Video games blamed for England Euro flop
A goalkeeper's fear of the Xbox
West Ham shot-stopper Robert Green has blamed England's pitiful failure in qualifying for the Euro 2008 finals on the increasing popularity of video games among English boys.
Since England's 3-2 defeat at home to Croatia, all sorts of theories have been advanced to explain the national side's shortcomings, including lack of technique and the presence of too many overseas players in the Premiership. A gaffe in an opera singer's rendition of the Croatian national anthem, that gave its players an unexpected lift, has also featured in dispatches.
Green reckons England's economic prosperity is the root cause of the national team's woes. If penniless English kids were out in the street playing football with jumpers for goalposts, instead of stuck indoors playing Fifa 2008 on their PlayStations, things would be different, he reckons. The West Ham keeper, who played for England under Sven-Goran Eriksson, proposes a radical solution to the nation's sporting woes.
"We would have the best team if we could go into every household and throw away every PlayStation, Xbox and video game," Green told  AFP.
"Other countries seem to bring on world-class players, countries like Argentina and Brazil where often it's football or nothing. In contrast, we live in a country where we have choices and perhaps the will to do it, the need to escape your own situation is not so clear."
The popularity of video games among the nation's youth is an inventive excuse for failure, but it's an amateur effort compared to the contention of Manchester United's Alex Ferguson that his players couldn't see each other while wearing a grey kit during the first half of the side's defeat away to Southampton, or Terry Venables's excuse that the grass was too long for England's players in Hong Kong.
Goalkeepers, like drummers in rock bands, have long been known as the eccentrics in many footballing squads. Green's curious analysis of the nation's footballing woes maintains the curious perspective of footballers such as David "Son of God" Icke, the former Coventry City goalie, and Albert Camus, university shot-stopper turned famed French existentialist philosopher and author, Rene "scorpion kick" Higuita, and Bruce "wobbly knees" Grobbelaar. ®