Your cover claimed that the story "the Big Score" [May 21] would report "How English football ... took American (and Russian) money ... and built the most popular sports league in the world." That statement smacked of American egocentricity and arrogance, which the whole world is fed up with. As you reported, the Premier League started by making deals with ITV and Sky Sports back in the early 1990s. Real fans loathe the new profiteers, who have a limited knowledge of the game. For a great many fans, following your team means everything, and they fear that the profiteers are pricing them out of the game and catering only to the wealthy.
Congratulations on an extremely well-written and perceptive article on our national game and how it has attracted rich businessmen from around the world. There is little doubt that with the global TV income, association football is a very big business taking off in Asia. Having been involved in the professional game for more than 35 years, I have seen massive changes in all areasstadiums, players, spectator comfort and involvement and, of course, TV coverage, which now dictates how the game is run. My team, a proud Premiership club with a fan base exceeding 50,000 every home game, would welcome new investment to enable us to fulfill all our dreams.
Malcolm Dix, Honorary Vice President,
Newcastle United Football Club,
Newcastle Upon Tyne, England
Faith in Romney?
Mitt Romney in the white house [May 21]? I don't think this country could endure another teetotaler President. The charge that questioning Romney's religion amounts to bigotry misses the point that if he were elected, at least 10% of his incomewhich would come from us taxpayerswould go to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We have the right to ask him what he believes. Remember, this is a church that until the late 1970s believed blacks couldn't go to the highest tier of heaven, limits women's rights and believes in a history of the New World that is at odds with scientific facts. We cannot refrain from a critical analysis of what people believe out of some sort of courtesy. Politicians' faith is a very public thing.
Benjamin E. Nardolilli,
Arlington, Virginia, U.S.
Romney is like a charlatan selling snake oil at a carnival. He accommodates his beliefs to the situation at hand for his own advancement. And if he cannot figure out that the Mormon church is a cult branch of traditional Christianity, how would he handle the complex challenges he would encounter as President and Commander in Chief?
Fred M. Fariss,
The U.S. was settled by people who crossed the ocean to practice their faith freely. Since then, we have voted for Presidents of different faiths. Some have drawn near to God with their mouths while their hearts remained far from him. We should put religious labels aside and ask candidates about policy positions and try to discern whether their faith puts them on a moral high ground for the betterment of our nation.
Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.
I recognize the need for a little journalistic skepticism, but as a Mormon, I would have loved it if the article had been a little more pro-Mormon. Why is Romney held accountable for everything that anyone might have said or written on behalf of the church? I have a lot of friends from other religions who disagree strongly with some of the tenets of their professed faith. It's strange that every Mormon is assumed to embrace every point of doctrine. Maybe it says something about the high standards that people expect from us. But somehow, I don't think Romney's critics intend it as a compliment.
Democracy's Tide Ebbs
In his discussion of "Global Democratic Recession," Peter Beinart thoughtfully underlined the irrelevance of political freedoms for impoverished individuals throughout the developing world [May 21]. Not only did he highlight the fundamental relationship between economics and politics, but he also encouraged readers to question the export of American democracy. When democratization entails so many civilian deaths and economic dependence, is there any wonder that it is met with resistance and failure? It is time for a shift from the Bush Administration's vague, rhetorical emphasis on freedom to more concrete markers of democracy: human rights, peace and citizen participation.
From Russia to Bangladesh, democracy is under assault. Democracy is also under assault here in the U.S., where our self-styled divinely selected Commander in Chief, George W. Bush, is leading us into a theocracy.
Edward C. Smith,
Ridley Park, Pennsylvania, U.S.
I agree that democracy is faulty. Free elections have not reduced corruption, violence or poverty. India, the world's greatest democracy, is a case in point. First of all, voters are often not literate enough in the ethics of democracy: rather than choose the one most devoted and dedicated to public service, they sell their votes to deceiving, self-serving corrupt criminals. Secondly, India desperately needs a two-party system. Our endless number of regional and so-called national parties only seek to share power and once their rule is assured, are rarely made accountable to their principles. As a result, India seems more a loose confederation of bickering, cynical tribes than a functioning political collective.
Lieut. Colonel Onkar Chopra (ret.),
Beinart included Iran among the world's "remaining autocracies," even though the country holds elections. The people of Iran elected its current President and will do so again. Although candidates are screened by an unaccountable group of religious élites, Iran is a far cry from many other countries. It is easy to advocate for more representative democracies, but would we necessarily accept the results if Egyptians or Pakistanis were granted a genuine vote? Our hypocrisy shines brightest with Saudi Arabia. There are few nations in the world that are so lacking in what we Americans call basic freedoms, let alone elections.
Sarasota, Florida, U.S.
Sizing Up Blair's Legacy
Michael Elliott's article on Prime Minister Tony Blair provided insights into the man and what he has done for Britain and the world [May 14]. I congratulate TIME for reporting the positive accomplishments of someone who might otherwise be remembered only for his mistake of supporting the invasion of Iraq. Blair deserves respect as a visionary leader who had the will to help downtrodden countries.
Elliott overlooked one crucial point in summing up Blair's legacy: his lack of enthusiasm for a unified Europe. Blair adhered to the conservative ideal of splendid isolation, obstructing constructive ideas for bringing European countries together. His position helped create a Europe in crisis, searching for its identity as the constitution was rejected. So while I am sad to see Blair go, I am sad mostly for what he could have been: a founding father of a secular, democratic and prosperous union of European peoples. It was not to be.
I would like to echo Elliott's sentiments by adding the developments in Northern Ireland to the list of Blair's achievements. The peace process needed a British leader who could push for reform without looking over his shoulder to see how many seats made up his minority government. Blair may be seen as an "unpopular failure" in his country for his participation in the war in Iraq, but I want to thank him for putting Northern Ireland at the top of his agenda. I have always felt that he didn't do so to earn political capital but that he felt obliged to change a situation that was totally unacceptable.
Now that Blair has announced his resignation from the British premiership, the world is reviewing the performance of this renowned statesman. Blair admitted he might have blundered on Iraq, but he made his choice in good faith because he strongly believed that was the right way to combat terrorism. He did not ask for absolution, but instead he reminded his nation and the world that without him Britain (and to a lesser extent the E.U.) would not be what it is today. The era of statesman Blair is fast coming to an end. Is he leaving Downing Street as a failure? My answer is a categorical no. History is on his side.
Hey, I think there's something wrong with my May 14 issue of TIME. I read through the collection of "most influential people in the world," and Bono was nowhere to be found. Should I ask for a replacement copy or a refund?
The Two Sides of a Wall
I concur with Simon Robinson that walls reflect a lot more about the people who build them than the people they are meant to keep out [May 7]. Although the idea for walls on national borders arises out of concern for security, walls are not the right way to keep people out. They are rather passive and superficial in the sense that terrorists who want to enter a country will do so at any cost, but people with good intentions, such as businessmen who want to invest there, will be thwarted and will turn to and benefit places that inhibit them less.