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The Wrong Stuff
Given its daily duty, Mediawatch grows adapted to reading the sort of pieces that may make less-accustomed readers fall off their chairs in surprise, anger, sadness or a merry mix of all three.
However, the front page of this morning's The Sun contains a quote so entrenched in parody that even we failed to hide our shock. Strap yourselves in.
'The next young player who says he does not want to play for England should be ordered to ring the parents of a soldier who has died serving his country in Afghanistan and tell them his reasons,' is the quote in question from Ian Wright on the paper's FRONT page. Yes, really.
A few questions, Ian:
1) Why on earth are you comparing playing football for your country with fighting and losing your life in a war?
Football is a place in which priorities are skewed and importance inflated at the best of times, but even Wrighty must see that his equation is deeply flawed?
Bill Shankly's memorable epithet regarding the game being "more than a matter of life and death" was intended as a pithy display of just how much football meant to him. It should not be used as a relevant moral compass. Football is not 'just a game', but that only refers to its growth as a commercial entity and potential vehicle for unity, rather than being equatable to the dangers of conflict.
2) What on earth would a player say to soldiers' families?
"Hi, is that Mrs Moore?"
"Good, I was just calling because I have been 'forced' to explain to you the reasons why I don't want to play in England's next friendly against Latvia"
"Oh... Yes I suppose you're right, you probably have got better things to think about. It's just that a columnist in The Sun said..."
"Yes, true. He probably was just trying to get a reaction. And you're right, the paper probably did put it on the front page just to sell copies, fully in the knowledge that it would generate a heated reaction. And yes, I guess that is actually quite demeaning to you and your loss. Sorry to have troubled you."
3) Why would these calls to families serve any purpose to either party?
Wright's intention is to shame the apparent disrespect displayed by those not wanting to play for England, but in fact only demonstrates incredible insensitivity to the families of those killed in war.
Mediawatch doesn't feel like it can or should speak on their behalf, but we're pretty sure that a fringe player choosing not to play for his country's football team fails to even flicker on the radar of those who have suffered such a tragic loss. Comparing those two scenarios only serves to demean such tragedy.
Reading The Riot Act
The Sun don't stop their campaign of cretinism there though. Oh no.
'Bookworm,' screams the headline on the back page of the paper. 'Dyke's 'Death in Brazil' Blunder,' reads the tagline.
Oh goodness, has Football Association chairman Greg Dyke killed a man on Copacabana beach?
No, he hasn't. Instead he has been 'caught' reading a book called 'Death in Brazil', a novel by Peter Robb that describes Brazil's multicultural history through the mediums of sex, food and death. It is, Mediawatch has been told, quite brilliant.
This disgusting action on Dyke's part is labelled as a 'major blunder' and a 'PR disaster' by The Sun, who describe his decision to read Peter Robb's book as 'capping the end of a nightmare campaign for England.'
Finally, the paper claim the incident is 'embarrassing'. Which of course it isn't. But using the back page spread of your paper to criticise a man for reading a book with a particular title is. It really, really is.
Where's The Passion, Lads?
Mediawatch completed its headache-inducing hat-trick in The Sun with Tony Parsons predictably calling for 'passion' in a piece that might as well be written in the blood of the dragon slayed by St. George.
We know Parsons wants 'passion' because the word is in capital letters on the front page of the paper. It's also used in the byline to the piece. It's also capitalised and emboldened on three separate occasions in the piece itself.
We've had quite enough of The Sun 's jingoistic bulls**t for one day, so will instead simply let you tick off your World Cup exit fall-out bingo card:
'Where was the fire in the belly?' - Check.
'Where was the blood of Terry Butcher' - Check.
'All guns blazing' - Check.
'Charge of the light brigade' - Check.
'Dunkirk' - Check.
'We could not fight our way out of a paper bag, let alone fight Nazi Germany. We would give Hitler a house and tell him to bring the family' - House.
If this is what England wants, we don't want England. Someone pass Mediawatch its passport.
'Roy: We Need Six Years To Fix It,' farts out the claim on the back page of the Daily Mail. Connoisseurs will spot the lack of speech marks in the headline to a piece written by Neil Ashton. That's key here.
Actual quotes from Roy Hodgson: "I'm now giving them the opportunity, not because I can, but because this is a good team and they can go and win the game. I hope they prove me right.
"We just hope the next two, four to six years will bring some dividends from this. We are no longer capable of going through, but we're trying to build the confidence."
Welcome to the Daily Mail's quote translator, where the England manager explaining the benefit of using young players against Costa Rica because it will give them experience for their future England careers becomes 'We Need Six Years To Fix It'.
Why of course.
Just Another 'Exclusive'
'EXCLUSIVE: Herrera WILL complete £28m move to United TODAY,' screams the headline on the Daily Mail website.
Presumably, 'exclusive' is now short for 'well the Spanish media ran this last night but we've got it too so click here'?
The Final Word
Mediawatch greatly enjoyed Adrian Durham's list of '10 things the Three Lions boss MUST do ahead of Euro 2016' piece on the Daily Mail website, because there is nothing better than an experienced tactician and manager passing on his wisdom.
The expert coach's big ideas include the following pieces of advice. See if you can spot the problem:
'Pick Daniel Sturridge and Rooney as a front pair'
'Flood the midfield by picking Michael Carrick, Jack Wilshere and Steven Gerrard'
'Right now I would suggest that Ross Barkley, Luke Shaw, John Stones and Raheem Sterling are good enough to start for England'.
Yes, that's right. From now on England will be playing with Luke Shaw and John Stones as part of a three-man defence with no wing-backs. And you thought Roy Hodgson had been adventurous in Brazil.
However, Mediawatch enjoyed no. 6 on Durham's list the most.
'Wilshere loves playing for England... so play him!' is Durham's logic.
Yes, forget form, fitness or ability, it's who 'loves' it most that should get in the team. We presume Terry Butcher is the other choice for that three-man defence.
'Have I Just Read That?' Questions Of The Day
'How many fat East Europeans do you see? How many Chinese are on benefits? Where did it all go wrong' - Tony Parsons continues his charm offensive in The Sun.
Optimistic Statement Of The Day
'There will be no angry mob, no mood to vilify them - just a general acceptance that we didn't expect much more anyway' - Dave Kidd in the Daily Mirror clearly hasn't read the tabloids over the last few days. For that he should be thankful.
Headline Of The Day
'He's For Real' - Nice work from the Daily Mirror on Luis Suarez. Now we're all doing the Ali G voice in our head.
Worst Headline Of The Day
'Loot Shaw' - He is going to cost an awful lot of money, but that doesn't excuse such weak punnery from the Daily Mirror.
Non-Football Story Of The Day
'A man has had to be rescued by firefighters in Germany after becoming stuck inside a stone vagina.
'The man, who is said to be an American exchange student, got wedged in the statue at Tubingen University.
'According to German newspaper Schwäbisches Tagblatt, five emergency service vehicles and 22 firemen had to help free the man.
'They claim he climbed into the sculpture, by Peruvian artist Fernando de la Jara, as part of a dare.
'The sculpture, called Pi-Chacan, was erected in front of the Institute of Microbiology and Virology at the university in 2001.
'Its name means "make love" in Peruvian Indian' - BBC News
Thanks to today's Mediawatch spotters Terry Hall and the millions of you that sent in the non-football story. Fine work. If you spot anything that belongs on this page, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, putting 'Mediawatch' in the subject field.