It's a football tournament, Jim, but not as we know it
Euro 2012 starts today - but no-one's looking at the pitch ...
It's the start of the Euro 2012 Championships in Ukraine and Poland today, and it looks like the football is going to be an after-thought.
While expectations for Roy Hodgson's England team are at such a low ebb, they may actually help the beleagured squad do better than many expect, most of the attention has been on anything but the beautiful game.
Racism has been top of the list. First we had former England defender Sol Campbell suggesting fans shouldn't travel to the tournament as they're likely to return "in coffins", added to the decision of the families of England squad members Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain not to watch their boys in Ukraine because of fears of racist abuse and violence.
Now the Dutch team is claiming crowds at a training session subjected them to racist abuse and skipper Mark Van Bommel says he'll take his players off the pitch if it happens during a match.
Then we've had the protests over the treatment of former Ukraine prime minister Yuliya Tymoshenko, a pro-democracy leader who was sentenced to seven years in jail last year on charges of 'abusing her powers while in office'. German, French and Czech political leaders have boycotted the tournament, and now UK ministers plus the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry have confirmed they won't be going.
England's first game against France on Monday is going to feel like something of a sideshow.
Expect the sports media to have a hard job keeping their news colleagues from grabbing the best stories over the next few weeks. And pray for peace, honour and safety in the stadiums and host cities.
REV ELVIS TO STAR IN SHORT FILM
Remember Andy Kelso – Rev Elvis? He's been in touch to say that young film-makers Rob Gale and George Thompson are putting together a short film on his ministry incorporating Rev Elvis gigs, his work as a vicar and chaplaincy with Worcester Warriors Rugby Club. Keep an eye out for Finding Elvis. Andy's pictured left in action at a recent Jubilee festival.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
History teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves. God sent into the world a unique person – neither a philosopher nor a general, important though they are, but a Saviour, with the power to forgive.
Queen Elizabeth II
Thanks for CVM for reminding me about this quality quote from Her Majesty ...