Touched by the hand of God

Pele or Maradona? A question that will never have a definitive answer. For every ten that say Pele another ten will say Maradona. Even the games governing body, FIFA, could not separate the two, awarding a joint ‘Player of the Century’ award. After two different votes.

The mystique of the debate is only enhanced as both celebrate landmark birthdays within days of one another. On Saturday the 23rd of October Pele celebrated his 70th birthday. Tomorrow, 30th of October, Maradona turns 50.

Only in football can the two greatest players be born in the same week, albeit 20 years apart.

Two footballing Gods

Edson Arantes do Nascimento – remember it for quizzes – or Pele to the world, shot onto the global scene in 1958 as a fresh faced 17-year-old at the World Cup held in Sweden. He scored four goals in two games, including a hat-trick against France in the semi-final, to lead Brazil into the final against the hosts. Another two goals followed as Brazil ran out 5-2 winners. One of his goals was going to stand the test of time as he lobbed a Swedish defender in the box before sending a volley past the goalkeeper.

Pele was born and the World Cup was his stage.

1970 saw Pele join Rivelino, Jairzinho, Gerson and Carlos Alberto in one of Brazil’s greatest World Cup teams. The team won every game of the tournament including the 4-1 demolition of Italy in the final. It was one of the most complete footballing performances with arguably the greatest World Cup goal. And Pele was at the heart of the play. Feeding Carlos Alberto after a sweeping move.

Pele scored four goals to take his World Cup tally to 12 and it was the culmination of his Brazil career. Overall he scored 77 goals in 92 games. A phenomenal record.

However criticism was reserved for his club career. Other than a two year spell at the New York Cosmos he spent all his time at Santos. Never playing for a European club. He won a cluster of team and individual honours in his spell. But one can only wonder what would have happened if he tried his hand at a major European club.

A criticism that can not be laid at Diego Armando Maradona’s door. The Argentine God – in Argentina there is a Church of Maradona –  played for Sevilla, Barcelona and most memorably Napoli.

After a successful six years in his homeland Barcelona spent, a then world record, £5m on Maradona. But it was a difficult two years in Spain as he suffered an infamous leg break. When he moved to Italian side Napoli for £6.9m he only had the Copa Del Rey (Spain’s FA Cup) to show for his endeavours. But it was in Italy where Maradona’s career, both on and off-field, exploded into the public life.

As the goals and trophies flowed controversy followed. Worshipped by the Neapolitan’s, Maradona led the team to their only Serie A wins in 86/87 and 89/90 as well as a Uefa Cup, Coppa Italia and Italian Supercup victories in his seven years at the club.

Any football fan would delight at the wonder of his left foot and the emotion he took onto the pitch. Off the pitch however there were run ins with authorities as a drug problem increased.

It was after Napoli and a spell with Spanish side, Sevilla, that he failed a drug test for the second time. He had already been suspended for 15 months while at Napoli but the one that will stand out is at the 1994 World Cup. Maradona, captaining favourites Argentina, tested positive for banned substance ephedrine. Who can forget the footage of his celebration after a goal against Greece? His eyes literally popping out their sockets. It was no way to end an international career that dominated international football eight years earlier.

He did not make the impression that Pele did in his first World Cup as he ended the 1982 World Cup being sent-off against Brazil as Argentina were knocked out. It was 1986 that Maradona firmly planted his seed as a legend of the game. He captained the Argentine side in Mexico to a 3-2 victory against West Germany in the final. But it was in the quarter-finals against England that he will be remembered for. Controversy and genius rolled into one match. No match sums the stocky Argentine up better.

The ‘Hand of God’. A defensive mix-up sent the ball into the air in the English box. Maradona jumped with Peter Shilton and knocked the ball in with his hand. Controversy. Minutes later Maradona picked the ball up at the half way line and this time drifted past player after player before rounding Shilton and slotting into the empty net. Genius.

In 1990 he led the team again but could not inspire Argentina to a consecutive World Cup triumph. West Germany overcoming them in the final.

Diego Armando Maradona combined controversy with genius all his career. A flawed genius. One which fans love to love. Someone out of the ordinary. But someone with flaws which fans can relate. Maradona has every quality for a superhero.

He managed Argentina to a quarter-final place in the World Cup this year but still showed in training sessions he had a wand of a left foot. A wand of a left foot that has been replicated in another Argentine footballer.

Lionel Messi. The closest thing to Diego Armando Maradona. Minus the controversy.

International news in brief

EU leaders agree new eurozone rules

Rules designed to avoid another financial crisis have been agreed at an EU leaders’ summit. Leaders agreed to give the EU power to monitor national budgets, and have resolved to create a permanent fund to help the euro through difficult periods. Officials from the EU said the eurozone came close to collapse earlier this year because it lacked a fund to help keep it afloat.

North and South Korea exchange fire

Troops in North and South Korea have exchanged fire across the border, according to South Korean officials. Reports say North Korea fired twice at a frontline unit in Hwacheon, 56 miles north-east of Seoul. South Korean soldiers returned fire three times. Officials say it is not clear if North Korea’s initial shots were deliberately intended to provoke South Korean troops on one of the worlds most heavily fortified borders.

Bad weather affects tsunami relief

Efforts to help survivors of Monday’s tsunami in Indonesia have been hampered by bad weather. More than 400 people have been confirmed dead, with heavy rain and high tides making it difficult for boats to deliver aid to survivors on the Mentawai islands, located off the west coast of Sumatra. 300 people are still missing, with bodies still to be recovered from coastal regions. Officials in charge of the disaster relief mission plan to start distributing aid by air, but reports from the area say there are not enough helicopters to reach all of the affected places.

Afghan drug labs destroyed in US-Russian operation

Agents from Russia and the US have joined together to destroy drug laboratories in Afghanistan, according to the head of Russia’s drug control agency, Viktor Ivanov.  Agents seized more than a tonne of heroin and opium in the raids which took place near the border with Pakistan on Thursday. The drugs had a street value of £157m and are believed to have been destined for Central Asia. This is the first time a joint operation of this nature has taken place between Russia and America.

New Zealand passes Hobbit law

New Zealand’s parliament has passed legislation which means production of the two Hobbit films will be kept in the country, after making a deal with Warner Bros to keep the £315m ($500m) project. A dispute between Warner Bros and acting unions had endangered the production of the film in New Zealand, with Warner Bros threatening to move the project to another location. The government agreed to change labour laws after acting unions protested about terms and conditions. The deal between Warner Bros and the NZ government also included additional tax breaks and help with marketing costs.

Detention without access to a solicitor maybe modified

By Elizabeth Ting

The Scottish Supreme Court rule refusal will allow the suspects to have access to a solicitor in police interviews.

Question suspects

In the past over 25 years in Scotland, suspects had no rights to apply for lawyers when detained, which was incompatible with law in England and in most of the European countries.

In the judgment of Cadder v HMA, the case relates to whether an accused person should have access to legal advice where they are detained by the police for questioning, published on 26 October 2010, the Supreme Court decided this practice was contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights.

In 2005, the report of The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT), emphasized the importance of suspects having access to a lawyer from the very outset of their detention. The Supreme Court and police simply ignored the recommendations and became overly dependent on confession evidence.

“As a Scottish lawyer I am proud of many aspects of our system but this anomaly was not one of them.” said by John Scott, a solicitor advocate and the vice-president(crime) of the Society of solicitor advocates. According to Mr Scott, the appeal court in Scotland missed a final opportunity at the end of 2009 to address the problem. That will have to change.

“It is a significant moment for fairness in the Scottish criminal justice system that a detained person can now receive the advice of a solicitor and be represented in police interviews as a result of the Guidelines.” according to the responses of JUSTICE.

However, Alan Miller, chairman of the Scottish Human Rights Commission, fears there are legal loopholes and elements open to interpretation, which could expose Scots Law to further challenges in the Supreme Court. “If the legislation allows access to a lawyer to be diluted to a telephone call, especially in circumstances where the lawyer may not have adequate information about the circumstances, that may give rise to a challenge.” he said.

Grow your mo this November!

By Colleen Reid

Moustache legend - Tom Selleck

Men all over the world are ditching the clean shaven look this month to raise awareness for mens health.

Starting on the 1st of November, hundreds of thousands of men will start bare lipped and grow a moustache for the month to raise awareness of prostate and testicular cancer.

Dubbed ‘Movember‘, the global event not only raises awareness, but essential funds for men’s health charities such as The Prostate Cancer Charity.

According to Cancer Research UK, in 2008 there were 913,000 men diagnosed with prostate cancer worldwide and it remains the most common cancer in men in the UK.

The idea for Movember was born in 2003 and despite no money being raised, the event caught on. Last year, 255,755 people participated raising £26 million for the cause.

Following last years success as the face of Movember in Edinburgh, barber chain Boom Barbers are just as involved this time, offering free moustache maintenance and advice for men looking to get involved.

Stylist Scott Williams says “I think it’s going to be huge this year. Obviously it doesn’t start til Monday but I think there’s going to be a lot of publicity this year and it’s going to be really big. We’re going into peoples offices, people are coming in here and we’re working closely with the Movember organisers. We’re getting right in behind it at Boom Barbers. Like last year, we’re offering free moustache care for the month and we did a sponsored shaveathon at the launch a couple of weeks ago.”

At the end of the month, a special bash is to be held at city centre club Electric Circus to say thanks to all those fuzzy lipped Scots who took part. Electric Circus say “We did the party last year as well. The event is good fun, people are busy raising money but they’re also having lots of fun! It’s quite an unusual event, good entertainers, DJ’s and obviously we give Movember a charity rate because you’ve got to back charities with a good cause!”

Although they lack the ability to sprout facial hair, women need not be left out. Called Mo sistas, women can help by supporting their Mo bro throughout the month.

Local biology teacher Elaine Reid is supporting her husband and Mo-bro Darren. She says “I will manage to live with his hairy face for a month because its for a good cause but when Movember is finished it will definitely be shaved off!”

Men are urged to be proud of their Mo and help change the face of men’s health.



Transplantation anniversary

Edinburgh is the place to be when you need a kidney transplant as 50 years ago the first ever transplant took place. So much has happened since then and yet there are still so many people waiting on that gift of life that will change them forever.

Since that first transplant, 45,000 people have had their lives radically changed due to the generosity of others. And yet so many are still waiting for that gift of life that they need.

Part of the major campaign to raise awareness

Stefan Kormylo, 33, is one of the lucky people to have received that gift. “It’s an amazing transformation between living on dialysis, waiting on that phone call that will change everything, living a life with fluid and dietary restrictions and spending so much time in hospital. To then go from all that to living a life which is relatively normal in the sense that I can do what I like, from cycling to walking the dog to drinking what I like and not having to think about the unknown phone call that you so desire when living a life on dialysis.”

The difference in lifestyles are at different ends of the spectrum, yet more and more people are waiting for a kidney as each year passes. Within the last year there has been a massive increase in the number of transplants, a record high of 1791 kidney transplants took place, the highest in 14 years. But there are still 8000 people in Scotland needing a new kidney.

Dr Caroline Whitworth, head consultant in Renal medicine  at Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary hospital feels that we have a long way to go. “We have seen a big difference in the way we care for patients in the last 20 years with the advances in technology helping to provide a better health service. But there is nothing, as yet, we can do to increase the number of transplants without the generosity and kindness of people donating organs. It is amazing to think that so many people, in their final moments, want to make sure their death has not been meaningless and they give the gift of life.”

So with the Scottish Government deciding, for the time being, not to change the law from an ‘opt in’ system to an ‘opt out’ one, there seems to be a real focus on educating the next generation on the importance of donating organs. With transplant co-ordinators going into schools giving presentations on the importance of organ donation, they hope to change the opinions of next of kin when available organs come up for donation. At the moment figures show that 40 percent of organs that could be used for transplantation are being refused by the next of kin due to lack of knowledge and not knowing that their loved ones wanted to give this gift of life.

However, if we see the same medical advances in the next 50 years as we have seen in the past then transplant waiting lists may be a thing of the past, thanks to stem-cell technology. Scientists have made a stem-cell kidney but as yet cannot seem to get it to work like a conventional one. Until then there is a great need for organs. If you wish to register to donate your organs go to:



The final whistle on Scottish Football? An insight into the current furore

By Christopher Hall

For years Scottish Football has had it’s issues, everyone knows that.

Sectarianism, racism and debt have all manifested themselves over the last few years within the match day terraces and streets of Scotland. Refereeing enquiries, while omnipresent, are usually taken no farther than the post-match summary from the irate gaffer.

However, the question looms nearer. Are the current refereeing scandals a genuine threat to the game and the final nail in an already watertight coffin?

Only time will tell.

The happenings within the SFA will either be lost within a plethoric archive of footballing news articles or there will be a genuine outcome to this long running saga which poses a real significant threat to our national game.

To simply understand the situation you would personally have to comb through an infinite amount of news articles and reports and still not establish a firm conclusion. On the one hand, you have the letters from Neil Lennon outlining his misgivings with decisions given against his Celtic side at Tannadice and more recently at Parkhead in the Old Firm derby. On the other side, there are officials such as Stephen Craven deciding to quit the game in bizarre circumstances after his involvement in a decision to overturn a penalty for the Glasgow team last week. There appears to be a smoke screen appearing within the game which wont be cleared until the SFA provide their official investigation and a proper conclusion is reached which will allow normal service to resume.

To the fair minded individual, it is obvious that referees are not hired on the basis of their religion, creed or race but by their ability to handle a football match in a manner which is fair and competent. Edinburgh Napier News looks at some major decisions in Scotland in the past five years which have added fuel to the flames within the Scottish football refereeing debate:

* Hearts fans are incensed after Defender Takis Fyssas is given a straight red after an alleged challenge on Celtic midfielder Shaun Maloney (Jan 2006)

* St Mirren are in the news as Gus Macpherson is threatened with a fine for criticising an assistant official in a cup match against Dundee United. (Feb 2007)

* Craig Levein is fined £5000 by the SFA after a post match outburst against former whistler Mike McCurry. Levein was outraged after a string of bizarre decisions which went against his team in a match against Rangers (May 2008)

* Rangers player Kyle Lafferty is fined by his club after deliberately feigning injury which resulted in a straight red card for Aberdeen defender Charlie Mulgrew. (May 2009)

* Stephen Craven and Dougie Macdonald are under fire after awarding Celtic a penalty against Dundee United before quickly overturning the decision to the shock of Celtic Manager Neil Lennon (October 2010)

If you think that you’ve got what it takes to become a referee in Scotland the why not follow this link

Warning over fireworks danger

As Bonfire night approaches once again, hospitals and campaign groups are warning against the dangers of fireworks and bonfires.

With the number of accidents in the next week expected to be up on last year, the message of fire safety around on Guy Fawkes is more important than ever.

In 1994-98 three people died and over 6,000 people needed hospital treatment as a result of fireworks injuries..  Despite these shocking figures, the government ceased collecting the data around firework induced injuries.

Alistair Brown is a consultant plastic surgeon at Ulster Hospital and thinks people are taking huge risks. “Unfortunately we’ve had quite a steep rise of incidents over the past fortnight, in young men around 16 and 17 years old. ” Mr Brown said he has treated 12 people for fireworks injuries in the last few weeks, normally it is about two patients.

A police spokesperson said: “Fireworks are explosives and burn at high temperatures, so they need careful handling and storage; they are not toys to play with.They should not be lit by young people, adults should light them at arms length with a taper, and stand well back once lit.”

A  package of new measures made under the Fireworks Act 2003 designed to tackle the anti-social use of fireworks has introduced many changes. The Act included a curfew which stops anyone using fireworks from 11pm to 7am.  It is illegal for anyone under 18 to carry fireworks in public places.

Although the ban is lifted for special occasions, there are still strict time limits. This year bonfire revellers will only be able to buy fireworks between between 15 October and 10 November. Similar restrictions apply around Christmas and New Year and Diwali. For a list of registered sellers visit the City of Edinburgh Council Website.

Last year 398 people were reported for possessing fireworks without a licence. Police are urging members of the public not to make the same mistake this year. The licence for events where there are fewer than 100 spectators is £30.

Many animal rights campaigners are also speaking up about the dangers of fireworks.

A spokesperson from Campagin Group Ban the Bang said :”In the UK, more and more people use fireworks to celebrate personal occasions and other events. So besides traditional UK celebrations like Guy Fawkes night, the threat to wildlife is now extended throughout the entire year. New laws imposed in 2004 to curb the use of fireworks have made no difference at all.”

UK news in brief

High rate taxpayers face child benefit fines

High earners could be fined if they do not declare they have a partner who recieves child benefit, according to the Treasury. The “penalties” would  be given in cases of non-disclosure of earnings when cuts are introduced in 2013.

The confirmation of the penalties follows reports that a plan to stop child benefit payments to couples with one higher rate earner is unenforceable, which Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said was “nonsense”.

Baby P


Baby P doctor can challenge GMC hearing

A doctor who faced a disciplinary hearing from the GMC after being accused of failing to notice signs that Baby P was being abused has won the right to legally challenge the hearing.

Dr Sabah Al-Zayyat is looking to overturn a GMC ruling that did not grant her “voluntary erasure” from the medical register on health grounds. Her challenge will be heard by the High Court in November.

Air Passenger Duty to rise

Air taxes are to rise on Monday by up to 55%, which will make some trips unafforable according to the travel industry. A family of four faces paying 33% more APD (Air Passenger Duty) on an economy flight to the US. APD on premium class fares is double the economy rate.

Flights under 2,000 miles in economy class will have £11 of tax, journeys of 2,001-4,000 miles will have £60 tax and 4,001-6,000 miles are priced at £75 of APD. Flights of over 6,000 miles will cost £85 in tax in economy class.

7/7 firefighters were “hostile”

Firefighters at the Aldgate tube bombing in July 2005


The 7/7 terrorist attack inquests have heard that firefighters at the Aldgate bombing were “hostile” and “quite upset”. Paramedic Anthony Kamner, who was in the first ambulance to arrive at the Tube station after the attack told the hearings that firefighters “did not understand the role” of the initial ambulance which was to report to the control room describing the situation.

Mr Kamner said firefighters were “demanding” that he take some of the injured to hospital straight away.

Take That ticket sites crash

Ticket websites have struggled to cope with the number of Take That fans bombarding them to buy tickets for next summer’s tour, the first in 16 years to feature the full band line-up including Robbie Williams.

Sites including Ticketmater, Gigs and Tours, Ticketline and The Ticket Factory crashed as fans rushed to get their hands on tickets for dates in Sunderland, Manchester, Cardiff, Dublin, Glasgow, Birmingham and London.

BBC Journalists to Strike

BBC journalists are to stage two 48-hour strikes in the coming weeks as the long running row over pensions rages on.

The National Union of Journalists said its members will walk out on November 5 and 6 and again on November 15 and 16, with further strike dates to be announced in the coming days, including the threat of a Christmas stoppage.

The move follows a 70% majority rejection by NUJ members of the BBC’s “final” offer on pensions. The union described the proposed changes as making journalists “pay more, work longer and receive lower pensions”.

The union makes up 17% of BBC staff, UK-wide, with 300 members in Scotland. They said its 4,000 members at the BBC will also refuse to take on additional duties or volunteer for acting-up duties as part of an indefinite work to rule.

The dispute flared after the BBC announced plans to cap pensionable pay from next April and revalue pensions at a lower level, which unions said effectively devalued pensions already earned. BBC management said the changes were needed to try to tackle a huge pension deficit of more than £1.5 billion.

Speaking at the Edinburgh International Television Festival in August Mark Thompson told delegates: “We’re going through one of the most painful changes of all – confronting the fact that the current pension arrangements for people inside the organisation are simply no longer affordable.”

In what many commentators are predicting will be a winter of discontent, the strikes by BBC journalists could be the first in a long line of industry disputes. Firefighters are also threatening industrial action but it is yet to be seen if either of these groups will gain the level of public support being demonstrated on the streets of Paris, as Nicholas Sarkozy raises the age for the state pension.

Scottish news in brief

Gerard Kelly dies suddenly age 51

Gerard Kelly, who died on Thursday evening aged 51


Scottish actor Gerard Kelly has died in intensive care after suffering a brain aneurysm. Famous for parts in City Lights, Rab C Nesbitt and Extras, Kelly collapsed at his London home on Tuesday and passed away on Thursday evening. He was due to appear in The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the King’s Theatre in Glasgow next month, as well as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in December. A private service will be held for family and close friends, with details of a memorial service to be announced later.

Scottish Labour would cap council tax rise

Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray has announced he would cap council tax rises at one or two percent if his party to power at the Holyrood election next May. He has also suggested a public sector pay freeze of up to three years and warned the highest paid civil servants could see their pay cut by 5%, and launched Labour’s ‘doorstep election’ campaign at the Scottish Labour conference which is taking place in Oban.

Victim’s fathers to write to killer Tobin

Two fathers are to write to Peter Tobin pleadin

Edinburgh Airport terminal building

g to know why he murdered their daughters. Ian McNicol and Michael Hamilton are working together on the letters which they hope will provoke Tobin, who is serving life sentences for the murders of Dinah McNicol, Vicky Hamilton and Angelika Kluk, into confessing his motives. Mr Hamilton, whose daughter disappeared in Bathgate in 1991, told the BBC: “We want to get some kind of reaction from him, we are hoping it will upset him.”

Edinburgh airport drop-off charge introduced

A £1 drop-off charge for every car and taxi taking passengers to the terminal at Edinburgh airport has been introduced. BAA say the charge has been brought in to solve congestion problems caused by a lack of space  for cars to stop. A free drop-off zone is still in use at the long-stay car park which requires a shuttle bus transfer to the terminal building; the airport has bought two new buses for passengers using the free drop-off area.

State of the art scanners to improve diagnosis

New scanners at a specialised £20m centre in Edinburgh are to be used to improve the diagnosis and treatment of illnesses. The Clinical Research Imaging Centre, a collaboration between the University of Edinburgh and NHS Lothian, is the first centre of its kind in the UK. It is based at the Medical Research Institute in Little France and will be opened by the Duke of Edinburgh. The scanners allow non-invasive investigations, reduce the need for biopsies and mean doctors can scan organs in  under a second to see in great detail how they are functioning.