worth a read

What Jack Grealish does in Tenerife should stay in Tenerife, and more of the week's best sportswriting

Also, one writer outlines how a decade of John Delaney has left Irish soccer in a sorry state of affairs.

1. Speak with those who work or have worked under John Delaney and they laugh at the idea that he’s a man of the people. “He’s not popular amongst staff because he’s arrogant to the point of hilarity,” says one. “In our office or canteen, you won’t see him, he doesn’t mix. Instead, almost by the hour, someone will be summoned to go to him to be addressed.” It shows a respect similar to a children’s television presenter talking to a glove puppet. But far more telling is that the person above and many more contacted all asked for anonymity and therein lies a strong sign of an uncomfortable culture in a behind-closed-doors organisation.”

Ewan Mackenna outlines how a decade of John Delaney has alienated stakeholders and left Irish soccer in a sorry state of affairs — yet he’s untouchable. 

Soccer - International Friendly - Republic of Ireland v England - Aviva Stadium FAI Chief Executive John Delaney. PA Archive / Press Association Images PA Archive / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

2. “A haunting yellowish glow radiates from the tiny section of empty wooden benches and crumbling concrete behind the north goal at Estadio Nacional. All around this space there is noise: 47,000 soccer fans screaming and jumping in delight as Chile’s national team plays Ecuador in the opening game of the Copa América.

But no one sits on those benches. They are reserved in perpetuity, a somber memorial to the thousands of people who were beaten and tortured here 42 years ago in the home of Chilean soccer.”

Former prisoners take the The New York Times back to 1973 when Chile’s Estadio Nacional, the site of six games in this year’s Copa America, became a makeshift prison camp. 

3. There has always been the nagging sense that Van der Vaart, for all the clarity of his vision and cleanness of his left foot, is an anachronism in a game that affords decreasing levels of indulgence for those dedicated solely to the business of creating. He was shuttled out by Spurs by André Villas-Boas when the more industrious Gylfi Sigurdsson pitched up in 2012, but the warning signs had been there too in a couple of sometimes spectacular seasons overseen by Harry Redknapp.”

Nick Ames in the Guardian looks back on the career of talented Dutchman Rafael Van der Vaart and questions whether his gifts have often seemed a step out of time. 

4. “The Grealish saga has encouraged me to challenge my own nationality – and I have seven years on the Villa youngster. It has also asked a question of the Irish nation.

While Ireland made history with their ‘Yes vote’ in the recent gay marriage referendum in May, the question of nationality is one which I suspect will come into focus in the coming years given the arrival of non-nationals over the past decade.”

Kieran Beckles gives an excellent view on how the Jack Grealish debate is more than a question of DNA, discussing how he struggled with the question of his own nationality up until his 20s. 

Jack Grealish celebrates scoring Grealish playing an U21 qualifying match for the Republic of Ireland. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

5. We pay your wages, as the chant goes – indeed, a hilarious amount of fans seem to think footballers literally work for them and could probably draw you a really bad crayon diagram explaining exactly how. 

Except they don’t. They play football for your club, at the market rate, and they’re really not morally obligated to spend their time off servicing your dim-bulb role model fantasy, 93% of which is predicated on the fact that you have unresolved issues about young working-class men getting rich. If they want to pass out in Playa de las Américas, get over it. Or go into analysis.”

Marina Hyde writes in the Guardian that what happens on a footballer’s holiday in Vegas, or Tenerife, should stay on holiday. 

6. Informal sharing of opinions, too, is part of baseball tradition. Spend any time around a ballpark, and you will see scouts from competing teams vigorously debating the potential of this player or that. In theory, this information could be useful, and it gets shared all the time.

But there have always been lines drawn about what is permissible and what is not. On-field gamesmanship morphs into sinister transgression if off-field tactics are used — corking a bat to help launch fly balls, for example, or using video equipment to steal signs.”

The New York Times reported Tuesday that the Cardinals are under investigation by the FBI over the hacking of an internal network of the Astros.

 ‘I’ve never taken PEDs and I never will’ — Mo Farah >

Explainer: What’s the structure for this year’s All-Ireland hurling qualifiers? >

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