It's an old cliche, but sometimes you just couldn't make it up. This morning the Daily Express is running a story detailing how the UK are giving £3m in aid to the Chinese for the purposes of helping set up a football coaching scheme. The plan is backed by the FA. There are so many things that are completely wrong about this, it is almost impossible to know where to start. This blog has argued, since its inception in 2008 for the FA, the government and the council to spend more money on coaching for grassroots football in the UK. I've spent the last seven years watching my son play youth football. I've seen some of his team mates from poor families (some of immigrants) turn up without football boots ( a whip round of well off parents has sorted such things out). I've seen pitches not properly maintained. I've seen us play clubs where they don't have proper kits. I've seen clubs running teams with no proper coaching and just enthusiastic parents, where talented kids are getting no help in developing into talented players capable of competing. There are so many things wrong with the youth set up in the UK, it breaks my heart. It is no wonder we produce so few world class players and it is criminal that so many kids who start out enthusiastic about football drift away because it is logistically impossible to play and develop. What is sickening is that The Premier League is awash with money as never before and a 2% levy on TV rights money would provide for the UK to have the best yout coaching facilities in the world. But no, the greedy owners of the clubs are not interested. They line their pockets and scour the world for the players we are not producing. I've long argued the government should act, but no they are not interested. There is clearly a case in the UK for investment. Especially as the Premier League is one of our nations most important brands.
As to foreign aid for football. I'd support this if it was for impoverished kids in Africaa, who football may make a difficult life bearable. But China is a mega rich country, second only to the USA in economic wealth. They have a space program, they win more golds than us at the Olympics. They make most of the products in our houses. Why do we need to support them. It is not as if they are a benign friendly regime and this is part of a rich program of cultural exchange. They are a nasty dictatorship. Religious and personal freedoms are limited. There is no democracy and if they were not so rich and powerful, Osborne would probably be calling for them to be boycotted. I've been to China. I was there in 1990, the year after Tianamen Square massacre. The people are fantastic, but the rulers are corrupt and nasty. It is a fact of life that we have to live with them, but by giving aid like this, we are perpetuating a very nasty regime. We are giving them a respectability they don't deserve. Just think of the message this sends. A whole generation of football mad Chinese youngsters will be brought up to believe that their government must be marvellous because the British Government and the Premier League are giving them such fantastic facilities. The Chinese dictators are no mugs. They know the propoganda value of such gestures.
If you want to know just how nasty they are, Google Dalai Lama, the religious leader of Tibets Buddists. This is a man of peace and wisdom, who is nearly universally respected across the globe. There is only one place where he is not. That is in China, because his moral courage stands in the way of Chinese hegemony in Tibet. It is sickening that Osborne is sucking up to such men. It is even more sickening that he is doing it when our own kids are deprived of the facilities he is setting up for them. I have to conclude that we are run by imbeciles.