Early Doors

Football shows us what it’s good at

Early Doors

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Amid all the fun and thrills of another day at the Olympics on Monday, football had to pop up and remind us all of its rather unique talent for generating column inches.

Never mind following Tom Daley and Richard O'Brien's doomed quest for a synchronised diving medal or Britain's team gymnasts agonisingly having their silver medal exchanged for bronze in heart-breaking fashion, the national game has once again done its thing.

It usually takes until the latter part of the season for football to dish up the kind of high sporting tension we are seeing every day across London at the moment, but there is one highly emotive scenario in which it has cornered the market - a good, old-fashioned race storm.

On Monday afternoon the FA announced that it would be charging Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand with improper conduct for acting "in a way which was improper and/or bought the game into disrepute by making comments which included a reference to ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race" on Twitter.

The FA did not specify which Twitter activity it was which landed Rio in trouble, but it is unlikely to be this tweet from a recent safari in South Africa: "That croc was 108yrs old....and still got chics aged 45yrs old fighting over him in his pen.... #Player #BigPimping!!"

It is far more likely to be his retweeting of another user who called Ashley Cole a "choc ice" following Cole's appearance as a witness in the trial which saw John Terry cleared of racially abusing Rio's brother, Anton, and then replying with: "I hear you fella! Choc ice is classic! hahahahahahha!!''

Ferdinand has until Thursday afternoon to respond to the charge, although he already protested his innocence online on July 15 when he tweeted: "What I said yesterday is not a racist term. Its a type of slang/term used by many for someone who is being fake. So there."

Such events give Early Doors the chance to press the big red button on its desk which sets off a siren and releases party poppers and balloons. 'The Conga' by Black Lace blasts out of the PA system, and everyone in the vicinity dances in a line, singing "Doo-Doo-Dooo / Another football race storm / Doo-Doo-Dooo / Another FA charge".

Of course, it is a good thing that the FA and the authorities are now acting in such cases that previously might have been ignored - witness yesterday's verdict at an employment tribunal that found Gillingham guilty of racially victimising a former player - but it is saddening for such issues to be continually dragged out in football at a time when so many other sports are bathing in such a positive glow.

ED is not going to drag itself into the mire of who said what and how they said it - that way danger lies - but there will be plenty of people out there who, even as we speak, are cracking their knuckles and setting to work on their keyboards.

Hopefully, due to the Olympics keeping the vast majority of real sports fans occupied, only the most idiotic and tribal supporters should have enough free time on their hands to pollute message boards and forums with bile. No doubt there are already many instances of casual libel and racial abuse related to this latest issue springing forth from all corners of the internet.

We should seize this rare opportunity as the main perpetrators of such bile come to the fore. Instead of hosting their bickering and abuse online, let's gather them together somewhere and allow them to engage in their 'banter' face-to-face behind locked doors... then raze the place to the ground.

That should work a treat. Until the next time. And with football these days, it seems, there is always a next time.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "If something can work and fit to the training regime, because I've committed my future to the Red Bulls, and going on loan might not be the right thing for the football club... But if it works out that I can find the right happy medium to get the fitness and keep training and to play in certain games, then maybe yes." - Tim Cahill has not even kicked a ball in anger for New York Red Bulls yet, but he's already talking about returning to Everton.

FOREIGN VIEW: "It was a step backwards, a trip down the time tunnel that reminds us that everything wasn't always so great. That we have experienced exceptional times and we have to be prepared for when they come to an end." - Alfredo Relano was one of many Spanish football columnists who were hit hard by their Olympic team's dismal performance in London.

COMING UP: You can get more transfer updates and gossip from Eurobot right now, while there is a full programme of Olympic women's football from 14:30 this afternoon, with Team GB v Brazil at 19:45.

Meanwhile, away from football, it's day four of the London Olympics. Watch the action on British Eurosport (in HD and in 3D) or via the Eurosport Player, or get instant updates on every event right here throughout the day.

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