigned, saying he took responsibility for the scandal.