Chelsea balls: Mourinho fights FA ban by blaming his bad English
Is Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho hiding behind his grasp of English?
The Times reports:
In the FA’s written reasons for giving Mourinho a one-match stadium ban, suspended for 12 months, and a fine of £50,000 after he suggested that referees are “afraid to give decisions to Chelsea”, it rejected any notion that the language barrier posed a mitigating circumstance.
Back in September, Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma said he was “sorry” for saying of teammate Diego Costa: “Everyone knows Diego and this guy likes to cheat a lot and put the opponent out of his game.”
Later Zouma, 20, then told the Evening Standard in admirable English:
“I did a mistake because I just wanted to say that Diego likes to put pressure on his opponent. After the game, I was tired and was chosen for doping control so I wanted to go quickly back to my house. I didn’t remember what I said and I didn’t expect it to come out like it did. It was a mistake and I am really sorry for it. It is my second year in England and my English is not perfect. Everybody can do mistakes. This day, I did. I never thought Diego is a cheat. He is a friend. I like this guy. On the pitch he gives everything for the club and the team. I hope he will continue like this. He should not change. I spoke to him and said, ‘Sorry, mate’ because I didn’t want to say that. English is not my first language, so I did not mean it. He told me: ‘It’s OK, no problem. I know what you wanted to say’.”
Language and footballers, eh.
It was, we firmly believe, the great Paul Merson who coined the term “a torrid” to connote the match-long suffering of a defender (normally a left or right back) at the hands of vividly in-form opponent (normally a winger or “pushed-on” midfielder) — in other words, “a torrid time”, but the adjective becomes a noun and the “time” is silent, hence “he’s given him an absolute torrid”.
It was also Merson, incidentally, who came up with the term “a worldy”, meaning “a world-class save”, and, as we have had cause to note before, that’s two more additions to the dictionary than any Poet Laureate in living memory has managed. If you want proof that the English language is vitally and compellingly alive, look no further than the former Arsenal winger’s desk on any Gillette Soccer Saturday.
Better to do as many footballers do and only talk about yourself, whether in the first or third person. Tim Sherwood of Aston Villa explains:
“We’ve got a manager in the opposite dugout today who’s not had it all his own way at every club he’s been at, but he’s come through and stuck to his beliefs. That’s what Tim Sherwood will be doing.”
Of course what Mourinho should have done is gone to ground, beaten the turf with an open palm (having previously run it over his scalp and checked for blood) and called for medical help.