In a surprise statement today UEFA announced the inclusion of further countries “bordering Europe” eligible for qualification for Euro 2012. Group D of the qualifying stages for Poland/Ukraine includes England (ranked 8) as the top seeded country who have luckily drawn lower seeded nations Iraq (80), Afghanistan (189) and Northern Ireland (41). The British tabloid press are not unsurprisingly calling Group D the “Group of Death” and, not for the first time this month, are working overtime on war based football match analogies.
An astonished FA spokesman said “we never thought playing against Northern Ireland would be welcomed – but travel to Belfast is a dream compared to the logistics involved in reaching Helmand Province”.
Ryanair’s publicity shy CEO Michael O’Leary is set to announce a special £10 one way fare to Helmand for registered England Football Supporters Federation members. The internet only fare is inclusive of tax, but excludes additional charges for Kevlar helmets and other supporting personal protection. No return fare dates or prices have been published.
What came as more of a surprise to respected sports journalists, who have been contemplating the nations’ recent tournament results, is that England are somehow *still* the top seed in Group D...
(It will be interesting to see how many people take offence at this submission...)