Are British immigration laws making soccer unfair?

In the Financial Times on Wednesday, Chris Cook argues that British immigration laws are giving an unfair edge to soccer clubs with more money.

Clubs with deep pockets hire the small number of local and foreign gifted players available, while poorer clubs must make do with the remaining, potentially much weaker, local journeymen.

Not only that, he says, but the protectionist measures of allowing non-European workers only if the fit certain high-skill benchmarks also inflate wages for less-skilled Europeans, raising ticket prices.

Cook contends tougher competition would boost the English national team:

The impact of more foreign players on the elite band of players who might conceivably play for the national team is that they need to play better to keep their places in their club teams. So, they improve. The English team has markedly improved since foreign footballers started pouring into the country’s top league.

Would some British and European soccer players be pushed out of work if rules were liberalized? Probably, but a more competitive league would be worth it Cook says.

Consumers of an increasing range of products will soon feel the pain in their wallets already endured by so many fans on a Saturday afternoon, who routinely complain that they pay ever-greater sums to watch a football league dominated by just four clubs. What English football needs is fewer English footballers. 

Not knowing that much about the economics of the Premiere Leage, here's a question: If teams in the lower half of the standings became much more competitive, would it increase their revenues? Higher ticket sales? More advertising?  

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images 


Why Hitler and AIDS awareness don't belong in a sex video together

When it comes to using Holocaust metaphors, the power of suggestion is a loaded and delicate thing. Striking the right chord becomes ever more slippery when, for example, you use the most recognizable image of Holocaust evil, Adolf Hitler, to illustrate the recklessness of unprotected sex. But you just about lose any hope of keeping that line clean and clear when you make a Hitler sex video for an AIDS PSA. Which is what a small German AIDS awareness group called, Regenbogen e.V, did. 

While the Telegraph says the clip appears to be a "typical advert" at first glance, I imagine most American viewers won't agree. The act of intimacy being portrayed is basically soft-core porn. It shows two very naked hard-bodies engaged in some very steamy sex. (Warning: this video ain't for the kiddies and is probably not safe for work.) The commercial's obvious-to-the-point-of-insult message, that unprotected sex is very, very dangerous, is hammered home with a rather indelicate ... bang. As the couple reaches climax, the man's face is revealed -- it's Hitler. Scary, indeed.

Not surprisingly the ad, released in Britain to coincide with World AIDS day, has created a storm of controversy. A spokesman for the National AIDS Trust, the group that coordinates World AIDS Day in Britain, had this to say: 

Of course there are many HIV organisations that run their own campaigns, however I think the advert is incredibly stigmatising to people living with HIV who already face much stigma and discrimination due to ignorance about the virus.

"On top of this it fails to provide any kind of actual prevention message (e.g. use a condom) and may deter people to come forward for testing.

"The advert is also inaccurate because in the UK thanks to treatment HIV is a manageable condition that does not necessary lead to AIDS.

Hans Weishäupl, creative director of das comitee, the group that created the ad for Regenbogen e.V, defended the work:  

A lot of people are not aware that Aids is still murdering many people every day. They wanted a campaign which told young people that it is still a threat," he said. "In Germany, Hitler is the ugliest face you can use to show evil." 

Provocative it may be, but successful? I doubt it. Would it be a gross and malicious misinterpretation to use this ad to say that people who have unprotected sex, or people with HIV or AIDS, are as evil as Hitler? Absolutely. Is it a stretch to say there are folks out there who will do just that? Nope.

Using the evil führer's personage for good is a tricky business, one that should perhaps be left to the Charlie Chaplins of the world.