I follow the football

For some time now Chelsea manager Avram Grant, who is Israeli, has been getting hate email, including ones to the effect that he has Arab and Palestinian blood on his hands. Footballer Tal Ben Haim was called a “Jewish terrorist”. (NB: Jews held collectively accountable for the Arab-Israeli conflict). The Sun reported the comments of Grant’s agent and, more important to the media, friend Pini Zahavi to the effect that antisemitism was at work in a much wider sense than the hate mail. Zahavi made the big claim that if Grant had been from another country or of another religion then he would have been afforded more respect as manager of Chelsea.

By the weekend Zahavi had retracted, saying his comments that Avram Grant is a victim of anti-Jewish race hate were ‘a mistake’. The Sun gingerly pointed out that Grant isn’t very good and hinted (when does The Sun ever hint?) that Zahavi should stop causing fights.

Grant himself is determined not to become a figure of pity or social commentary, and seems to prefer to be disliked and criticised as a person rather than a Jew (don’t we all) particularly at the current time when his career hangs on Chelsea’s match with Man U in the Champions League final on Wednesday.

There’s something wrong with all this but I can’t put my finger on it. Maybe it’s the self-consciousness of everybody concerned – Grant, Zahavi and The Sun. It’s The Sun’s restraint that’s most eery.

That reminds me, the page 3 woman today was a dope. In response to 1999 pictures of Angelina Jolie in a seedy drugs den “before she spectacularly turned her life around”, Peta, 21, from Essex, said “Angelina is so different now. Being a mum, and with Brad Pitt, obviously agrees with her”. Nothing to do with her successful acting career then, Peta?

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