The Joe Royle Column

I CAN'T believe some of the things the man who is in charge of our game world-wide, Sepp Blatter, comes out with. His latest nonsense about not having draws just lacks responsibility.

I CAN'T believe some of the things the man who is in charge of our game world-wide, Sepp Blatter, comes out with. His latest nonsense about not having draws just lacks responsibility.

He talks about games of cards where there are winners or losers, we talking about football not cards. Sometimes you can have great games with both sets of fans going home satisfied with a draw rather than one lot going home angry and frustrated that they have lost because of a penalty.

It just doesn't make sense.

It would have a negative effect on the game and its following. This is not American sport, we don't have to have a positive result to have a great game.


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If crowds have seen a cracking 3-3 – or even sometimes a 0-0 can be exciting – they will go away just as satisfied.

How do you tell a team that has come under the cosh for 90 minutes at Highbury and scraped a draw that was not a good result?

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You could get teams going down because they have bad penalty takers – it is just not on.

Mr Blatter has come out with a load of strange ideas, including the one where he suggested women footballers wore sexier clothing; I'm sure there will be enough feminists getting on to him without me getting on his back about that as well.

But I can't understand how a head of such a prestigious body as FIFA comes out with such constant nonsense.

For him to compare our great game with cards is quite worrying really. I know Sam Allardyce criticised him recently for being out of touch with the game and I though he was aiming a bit high but quite honestly I have to agree with Sam.

STRAIGHT away I will declare that I'm a good friend of Ron Atkinson and have known him a long time.

No one in this world will argue that he has used a particularly horrible word, one I have never liked and one that no one in their right mind would condone, and Ron has held his hands up and accepted that.

Equally I can't believe the furore it has caused.

There were people dying in the world that day and yet Big Ron is on our front pages. There were enquiries on national television, it was all over the place.

I'm afraid we are so touchy in this country on this matter that political correctness has everyone treading on egg-shells.

But I still can't believe the reaction. There is a second wave of war going on in Iraq, suicide bombers going off everywhere, a train crash which killed hundreds, yet those events are fighting Ron Atkinson for the front page.

That can't be right.

We grew up as kids saying sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me, well Ron has been hurt by one word. He has paid a high price for one word and I can say this because I know him well, he is not a racist.

Ron has championed the cause of black players in football as much if not more than anyone. I have been out in his company with Brendon Batson and Cyrille Regis and they think the world of him because they know he is not a racist.

It comes down to whether being a racist is a word, a thought or an action. Certainly in thought and in deed it is preposterous to call him a racist.

He has lost a career and hundreds of thousands of pounds for one word, even though he has apologised and is contrite at what he said.

It was wrong and he should not have used that word. I know the way people think and it seems people can use swear words on television and not lose their jobs.

In the piece in which he thought the microphone was off, he used the F-word five times and nothing is said, he used the N-word once and it has cost him dear.

It seems that the F-word is acceptable but don't use the N-word.

Let us use a bit of common sense; it was not nice, it is a horrible word, but no one has died.

A FEW months ago I said in this column that I didn't think Arsenal would go the season unbeaten in the league but now I hope I'm wrong.

I sent Arsene Wenger a fax congratulating him on winning the title. Not only was it a fantastic achievement but they did it in style.

They got their knuckles rapped by the FA for their behaviour at Manchester United but they took it on board, took their punishment and got on with it.

So now I really, really hope they stay unbeaten.

SAM Allardyce is probably the only manager who could get away with bringing in Rivaldo to the Premier League.

With the sort of success he has had with Jay Jay Okocha, Youri Djorkaeff and Ivan Campo, Sam is ahead of the pack in terms of bringing these players in from abroad.

We have seen at Middlesbrough how Brazilian players coming over here can be a bit of a sweet and sour experience with Juninho doing so well but Branco not quite doing it.

Sam will have done his homework on Rivaldo who I understand has not played a full game in 14 months.

Certainly I was able to see him at close quarters at the World Cup and he didn't seem quite the same player as he was before.

I have a mental image of the sort of player Rivaldo was and if he produces anything like what he is capable of, then season ticket sales will more than pay for him.

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