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Froome out of TDF
at 15:19 12 Jun 2019

Ffs, broken leg.

Clears the way for G at least.
Panorama tonight.
at 22:25 22 May 2019

Fecking horrendous. I've worked in care with adults with mental health issues. This upsets me no end.
at 15:34 10 Apr 2019

Just gonna leave this here...
Man Utd
at 20:06 6 Mar 2019

Game on!
at 16:21 6 Mar 2019

Interesting article in the times.

Most people would probably agree that the success of football is constructed upon tribal psychology. Our ancestors had to protect land to survive, particularly after the agricultural revolution about 12,000 years ago. This required in-groups that were highly cohesive. Groups that tended to fracture or disperse at the first sign of trouble were wiped out.

Doesn’t this ancient history reach into the heart of football’s appeal? Every weekend, tribes make incursions into enemy territory and defend their own. An experiment by Northumbria University found that footballers playing at home registered testosterone levels 40 per cent higher than their opponents, rising to 67 per cent against fierce rivals. This fits the imperative of territorial defence, and probably goes some way to explaining home advantage.

Or consider an experiment by Muzafar Sheriff, the psychologist who took 22 children, aged 12, to summer camp. They were housed in different parts of the park but immediately started marking out territory and forging in-group identities. Within days they had rituals, flags and other identifying artefacts. They also chanted their own songs (Sheriff doesn’t tell us whether “the greatest club the world has ever seen” was among the offerings) and were seized by something close to fury when outsiders came near their “turf”.

What I would like to focus on, however, is an overlooked aspect of in-group psychology: not the desire to combat outsiders, but to combat flaky insiders. This was important in evolutionary terms as a way of deterring treachery. Jonathan Haidt, the psychologist, has noted that while the Koran is full of warnings about out-groups, such as Jews, it reserves its greatest ire for apostates. The same is true of Dante’s Inferno, “which reserves the innermost circle of hell — and the most excruciating suffering — for the crime of treachery”.

So powerful are these instincts that they have spawned a name: horizonal hostility. Studies have shown, for example, that vegans harbour their most intense hatred not for meat-eaters, but vegetarians. Why? Because vegetarians may be a part of the in-group but they lack the “true” commitment to resist animal products such as eggs. Veggies, to vegans, are not sufficiently vegetarian. Adam Grant, the psychologist, notes that when a deaf woman won the Miss America crown, instead of cheering her on as a trailblazer, deaf activists protested. Why? “Since she spoke orally, rather than using sign language, she wasn’t ‘deaf enough’.”

Football is a vivid theatre for such emotions and instincts. We are all familiar with the rivalries between supporters of Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal, or Liverpool and Manchester United, but does anything come close to the detestation of the “plastic fan”? This is someone who stands on the inside, who wears the colours, but isn’t sufficiently committed. He is an insider, but not enough.

Note that the plastic fan cannot be allowed to be a decent person, with a job or family life that make it difficult to attend every single match. No, he has to be a fake. He has to carry the shame of being a member of a tribe without being wholly loyal to it, a vegetarian who hasn’t got the balls to become an out-and-out vegan. Perhaps there is no more hated figure in football.

I remember being in Liverpool a couple of years ago, about the time of the protests over ticket prices. You may remember that some fans staged a walkout in the 77th minute over proposed hikes, while others stayed in their seats. It wasn’t the difference in opinion between those two groups that struck me — those who walked out wished to send a signal to the board, while those who stayed in their seats wished to support the team, and signal to the board in a different way.

No, what shocked me was the sheer animosity between fans of the same club. One person who walked out told me that he would “never forgive” the splitters who failed to stand up for the cause, while another who stayed in his seat said on a forum: “People were bullied to leave, abused that they didn’t, in a highly divisive stunt that left those of us loyally supporting our team and our club, saddened and vilified.” I couldn’t help thinking of the People’s Front of Judea and the Judean People’s Front.

Campbell suffered a torrent of abuse when he returned to Tottenham with Arsenal
Campbell suffered a torrent of abuse when he returned to Tottenham with Arsenal
Players also run the gauntlet of our highly attuned betrayal psychology. It is noteworthy that language itself undergoes a subtle shift depending on the form of a team. When a team are winning, fans say: “We won today.” When they are not playing so well, however, this suddenly becomes: “They blew it today.” It won’t do for the team to simply play below par. No, they have to be linguistically dispatched to the out-group, even though they are still wearing the same kit.

One notes, too, that while there are many players who have worn the Arsenal strip, none has been so universally hated by Spurs fans as Sol Campbell. His transfer was not seen as a sensible move by a fine player looking for more trophies and a larger income, but as an act of naked treachery. Fans were still holding up signs saying “Judas” more than a decade later.

Think of Ashley Cole (Arsenal to Chelsea), Figo (Barcelona to Real Madrid) and Roberto Baggio (Fiorentina to Juventus). Wayne Rooney is a particularly interesting case, for he “betrayed” Everton by moving to Manchester United, but then returned. “Once a blue, now a red, in our hearts, always dead”, didn’t quite have the same resonance at that point. Even by the end, hardcore fans seemed unsure whether he was a true believer, a traitor, or a prodigal son.

Our politics right now evokes this phenomenon too. You may have noticed that many politicians are not entirely happy in their parties but what is fascinating is the way that MPs do not seek to justify staying or leaving in relation to what is best for the country or even in terms of electoral success, but in the language of treachery. Those who stay say, “I cannot betray my party”, while those who leave say, “I cannot betray my conscience”.

Perhaps modern life can be seen as a prolonged attempt to reconcile and occasionally transcend our tribal instincts. What is certain is that football’s success as a cultural phenomenon reflects its in-group foundations. Most of us can feel the allure of being in a tribe, of standing with people of the same stripe; us against the world. But perhaps there is nothing we like more than raging against plastic fans, and traitorous players. The damn splitters.
Ronnie O'Sullivan
at 12:35 5 Mar 2019

Back on the green stuff it would appear 😅
at 16:46 28 Feb 2019

at 14:27 26 Feb 2019

Whilst music to the ears of some on here, it's ridiculous to think that the WRU have considered merging them with the Blues, Scarlets or even disbanding altogether!
All Elite Wrestling
at 19:16 6 Feb 2019

Going to upset the apple cart? Rumours of a big money, 'too good to turn down' offer for a major WWE star (Randy Orton)
at 20:56 7 Nov 2018

NSR Douglas Costa
at 18:52 16 Sep 2018

Should've been knocked out.

World Cup (@FlFAWC2018) Tweeted:
Douglas Costa’s performance against Sassuolo today. This man is crazy, I have lost a lot of respect for him. This is disgraceful 🤮😷
[Post edited 16 Sep 2018 18:53]
Fans who actually do something about their club's plight
at 21:54 6 Jun 2018
Karius concussed
at 20:33 4 Jun 2018
Player loyalty
at 20:02 29 May 2018

Think we'll have many stay loyal to us?
Manchester arson
at 21:54 24 May 2018

Not really a fan of capital punishment, but I'd happily push this lot off a cliff.
Ripping, digitally remastering a cassette tape?
at 23:07 15 May 2018

I don't know the terminology, but is there a way/company who can convert an audio cassette to digital and improve the quality? I appreciate this may be relatively simple, but I'm inept!
Jos Buttler
at 19:24 13 May 2018

Fifth fifty in a row in the ipl since he's moved to opener. Third mom in a row. Last two innings 95* and 94*.

Where's the press conference?
at 22:47 10 May 2018

I was looking forward to it.
One of the saddest things
at 22:05 8 May 2018

Cardiff were a basket case, but their owner learnt his lesson.

We were held up as the answer, but our owners thought they knew better.

Russian influence on the last election
at 18:35 29 Apr 2018

Exposed: Russian Twitter bots tried to swing general election for Jeremy Corbyn
Robot accounts rooted for Labour and attacked Tories

April 29 2018, 12:01am, The Sunday Times

Jeremy Corbyn saw support for the Labour Party rise from 25% of the electorate to 40% over the course of last year’s election campaign
Jeremy Corbyn saw support for the Labour Party rise from 25% of the electorate to 40% over the course of last year’s election campaign
The first evidence of Russian attempts to influence the result of the general election by promoting the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has emerged in a ground-breaking investigation into social media by this newspaper.

Our research, in conjunction with Swansea University, discovered that 6,500 Russian Twitter accounts rallied behind Labour in the weeks before last year’s election, helping supportive messages to reach millions of voters and denigrating its Conservative rivals.

Many of the Russian accounts can clearly be identified as internet robots — known as bots — that masqueraded under female English names but were in fact mass-produced to bombard the public with orchestrated political messages.

Academics say the fake accounts identified by this newspaper are just the tip of the iceberg and called on Twitter to investigate fully the true scale of Russian meddling in British politics.

Our investigation found overwhelming support for Corbyn and Labour from the Russian social media accounts with nine out of 10 messages about the party promoting its campaign. Conversely, nine out of 10 tweets about the Conservatives were hostile.

We found that 80% of the automated accounts had been created in the weeks before the vote on June 8 and swung into action at key points during the campaign. There was evidence that Russian social media accounts:

• Piled in with retweets praising Labour and deriding the Conservatives in equal measure on May 18 — the day Theresa May launched her party’s manifesto

• Retweeted publicity and support for Corbyn’s rallies around the country which became a phenomenon of the campaign, drawing unusually large crowds

• Helped Corbyn turn the Manchester Arena bombing into a campaigning point by amplifying tweets criticising May for cutting police numbers while she had been home secretary

• Retweeted attacks on May for her refusal to engage in television debates with Corbyn, while criticising the media for being too harsh on the Labour leader

• Brought their campaign to a climax on polling day — when the UK media is not allowed to report — with a series of messages urging Labour supporters to vote.

The election proved to be an extraordinary success personally for Corbyn, who saw his party’s support rise from 25% to 40% over the course of the campaign — the largest surge in support during a modern election.

Matt Hancock, the digital and culture secretary, called on Twitter to reveal the scale of the problem and act to prevent it from happening again. “These new revelations are extremely concerning,” he said. “It is absolutely unacceptable for any nation to attempt to interfere in the democratic elections of another country. The social media companies need to act to safeguard our democratic discourse and reveal what they know.”

Russia has already been accused of using such tactics to back Donald Trump in the 2016 American presidential election. This is the first time, however, that such Russian cyber-tactics have been documented in the 2017 UK general election, which saw Corbyn defy all predictions.

The Labour leader has faced repeated criticism for his reluctance to strongly condemn Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, over the Salisbury nerve agent attacks last month.

Our team of researchers found 16,000 Russian bots had been tweeting on British politics since April last year. We narrowed our study, however, to a sample of 20,000 tweets from Russia collected by Swansea University and posted in the four weeks before the general election so that we could assess each individual message’s political slant.

The academics from Swansea say the sample reflected only a fraction of social media content on the election and therefore believe the stark findings are evidence of an attempt to influence British politics on a grander scale.

Professor Oleksandr Talavera, the Swansea University economist who collected the data, said: “The samples provide evidence that Russian-language bots were used deliberately to try to influence the election in favour of Labour and against the Conservatives.

“The data represents just a small random sample and therefore the Russian-language automated bot behaviour we have observed is likely to be only the tip of the iceberg of their general election operation.”

Our researchers were able to establish that the messages were broadcast by thousands of automated bot accounts created in the months before the election.

Hundreds of the Twitter accounts were created simultaneously and displayed clear identifying factors. One of the most common was the use of 15-character alphanumeric user names with a false western woman’s name attached — even though they listed their first language as Russian.

At times, they tweeted the same messages in unison. Many were retweets from Labour Twitter accounts including Corbyn’s own and those of Labour-supporting unions and the grassroots campaign group Momentum in an apparent attempt to amplify the party’s message.

The bots were quick to leap to Corbyn’s defence when needed. When Corbyn was criticised in the campaign for failing to know the cost of one of his key policies, a gang of 34 accounts masquerading as women retweeted the same message simultaneously saying the media should respect the Labour leader.

Damian Collins, the Conservative MP who chairs the culture, media and sport select committee, said he would challenge Twitter on the findings as part of his committee’s inquiry into social media disinformation.

“Any Russian interference in the politics of the UK is a breach of our election law and something we’ve got to act to stop,” he said.

In response to our story, the Labour Party suggested that the Russian government had supported the Conservative Party during the election. A spokesman said: “Labour’s proposed crackdown on tax dodging, failed privatisation and corrupt oligarchs is opposed by both May and Putin’s conservative philosophy and their super-rich supporters.

“The Labour Party’s people-powered election campaign attracted huge levels of public support online. We were not aware of any from automated bots, categorically did not pay for any and are not aware of any of our supporters doing so.”

Twitter said its work to fight malicious bots “goes beyond any one specific election, event, or time period”. It had spent years working to identify and remove such accounts and was continuing the improvement of its internal systems “to detect and prevent new forms of spam and malicious automation”.
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