A barbed, stinging, and ultimately entertaining war of words ensued between Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte over the Christmas period. Mourinho, a predictable culprit, teased Antonio Conte in responding to his “clown” jibe – the Manchester United manager later arguing with a Machiavellian sincerity that it was not aimed at the Italian.
Conte, up until this point, had not replicated the fiery taciturn duelling with the press that had been a staple of his tenure at Juventus. He had always presented himself with poise and jest, carefully choosing his words but also sharing an amicableness with the media.
In his pre-match press conference ahead of the FA Cup clash against Norwich City all that changed as Conte launched an incendiary attack on the United boss, shredding the facade of composure he had thus-far projected.
‘Maybe sometimes I think that someone forget what they said in the past or which is his behaviours and sometimes I think there is, I don’t know the name, demenza senile, when you are a bit, when you forget what you do in the past.’
He added: ‘It is like amnesia when you can’t remember things. When you forgot what you say in the past, your behaviours and when you totally forgot, you must be worried when this happens because it means you are becoming old and you need a check.
While the accusations of forgetfulness are not wildly baseless – Mourinho knee-sliding at Old Trafford the well recited example -, the manner in which Conte framed it needs to be investigated, and acted upon.
‘Demenza senile’, to be explicit. Chelsea’s PR team, following the conference, claimed that Conte simply meant amnesia. We simply have no way of knowing what the Italian meant.
“an egregious use of illness as a weapon”
To use a debilitating and horrendous illness as a weapon in a battle of words is egregious. It lacks empathy and it lacks class. Conte should be given the benefit of doubt, in light of the murky world of translations and his prior conduct being well-mannered. Weighing in his favour, too, is the prior confusion of not “knowing the name”. Yet this questionable description was a product of a squabble that had gone too far, a symptom of a puerile verbal altercation.
Mourinho citing Conte’s involvement in match-fixing, found to be untrue with the Italian’s name cleared after a lengthy investigation, should also be chastised. It was needless provocation – a calculated comment designed to rile.
“spurious and inflammatory”
Managers squaring off is nothing new. Indeed, it is entertaining and one of the myriad side-shows to the main event. In this instance, though, the FA needs to step in. What precedent does this set for youngsters, easily impressionable, for managers to be sprouting both spurious and deeply insulting – for the wider population in the case of ‘demenza senile’ – comments?
Words can often start out as harmless, but can insidiously manifest into inflammatory language.
North Korea South Korea: an olive branch?
North Korea will send a delegation to the South Korean Winter Olympic games: athletes, supporters, journalists and a taekwondo demonstration team will travel across the border.
Kim Jong-un’s decision to begin a dialogue with South Korea has been met with quiet optimism across the international scene. Apparently a sign that the ice-cold relationship between the two countries is beginning to thaw, many take Pyongyang’s unexpected approach to be an indication that Kim Jong-Un is seeking to de-escalate the rising political tensions.
No doubt, this is a positive development, but it must be treated with a degree of caution. While some are heralding the ‘Olympian Spirit’ of the two countries uniting, there should be scepticism regarding the true intentions of this break-through.
“it comes in a year of repeated violations”
It comes in a year in which the North Korean despot has continually violated UN sanctions by testing his nuclear arsenal, started a verbal war with President Donald Trump, and done nothing to reduce the crippling levels of poverty and starvation that ravish those outside of the capital, Pyongyang.
Kim Jong-Un’s ‘Hermit Kingdom’ is odious. Journalist John Sweeney’s chilling account of his visit serves as a harrowing insight into the criminal neglect the autocrat possess for his dying people.
It would be wise to treat Kim Jong-Un’s ‘olive branch’ with suspicion.
I believe this is a country who brainwashes its people into fearing the U.S.A are imminently primed to launch their nuclear weapons; a country whose propaganda is so strategic, so malignantly planted into every facet of society that its people genuinely believe there is no better alternative; a country who has shown no signs are adhering to the most basic of human rights for its citizens.
“a veneer of diplomacy”
The world should welcome negotiations, but beneath a veneer of diplomacy, it would be perfectly conceivable that this is nothing more than a propaganda stunt. As long as Kim Jong-Un’s dictatorial nature continues to wield widespread pain, the world should continue its policy of sanctions.
Oppressed, malnourished, indoctrinated and impoverished citizens will continue to suffer if the world naively approaches Korea’s decision to send Olympians to the South as a sign that Pyongyang will change its tyrannical ways.