The Black Eye is the podcast that peels away the public relations veneer of sport and more, to reveal some ugly truths. Hosted by award winning journalist and author, Ewan MacKenna, each episode will deal with a subject from a perspective seldom seen on the front and back pages. Our mantra of ‘truthful, not neutral’ means this might not be for diehard fans who want yet more celebration of their favourite but highly flawed celebrity. But that’s okay with us.
When Covid became all too real, experts were suggesting that Vietnam and Taiwan would be hit hardest due to their proximity with China. But now that they’ve faired best, did this proximity, suspicion and downright dislike of their neighbours give them a key headstart? With rumours reaching Taiwan and hacks coming from Vietnam, we’re joined from both those nations by journalists Louise Watt and Michael Tatarski to discuss what happened.
In sport, Premier League PR and then a pandemic helped to bury a story about Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his agent and friend Jim Solbakken that involved questionable practices, conflicts of interest, and an accused rapist that has been on the run from Norwegian law. But as the season gets ready to restart, we wanted to unearth it and are joined by Lars Johnsen to talk about the crazy case of baffling deals, captain’s armbands and Babacar Sarr.
The truth stands naked, but while it’s not always pretty, that’s not a good enough reason to look away.Therefore this week we head to Hungary where AFP journalist Peter Murphy and Andrew Stroehlein, European Media Director of Human Rights Watch, join us to talk about the man known as the Viktator, Viktor Orban. For right at the heart of the EU there’s now a dictatorship which is allowed by some, helped along by others, and even looked at with admiration and aspiration by a certain few.
Fianna Fáil TD for Meath East and party spokesperson for Education, Thomas Byrne, joined Martin and Ewan MacKenna of the Black Eye Podcast, to discuss the Leaving Cert and trying to make the best choices in difficult circumstances.
We also discuss Government formation, the unwillingness to work with Sinn Féin and the type of programme for government Thomas believes a FF/FG coalition will deliver. This is a strong and at times testy interview, but we appreciate Thomas taking the time to talk with us.
This week Tom Hennigan of the Irish Times joins us from Sao Paulo, to talk about Brazil on the brink as Jair Bolsonaro tries to lead his people off of a Covid cliff. From Ireland, Eddie Hobbs puts forward his worries about the bailout plans, as he believes small and medium businesses are being hung out to dry which will lead to long-lasting unemployment, lower tax revenue, less bailout money, and around and around we go in a terrible spiral. Meanwhile over in sport (remember sport?), sports writer Paolo Vezzoli and journalist Richard Fitzpatrick are with us from Bergamo and Barcelona as they recall game zero – the night it all seemed to go right for Atalanta against Valencia, when really football was helping along the death of so, so many.
Sarah Kendzior, author of the bestselling Hiding In Plain Sight and The View From Flyover Country, joins us from the United States as we delve into the American psyche and that American psycho. Pete Davies is on to talk about his book Catching Cold: 1918’s Forgotten Tragedy and the Scientific Hunt for the Virus That Caused It. With him we relive the horrors of yesteryear, the near miss in the 1990s, as well as what we did and didn’t learn when we had the chance. Meanwhile in sport, Miguel Delaney, the Independent’s chief football writer, is on to discuss how this might rout the landscape of British football as the small clubs toil and fail, and how it might bring a dreaded European SuperLeague one more step closer.
In Ireland, Ryan Tubridy and RTÉ may be playing the propaganda ministry – discussed in this week’s monologue – but is it really better elsewhere? In Sweden, they think so, thus we are joined from Stockholm by journalist Philip O’Connor to talk about their response to Covid 19 which has gone all in on doing very little, as they tell the rest of us we’ve signed up to a timebomb.
Middle-east expert Nicholas McGeehan and Alex Hurst, the chair of the Newcastle United Supporters’ Trust, debate the blood money behind the Saudi attempt at sportswashing in Toon town. Plus in this week’s big interview former Antrim footballer Anto Finnegan tells us about living his life with motor-neuron disease.
This week we talk to Eddie Hobbs about the size of the Covid bill, how it will be paid, and who should be expected to pay it. We talk to MEP Mick Wallace about how Italy were literally ignored by so-called friends, how the Netherlands and Germany want to hoard their stash, how the union itself is under threat, as greed replaces promoted togetherness, and what he expects to see as Ireland’s Grand Old Parties make a move for power. This week’s big sporting interview is John McGrath. He’s the Waterford native whose own downs and troubles took him on a journey from rowing heights to martial arts with Bruce Lee’s coach, from hurling to bending steel with his teeth, from helping the best in South African rugby to finding an addict in a Cape Town slum and dragging him to the top of Olympic and world long jump podiums.
From the front line to the last line, this week’s episode looks at the various reactions to and situations caused by Covid 19. Risking their lives to save ours, we discuss the situation for staff in hospitals and nursing homes with Sinn Féin health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly and Solidarity People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy; Hiding down the back we talk about how Donald Trump’s true colour isn’t orange after all, and how the Premier League and big sport couldn’t change their greedy ways even in a disaster. Meanwhile, as our weekly pick me up, three-time Olympic Gold medallist Tianna Bartoletta is the big interview, as she provides a silver lining to the doom and gloom via her remarkable off-track tale of fear, courage and strength.
And we’re back. To you in isolation. Nothing new there, but a lot new on the programme. Episode two of The Black Eye delves into the political chaos at home and abroad as spin replaces trust at a key moment where we just want the truth. Ewan looks at the great heist likely to take place now the money is finally there for all, when it’s really only there for some. We’re joined by Dr Paul O’Brien – a China policy and regulatory expert – as they discuss the questions around how this pandemic was allowed to begin in the east, how it was allowed to swallow the west, and where we go next in terms of lockdowns and vaccines. Meanwhile former Rochdale footballer Joe Thompson, reminds us that there is light at the end of every tunnel as he recalls his season-saving strike in the final minutes after battling back from cancer not once, but twice.
And we’re off. Into isolation. In this first ever episode of The Black Eye, Ewan looks at the two paths we can go down when this pandemic frees up our thoughts again, and why we must be angry rather than relieved; he talks to economist Dan O’Brien about the monetary gloom that will follow the doom, there’s an exclusive interview with Horse Racing Ireland’s Chief Executive Brian Kavanagh, after they took the risk of carrying on as long as they could; there are the excuses and explanations from those that went racing in Cheltenham despite the storm; and on top of that lot, we’ll also look at why sport shouldn’t matter for a long time to come.