Tuesday, May 01, 2012


An unexpected friendship between the Special One and a Premier League referee led to an inspiring story of generosity and recovery.
Compared with the life-threatening tumour Mark Halsey has survived it is not much of a worry, but something he must consider. On the one hand, he naturally wants his friend to come back to England after working abroad. On the other, he knows that it might end his own career. For his friend is Jose Mourinho.
You could call Halsey and Mourinho football's odd couple: the referee and the referee-baiter. Mourinho was dubbed "the enemy of football" by Uefa's refereeing overlord in 2005 and subsequently suspended after claiming that Anders Frisk, the official in charge of a Champions League match between Barcelona and Chelsea at Nou Camp, had been visited at half-time by the home manager, Frank Rijkaard. As recently as last week, Mourinho, now at Real Madrid, continued to imply that decisions involving Barcelona could not always be trusted.
Halsey, meanwhile, has always liked to be on amicable terms with players, managers and the game at large. Yet they have become so close that if Mourinho were to return to the Premier League next season, Halsey would have to drop off the referees' list.
The whole story (which you can find here) is well worth a read, but what I'm taking from it today is that it seems very odd that a football referee should have to accommodate a much firmer line on the perception of his own possible conflict of interest or lack of impartiality than seems to be required of the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, with regards to the News Corporation takeover bid for BSkyB.

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