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Setting the standard internationally22/07/2014 - 20:43
MP calls for Premier League boycott
A British lawmaker called on Tuesday for fans to boycott English Premier League football matches in protest at the high number of foreign players taking part in the compe...
MP calls for Premier League boycott2bd1c4697da4e33d47f3ab3a68e312c3d4cd79e6.jpg
AFP / Ben Stansall
A general view shows the Houses of Parliament in central London on April 10, 2013
A British lawmaker called on Tuesday for fans to boycott English Premier League football matches in protest at the high number of foreign players taking part in the competition.
The overseas presence was making it impossible for England to win the World Cup again, claimed David Amess, a member of the Conservative Party led by Prime Minister David Cameron.
Amess labelled the Premier League an "absolute disgrace" and called for a boycott of English football's lucrative top-flight ahead of the new season, which starts on August 16.
However, Amess urged fans to attend matches played by teams in England's Football League, which oversees the three divisions below the Premier League.
"I was unable to support either of the teams that played in the final but the thing that I'm very concerned about was the performance of the English football team.
"They badly let us down," said Amess in a House of Commons debate held nine days after Germany's 1-0 win over Argentina to claim the 2014 World Cup title.
He contrasted England's first-round exit in Brazil with the performance of the 1966 side, who beat the then West Germany 4-2 after extra-time in the World Cup final at London's Wembley Stadium -- the only time England have won the World Cup.
"In 1966 it was my home team of West Ham who provided Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters, who led the team and scored all the four goals.
"All of these players were home-grown.
"Nowadays the Premier League is an absolute disgrace. Our footballers are paid far too much money and under perform.
"I'm advising everyone to boycott Premier League matches in the future.
"Not the other league(s), the rest of of the football teams are fantastic.
"But we will never win the World Cup again if we continue to have all these overseas players."
Earlier on Tuesday, Greg Dyke, the chairman of England's governing Football Association, reiterated his support for England manager Roy Hodgson despite the team failing to win a single one of its three group games in Brazil.
"I thought Roy Hodgson did quite a good job (at the World Cup) -- I've got a lot of time for him," Dyke said, while giving evidence to a committee of lawmakers.
"One of the big problems English football has is the average Premier League manager lasts 12 months if you take (Arsenal's) Arsene Wenger out.
"The ability to look long-term therefore is going to be quite limited. In England your first job as a manager is to sort out your contract when you go in and the second is to sort out your contract when you leave.
"Our view is Roy has a four-year contract and he will continue that contract," Dyke also told the Commons' Culture, Media and Sport committee.
"Some progress was made. But what we are going to look at is are there more fundamental changes we need to make? We'll look at that in September."
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Essential news in text, photo, graphic and video format22/07/2014 - 16:31
Afghan car buyers urged to defy the 'curse of 39'
AFP / Shah Marai
An Afghan man points to the number "39" on a car's license plate in Kabul
Afghans' aversion to the number 39 due to its mysterious connotations of prostitution forced the government on Tuesday to appeal for people to stop refusing vehicle licence plates containing the much-feared figure.
The "curse of 39" has struck repeatedly in recent years, returning as registration number combinations cycle over, with car dealers complaining they get stuck with vehicles that they are unable to sell due to a bizarre urban legend.
According to many Afghans, "39" got its bad reputation through a well-known pimp who was often identified by the number on his car plates as he drove around Herat, the western city that lies close to the border with Iran.
The man's seedy image and illicit business meant that the number became associated with immorality. Apocryphal or not, the tale spread to other Afghan cities -- and the curse was born.
Now anyone seen sporting a "39" licence plate is in danger of being linked to the underground sex industry that is taboo in the devoutly Muslim nation.
The vehicle licensing system is now putting 39 at the front of plate numbers, causing a backlog of sales as potential buyers refuse to make a purchase that could bring ridicule.
"We cannot remove 39 -- this is illogical to remove a number from the whole system," interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi told the Tolo news channel.
"The people should accept the number plates that contain 39 so that the process of registering cars resumes again.
"We cannot change the system, we have to change the people's mentality toward that number."
The Kabul traffic department, which issues licence plates in the capital, said it had 800 plates that no one would take.
"This has harmed our revenue," General Assadullah, head of the Kabul traffic department, told AFP.
"Revenue has gone down by a half this year. The process of distributing new number plates has been very slow because the registration is now beginning with 39 and people don't want to take them."
Buyers are alleged to pay bribes to avoid the number in new vehicles, while owners who do have 39 in their plates often doctor their plates illegally using white paint to change the digits.
"The people who fan this idea are those who are corrupt, and those who intentionally want to misuse it for their own benefit," said Sediq, implying that the rumour-mongers are those who benefit from accepting bribes.
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