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1 November 2013 ~

Sepp Blatter got flak this week for impersonating Cristiano Ronaldo at the Oxford Union. It shouldn't be a surprise that he's good at impressions – he's been passing himself off as a capable football administrator for some time.

AlAinBadge of the week ~ Al-Ain FC, United Arab Emirates
The Sheikh of Al Ain was a fun-loving man with a profligate streak. At the start of the 1968 financial year, when other sheiks were outlining a public spending programme for new houses, roads and hospitals, the Sheikh of Al Ain spent most of his annual budget on a massive helter-skelter with mats and everything. At first his people were overjoyed and queued excitedly, night and day, to take a turn on it.

Productivity doubled, as workers were keen to complete their duties so they could nip out and have another go. A popular birthday present at this time was a hand-made individualised helter-skelter mat. The sheikh himself had one made of lynx pelt with the words "Rough Ride" picked out ornately in golden thread.

Soon, however, the money ran out for the sheikh – he had never been interested in oil (he didn't see how you could play with it), so instead, while his contemporaries were financially backing the country's numerous oilfields, he had ploughed his money into playdough and plastic Viking helmets. With no funds available for maintenance, the helter-skelter's lights went out one by one and the paintwork became chipped and faded.

It was the 1970s by now and people had found alternative leisure pursuits, such as fondue evenings, the Hustle, the pop-up book. The helter-skelter grew to symbolise both the folly of unsound financial investment and the difficulty of going genuinely fast on something wooden. It became the football club's motif because it had a nice swish to it. Cameron Carter


The sponsors had a difficult choice for man of the match.


from Mike Bayly
"Droylsden's official Twitter account keeps going bravely during a 10-0 thrashing."


José Mourinho needs to work on ways to express delight.



The 1995-96 Aston Villa squad reveal their fascinating drinking habits.


from Mike Innes

"The names of a good number of clubs in Japan's J-League draw on corrupted versions of languages spoken in some of football's superpower nations. The likes of Jubilo Iwata, Kashiwa Reysol and Omiya Ardija hope that their brushes with Portuguese or Spanish constitute echoes of the success achieved by teams from the appropriate countries – coupled, of course, with a hint of the exotic. 

In the depths of Japanese non-League pyramid, however, one club have taken a different approach to the knotty problem of choosing a moniker. Ignoring the reflected glory that German or Italian might provide, FC Ube Yahhh-man have drawn upon Jamaican patois for, the club say, its perceived friendliness and warmth of spirit. Whatever their source of inspiration, it seems to be paying dividends: Japan's very own Reggae Boyz currently lie top of the Yamaguchi Prefectural League."



Also in the news this week

Manchester United in Nazi design goof

The toughest referee in Kuwait takes no prisoners

Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill drop in on Woody Allen

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