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thinkin

Is ugly money good for football?

This is a newsroom ThinkIn. In-person and digital-only tickets are available.When football clubs are looking for investment, what are their options? When Newcastle United accepted a mammoth $300M investment by Saudi Arabia’s public investment fund (PIF), it came with promises to bolster the club, benefit local communities and enrich the experience for fans. But should Newcastle be accepting money from a country with Saudi Arabia’s human rights record? Can national fans reconcile going to Qatar later this year with the knowledge of how labourers were exploited and died during stadium construction?Where does this leave the fans who have concerns about where the money flowing into their clubs comes from, or where the leagues turn to for partners and hosts?Is this about seeing the long term benefits to the game, the fans and their communities, or are we allowing oppressive regimes and problematic companies to ‘sportwash’ their reputations? editor and invited experts Andrew ButlerEditor and Head of Social Anthony BurnettCEO, Kick It Out Chris PaourosCo-Chair, Proud Lilywhites Dale VinceChair, Forest Green Rovers David HarrisonJournalist Florence Lloyd-HughesJournalist and broadcaster Kieran MaguirePodcaster and football finance lecturer, University of Liverpool

thinkin

Sensemaker Live: Are the Olympics doomed?

Long stories short Perennial takeover bridesmaid Sir Jim Ratcliffe emerged as a potential buyer for Manchester United when they were put up for sale (see below).England’s No. 1 fast bowler Jofra Archer returned at a tour match in Abu Dhabi after 16 months out with elbow and back injuries.ITV World Cup pundit Nadia Nadim left a live broadcast when news reached her that her mother had been hit by a truck and killed aged 57.Cristiano Ronaldo walked away from £17 million in wages when his Manchester United contract was cancelled following an incendiary TV interview. Hat’s off to the World Cup – or else The moment Laura McAllister was ordered to remove her hat and take it to a “restricted items holding bay” was the start of a new tailspin for this World Cup. McAllister is a former Wales captain and academic who is in Qatar with the Welsh FA. Entering the stadium for Wales v USA she was told by security staff that her rainbow bucket hat was not permitted. McAllister made her way to the confiscation office but stuffed the hat in her pocket and took it to her seat as a small act of defiance. Intolerance by the Qatari authorities in the World Cup’s first week is being framed as a struggle for LGBT rights, which it is. But there’s another dimension which Fifa will hope goes unnoticed. The forced removal of hats, T-shirts, flags and armbands is also an assault on freedom of expression in all its forms. Germany’s team made this point when cupping their mouths with their hands before their defeat to Japan, in protest at Fifa threatening to book the captains of seven European teams if they wore a “One Love” anti-discrimination armband. The World Cup’s rhetoric of harmonious coexistence was never fully convincing. But the Qatar World Cup has shown it to be bogus. Another climbdown is underway, with Fifa reportedly telling national associations that rainbow symbols will no longer be taken into custody. Too late. Fans won’t trust a word of what Fifa says now about equality. The governing body is reaping a whirlwind for the dubious award of its 2022 showpiece to a repressive state. It said Qatar wouldn’t police free expression or ban rainbow symbols. Instead hats are going to jail. The tale of McAllister’s illegal headwear was the first of many. –   A Brazilian fan Victor Pereira claimed he was stopped from entering a stadium with the flag of his state Pernambuco, which features a rainbow that has nothing to do with LGBT rights. He said he had a video of the incident deleted from his phone. –   The American sports journalist Grant Wahl tried to enter the USA-Wales game in a rainbow T-shirt and was told: “You have to change your shirt. It’s not allowed.” –   Germany’s FA rounded on Fifa for silencing its team’s “voice” when setting out punishments for armband disobedience. McAllister appeared on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour on Wednesday to explain that she was willing to maintain her support for Wales in their first World Cup for 64 years, despite Qatari officials telling her what she could and couldn’t wear. Condemnation meanwhile was spreading. –   The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned Fifa’s threat to the European seven. “It’s always concerning.. when we see any restrictions on freedom of expression, especially when the expression is for diversity and inclusion.” –   Keir Starmer said in the Commons: “The World Cup doesn’t belong to Fifa and it doesn’t belong to the host nation. It belongs to everyone who loves football. It’s totally unacceptable that during this tournament gay football fans are unable to acknowledge who they love, and players have been threatened with suspension if they show solidarity with those fans. Shame on Fifa.” McAllister made the point that Fifa have violated the trade description act on what sort of World Cup fans could expect. “It may be a small matter of a rainbow bucket hat, but it’s emblematic really of basic principles that we believe in very strongly,” she said. A solution would be for football to adopt a charter of rights all would-be World Cup hosts would have to sign up (assuming you could trust Fifa to enforce it). As McAllister said on Woman’s Hour: “If a country can’t guarantee basic human rights for every citizen that wants to visit, whether they’re gay or straight or a migrant worker or a woman, then they should not be allowed to host a tournament of this magnitude.” Fifa and Qatar are backtracking to repair damage that already feels indelible. Editor’s note: Paul Hayward’s book, England Football, The Biography, tracing the 150-year history of the team, published by Simon & Schuster, is out now. You can buy a signed copy in the Tortoise shop at a special member price. Politics Running total The government has been slow to stump up the £50 million it promised for motor neurone disease research, so Kevin Sinfield, the rugby league legend, keeps on running to raise funds. At the end of seven back-to-back Ultra marathons from Edinburgh to Manchester, Sinfield arrived on the pitch at half-time in the rugby league World Cup final to rapturous acclaim. Across the seven days at stops and finishing lines Sinfield and his team met MND sufferers and families of those who’ve died. In sport, Rob Burrow, Doddie Weir, Stephen Darby and Ed Slater are among those with the disease. Sinfield ran for them all. In midweek, Ultra 7 in 7 donations passed £2 million. Sinfield has raised £7 million in all. The pressure is now on the government to honour its pledge. Media Called out Journalists will often say they took up the profession to “speak truth to power”, but, as executed in piercing brilliance by Hannah Jane Parkinson for the Observer, there is significant power in simply speaking the truth. To Parkinson, that is losing £40,000 to gambling on tennis after her addiction “spiralled” during the pandemic. To some, that addiction is profitable. The UK is one of the largest gambling markets in the world – but just five per cent of customers are responsible for 70 per cent of betting company revenue. The Times also reported this week – as the World Cup heats up – on the increase in people, especially young men, seeking the service of NHS addiction services for gambling. Behind every betting slip or smartphone screen is a person. As Parkinson points out, she hasn’t lost her job, friends and home yet, but she could. With a thriving gambling lobbying contingent in parliament, clubs beholden to gambling sponsorship and seemingly 24/7 opportunities to watch sport and put down cash – the sporting world is not working in her favour.  For help and support with gambling issues in the UK, you can visit GamCare.org or call the National Gambling Helpline on 0808 8020133. Tech Camera role Back to the World Cup in Qatar. There is an enormous imaging operation going on behind the scenes. There are a host of technologies monitoring the tournament from the pitch to the stands. The Aspire Command and Control Center – a technology hub using artificial intelligence to monitor images from 22,000 cameras positioned around the World Cup stadiums – is watching the spectators. They are looking for indicators of potential crowd surges or “dangerous” activity, using facial recognition technology to track individuals and group movements. Cameras are also watching the players. Fifa is using semi-automated offside technology to make decisions faster and more consistently – tracking the position of each player and the ball 50 times per second to provide an automatic alert to the match officials when a player is offside. Numbers Time’s up 27:14 – The amount of additional time – extra minutes added to the regulation 90 for injuries, time wasting and other stoppages – across the two halves during England’s 6-2 victory against Iran in Qatar. Every World Cup comes with its own surprises, but no one foresaw the sharp increase in additional time being one of them. Monday’s matches alone contributed four halves played with the highest stoppage time in a single World Cup match since 1966, including the 14:06 minutes played at the end of the first half of England versus Iran. The amount of time the ball is actually in play has come under the spotlight in recent years – in 2018, a study by the CIES Football Observatory found that in the Premier League the ball was only in play for an average of 50.8 of the 90 minutes of gametime. This has led to some calls for a rugby style “stop clock”– where the game is stopped every time the ball is out of play – and reduce the game duration to 60 minutes in total.  This proposal was rejected by Ifab, the International Football Association Board that creates and amends football’s rules. Ifab is separate from Fifa, but Fifa holds 50 per cent of voting power to bring new rules in, with a 75 per cent majority vote needed to pass any changes. If the start of the World Cup is anything to go by, 60-minute matches are a long way off, and 100-minute matches are here to stay. FOLLOWING ON Keeping tabs on the stories we’ve previously reported. Manchester United, the fourth most valuable football club according to Forbes, has been put up for sale by the unpopular Glazer family. Or, to put it in business speak, the club is “commencing a process to explore strategic alternatives for the club.” Having seen the relationship of their most marketable asset – Cristiano Ronaldo – sour in the past month leading to the Portuguese leaving the club, the Red Devils now find themselves in the market for new ownership alongside Liverpool’s Fenway Sports Group. Given the club is valued at roughly £5 billion, the pool of potential new owners is probably small. Sir Jim Ratcliffe, chairman and CEO of Ineos and a lifelong United supporter, may be one, with American hedge-fund owners or sovereign wealth funds the likeliest other bidders. The England cricket team, fresh from winning the Twenty 20 World Cup, was thrashed 3-0 in a 50-over one day series by their greatest rivals, Australia. The series was played to satisfy broadcasting commitments but the final game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground attracted a crowd of barely 10,000 to a stadium that would usually expect ten times that number for such a fixture. Beth Mead, the star of England’s European Championship-winning team this summer and the winner of the competition’s best player and the Golden Boot for top scorer, ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) while playing for Arsenal against Manchester United. ACL injuries are notoriously tricky to rehabilitate, throwing into question Mead’s availability for next year’s World Cup. To make matters worse, Arsenal lost 3-2 to United and lost their place at the top of the Women’s Super League table. Mead is nonetheless odds-on favourite to be named the BBC Sports Personality of the Year next month. Thanks for reading. Please share this email and tell us what we’ve missed. News tips and story ideas are welcome. Email them to sport@tortoisemedia.com. Paul Hayward @_PaulHayward Additional reporting by Keith Blackmore, Andrew Butler, Phoebe Davis, Luke Gbedemah and Sara Weissel.

thinkin

Fans vs Football: who owns the game?

As the pandemic-delayed Euro 2020 tournament finally gets going, what state is football in – and who now holds the power? Some of Europe’s biggest clubs tried to stage a coup during lockdown and were shamed into dropping their plans for an elite European Super League which seemed great for them and terrible for everyone else. Within 48 hours the whole thing disintegrated, the big clubs were fined and agreed to make a £13m+ ‘goodwill contribution’ to fund grassroots football initiatives across the continent. But is this all just too little too late? Have the owners of giants like Juventus, Real Madrid and Manchester United been thwarted for good? Is UEFA back in charge? Or have the ‘legacy fans’ who stood up for tradition finally realised their power to take back the game? And an uncomfortable question: is it just a bit hypocritical that fans who embraced the big-money Premier League two decades ago should now object to what many had predicted was an inevitable next step? Can the soul of football be revived or is it lost forever? editor David TaylorEditor and reporter

thinkin

Fans vs Football: who owns the game?

Long stories short Perennial takeover bridesmaid Sir Jim Ratcliffe emerged as a potential buyer for Manchester United when they were put up for sale (see below).England’s No. 1 fast bowler Jofra Archer returned at a tour match in Abu Dhabi after 16 months out with elbow and back injuries.ITV World Cup pundit Nadia Nadim left a live broadcast when news reached her that her mother had been hit by a truck and killed aged 57.Cristiano Ronaldo walked away from £17 million in wages when his Manchester United contract was cancelled following an incendiary TV interview. Hat’s off to the World Cup – or else The moment Laura McAllister was ordered to remove her hat and take it to a “restricted items holding bay” was the start of a new tailspin for this World Cup. McAllister is a former Wales captain and academic who is in Qatar with the Welsh FA. Entering the stadium for Wales v USA she was told by security staff that her rainbow bucket hat was not permitted. McAllister made her way to the confiscation office but stuffed the hat in her pocket and took it to her seat as a small act of defiance. Intolerance by the Qatari authorities in the World Cup’s first week is being framed as a struggle for LGBT rights, which it is. But there’s another dimension which Fifa will hope goes unnoticed. The forced removal of hats, T-shirts, flags and armbands is also an assault on freedom of expression in all its forms. Germany’s team made this point when cupping their mouths with their hands before their defeat to Japan, in protest at Fifa threatening to book the captains of seven European teams if they wore a “One Love” anti-discrimination armband. The World Cup’s rhetoric of harmonious coexistence was never fully convincing. But the Qatar World Cup has shown it to be bogus. Another climbdown is underway, with Fifa reportedly telling national associations that rainbow symbols will no longer be taken into custody. Too late. Fans won’t trust a word of what Fifa says now about equality. The governing body is reaping a whirlwind for the dubious award of its 2022 showpiece to a repressive state. It said Qatar wouldn’t police free expression or ban rainbow symbols. Instead hats are going to jail. The tale of McAllister’s illegal headwear was the first of many. –   A Brazilian fan Victor Pereira claimed he was stopped from entering a stadium with the flag of his state Pernambuco, which features a rainbow that has nothing to do with LGBT rights. He said he had a video of the incident deleted from his phone. –   The American sports journalist Grant Wahl tried to enter the USA-Wales game in a rainbow T-shirt and was told: “You have to change your shirt. It’s not allowed.” –   Germany’s FA rounded on Fifa for silencing its team’s “voice” when setting out punishments for armband disobedience. McAllister appeared on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour on Wednesday to explain that she was willing to maintain her support for Wales in their first World Cup for 64 years, despite Qatari officials telling her what she could and couldn’t wear. Condemnation meanwhile was spreading. –   The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned Fifa’s threat to the European seven. “It’s always concerning.. when we see any restrictions on freedom of expression, especially when the expression is for diversity and inclusion.” –   Keir Starmer said in the Commons: “The World Cup doesn’t belong to Fifa and it doesn’t belong to the host nation. It belongs to everyone who loves football. It’s totally unacceptable that during this tournament gay football fans are unable to acknowledge who they love, and players have been threatened with suspension if they show solidarity with those fans. Shame on Fifa.” McAllister made the point that Fifa have violated the trade description act on what sort of World Cup fans could expect. “It may be a small matter of a rainbow bucket hat, but it’s emblematic really of basic principles that we believe in very strongly,” she said. A solution would be for football to adopt a charter of rights all would-be World Cup hosts would have to sign up (assuming you could trust Fifa to enforce it). As McAllister said on Woman’s Hour: “If a country can’t guarantee basic human rights for every citizen that wants to visit, whether they’re gay or straight or a migrant worker or a woman, then they should not be allowed to host a tournament of this magnitude.” Fifa and Qatar are backtracking to repair damage that already feels indelible. Editor’s note: Paul Hayward’s book, England Football, The Biography, tracing the 150-year history of the team, published by Simon & Schuster, is out now. You can buy a signed copy in the Tortoise shop at a special member price. Politics Running total The government has been slow to stump up the £50 million it promised for motor neurone disease research, so Kevin Sinfield, the rugby league legend, keeps on running to raise funds. At the end of seven back-to-back Ultra marathons from Edinburgh to Manchester, Sinfield arrived on the pitch at half-time in the rugby league World Cup final to rapturous acclaim. Across the seven days at stops and finishing lines Sinfield and his team met MND sufferers and families of those who’ve died. In sport, Rob Burrow, Doddie Weir, Stephen Darby and Ed Slater are among those with the disease. Sinfield ran for them all. In midweek, Ultra 7 in 7 donations passed £2 million. Sinfield has raised £7 million in all. The pressure is now on the government to honour its pledge. Media Called out Journalists will often say they took up the profession to “speak truth to power”, but, as executed in piercing brilliance by Hannah Jane Parkinson for the Observer, there is significant power in simply speaking the truth. To Parkinson, that is losing £40,000 to gambling on tennis after her addiction “spiralled” during the pandemic. To some, that addiction is profitable. The UK is one of the largest gambling markets in the world – but just five per cent of customers are responsible for 70 per cent of betting company revenue. The Times also reported this week – as the World Cup heats up – on the increase in people, especially young men, seeking the service of NHS addiction services for gambling. Behind every betting slip or smartphone screen is a person. As Parkinson points out, she hasn’t lost her job, friends and home yet, but she could. With a thriving gambling lobbying contingent in parliament, clubs beholden to gambling sponsorship and seemingly 24/7 opportunities to watch sport and put down cash – the sporting world is not working in her favour.  For help and support with gambling issues in the UK, you can visit GamCare.org or call the National Gambling Helpline on 0808 8020133. Tech Camera role Back to the World Cup in Qatar. There is an enormous imaging operation going on behind the scenes. There are a host of technologies monitoring the tournament from the pitch to the stands. The Aspire Command and Control Center – a technology hub using artificial intelligence to monitor images from 22,000 cameras positioned around the World Cup stadiums – is watching the spectators. They are looking for indicators of potential crowd surges or “dangerous” activity, using facial recognition technology to track individuals and group movements. Cameras are also watching the players. Fifa is using semi-automated offside technology to make decisions faster and more consistently – tracking the position of each player and the ball 50 times per second to provide an automatic alert to the match officials when a player is offside. Numbers Time’s up 27:14 – The amount of additional time – extra minutes added to the regulation 90 for injuries, time wasting and other stoppages – across the two halves during England’s 6-2 victory against Iran in Qatar. Every World Cup comes with its own surprises, but no one foresaw the sharp increase in additional time being one of them. Monday’s matches alone contributed four halves played with the highest stoppage time in a single World Cup match since 1966, including the 14:06 minutes played at the end of the first half of England versus Iran. The amount of time the ball is actually in play has come under the spotlight in recent years – in 2018, a study by the CIES Football Observatory found that in the Premier League the ball was only in play for an average of 50.8 of the 90 minutes of gametime. This has led to some calls for a rugby style “stop clock”– where the game is stopped every time the ball is out of play – and reduce the game duration to 60 minutes in total.  This proposal was rejected by Ifab, the International Football Association Board that creates and amends football’s rules. Ifab is separate from Fifa, but Fifa holds 50 per cent of voting power to bring new rules in, with a 75 per cent majority vote needed to pass any changes. If the start of the World Cup is anything to go by, 60-minute matches are a long way off, and 100-minute matches are here to stay. FOLLOWING ON Keeping tabs on the stories we’ve previously reported. Manchester United, the fourth most valuable football club according to Forbes, has been put up for sale by the unpopular Glazer family. Or, to put it in business speak, the club is “commencing a process to explore strategic alternatives for the club.” Having seen the relationship of their most marketable asset – Cristiano Ronaldo – sour in the past month leading to the Portuguese leaving the club, the Red Devils now find themselves in the market for new ownership alongside Liverpool’s Fenway Sports Group. Given the club is valued at roughly £5 billion, the pool of potential new owners is probably small. Sir Jim Ratcliffe, chairman and CEO of Ineos and a lifelong United supporter, may be one, with American hedge-fund owners or sovereign wealth funds the likeliest other bidders. The England cricket team, fresh from winning the Twenty 20 World Cup, was thrashed 3-0 in a 50-over one day series by their greatest rivals, Australia. The series was played to satisfy broadcasting commitments but the final game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground attracted a crowd of barely 10,000 to a stadium that would usually expect ten times that number for such a fixture. Beth Mead, the star of England’s European Championship-winning team this summer and the winner of the competition’s best player and the Golden Boot for top scorer, ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) while playing for Arsenal against Manchester United. ACL injuries are notoriously tricky to rehabilitate, throwing into question Mead’s availability for next year’s World Cup. To make matters worse, Arsenal lost 3-2 to United and lost their place at the top of the Women’s Super League table. Mead is nonetheless odds-on favourite to be named the BBC Sports Personality of the Year next month. Thanks for reading. Please share this email and tell us what we’ve missed. News tips and story ideas are welcome. Email them to sport@tortoisemedia.com. Paul Hayward @_PaulHayward Additional reporting by Keith Blackmore, Andrew Butler, Phoebe Davis, Luke Gbedemah and Sara Weissel.

thinkin

Sensemaker Live: Local elections – so what did we vote for?

Long stories short Perennial takeover bridesmaid Sir Jim Ratcliffe emerged as a potential buyer for Manchester United when they were put up for sale (see below).England’s No. 1 fast bowler Jofra Archer returned at a tour match in Abu Dhabi after 16 months out with elbow and back injuries.ITV World Cup pundit Nadia Nadim left a live broadcast when news reached her that her mother had been hit by a truck and killed aged 57.Cristiano Ronaldo walked away from £17 million in wages when his Manchester United contract was cancelled following an incendiary TV interview. Hat’s off to the World Cup – or else The moment Laura McAllister was ordered to remove her hat and take it to a “restricted items holding bay” was the start of a new tailspin for this World Cup. McAllister is a former Wales captain and academic who is in Qatar with the Welsh FA. Entering the stadium for Wales v USA she was told by security staff that her rainbow bucket hat was not permitted. McAllister made her way to the confiscation office but stuffed the hat in her pocket and took it to her seat as a small act of defiance. Intolerance by the Qatari authorities in the World Cup’s first week is being framed as a struggle for LGBT rights, which it is. But there’s another dimension which Fifa will hope goes unnoticed. The forced removal of hats, T-shirts, flags and armbands is also an assault on freedom of expression in all its forms. Germany’s team made this point when cupping their mouths with their hands before their defeat to Japan, in protest at Fifa threatening to book the captains of seven European teams if they wore a “One Love” anti-discrimination armband. The World Cup’s rhetoric of harmonious coexistence was never fully convincing. But the Qatar World Cup has shown it to be bogus. Another climbdown is underway, with Fifa reportedly telling national associations that rainbow symbols will no longer be taken into custody. Too late. Fans won’t trust a word of what Fifa says now about equality. The governing body is reaping a whirlwind for the dubious award of its 2022 showpiece to a repressive state. It said Qatar wouldn’t police free expression or ban rainbow symbols. Instead hats are going to jail. The tale of McAllister’s illegal headwear was the first of many. –   A Brazilian fan Victor Pereira claimed he was stopped from entering a stadium with the flag of his state Pernambuco, which features a rainbow that has nothing to do with LGBT rights. He said he had a video of the incident deleted from his phone. –   The American sports journalist Grant Wahl tried to enter the USA-Wales game in a rainbow T-shirt and was told: “You have to change your shirt. It’s not allowed.” –   Germany’s FA rounded on Fifa for silencing its team’s “voice” when setting out punishments for armband disobedience. McAllister appeared on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour on Wednesday to explain that she was willing to maintain her support for Wales in their first World Cup for 64 years, despite Qatari officials telling her what she could and couldn’t wear. Condemnation meanwhile was spreading. –   The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned Fifa’s threat to the European seven. “It’s always concerning.. when we see any restrictions on freedom of expression, especially when the expression is for diversity and inclusion.” –   Keir Starmer said in the Commons: “The World Cup doesn’t belong to Fifa and it doesn’t belong to the host nation. It belongs to everyone who loves football. It’s totally unacceptable that during this tournament gay football fans are unable to acknowledge who they love, and players have been threatened with suspension if they show solidarity with those fans. Shame on Fifa.” McAllister made the point that Fifa have violated the trade description act on what sort of World Cup fans could expect. “It may be a small matter of a rainbow bucket hat, but it’s emblematic really of basic principles that we believe in very strongly,” she said. A solution would be for football to adopt a charter of rights all would-be World Cup hosts would have to sign up (assuming you could trust Fifa to enforce it). As McAllister said on Woman’s Hour: “If a country can’t guarantee basic human rights for every citizen that wants to visit, whether they’re gay or straight or a migrant worker or a woman, then they should not be allowed to host a tournament of this magnitude.” Fifa and Qatar are backtracking to repair damage that already feels indelible. Editor’s note: Paul Hayward’s book, England Football, The Biography, tracing the 150-year history of the team, published by Simon & Schuster, is out now. You can buy a signed copy in the Tortoise shop at a special member price. Politics Running total The government has been slow to stump up the £50 million it promised for motor neurone disease research, so Kevin Sinfield, the rugby league legend, keeps on running to raise funds. At the end of seven back-to-back Ultra marathons from Edinburgh to Manchester, Sinfield arrived on the pitch at half-time in the rugby league World Cup final to rapturous acclaim. Across the seven days at stops and finishing lines Sinfield and his team met MND sufferers and families of those who’ve died. In sport, Rob Burrow, Doddie Weir, Stephen Darby and Ed Slater are among those with the disease. Sinfield ran for them all. In midweek, Ultra 7 in 7 donations passed £2 million. Sinfield has raised £7 million in all. The pressure is now on the government to honour its pledge. Media Called out Journalists will often say they took up the profession to “speak truth to power”, but, as executed in piercing brilliance by Hannah Jane Parkinson for the Observer, there is significant power in simply speaking the truth. To Parkinson, that is losing £40,000 to gambling on tennis after her addiction “spiralled” during the pandemic. To some, that addiction is profitable. The UK is one of the largest gambling markets in the world – but just five per cent of customers are responsible for 70 per cent of betting company revenue. The Times also reported this week – as the World Cup heats up – on the increase in people, especially young men, seeking the service of NHS addiction services for gambling. Behind every betting slip or smartphone screen is a person. As Parkinson points out, she hasn’t lost her job, friends and home yet, but she could. With a thriving gambling lobbying contingent in parliament, clubs beholden to gambling sponsorship and seemingly 24/7 opportunities to watch sport and put down cash – the sporting world is not working in her favour.  For help and support with gambling issues in the UK, you can visit GamCare.org or call the National Gambling Helpline on 0808 8020133. Tech Camera role Back to the World Cup in Qatar. There is an enormous imaging operation going on behind the scenes. There are a host of technologies monitoring the tournament from the pitch to the stands. The Aspire Command and Control Center – a technology hub using artificial intelligence to monitor images from 22,000 cameras positioned around the World Cup stadiums – is watching the spectators. They are looking for indicators of potential crowd surges or “dangerous” activity, using facial recognition technology to track individuals and group movements. Cameras are also watching the players. Fifa is using semi-automated offside technology to make decisions faster and more consistently – tracking the position of each player and the ball 50 times per second to provide an automatic alert to the match officials when a player is offside. Numbers Time’s up 27:14 – The amount of additional time – extra minutes added to the regulation 90 for injuries, time wasting and other stoppages – across the two halves during England’s 6-2 victory against Iran in Qatar. Every World Cup comes with its own surprises, but no one foresaw the sharp increase in additional time being one of them. Monday’s matches alone contributed four halves played with the highest stoppage time in a single World Cup match since 1966, including the 14:06 minutes played at the end of the first half of England versus Iran. The amount of time the ball is actually in play has come under the spotlight in recent years – in 2018, a study by the CIES Football Observatory found that in the Premier League the ball was only in play for an average of 50.8 of the 90 minutes of gametime. This has led to some calls for a rugby style “stop clock”– where the game is stopped every time the ball is out of play – and reduce the game duration to 60 minutes in total.  This proposal was rejected by Ifab, the International Football Association Board that creates and amends football’s rules. Ifab is separate from Fifa, but Fifa holds 50 per cent of voting power to bring new rules in, with a 75 per cent majority vote needed to pass any changes. If the start of the World Cup is anything to go by, 60-minute matches are a long way off, and 100-minute matches are here to stay. FOLLOWING ON Keeping tabs on the stories we’ve previously reported. Manchester United, the fourth most valuable football club according to Forbes, has been put up for sale by the unpopular Glazer family. Or, to put it in business speak, the club is “commencing a process to explore strategic alternatives for the club.” Having seen the relationship of their most marketable asset – Cristiano Ronaldo – sour in the past month leading to the Portuguese leaving the club, the Red Devils now find themselves in the market for new ownership alongside Liverpool’s Fenway Sports Group. Given the club is valued at roughly £5 billion, the pool of potential new owners is probably small. Sir Jim Ratcliffe, chairman and CEO of Ineos and a lifelong United supporter, may be one, with American hedge-fund owners or sovereign wealth funds the likeliest other bidders. The England cricket team, fresh from winning the Twenty 20 World Cup, was thrashed 3-0 in a 50-over one day series by their greatest rivals, Australia. The series was played to satisfy broadcasting commitments but the final game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground attracted a crowd of barely 10,000 to a stadium that would usually expect ten times that number for such a fixture. Beth Mead, the star of England’s European Championship-winning team this summer and the winner of the competition’s best player and the Golden Boot for top scorer, ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) while playing for Arsenal against Manchester United. ACL injuries are notoriously tricky to rehabilitate, throwing into question Mead’s availability for next year’s World Cup. To make matters worse, Arsenal lost 3-2 to United and lost their place at the top of the Women’s Super League table. Mead is nonetheless odds-on favourite to be named the BBC Sports Personality of the Year next month. Thanks for reading. Please share this email and tell us what we’ve missed. News tips and story ideas are welcome. Email them to sport@tortoisemedia.com. Paul Hayward @_PaulHayward Additional reporting by Keith Blackmore, Andrew Butler, Phoebe Davis, Luke Gbedemah and Sara Weissel.

thinkin

Pack it in: is it time to ban rugby?

Long stories short Perennial takeover bridesmaid Sir Jim Ratcliffe emerged as a potential buyer for Manchester United when they were put up for sale (see below).England’s No. 1 fast bowler Jofra Archer returned at a tour match in Abu Dhabi after 16 months out with elbow and back injuries.ITV World Cup pundit Nadia Nadim left a live broadcast when news reached her that her mother had been hit by a truck and killed aged 57.Cristiano Ronaldo walked away from £17 million in wages when his Manchester United contract was cancelled following an incendiary TV interview. Hat’s off to the World Cup – or else The moment Laura McAllister was ordered to remove her hat and take it to a “restricted items holding bay” was the start of a new tailspin for this World Cup. McAllister is a former Wales captain and academic who is in Qatar with the Welsh FA. Entering the stadium for Wales v USA she was told by security staff that her rainbow bucket hat was not permitted. McAllister made her way to the confiscation office but stuffed the hat in her pocket and took it to her seat as a small act of defiance. Intolerance by the Qatari authorities in the World Cup’s first week is being framed as a struggle for LGBT rights, which it is. But there’s another dimension which Fifa will hope goes unnoticed. The forced removal of hats, T-shirts, flags and armbands is also an assault on freedom of expression in all its forms. Germany’s team made this point when cupping their mouths with their hands before their defeat to Japan, in protest at Fifa threatening to book the captains of seven European teams if they wore a “One Love” anti-discrimination armband. The World Cup’s rhetoric of harmonious coexistence was never fully convincing. But the Qatar World Cup has shown it to be bogus. Another climbdown is underway, with Fifa reportedly telling national associations that rainbow symbols will no longer be taken into custody. Too late. Fans won’t trust a word of what Fifa says now about equality. The governing body is reaping a whirlwind for the dubious award of its 2022 showpiece to a repressive state. It said Qatar wouldn’t police free expression or ban rainbow symbols. Instead hats are going to jail. The tale of McAllister’s illegal headwear was the first of many. –   A Brazilian fan Victor Pereira claimed he was stopped from entering a stadium with the flag of his state Pernambuco, which features a rainbow that has nothing to do with LGBT rights. He said he had a video of the incident deleted from his phone. –   The American sports journalist Grant Wahl tried to enter the USA-Wales game in a rainbow T-shirt and was told: “You have to change your shirt. It’s not allowed.” –   Germany’s FA rounded on Fifa for silencing its team’s “voice” when setting out punishments for armband disobedience. McAllister appeared on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour on Wednesday to explain that she was willing to maintain her support for Wales in their first World Cup for 64 years, despite Qatari officials telling her what she could and couldn’t wear. Condemnation meanwhile was spreading. –   The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned Fifa’s threat to the European seven. “It’s always concerning.. when we see any restrictions on freedom of expression, especially when the expression is for diversity and inclusion.” –   Keir Starmer said in the Commons: “The World Cup doesn’t belong to Fifa and it doesn’t belong to the host nation. It belongs to everyone who loves football. It’s totally unacceptable that during this tournament gay football fans are unable to acknowledge who they love, and players have been threatened with suspension if they show solidarity with those fans. Shame on Fifa.” McAllister made the point that Fifa have violated the trade description act on what sort of World Cup fans could expect. “It may be a small matter of a rainbow bucket hat, but it’s emblematic really of basic principles that we believe in very strongly,” she said. A solution would be for football to adopt a charter of rights all would-be World Cup hosts would have to sign up (assuming you could trust Fifa to enforce it). As McAllister said on Woman’s Hour: “If a country can’t guarantee basic human rights for every citizen that wants to visit, whether they’re gay or straight or a migrant worker or a woman, then they should not be allowed to host a tournament of this magnitude.” Fifa and Qatar are backtracking to repair damage that already feels indelible. Editor’s note: Paul Hayward’s book, England Football, The Biography, tracing the 150-year history of the team, published by Simon & Schuster, is out now. You can buy a signed copy in the Tortoise shop at a special member price. Politics Running total The government has been slow to stump up the £50 million it promised for motor neurone disease research, so Kevin Sinfield, the rugby league legend, keeps on running to raise funds. At the end of seven back-to-back Ultra marathons from Edinburgh to Manchester, Sinfield arrived on the pitch at half-time in the rugby league World Cup final to rapturous acclaim. Across the seven days at stops and finishing lines Sinfield and his team met MND sufferers and families of those who’ve died. In sport, Rob Burrow, Doddie Weir, Stephen Darby and Ed Slater are among those with the disease. Sinfield ran for them all. In midweek, Ultra 7 in 7 donations passed £2 million. Sinfield has raised £7 million in all. The pressure is now on the government to honour its pledge. Media Called out Journalists will often say they took up the profession to “speak truth to power”, but, as executed in piercing brilliance by Hannah Jane Parkinson for the Observer, there is significant power in simply speaking the truth. To Parkinson, that is losing £40,000 to gambling on tennis after her addiction “spiralled” during the pandemic. To some, that addiction is profitable. The UK is one of the largest gambling markets in the world – but just five per cent of customers are responsible for 70 per cent of betting company revenue. The Times also reported this week – as the World Cup heats up – on the increase in people, especially young men, seeking the service of NHS addiction services for gambling. Behind every betting slip or smartphone screen is a person. As Parkinson points out, she hasn’t lost her job, friends and home yet, but she could. With a thriving gambling lobbying contingent in parliament, clubs beholden to gambling sponsorship and seemingly 24/7 opportunities to watch sport and put down cash – the sporting world is not working in her favour.  For help and support with gambling issues in the UK, you can visit GamCare.org or call the National Gambling Helpline on 0808 8020133. Tech Camera role Back to the World Cup in Qatar. There is an enormous imaging operation going on behind the scenes. There are a host of technologies monitoring the tournament from the pitch to the stands. The Aspire Command and Control Center – a technology hub using artificial intelligence to monitor images from 22,000 cameras positioned around the World Cup stadiums – is watching the spectators. They are looking for indicators of potential crowd surges or “dangerous” activity, using facial recognition technology to track individuals and group movements. Cameras are also watching the players. Fifa is using semi-automated offside technology to make decisions faster and more consistently – tracking the position of each player and the ball 50 times per second to provide an automatic alert to the match officials when a player is offside. Numbers Time’s up 27:14 – The amount of additional time – extra minutes added to the regulation 90 for injuries, time wasting and other stoppages – across the two halves during England’s 6-2 victory against Iran in Qatar. Every World Cup comes with its own surprises, but no one foresaw the sharp increase in additional time being one of them. Monday’s matches alone contributed four halves played with the highest stoppage time in a single World Cup match since 1966, including the 14:06 minutes played at the end of the first half of England versus Iran. The amount of time the ball is actually in play has come under the spotlight in recent years – in 2018, a study by the CIES Football Observatory found that in the Premier League the ball was only in play for an average of 50.8 of the 90 minutes of gametime. This has led to some calls for a rugby style “stop clock”– where the game is stopped every time the ball is out of play – and reduce the game duration to 60 minutes in total.  This proposal was rejected by Ifab, the International Football Association Board that creates and amends football’s rules. Ifab is separate from Fifa, but Fifa holds 50 per cent of voting power to bring new rules in, with a 75 per cent majority vote needed to pass any changes. If the start of the World Cup is anything to go by, 60-minute matches are a long way off, and 100-minute matches are here to stay. FOLLOWING ON Keeping tabs on the stories we’ve previously reported. Manchester United, the fourth most valuable football club according to Forbes, has been put up for sale by the unpopular Glazer family. Or, to put it in business speak, the club is “commencing a process to explore strategic alternatives for the club.” Having seen the relationship of their most marketable asset – Cristiano Ronaldo – sour in the past month leading to the Portuguese leaving the club, the Red Devils now find themselves in the market for new ownership alongside Liverpool’s Fenway Sports Group. Given the club is valued at roughly £5 billion, the pool of potential new owners is probably small. Sir Jim Ratcliffe, chairman and CEO of Ineos and a lifelong United supporter, may be one, with American hedge-fund owners or sovereign wealth funds the likeliest other bidders. The England cricket team, fresh from winning the Twenty 20 World Cup, was thrashed 3-0 in a 50-over one day series by their greatest rivals, Australia. The series was played to satisfy broadcasting commitments but the final game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground attracted a crowd of barely 10,000 to a stadium that would usually expect ten times that number for such a fixture. Beth Mead, the star of England’s European Championship-winning team this summer and the winner of the competition’s best player and the Golden Boot for top scorer, ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) while playing for Arsenal against Manchester United. ACL injuries are notoriously tricky to rehabilitate, throwing into question Mead’s availability for next year’s World Cup. To make matters worse, Arsenal lost 3-2 to United and lost their place at the top of the Women’s Super League table. Mead is nonetheless odds-on favourite to be named the BBC Sports Personality of the Year next month. Thanks for reading. Please share this email and tell us what we’ve missed. News tips and story ideas are welcome. Email them to sport@tortoisemedia.com. Paul Hayward @_PaulHayward Additional reporting by Keith Blackmore, Andrew Butler, Phoebe Davis, Luke Gbedemah and Sara Weissel.

thinkin

A ThinkIn with Nicola Adams

Long stories short Perennial takeover bridesmaid Sir Jim Ratcliffe emerged as a potential buyer for Manchester United when they were put up for sale (see below).England’s No. 1 fast bowler Jofra Archer returned at a tour match in Abu Dhabi after 16 months out with elbow and back injuries.ITV World Cup pundit Nadia Nadim left a live broadcast when news reached her that her mother had been hit by a truck and killed aged 57.Cristiano Ronaldo walked away from £17 million in wages when his Manchester United contract was cancelled following an incendiary TV interview. Hat’s off to the World Cup – or else The moment Laura McAllister was ordered to remove her hat and take it to a “restricted items holding bay” was the start of a new tailspin for this World Cup. McAllister is a former Wales captain and academic who is in Qatar with the Welsh FA. Entering the stadium for Wales v USA she was told by security staff that her rainbow bucket hat was not permitted. McAllister made her way to the confiscation office but stuffed the hat in her pocket and took it to her seat as a small act of defiance. Intolerance by the Qatari authorities in the World Cup’s first week is being framed as a struggle for LGBT rights, which it is. But there’s another dimension which Fifa will hope goes unnoticed. The forced removal of hats, T-shirts, flags and armbands is also an assault on freedom of expression in all its forms. Germany’s team made this point when cupping their mouths with their hands before their defeat to Japan, in protest at Fifa threatening to book the captains of seven European teams if they wore a “One Love” anti-discrimination armband. The World Cup’s rhetoric of harmonious coexistence was never fully convincing. But the Qatar World Cup has shown it to be bogus. Another climbdown is underway, with Fifa reportedly telling national associations that rainbow symbols will no longer be taken into custody. Too late. Fans won’t trust a word of what Fifa says now about equality. The governing body is reaping a whirlwind for the dubious award of its 2022 showpiece to a repressive state. It said Qatar wouldn’t police free expression or ban rainbow symbols. Instead hats are going to jail. The tale of McAllister’s illegal headwear was the first of many. –   A Brazilian fan Victor Pereira claimed he was stopped from entering a stadium with the flag of his state Pernambuco, which features a rainbow that has nothing to do with LGBT rights. He said he had a video of the incident deleted from his phone. –   The American sports journalist Grant Wahl tried to enter the USA-Wales game in a rainbow T-shirt and was told: “You have to change your shirt. It’s not allowed.” –   Germany’s FA rounded on Fifa for silencing its team’s “voice” when setting out punishments for armband disobedience. McAllister appeared on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour on Wednesday to explain that she was willing to maintain her support for Wales in their first World Cup for 64 years, despite Qatari officials telling her what she could and couldn’t wear. Condemnation meanwhile was spreading. –   The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned Fifa’s threat to the European seven. “It’s always concerning.. when we see any restrictions on freedom of expression, especially when the expression is for diversity and inclusion.” –   Keir Starmer said in the Commons: “The World Cup doesn’t belong to Fifa and it doesn’t belong to the host nation. It belongs to everyone who loves football. It’s totally unacceptable that during this tournament gay football fans are unable to acknowledge who they love, and players have been threatened with suspension if they show solidarity with those fans. Shame on Fifa.” McAllister made the point that Fifa have violated the trade description act on what sort of World Cup fans could expect. “It may be a small matter of a rainbow bucket hat, but it’s emblematic really of basic principles that we believe in very strongly,” she said. A solution would be for football to adopt a charter of rights all would-be World Cup hosts would have to sign up (assuming you could trust Fifa to enforce it). As McAllister said on Woman’s Hour: “If a country can’t guarantee basic human rights for every citizen that wants to visit, whether they’re gay or straight or a migrant worker or a woman, then they should not be allowed to host a tournament of this magnitude.” Fifa and Qatar are backtracking to repair damage that already feels indelible. Editor’s note: Paul Hayward’s book, England Football, The Biography, tracing the 150-year history of the team, published by Simon & Schuster, is out now. You can buy a signed copy in the Tortoise shop at a special member price. Politics Running total The government has been slow to stump up the £50 million it promised for motor neurone disease research, so Kevin Sinfield, the rugby league legend, keeps on running to raise funds. At the end of seven back-to-back Ultra marathons from Edinburgh to Manchester, Sinfield arrived on the pitch at half-time in the rugby league World Cup final to rapturous acclaim. Across the seven days at stops and finishing lines Sinfield and his team met MND sufferers and families of those who’ve died. In sport, Rob Burrow, Doddie Weir, Stephen Darby and Ed Slater are among those with the disease. Sinfield ran for them all. In midweek, Ultra 7 in 7 donations passed £2 million. Sinfield has raised £7 million in all. The pressure is now on the government to honour its pledge. Media Called out Journalists will often say they took up the profession to “speak truth to power”, but, as executed in piercing brilliance by Hannah Jane Parkinson for the Observer, there is significant power in simply speaking the truth. To Parkinson, that is losing £40,000 to gambling on tennis after her addiction “spiralled” during the pandemic. To some, that addiction is profitable. The UK is one of the largest gambling markets in the world – but just five per cent of customers are responsible for 70 per cent of betting company revenue. The Times also reported this week – as the World Cup heats up – on the increase in people, especially young men, seeking the service of NHS addiction services for gambling. Behind every betting slip or smartphone screen is a person. As Parkinson points out, she hasn’t lost her job, friends and home yet, but she could. With a thriving gambling lobbying contingent in parliament, clubs beholden to gambling sponsorship and seemingly 24/7 opportunities to watch sport and put down cash – the sporting world is not working in her favour.  For help and support with gambling issues in the UK, you can visit GamCare.org or call the National Gambling Helpline on 0808 8020133. Tech Camera role Back to the World Cup in Qatar. There is an enormous imaging operation going on behind the scenes. There are a host of technologies monitoring the tournament from the pitch to the stands. The Aspire Command and Control Center – a technology hub using artificial intelligence to monitor images from 22,000 cameras positioned around the World Cup stadiums – is watching the spectators. They are looking for indicators of potential crowd surges or “dangerous” activity, using facial recognition technology to track individuals and group movements. Cameras are also watching the players. Fifa is using semi-automated offside technology to make decisions faster and more consistently – tracking the position of each player and the ball 50 times per second to provide an automatic alert to the match officials when a player is offside. Numbers Time’s up 27:14 – The amount of additional time – extra minutes added to the regulation 90 for injuries, time wasting and other stoppages – across the two halves during England’s 6-2 victory against Iran in Qatar. Every World Cup comes with its own surprises, but no one foresaw the sharp increase in additional time being one of them. Monday’s matches alone contributed four halves played with the highest stoppage time in a single World Cup match since 1966, including the 14:06 minutes played at the end of the first half of England versus Iran. The amount of time the ball is actually in play has come under the spotlight in recent years – in 2018, a study by the CIES Football Observatory found that in the Premier League the ball was only in play for an average of 50.8 of the 90 minutes of gametime. This has led to some calls for a rugby style “stop clock”– where the game is stopped every time the ball is out of play – and reduce the game duration to 60 minutes in total.  This proposal was rejected by Ifab, the International Football Association Board that creates and amends football’s rules. Ifab is separate from Fifa, but Fifa holds 50 per cent of voting power to bring new rules in, with a 75 per cent majority vote needed to pass any changes. If the start of the World Cup is anything to go by, 60-minute matches are a long way off, and 100-minute matches are here to stay. FOLLOWING ON Keeping tabs on the stories we’ve previously reported. Manchester United, the fourth most valuable football club according to Forbes, has been put up for sale by the unpopular Glazer family. Or, to put it in business speak, the club is “commencing a process to explore strategic alternatives for the club.” Having seen the relationship of their most marketable asset – Cristiano Ronaldo – sour in the past month leading to the Portuguese leaving the club, the Red Devils now find themselves in the market for new ownership alongside Liverpool’s Fenway Sports Group. Given the club is valued at roughly £5 billion, the pool of potential new owners is probably small. Sir Jim Ratcliffe, chairman and CEO of Ineos and a lifelong United supporter, may be one, with American hedge-fund owners or sovereign wealth funds the likeliest other bidders. The England cricket team, fresh from winning the Twenty 20 World Cup, was thrashed 3-0 in a 50-over one day series by their greatest rivals, Australia. The series was played to satisfy broadcasting commitments but the final game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground attracted a crowd of barely 10,000 to a stadium that would usually expect ten times that number for such a fixture. Beth Mead, the star of England’s European Championship-winning team this summer and the winner of the competition’s best player and the Golden Boot for top scorer, ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) while playing for Arsenal against Manchester United. ACL injuries are notoriously tricky to rehabilitate, throwing into question Mead’s availability for next year’s World Cup. To make matters worse, Arsenal lost 3-2 to United and lost their place at the top of the Women’s Super League table. Mead is nonetheless odds-on favourite to be named the BBC Sports Personality of the Year next month. Thanks for reading. Please share this email and tell us what we’ve missed. News tips and story ideas are welcome. Email them to sport@tortoisemedia.com. Paul Hayward @_PaulHayward Additional reporting by Keith Blackmore, Andrew Butler, Phoebe Davis, Luke Gbedemah and Sara Weissel.

thinkin

Tortoise Festival of ThinkIns – Should men and women be paid the same in sport?

Should women and men be paid the same in sport? We’ve turned a corner in the past few years; there’s more respect for women’s sport, and much more coverage. But there isn’t – yet – anything like the money available to men. Does simple fairness demand financial parity for sportswomen at the stratospheric levels of some men’s sports? Or, with all the complaints from fans about the way money has wrecked men’s sport, is the question more complicated? If the rewards for female sports go up, and for men’s sport go down, might we see a rebalancing in everyone’s interests? Our special guests for this ThinkIn included: Tallulah Lewis, Women in Racing Chair Eddie Ramsden, Director at Lewes FC Ian Ridley, sports journalist and author  The Readout  We’ve turned a corner in the past few years; there’s more respect for women’s sport, and much more coverage. But for women, there is not anything like the money available to men. Does simple fairness demand equality? We came together to talk about the gender pay gap in professional sport, but left with a better understanding of why women’s sport is so undervalued.  The history. It’s worth thinking about the impact of the FA’s ban on women’s football (yes, really). In 1920, women’s football was more popular than men’s. Then the (all-male) FA, banned it. The lack of equality in pay, remarked one contributor, “is as a result of really low media coverage, driving really low interest and attendance, driving really low commercial interest.”  The decision makers. In the UK, nearly every major TV sports channel or Head of Sport position is held by a man. The exception is the BBC where Barbara Slater runs the show. This year, we’re being served a summer of women’s sport on the BBC. Not just the Football World Cup but the Netball World Cup, the Women’s cricket ashes and more. To create more exposure in the media, we should look at the people at the top who can spark change at the bottom. The problems start young. We were lucky to have with us teenagers from an east London secondary school – they spoke eloquently about the disparities they noticed between genders in sport in their age groups. Schools need to place equal value on boys’ and girls’ sports. At a professional level, women’s sports need to be valued equally in prize money. Two years ago, the FA increased prize money for clubs in the FA cup. They doubled it for the men – but left it the same for women. At every level female sport is dealt a dud hand. What next? The interesting question is not whether women and men should be paid the same (“of course they should!”) but how do we get to a point where women and men are paid equally as quickly as possible? The Lewes FC story – a (small) club where male and female players are paid equally is a fascinating story and worth returning to.

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Can women’s sport ever punch its commercial weight with men’s?

England’s women are World Cricket champions; the football team is on the rise and the leading women’s clubs in England are cutting a swathe through Europe; two women jockeys have just won Grade 1 races at the Cheltenham Festival. The crowds are growing but can women ever hope to command the commercial heights already scaled by the men? What is a Tortoise ThinkIn? A ThinkIn is not another panel discussion. It is a forum for civilised disagreement. Modelled on what we call a ‘leader conference’ in the UK (or an editorial board in the US), it is a place where everyone has a seat at the table. It’s where we get to hear what you think, drawn from your experience, energy and expertise. It’s where, together, we sift through what we know to come to a clear, concise point of view. It is the heart of what we do at Tortoise. Drinks from 6.00pm, starts promptly at 6.30pm. If you are late to a ThinkIn you can ‘SlinkIn’! If you would like to contribute to this ThinkIn, let us know by emailing thinkin@tortoisemedia.com We film our Thinkins so we can watch them back, edit the best bits and share them with members who weren’t there in person. Members can find their ThinkIn booking code in My Tortoise, under My Membership. The best experience to book a ThinkIn is via your app.