What Happened In The UK In 1996?

What Happened In The UK In 1996?

What Happened In The UK In 1996?

Breaking 1996 down into the biggest news, sports and entertainment events; here’s what happened…

Two tragedies hit the hearts of Britons in 1996, the nation’s sympathies going out to the people of Dunblane and Manchester. In Dunblane, a crazed gunman went on a shooting spree in at a local infant school, killing an entire class and their teacher. Later in the year, as a direct response to those ill-fated events, the Government announced that it would be outlawing almost all handguns in the UK.

In Manchester, a huge bomb devastated its busy central shopping area just as it was filling up with eager Saturday shoppers. Police managed to start an evacuation before it blew up but scores of people were still killed or injured in the blast. Such was the damage caused, that the episode led to a total regeneration of Manchester city centre.

Also hitting the news in ’96 was the introduction of the first genetically modified (or GM) food to go on sale in British supermarkets. Modified tomato puree was the cause of all the fuss with some critics dubbing it a «Frankenstein food».

The world of sport was dominated by England’s hosting of the European football championships (Euro ’96). The England v Scotland group stage match drew much attention with Gazza’s wonder goal eventually stealing the win for the home team. Cheered on by home support, the ‘Three Lions’ made it all the way to the semi-finals, the nation going football crazy as it looked as if England were really going to win a major tournament for the first time since ’66, then, as really should have been expected, they lost on penalties to Germany.

Entertainment wise, carrot topped Chris Evans re-invented the chat show format with his hit show ‘TFI Friday’.Presenting celebrity gossip, the hippest bands and lad friendly guests, this unscripted, chaotic program briefly made Evans the most sought after man on TV. Over on the BBC, a group of thirty-something lawyers were gaining huge ratings; ‘This Life’ being a bit like the American ‘Friends’ but with much more ‘bad’ behaviour and saucy goings on.

The big screen was blessed with one of the jewels of the British film-making crown, ‘Trainspotting’. Despite featuring heroin, needles, vomit and disgusting toilet bowls, this was the coolest thing of the year and took Ewan McGregor from nowhere to ‘Star Wars’. The more family friendly film of 1996 was ‘Toy Story’; it being the first feature length movie ever to be animated entirely by computer. The results were quite stunning and people flocked to see ‘Woody’ (a pull-string cowboy) and ‘Buzz Lightyear’ (a high-tech space ranger) battle it out to become little Andy’s favourite toy.

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4 Reasons Individual Awards (UEFA "Ballon D’Or" and FIFA "The Best") in Football Should Be Scrapped

4 Reasons Individual Awards (UEFA "Ballon D’Or" and FIFA "The Best") in Football Should Be Scrapped

4 Reasons Individual Awards (UEFA "Ballon D’Or" and FIFA "The Best") in Football Should Be Scrapped

The Ballon d’Or is an award awarded by UEFA and France Football magazine while «The Best» is awarded by FIFA, the ethically-challenged arbiter of the world’s most popular sport. Although prestigious as it is degenerate, both awards are nothing more than tangible compliments paid by the writers and experts (confederations administrators, coaches, football team captains, fans etc.) whose opinions and votes were canvassed. Presently, both awards have become an egotistical first past the post as nobody embodies the toxic and political nature of both awards than the recipients of the past decade. The comparisons of football players across and within football leagues (for these awards) is a time-honed guilty pleasure for fans. Like most sports awards, fans will always root for their favorites – but unlike many others, it’s hard to make a statistical case that one player is more valuable than another. The point is, teams are like machines. One part, no matter how important, cannot function properly without the other. That makes the award merely a measure of prolific goal-scoring but as any manager will tell you, that is probably not enough to carry a successful football team. Comparisons among football players are essentially what makes trading cards, sticker albums and fantasy soccer so popular but there should be no place for it in an official capacity. And how can we improve on what we have at present? The basic truth is we can’t, unless the awards are discontinued due to the following reasons:

Football is a Team Sport: Debate on individual footballers among football fans is fun but in a team sport with so many leagues, such individuality is impossible to measure precisely. Football (as we all know) is a team sport where eleven men from two separate squad of players compete against each other for a trophy or in modern times, to get a paycheck at the end of it all. Every football team requires world-class (supremely talented) goal-keepers, defenders, midfielders and attackers to excel and win domestic (EPL, Serie A etc.), continental (CAF, UEFA Champions League) and inter-continental (FIFA Club World Cup) trophies. No player or position is dispensable or greater than the other as they must all work in unison to achieve a common goal. Most great attackers of today (and yesteryears) would probably make terrible defenders and goalkeepers and most great defenders and goalies might be terrible attackers and midfielders in the game. It feels wrong to constantly elevate a particular set of football players over their teammates because of their position on the field of play. Football games are worn ‘Firstly’, by goals scored by a team’s strikers, midfielders, defenders and ‘Secondly’, by (potential) opposition goals stopped by that same team’s defenders and goal-keeper. No player truly wins a game single handedly except he plays all positions simultaneously – being at his penalty box defending and punching away the opposition’s shots on goal and at the same time running of to score all kinds of goals in the opposition penalty area. Most FIFA and UEFA individual awardees perform brilliantly when their team’s passing and playing style suit them thus giving them freedom like no other side would. Most managers strive to fit 11 players into the best team rather than having to fit the best 11 players into a team. There is a reason why reputable managers around the world like Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho have categorically despised and blasted such individual awards in a team based sport.

Biased towards Attackers: Winners of FIFA and UEFA awards (presently and in the past) are (nearly) always players who play close to the opposition goal – such as strikers and attacking midfielders – enabling them to score hatful of goals while putting faith in their teammates (defenders and goalkeeper) to prevent the opposing team from scoring and winning the game. In football, it is widely known and accepted that attack win games but defense win titles and trophies. Very few defenders and goalkeepers are recognized for their output on the field of play and the dirty work they do (so that their attacking teammates in the opposition goal can get the ball to score.) It is quite disheartening that attackers are paid way better than defenders and goalkeepers. Goalkeepers are usually the least paid in a football team, even with the alarming level of scrutiny aimed at them, which begs the question why anyone would choose to be a goalkeeper. No one has really found a way to compare the value of goal keepers to outfield players – much to the detriment of goalies. Should a goal stopped by a goalkeeper be treated as equally to a goal scored by a striker? How much should quality defenders influence our judgement of a keeper – and how much should quality midfielders influence our judgement of a forward? There can be no denying the fact that some players do improve the overall quality and effectiveness of certain teams, but even in that case, such extraordinary players wouldn’t be able to win anything for their respective teams if, for example, the goal keeper spills every shot fired at him by the opposition. The beauty of modern football is such that every player (bar the goalkeeper) is minimally required to score goals anytime, anyhow and whenever it pleases him or (to some extent) his coach, which makes the fact that individual awards given only to offensive players does a lot of disservice to their teammates and the sport.

No specific Criteria in given out the Awards: There are no specific criteria in given out individual awards to players by UEFA and FIFA in football competitions played. Most fans, and administrators do not know which competitions – the national league (EPL, La Liga, Serie A) the continental leagues (UEFA Champions League – since all FIFA individual awardees are based in Europe) or international tournament (The FIFA World Cup) – players’ performances in are given top priority when nominees for the FIFA and UEFA individual awards are compiled. Although most nominees and awardees of such awards play for football teams that are either champions in their domestic leagues or champions in the UEFA Champions League or champions in the World Cup (in a world cup year) with their countries, some winners of such awards play for club-sides and countries that were not champions in domestic, continental and international tournaments. Lionel Messi won the Ballon d’Or in 2010/2011 (because he scored 91 goals in a year) without winning Spain’s La Liga or Champions League with Barcelona or the World Cup with Argentina beating other deserving players who won at least one of the aforementioned competitions.

Breeds Individualistic and Selfish Footballers: In pursuit of individual awards from FIFA, some players forego team work and effort, preferring to go solo on the field of play – to show off (as fans would say) – to the detriment of the squad. Such players do not care if the team is winning or losing a game as long as they are scoring goals, boosting their goal tallies and being in contention for awards by shooting for goal instead of passing the ball to a better positioned teammate, taking every set-piece – free kicks, penalties, corner kicks – awarded in a game even when they have poor records taking such set-piece. This creates instances where a player wins The Ballon d’Or or The Best Player of the Year Awards because he has the highest number of goals in the football season in addition to 5 or 6 man-of-the-match performances and a few awesome highlight reels of the season while his team ends that season trophy-less and second-best in competition finals.

In conclusion, if there must be individual awards (for whatever bizarre reason) then they should be based on objective criteria such as number of goals scored (best striker), number of saves (best goal-keeper) or number of tackles made (best defender) etc. Even that wouldn’t make much sense because, again, scoring a goal is about team effort. No one player can score a goal without the help of his teammates. And Yes, even the solo goals require team efforts. Therefore, it becomes unfathomable as to why football’s governing body, FIFA would hand out these awards which are destructive to the very nature of the sport it is supposed to regulate. FIFA should not be lending its name to a beauty pageant.

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On Satellite Television Rebroadcast – Piracy and The Law in Nigeria

On Satellite Television Rebroadcast – Piracy and The Law in Nigeria

On Satellite Television Rebroadcast – Piracy and The Law in Nigeria

The growth in the Direct-to-home (DTH) satellite television industry globally is well documented. Nigeria is certainly one of the countries in which such growth is evident and there are at least four major competing satellite television services providers in the Nigerian market. In addition, there is a small but growing number of satellite television enthusiasts who explore the opportunities available for viewing satellite television transmissions without subscription. Generally, there tends to be widespread misconception among the wider populace that satellite television is automatically equivalent to subscription television in ignorance of the fact that there is quite a considerable amount of free-to-air (FTA) transmission available without subscription. It should also be mentioned, however, that some of the enthusiasts do stray beyond simple FTA television into realms bordering on illegality, depending on the circumstances, with the use of some satellite receivers with modified software to watch encrypted material without subscription.

The issue of legality concerning satellite television broadcast and reception in Nigeria is topical currently in light of litigation before the Nigerian courts involving some of the DTH operators in the market and various other parties, especially some cable television service providers. Typically, the DTH operator has paid top dollar for premium content – a prime example being English Premier League (EPL) football – and wishes to protect its revenue stream by avoiding or preventing its dilution as a result of the activities of those who seek to disseminate the same content independently of the DTH. This is more so especially where the DTH operator has paid for exclusive rights. The dissemination, independent of the DTH operator, is usually by some cable service operators who often will obtain the content by satellite and re-broadcast it via cable to their own customers for a fee. In this respect, the main legal issue is whether those distributing such content independently of the DTH operator have the legal right to do so. The on-going litigation in the Nigerian courts between Hi-Media (operators of HiTV) and CTL (a cable services provider) typifies the scenario painted here.

Evidently, where encrypted satellite signals are obtained from the facilities of a DTH operator with exclusive domestic rights and re-distributed for a fee domestically without the DTH operator’s authorisation or consent, the rebroadcast is most likely an unlawful violation of the intellectual property rights of the DTH operator. However, Nigerian law is not entirely clear on the question of the legality of the rebroadcast of satellite signals within Nigeria where the signals are broadcast from outside the country of reception, by an operator that does not have domestic broadcast rights and, especially, where the signals are transmitted FTA without encryption. This scenario is also unfolding in Nigeria with the recent complaints lodged with Nigerian authorities by some Middle East & North Africa (MENA) DTH operators, especially Orbit Showtime about the rebroadcast of their signals by some cable service operators in Nigeria. In fact, the question of re-broadcasting of FTA signals is a constant issue of controversy and legal uncertainty in other countries particularly in Europe. For example, there was a recent crack-down in Spain on ‘illegal’ broadcasters. However, the crack-down seems to have been focused on operators re-broadcasting encrypted content without authorisation whereas it seems that those operators who re-broadcast FTA signals have largely been able to continue their operations as long as they are legally compliant in other respects such as basic licensing requirements and tax responsibilities.

In respect of the situation in Nigeria, the issues turn ultimately on questions of interpretation and application of Nigerian common law and a number of Nigerian legislation including the Copyright Act as amended. It is evidently very likely that the courts will rule that the domestic rights holder of particular content (exclusive rights in the case of EPL football) is able to challenge and restrain any rebroadcast of its own signals without its content or authorisation. It is a different matter if transmission signal for that same content has been obtained from a different source. e.g. a foreign broadcaster of EPL football as opposed to the domestic rights holder. Nevertheless, in such a case the domestic rights holder with exclusive rights may be able to successfully rely on the exclusivity of its own rights irrespective of the source from which the re-broadcaster might have obtained the signal. Potentially, the foreign rights holder may also claim for the violation of its own intellectual property rights.

The least clear legal situation concerns the re-broadcasting in Nigeria of FTA content transmitted or originating from a foreign country. From a wider perspective, there have always been at least two views of this situation. Firstly, the view exists that as long as the domestic re-broadcaster has a suitable broadcasting license and is otherwise in compliance with other relevant law, the re-broadcasting of FTA content is acceptable. Some argue that this explains the activities of some operators in some European countries e.g. Spain, Switzerland etc, where the re-broadcasting of signals originating from another country, especially the United Kingdom, is a well known phenomenon. The second view is that the re-broadcasting of FTA content without the authorisation of the (foreign) origin at least should always be illegal if it is not already so. Evidently, the rebroadcast involves taking advantage of the intellectual property of the originator but other considerations are also taken into account such as that the originator might itself be geographically restricted in terms of its broadcasting rights and that advertisements may be targeted at a particular country.

It is thought that the ongoing litigation before the Nigeria courts does not directly touch on the question of the re-broadcasting in Nigeria of FTA signals originating abroad. It is hoped that the Nigerian courts will provide clarification on the matter at the earliest arising opportunity.

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PES Games – A History Of Pro Evolution Soccer Part 2

PES Games – A History Of Pro Evolution Soccer Part 2

PES Games – A History Of Pro Evolution Soccer Part 2

In 2003, Pro Evolution Soccer 3 was released and included a big game play engine update, introducing new features such as the advantage rule and much improved long-ball passing techniques. PES games were now starting to get their hands on lesser European licenses such as the Dutch Eredivisie, but at least this was a start or inroad into FIFA’s dominance by Konami.

Pro Evo 3 was the first PES game to be programmed for PC via Microsoft and it was popular, but the lack of online mode disappointed. Further enhancements to the licensing agreement occurred over the next few PES iterations, with many more official teams and players included, but the big one, the Premier League, always eluded Konami – not something FIFA was willing to give up. The Master League (career mode) was expanded and editing options improved, making likenesses even closer to reality.

In 2005 Pro Evolution Soccer 5 finally cemented Pro Evo online, allowing players to play against other PES gamers anywhere in the world. Jubilation reigned in online forums as we finally got real English teams, albeit only two – Arsenal and Chelsea, but again it was a start.

At this point in history PES was still dominant over FIFA, generally getting higher review scores, despite the lack of complete licenses throughout the game. PES stood up so well against the FIFA machine because of the superb two player experience.

Playing against a computer can only ever be so good, as computer AI is still no match for the gaming experience of another human being. It was this sense of randomness and downright fun that kept Pro Evo at the top of the footy charts and this position was further solidified in Pro Evolution Soccer 6, which for many PES fans was the finest hour for Konami.

Pro Evo 6 or Winning Eleven 10 had most of the best elements that have survived to the present incarnation. Fast, fluid, attacking football, a combative tackling mechanic and a slew of new tricks and flicks. To go along with the ever present official Japanese strip, the England National team were now decked out in their official kit as well as other nations. The Xbox version even had next generation high-definition graphics and this would be the last version before Pro Evo made the transition to PS3.

There was no Pro Evo 7, the next installment would arrive in 2007 and the naming convention changed into what remains to this day – Pro Evolution Soccer 2008 or PES 2008. This was the first version to debut on PS3, but still remained on PS2 and the other consoles. High definition graphics enhanced the gaming experience and PES started to move away from FIFA in the player likenesses stakes, although at the same time the complacency led to FIFA closing the gap and it was around these years that FIFA for the first time started to achieve higher review scores, as ironically, it was likened to the PES game play of old.

Even though many things improved, PES games started to struggle during the versions 2008-2012. Improvements in graphics, master league, competitions, licenses and online play, were negated by fussy changes to game play, that made Pro Evo harder, but sometimes less fun. It seemed that the game almost had a cheat mode in player versus computer games on harder skill levels, as it could be almost impossible to win the ball back or keep it against the computer. Keepers would inexplicably parry weak shots straight back out to unmarked strikers for easy tap ins and referees could be incredibly harsh, sending players off for minor offences, whereas it seemed computer controlled players could get away with murder!

The last few years have been repeated ‘overhaul’ fixes for PES as they’ve tried to regain top spot. Shingo Takatsuka known as ‘Seabass’ has come up with multiple buzz words every year as Pro Evo innovates and pushes the limits of the high-definition consoles and what PS3 And XBOX 360 can handle. The online play has improved on PS3 as it struggled at first to catch up to the online system XBOX had in place and now the edit modes, coupled with the skill and efficiency of PES fans means that the lack of licenses is almost irrelevant.

PES games will have their latest blockbuster out in October 2012 and by all accounts, online rumours and playable demos, PES is back. The review scores were close to FIFA last year and although the FIFA machine now exudes a high level of polish and superb game play, if PES 2013 regains some of that magic from the mid noughties, it’ll be top dog again this autumn.

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Review of Players Short Listed for the FIFA 2007 Player of the Year Award

Review of Players Short Listed for the FIFA 2007 Player of the Year Award

It is time of the year where the FIFA world player of the year is decided by the votes of coaches and captains of national team worldwide.

But before we go into the discussion of the list of players drawn for 2007, an introduction of the mechanism of the system would be discussed first. The award was started in 1991 for the male player and in 2001 for the female player categories respectively. Basically, the coaches and national team captains would vote for players drawn by the technical committees of FIFA. The system used is called the Borda count where each coach and captain would get three votes (one of five points, one of three points and one of one point) to cast for the players of his choice. And the winner would be determined by the total of points received. The winner last year is Italian defender Fabio Cannavaro of Real Madrid.

Now to the list of players short listed for the award this year. Heading the list are five players of Italian descent, they are Cannavaro, Gianluigi Buffon, Gennaro Gattuso, Alessandro Nesta and Andrea Pirlo. Except for Cannavaro and Buffon (Juventus), the remaining three players of the UEFA 2006-2007 champions league winners AC Milan. However the chances of an Italian repeating the feat of winning is slim this year as the national team did not perform to its best after World Cup 2006 and as for domestically, the Serie A is recovering from the scars of the scandal hit season.

Next up would be the discussion of the English contenders for the title. They are Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), John Terry (Chelsea) and Wayne Rooney (Manchester United). Looking at chances of the English contenders, none of them have high chances of clinching the title as the English national team has a difficult Euro 2008 qualifying campaign so far and they did not any outstanding club exploits last season. The other reasons are although Manchester United and Chelsea went head to head in the Premiership race, they failed to impress at the UEFA Champions league level. As for Gerrard, if Liverpool did won the last season UEFA Champions league final against AC Milan, then his chances would be different. However they did not and Liverpool had another of its forgettable seasons in the league again.

As for the French, they have Thierry Henry (Barcelona), Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich), Lillan Thuram (Barcelona) and Patrick Vieira (Inter Milan) short listed. At the moment, the chances of the French are as slim as the English for similar reasons. Henry has been a world class player, but he could not inspire Arsenal to the Premiership title and for this season, he is still adapting to his new club, Barcelona. Ribery also did not have the best of seasons last year and has changed clubs in the summer, leaving for Bungesliga Giants, Munich from the sleeping giants of French Football, Marseille. In Vieria’s case, Inter Milan did retain their Serie A title last season, but as mentioned above, the title seen to be given to Inter midst point deduction for several Serie A clubs and demotion of Juventus. Hence he would not have a high chance in this year’s competition for the best player’s title. For Thuram, it is even more gloomer as he did not feature in a lot of his club’s games last season and Barcelona failed to defend its La Liga title.

Brazil has three players short listed in Kaka (AC Milan), Juninho (Lyon) and Ronaldinho (Barcelona). Although the Brazilians have a forgettable world cup 2006, however one of three can be considered as a highly possible contender for the title. He is Kaka. The reason is that he has also won the FIFPro 2007 Player of the year award and it was he that inspired AC Milan to winning the UEFA Champions League midst a disappointing Serie A 2006-2007 campaign. As for Ronaldinho, a previous two time winner (2004 and 2005), his chances this year are quite slim as he was not in the best form last season with the Catalans Giants as they lost out to Real Madrid in the La Liga title. In the case of Juninho, other than inspiring Lyon to six consecutive French Ligue 1 titles, he had no major efforts of note last season.

As for Brazil’s South American rival, Argentina too has three players short listed in Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Juan Roman Riquelme (River) and Carlos Tevez (Manchester United). Of the three, Messi’s chances are the highest as he has continued where he left off last season with eight goals in as many games this season. Tevez had a difficult season in which his transfer reeks of a drama serial while Riquelme with his talent to a lot of people has choked on the big stages once too often.

Another highly possible contender for the title is Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United. With his 23 goals, English Premiership Player of the year award and PFA player’s player of the year award last season, he can be seen as a major reason why Manchester United managed to regain the English Premiership title. Furthermore, in midst of enduring an anti-Ronaldo season after his antics at World Cup 2006, it is a wonder that he could conjure up such a wonderful season. Another Portuguese short listed is Deco of Barcelona who for all his talents was a bit player for Catalans last season and hence his chances are not very high then.

The remaining players of the short list are Fernando Torres (Spain, Liverpool), Ruud Van Nistelrroy (Holland, Real Madrid), Petr Cech (Czech Republic, Chelsea), Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast, Chelsea), Michael Essien (Ghana, Chelsea), Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon, Barcelona) and Rafael Marquez (Mexico, Barcelona). Of seven remaining players, Ruud Van Nistelrroy may have the best chance as he was the top scorer for Real Madrid in their title winning squad last season and has continued his fine form this season. As for players of Chelsea and Barcelona, their failure in defending the title and poor UEFA Champions League showing would count against them. Lastly, Torres, the sole Spanish in the list, like Henry has traded clubs where he left his boyhood club, Atletico Madrid for English side Liverpool in the summer. His chances are very slim as during his time as Atletico Madrid, the team failed to establish it as La Liga contenders and as for his new club, he is still adapting there.

Lastly to summarize my views on FIFA 2007 Player of the year, my choice of player to win is the Kaka of AC Milan with Lionel Messi (Barcelona) and Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United) to give him a run for the title. The results would be out this December 2007 at the FIFA World Player Gala in Zurich.

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