Hats off to Ryan Nelsen, the captain of the New Zealand soccer team.
Not only for the way he marshalled his side as the All Whites claimed a hugely significant 1-1 World Cup draw against Italy, the reigning world champion, but for his straight talking after the match.
Sport is replete with players who utter only polite noises. Nelsen told it like it was. Guatemalan referee Carlos Batres, who awarded the softest of penalties to the Italians, had had “stars in his eyes” and his partiality had ruined the game.
“If he’s the best that Fifa offer up then, gee whizz, I would hate to see the worst,” Nelsen said. …
Paraguay appears to be the best team in the All Whites’ pool. While many other countries have struggled, it had confirmed its standing as the second-best qualifier from South America.
If New Zealand is to advance to the knockout stage, probably nothing less than a victory will suffice. The odds will, once again, strongly favour its opponent. But who would now bet against the All Whites?
I’ll be in Australia for that game, and making sure there is no doubt the All Whites are not an Australasian team!
The Press defends the right to protest:
Green Party co-leader Russel Norman’s decision to protest at Parliament during the visit of Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping was eminently predictable.
His party has long supported the free Tibet movement and highlighted China’s shocking human rights record. Just as his predecessor as the Greens’ male co-leader, the late Rod Donald, did in 2005 during the visit of another Chinese dignitary, Norman waved a Tibetan flag as Xi’s delegation arrived at Parliament. Norman did go further than Donald, who mounted a silent protest, by also calling out for democracy. But the attitude of New Zealand authorities in these two cases was quite different.
That is because Rod Donald did not advance on the VIP.
In 2005, police and security staff respected the right of Donald to protest and rejected calls from Chinese security guards to remove him. But no action was taken last Friday by New Zealand authorities when Norman had his flag taken from him by Chinese security personnel and a scuffle broke out. Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully later lambasted Norman, saying the Green MP had abused Parliamentary privilege and his actions were calculated to give offence.
McCully was half right. Norman’s protest was a stunt aimed at provoking the Chinese and to attract publicity for the Greens and the Tibetan cause, about which China is hugely sensitive. But McCully is totally wrong to accuse Norman of abusing his position. Unlike members of the public, whose protests at Parliament are carefully controlled, Norman is an MP who has the freedom of the building and its grounds.
Not total freedom. An MP can’t enter the offices of other parties without permission for example.
He was perfectly entitled to exercise his right to freedom of speech where he did. And if his position was perceived as a threat to the personal security, rather than just the sensitivities of the visitors, it is up to New Zealand authorities to take action.
I agree. The NZ authorities should have kept Norman from getting so close to the Vice-President. If he had remained at the foot of the steps of Parliament, I would have expected him to be protected. But he rushed up to the Beehive entrance, right up against the Chinese security guards.
The Chinese security guards were wrong to try and interfere with his flag, but he was also wrong to advance so close. He should have negotiated a position to stand at where he could be clearly seen and heard (if desired) but not within spitting distance of the Vice-President.
The Chinese officials who took the flag and scuffled with Norman probably had limited understanding of Norman’s rights as an MP. New Zealand security personnel still should have stepped in to protect him.
New Zealand does have a close and valued relationship with China. This has been shown by the recent free-trade deal with it and by the emphasis placed by New Zealand on its participation in the Shanghai Expo.
But these economic ties must not obscure the fact that there are differences between us and one of these is New Zealand’s strong commitment to human rights, including freedom of speech and the right to protest peacefully.
Instead of berating those who, like Norman, exercise these rights, New Zealand ministers should have firmly reminded the Chinese that in this country, unlike their own nation, these rights are sacrosanct and must be respected by foreign guests.
As John Key has pointed out there was a continual protest outside the hotel where the VP was staying, and no one interfered with their right to do so. It’s because those protesters stayed at a distance where they could not be considered a danger.
The Dom Post talks money and morality:
Yesterday The Dominion Post reported that a Napier church had taken at least $20,000 in donations from Whetu Abraham, a rest home resident. Those caring for him had tried to stop the donations, and rest home manager Lucy Dever believes what the Oasis Elim Church has done is unethical, immoral and un-Christian.
Mr Abraham says he gave the money because of his faith, and because of his simple understanding that “you help them, they help you”.
Church pastor Bruce Collingwood says the money was given willingly by Mr Abraham “out of his own heart”, and he was comfortable about taking it after he and Mr Abraham had talked about Mr Abraham’s financial and medical situation.
Others, including the church’s national body, are not.
The relationship between churches and money has been fraught ever since Jesus drove the moneychangers from the temple. …
There is no doubt the money Mr Abraham gave will help the Oasis Elim Church, but churches depend on their moral authority as much as their bank balances. For many, accepting large sums from a sick man who had little to begin with diminishes that authority to near bankruptcy.
And the ODT also praises the All Whites:
Yesterday, much of the nation discovered the round ball belongs to a sport that delivers heroes every bit as outsized as the oval one.
A good portion of the labour force turned up for work emotionally drained, sleep-deprived and running on adrenalin, having just witnessed the best performance – and result – from a New Zealand football side.
The heroics and hyperbole of the 1-1 draw with Slovakia were cast aside as the All Whites took on the might of Italy and held those fancied, fleet-footed, blue-shirted millionaires to a 1-1 draw. …
There is no bigger tournament in world sport than the Fifa World Cup.
To qualify is a mission in itself, full of its own pulsating dramas – witness the fateful decider with Bahrain at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium earlier this year, the Rory Fallon header for goal, the Paston penalty save.
The eyes of the world are upon this tournament as they are no other, even arguably, the Olympics, and in their spectacular form-upending results to date, the All Whites will have had those eyes turning in this direction …
In the lead-up to the tournament, website sbnation.com predicted the All Whites had “as much chance of advancing out of group stage as a paraplegic pig thrown into a tiger pit has of walking out of there unscathed”.
That quote should be read out to the team just before the Paraguay match.