Showing posts from August, 2013

Luis Suarez: Football players and expectations of loyalty

Although there is stiff competition from the sagas around Gareth Bale and Wayne Rooney, by far the most protracted, boring transfer epic over the close season has involved Luis Suarez.  Will Arsenal’s cheeky £40 million + £1 bid release him from his contract at Anfield?  Does he owe Liverpool a debt of loyalty, after the club stuck by him when he was accused of racism, and again, when he took a bite out of a Chelsea defender’s ear?
In the absence of an actual transfer, the newspapers have reported each minute nuance of Suarez’s relationship with his employers.  And for those of us with social media, it’s been possible to follow every scrap of gossip, every facial expression captured at every training session and every comment from every conceivable journalist or pundit, 24 hours a day, across hundreds of thousands of tweets, stretching back, it seems, beyond the dawn of time itself
When will the Uruguayan’s future ever be resolved?
The answer is by September 2nd,,when the window for…

Fragile Empire by Ben Judah - a review of the latest book about Putin

‘If you read twenty five books about foreign policy this year, make one of them Ben Judah’sFragile Empire’.  Not exactly the words of Foreign Policy magazine, and the book, subtitledHow Russia fell in and out of love with Vladimir Putin, has attracted praise from a number of reviewers.
The author’s central thesis isn’t quite the re-tread of worn-out clichés about the Russian president as manipulative, all-powerful dictator, that you’ll find in Masha Gessen’sMan Without a Faceor countless other works.  In fact Judah believes that Putin has failed to build a strong, centralised system and, as a result, both his personal political authority and the integrity of the state he rules are under threat. 
I didn’t expect to accept this argument wholesale, and nor did I, but the book was far from irredeemable.  It forms a reasonable account of the protests which developed in Moscow and other large cities last winter, and, although Judah clearly has sympathy with the demonstrators, he describes fai…