Friday, March 23, 2007

Woolmer, the fallout - mimitig

So far, here at Pseud’s Corner, we’ve not been asked any hard questions.

But here’s one now.

Late tonight, or early this morning, however you see it, the most shocking news has broken from Jamaica and it has been announced that Bob Woolmer has been murdered.

Now I’m not proposing that we try and steal a march on any of the newspapers or online sites, but we have set ourselves up as a forum for debate on current sporting issues, and if ever there was one, this is it.

Can we, as a group of fans and enthusiasts for our sports, address some questions now, and show ourselves to be serious and committed fans who care, not just about supporting our sport, but putting our beliefs and views out there for others to comment on?

This is a very different question from whether Lampard was deliberately attacked on the pitch by a Spurs fan, though the logical thought progression shows that if violence isn’t stamped on, this is where it leads.

Should now the World Cup continue, should teams take action and refuse to play, or is this an issue that is so tied up with the Pakistan team and the various corruption rumours that are emerging that all other teams should wash their hands and carry on regardless?

I have no answers and have written this in haste, before having to retire to bed with work looming in the morning, because I seek your views, and I don’t think we can be a serious sports forum without addressing this, the most serious of issues.


retentiveannals said...

Good morning everyone. First of all, my apologies to anyone who might be offended that I have cut and pasted this from a previous thread last night, but I still feel the same way this morning, so for what it is worth, this is my contribution...

Devestating as the Bob Woolmer murder story is, particularly to his family, is anyone really so surprised that this has happened?

We live in a world gone mad over sport, where it seems that football seems to have taken the place of religion in some areas, and where colossal sums of money from dubious origins are used to purchase players, franchises and bet on individual pieces of play, as well as results in cricket and other games.
Poor Bob Woolmer was badly let down by his team's performance against a vibrant Ireland side and, as we all know, where there are winners, there are losers also.

Someone must have lost an unimaginable sum to have been crazed and desperate enough to kill an innocent, decent, caring man over a game of cricket.

Let us hope that Bob Woolmer's legacy will be that we all of us learn to appreciate that while sport is important and part of our every day lives, it is NOT a matter of life and death, and that no one should ever be killed because it again.

I was stunned and deeply saddened by his death. Now it almost makes me want to turn my back on the World Cup, and organised professional sport.

Ebren said...

A very disconcerting development.

Put simply, of the list of professions that will get you killed, international cricket coach was not high.

That said - has anyone ever cleared up Hansie Cronje's death? That South African team was heavily corrupt and Woolmer was at it's head.

Of Cronje - "A lot of people wanted Cronje dead," said one policeman. "They feared he would one day tell the full truth and many more would be implicated."


Did Woolmer have a book coming out?

Zephirine said...

It's all the more horrible because nobody has a word to say against the guy - not just the usual gushing about someone who's died, Bob Woolmer obviously commanded genuine affection and respect, and had made a real contribution to his sport.

While it seems very likely that he was killed for reasons to do with corruption in cricket, it's not certain at this stage. It's not completely impossible that the murderer was some kind of fanatical fan. Jamaica also has a high crime rate, including organised crime - that's why their police force includes Mr Shields who's an ex-Chief Supt of UK Special Branch - and there have been intruders before at that hotel. So it seems to me that it would be irrational to cancel the World Cup.
If it turns out that matches have already been fixed in the WC competition, that's a different matter, but we're not there yet.

MotM said...

Apologies also for copying this across, but it is all I can think to write in my slightly dazed state.

Firstly, thanks to Selvey for a very fine piece of writing amidst the turmoil.

To abandon the World Cup would be wrong, a capitulation to the forces of violence. Cricket is played in some very troubled parts of the world, and the World Cup (and cricket in general) shows how fraternity trumps enmity.

However a mark of respect is required from the ICC and its sponsors - here's my suggestion.

The ICC should use a minimum 10% of its profit from this World Cup to fund "Bob Woolmer Scholarships" to offer the opportunity for the young talent of Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe etc to go to England or Australia (or any country with a robust club cricket structure) to learn the game and everything that comes with it. Sponsors should show their respect by matching this funding. And this tithe should be roll forward to every World Cup to mark the death of a true citizen of World Cricket.

As for corruption? Well it's human nature - it can never be totally eradicated, but that's no reason to doubt every player, every team. But for the record, the ball need move no more than a inch to hit the edge of the bat not the middle. Pakistan's bowling (from what I saw) looked almost unplayable at times with the white ball swinging at 90mph+. As Selvey says, there will always be whispers whenever there is a shock result, but I couldn't see anything wrong with this one. Having said that, the spread betting numbers must have moved a long way during that match, so much money could be made without the final result being determined.

I hope Bob's family and friends find some comfort in the outpouring of warmth from so many people who knew him personally and those like me who watched from a distance.

I'd only add that I agree with Zeph and urge pseuds to read Selvey at GU today as he is very good. And thanks to mimi for broaching the issue.

chelseaexile said...

eberen, there is definitly something there for the conspiricy theorists; not to mention the police.

I can't beleive Woolmer was done in by a player. A dearnged fan? Well, possibly.

International cricket is far from squeaky clean and I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised if we find out in time that Woolmer's and Cronje's deaths are connected.

chelseaexile said...

Motm, I agree Selvey's blog is very good and I agree with its sentiment.

Full marks too for reclaiming the word 'Dastardly' from the Whacky Races gang.... sorry.

reemgear said...

Don't know anything about cricket, well not much anyway.

This bloke has been murdered - could've been anyone from the sounds of things. I fail to see why he would be murdered by an organised betting syndicate as it draws unwanted attention to the crime, and there seems very little scope for Woolmer having disobeyed orders of any kind (he wasn't batting, was he?) that would definitively alter the outcome of the match.

The only possible conspiracy theory pointing to a crime syndicate assasination would be - as someone has pointed out - that he was planning on 'squeeling'; but from the sounds of things Woolmer's integrity was beyond reproach, thus there would be nothing for him to divulge.

I would also argue against the observation that organized corruption in sport is anything like a new thing; take boxing for example - horse racing - greyhounds etc etc etc...

There is though, I'll concede, something wrong in the world when cricket attracts this kind of corruption: what on earth would W.G. Grace think!?

greengrass said...

Mouth's tithe suggestion is a good idea.
Abandon the series? Not when we know so little about how and why Woolmer died/was
There are so many moral issues involved in cricket and other sports, but morals give way to money all across the board - sad, but true.

MotM said...

I'm going to post here my thought that I am reluctant to post at GU.

I expect to find that the suspect(s) posed as room service or some such thing and that all this "Bob knew the perpetrator" is wrong. Kingston is a violent place (as are many parts of the world in which cricket is played) and any hotel, especially this one, is impossible to secure from those determined to effect entry.

It may seem a random act from a possible thief or deranged person. But my feeling is that there is a betting dimension.

Bob was about to retire (indeed the Ireland game was his last competitive match) and "the book" was nearing completion. Whether it lifted the lid on what he knew or suspected about the Cronje and related scandals is immaterial - it might have.

What better way to deter those thinking of having their say on corruption in cricket than to murder its most high profile coach at its most high profile event in an almost elemental manner? Does anything speak more eloquently of the fact that "you can be hit any time, anywhere, by anyone with any weapon"?

I guess we will never reach the bottom of the matter, which is why I suggest that his finest memorial would be something to promote cricketing excellence and the fraternity of the game.

levremance said...

News reports from subcontinent talk of an arrest, I suspect they are on to something. Bob Woolmer was a big guy and his apparently violent demise could not have gone unnoticed in a busy hotel.

I don't buy the 'whats the world coming to comments' with regard to money, sport etc. Ever heard of the 1919 Black Sox, "Say it ain't so, Joe". Shoeless Joe Jackson wasn't the first and Hansie Cronje won't be the last. These things went on when they were building the Pyramids and they'll be going on when we get to Mars.

Bob Woolmer's murder is still a mystery and I struggle with the motive. As reemgear points out, why would organised criminals strangle a cricket coach? Why strangle, surely those guys would use guns, silencers?

Should the WC continue? Yes.

Should cricket look to increase professionalism, opportunities and seek to grow the game? Yes.

offside said...

I know nothing about cricket, in fact I didn't even know the sport had a world cup, but if there's big money involved, TV rights, betting, etc... the world cup will not be stopped. For the same reasons that the race wasn't stopped when Senna killed himself, even though the organisers knew it right away. It's not the show that must go on, it's the cash registers that need to keep ticking away.

I also think it's urgent not to jump to conclusions. Peter Tosh, of all people, was murdered in his Kingston home a few years ago. In the end, it turned out to have nothing to do with politics or the music business. It was a burglar.

hannibalbrooks said...

I don't think that we live 'in a world gone mad over sport' at all. I think that we live in a world that has always been mad, it's just that the older and wiser we become; the more obvious it becomes to us, and at a certain critical point we cross a threshold and become 'grumpy old ...'.

Due to the nature of everyone's life, escape is imperative. However, as a society, I think that we have come a long way from watching other satient human beings being torn apart and eaten by wild animals for sport.

Bluedaddy made an excellent comment last night about the morbid media feeding frenzy that usually surrounds these things. This is driven because the situation has become a valuable commodity that they make a living from broking and distributing. This is because we, the public want to 'read all about it'.

You can see where this is going but I've just had a phone call and have to dash out, but I will continue this later.

reemgear said...

I do wonder whether we will look differently upon the drama based on whether or not we love cricket ?

Imagine if it was Roy Hodgson who'd been murdered, whilst managing Switzerland?


MotM said...

Reemgear - It hurts us believe me. It really does.

BlueinBetis said...

It won't be stopped.

Herein is the dilemma.

While we may bounce opinions back and forth about the rights and wrongs of what has happened we know it will continue. And the fact that we question "Should it continue" highlights the fact that we are uncomfortable about what is happening.

In the last month we have had numerous examples of how sport has been usurped by corporate mentality. Taking part means nothing, fuck the opposition and win at all costs. Humanity is losing its humanity. The aggression shown, both on the pitch and in the stands is rising, our collective emotions have no other outlet. We are all guilty of this.

The corporate media fog the picture by sensationalising individual actions without asking questions about root causes. At the end of the day, it will not surprise anybody if Bob was killed because of money. And that is a condemnation of us all.

I hate sounding like a preacher, but on this site I feel part of a community that has no profit motive. And thus feel I can vent my spleen about our society's malaise, we are all over the world, and we see the same shit happening, and while we may not agree on proximate causes, I detect an exasperation from all writers. We write because we want to be heard, because we have something to say, and it feels like nobody is listening.

I don't expect everybody to agree with my analysis, I don't even want everybody to agree. The fact that I am free to put my opinion up is enough. This is a great thing you have done Ebren. I could kiss you, but I haven't shaved or brushed my teeth yet.

Ebren said...

No profit motive? - I'll have you know that we've raised almost three pounds from the ads!

The internet is changing the way we communicate, perhaps permanantly.

I have done very little here.

And profit is not evil. I have no problem with people being rewarded for providing a service (i.e. peolpe making money from inventing google) or putting effort in so I don't have to (binmen), I have a problem with exploitation.

That said - it is my stated and stolen opinion that violence is the last refuge of the incompetent, and I deplore the idea of harming another individual or causing pain to others.

No one should be killed for their actions or knowledge and Mr Woolmer seems a particularly undeserving victim from my current position of ignorance.

MotM said...

BlueinBetis - I am still uplifted by sport. Despite some elements of corporatism and ruthlessness, the vast majority of sport at all levels exists on a foundation of cooperation and respect for the rules.

Huge differences can exist between cultures, between teams, between individuals, yet almost without exception, rules are adhered to, the referee's decision accepted, opponents respected, fans peaceful.

I'd be so bold as to say that the very best of humanity as social beings is found in sport. And that is why it is so vulnerable to the vulture-like gamblers, drug users and cheats that circle it, but represent an infinitesmally small number compared to the good guys and gals.

I do accept that it's getting harder and harder to make this case. Which is why it's important to make it loud and often.

BlueinBetis said...


Point taken, perhaps I was a little gloomy. I find it too easy to see the bad in a situation, and always look for the worse in people. Thanks for the reminder. I do love sport, for all the reasons you reminded me of, after all.


What adverts? I have a pop-up blocker. It doesn't work in the real world, more's the pity. And yes I agree, profit is a simplistic word, exploitation is better. But I still feel like I am being exploited. Not by you, I hasten to add, that's why I like it here.

Ebren said...

The adverts that I am not allowed to tell people to click on are on the right-hand side of the page under the blog archive.

The stated use of the fund is to buy a present for Sean and Barry as blogfathers, then use the rest to fund a Pseud's visit to Tahiti/piss up.

BlueinBetis said...


aaah. When do we decide what to buy as a pressie? For Seani I recommend a copy of Quadrophenia, after all the Mods win. Racking brains for something for the ray of sunshine that is Mr Glenndinning.

BlueinBetis said...

I do seem to write "after all" a lot.

[must develop wider vocabulary, at risk of sounding like a footballer, well, at the end of the day...]

reemgear said...

Easy - Sean and Barry are pretty well reimbursed for their efforts, or so I would imagine!

You should have us all click on the ads and either pocket it yourself (why not?) or chuck a bouquet of flowers chez Woolmer.

I'll have a little clicky myself.

chelseaexile said...

The argument that the CWC should be abandoned after Woolmer's murder is a compelling one. The idea that the large corporate interests involved will not allow it to happen is easy to describe as an horrific indicment on how we've lost a sense of what's important.

If the WC was being held in Australia, NZ or the UK I would have a lot of sympathy with this notion. However, let's not forget that the islands where the WC is being held are not wealthy. The jobs and investement the WC has brought are very important. Its not just the big travel compaies and hotel chains. Nor Sky Sports or the BBC. Its the stall holders, waiters, bus-boys taxi drivers and all the others who will suffer.

The mulit-nationals will write-off their losses. The 'little-people' will just be written off.

Ebren said...

No, no, no, no, no, no!

Random multiple ad clicking from the same person will be flagged and see me chucked out.

I'm not keeping it for myself as this has been built with other people's contributions and comments. So I don't have a right to the money.

Without GU this wouldn't exist - so I thought something to the sportsblog was appropriate.

Having a rather busy Friday at work so will have to leave you now.



reemgear said...

Oh god no! I've just attacked the clickys with a program designed to auto - click that I downloaded illegaly off the internet!

Only kidding; but seriously: don't send the Guardian lads anything - they get paid FFS!

I vote a nice card, or flowers if you can stretch it, to the Woolmers: I'm not a cricket fan, but why not?

andrewm said...

Mouth: "To abandon the World Cup would be wrong, a capitulation to the forces of violence."

With respect, I've never quite understood this attitude, which you hear after every tragic event. It's often followed by, "That would mean they've won" which in this case would be totally irrelevant as we don't know who "they" are.

Wouldn't it be nice for once to say, look, we don't have the full facts yet but something awful has happened presumably in connection with what is supposed to be a gme and out of consideration and respect we're going to call the game off, just to show that after all it's only a fucking game and it doesn't matter at all.

MotM said...

andrewm - I take your point and respect your view, but disagree. Sport does matter.

I wouldn't have played Pakistan's game yesterday re-scheduling it for later as a mark of respect, but I can't agree with the tournament being abandoned. We must stand up for what is right and the playing of cricket is right, even in these circumstances.

Have you seen "The Miracle of Berne"? Not a great film, but an illustration of why sport matters in troubled times.

andrewm said...

Mouth, sport matters in certain circumstances, maybe a great deal in fact, but I don't think it does in this situation. If Pakistan were still in the tournament I very much like to think they would have gone home, had they been allowed to. I know I wouldn't want to play on. I just think it's disrespectful, whatever people think Woolmer would have wanted. Wearing a fucking armband and having a minute's silence doesn't cut it for me.

andrewm said...

PS. Sorry about all the swearing today, kids.

MotM said...

andrewm - I agree. Were Pakistan still in the tournament, I would have expected them to withdraw and the competition go into Super Sevens.

But that is not the same as abandoning the World Cup.

I feel like swearing too.

PS I'm contributing to the OBO if printed as it would be hypocritical not to. I also believe that GU and Pseuds have done a good job in giving space to bloggers on this one and the responses have reflected a variety of views. The OBO should stick to what it does best.

I don't expect to get 100% agreement on this though.

mimi said...

Mouth: exactly. I'm still OBOing though with such feeble shots, Lawrence is rightly not publishing me, but I'd be a hypocrit to pretend I'm not still interested in the matches being played.
There's been so much cant spouted today that I'm almost sorry to have put up the brief article, but on the other hand, I felt something so monumental merited a forum for discussion. I'm glad to see far less speculation and rumour-mongering here than I'm hearing on the airwaves.

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