Sounds interesting

Revealed: ‘Secret society’ of tennis umpires living under reign of fear, power abuses and sexual favours

So, the tennis players had to in order…….ah, no, that’s not what they’re saying is it? Anna was safe.

Tennis umpires are living under a “rule of fear” and are at risk of predatory sexual advances according to leading figures within the sport, who have called for urgent reform to prevent the exploitation of young officials.

It’s the umpires being exploited.

“Using your body” – being open to sexual advances – has long been considered a fast track for aspiring umpires

There are a lot of areas of life where that’s true. Given human interest in sex and the relationship between power and getting it that’s also unlikely to change.

Slightly weird

Spring is sprung, the intention is to get the bicycle back out on the road to potter through the countryside. This requires a bike shop.

Albufeira seems not to have any if Google is to be believed. Well, there’s one, new one, but that’s the sort of place with €5k mountain bikes and power tools for doing nuts up with – air compressors etc. Not the sort of place where my old sit up and beg would go.

Seems odd for a city of 30k people really. Could be my language skills, my Google Fu, or summat strange about the place. Especially as cycling is a popular sport here (like France or Italy) even if just pottering cycling isn’t.


Umm, Italy?

Italy stunned by North Macedonia in play-off and will miss second World Cup in succession
The European champions had 32 attempts at goal but failed to find the net and were knocked out by a last-gasp strike from the visitors

Socks need to be pulled up lads, socks need to be pulled up….

They don’t understand how search engines work, do they?

To mark International Women’s Day, the LTA called on organisations including Google to boost the visibility of women’s sport by removing inherent gender bias that exists in search engine algorithms for results about sport. “Greater visibility is crucial for women’s tennis and for women’s sport in general in terms of building the perception of sport as being something for women, and in turn leading to greater participation,” LTA COO Julie Porter said.

“We’ve seen recently that the women’s finals at Grand Slams have attracted more television viewers than the men’s finals, but that visibility is not yet reflected in the balance of what people see when they search. It is genuinely shocking to see how dominated these results are by male-specific information. While gender parity in search is an issue that reaches far beyond just sport, if it is like this for a leading women’s sport like tennis then it demonstrates just how important it is that this issue is addressed.”

The algos are trained by what folk look at, what is clicked etc. It’s us out here directing that male bias in the results, not Google.

Forgive me for being such a screaming misogynist

Maggie Alphonsi’s team of the Six Nations week two: Five France players in XV after Ireland thriller

I can’t actually bring myself to care what Ms. Alphonsi thinks about a rugby team.

This is not because she is female – although I’m sure I’ll get accused of that. Rather, having listened to her commentary now for some matches I find nothing of interest in it.

It’s not female rugby commentator that’s a problem, it’s this rugby commentator.

Perhaps I’m picky. For I find Dallaglio’s written pieces vastly better than his live stuff…..Barnes better live than written because his pieces can wander, bit like his playing. Seems there’s something about the live and do it right now part that suits him better.

I think this is glorious

However, the Winter Olympics has a lower barrier to entry for nations that don’t usually qualify. That allowed Mr Alexander, who has a Jamaican father, to “nerd out” over the International Ski Federations’ database and target the races he competed in.

On Wednesday, he secured qualification for Beijing 2022 by coming seventh in the Cape Verde National Ski Championships in Liechtenstein.

The idea that Cabo Verde – a few hundred thousand people on some volcanic origin islands off Africa – around and about the Equator – has a national ski championship is lovely, That it’s held in Leichtenstein is even better.

It’s the sort of thing that could be a plot point in a follow up to The Mouse that Roared….

Oh Aye?

A judge in Melbourne has ordered the immediate release of Novak Djokovic from immigration detention after overturning the Australian government’s decision to cancel his visa.

Judge Anthony Kelly said that the decision to cancel the temporary visa should be quashed and the minister for Home Affairs must pay his costs and take “all necessary to steps to release the applicant immediately”.

So it appears that one story of this tale is actually correct. He applied for and was given a visa lawfully.

Hmm, that’s interesting, isn’t it?

One of those little known things

If you’re of Ladino heritage then they’ve give you a passport here:

Roman Abramovich, the billionaire Chelsea owner, has become a Portuguese citizen after discovering his ancestors were among Jews persecuted in the country. The 55-year-old Russian, who attended a match at Stamford Bridge last month for the first time in three years, now has three passports, having also previously taken Israeli citizenship.

Well, of Portuguese Ladino of course. Bit of a surprise to find an Ashkenazi claiming it but there we go.

Genetics and body types and things

After his first marriage ended, Carmichael married Alison Brand, a member of the women’s rugby team he was coaching (she also played prop for Scotland). She survives him along with their children Ruairidh and Rhona, who are pursuing careers in computing and art respectively.

Not to be personal about this, more a general observation. But the children of two international props are going to be slim, gazelle-like creatures?

Genes do matter after all.


So far we have seen nearly 30 more tries scored in the Gallagher Premiership compared to last season. People are saying the product is fantastic and the games have been amazing, and they absolutely have been. I can only think of one relatively low-scoring game so far, and that was Newcastle against Bristol (14-5). Everything else has been a try-fest, end-to-end action.

That gets you thinking about the players. They haven’t suddenly improved over the summer, developing brand new skills and a new mindset. Does it actually come down to the fact that the stress being placed on the middle-tier teams to avoid going down, and the restrictive nature of that, previously turned them into sides who took to the field trying not to lose. And how strong is that thought process, that fear, in terms of stopping a player going out there to do what he is instinctively geared to do – find space, run fast, make offloads and create tries. Has that all been stifled for so many years by the threat of relegation? Or does it speak more about the controlling nature of the coaches?

Haven’t they also changed the rules? About kicking for touch or summat? Stifling the ball at the ruck?

Terrible idea

No, really:

Rugby union could follow football in proposing plans to stage a men’s World Cup every two years by exploring the idea of a biennial showpiece tournament.

The radical move is “being considered”, admits the chief executive of World Rugby, as the sport’s custodians mark the midway point between the 2019 and 2023 tournaments by mapping out their vision for the future of the game in an extensive interview with Telegraph Sport.

Going the wrong way entirely.

Can’t recall who it was, might have been the England set up, possibly France, who had what I thought was a much, much, better idea. Run it every 4 years, as now. But run something like the Nations Cup at the same time in the same place. Maybe Nations isn’t the right name. But the knock out competition for all the teams that didn’t qualify for the World Cup itself. So that Peru, Singapore, Brunei, Kenya etc etc etc are all sending teams to that second competition to be played in the same country as the World Cup itself. You might even need three tiers, not just the two.

But actually make it all of world rugby is here and in this place for a month, 6 weeks, once every 4 years. Yes, Sikkim v El Salvador would attract a crowd of 2 blokes, three dogs and an empanada salesman but still. If we’re – as they do – going to try and call it all the global celebration of the game then let’s actually make it that.

A thought on this men and women are the same idea

Tennis. Not that I know much about the game. And three are confounders to this idea – the Williams, Boris winning Wimbledon etc.

So this is a question, not a statement. Do female tennis players peak at younger ages than male? From my very limited knowledge we seem to get teenagers winning in the female section in a manner that we just don’t – regularly – in hte male.

Is this, maybe, something to do with earlier maturity? Men aren’t, usually, at their physically strongest until early 20s at earliest.

Anyone actually know on this?

If I understand modern tennis

Emma Raducanu: Tennis world captivated by US Open’s young star – but now comes her greatest challenge
The 18-year-old has never faced a top-40 player and Belinda Bencic knows a thing or two about being a teenage prodigy

We’re hoping that our Canadian-Chinese-Romanian is better than the Swiss’ Slovak.

Have I got that right?

How colonial

Gareth Southgate said the onus is now entirely with Fifa and Uefa to tackle racism as there is “no more” his players can do on the issue after yet more abuse in Hungary.

On a night in which Raheem Sterling and Jude Bellingham faced monkey chants in Budapest, the England manager added that fans still booing players for taking the knee were “dinosaurs”.

Johnny Foreigner really just must act in accordance with our wishes, eh?

Just for clarity’s sake, no, I don’t support making monkey noises at the melanin enhanced. But we do indeed have this vast industry now insisting that Britain is the very devil because of the way it told Johnny Foreigner to act for a couple of centuries. And?

Might be a specialist market Afua, might be a specialist market

Afua Hirsch wants to tell us that she knows markets better than the IOC do. This could even be true as well. And yet:

The second scenario of how the Olympics approaches such a person is, I’m afraid, a more cynical one. In this version, the IOC is a corporate giant trying to sell a product.

Like other grandiose sporting conglomerates, it brokers lucrative broadcasting deals, negotiates eye-watering advertising contracts and enjoys a brand that makes others weep with envy.

If this were the case, you might conclude it’s doing pretty well. The IOC’s much lauded “commercial transformation” has seen its sponsorship revenues jump from $500m in 2000 to approaching $3bn today. McDonald’s sponsorship ended in 2017 after 41 years, but Coca-Cola sponsorship continues (are we really still meant to believe elite athletes drink Coke?), and the IOC has added digital companies such as Alibaba and Airbnb to its list of “partners”.

In this context, you would expect the IOC to look at an athlete like Saunders and see, in cold, capitalist terms, her potential to market its product. She was after all one of the most impressive people competing in the Games.

OK, let’s run with the capitalist bastards explanation then.

When the lovable shot putter Raven Saunders, who is a black, gay woman, won a silver medal, she used the occasion to cross her arms in an X – a gesture of solidarity at “the intersection of where all people who are oppressed meet”. There are two ways we might expect the Olympics to approach this.

It’s vaguely possible that that’s an appeal to a fairly specialist market. One that the IOC might not be trying to reach at the expense of the wider one they are.