Comedians V Critics Football Match: Fur flies as captains go head to head

Comedian Rob Rouse and critic Edd McCracken went head to head for the cameras today (11 August) ahead of Sunday’s comedians vs critics football match at the Edinburgh Fringe festival.

After some tackles that breached international human rights standards in previous clashes, Amnesty International agreed to referee this year’s football match at Edinburgh’s Meadowbank Stadium on Sunday 15 August (kick-off 1.45pm, admission free).

As they went through their paces before the media there were sliding tackles, flying elbows, 50-50 balls and argy-bargy, as the Amnesty referee struggled to keep order. He will have his work cut out come Sunday, when Amnesty hosts the match together with Fest magazine.

Rob Rouse, who is captaining the comedians team in the ‘Comics v Critics’ Football match at the Edinburgh Festival this year, said:

“My team will be spurred on because we’re playing for Zarganar, Burma’s top comedian, who’s serving 35 years in prison for criticising the government. Apparently he’s a big footy fan, so we’ll all have his name on our shirts on Sunday.”

Speaking to the Amnesty International Comedy Podcast, he revealed some of his training ground secrets:

“We'll just be wearing stockings and football boots. It intimidates the enemy. You'd think twice about going in hard on a man who's so confident in his footballing prowess that he's not wearing a kit. Especially if he's smoking.

“That's what the modern game's all about - you don't get ahead unless you've got a fully-aroused, naked team, save for a pair of stockings and, er... boots.

“Hair ruffling and bottom patting, there'll be a lot of that….and there'll be no training. I'll be encouraging my players to smoke and drink on the pitch.”

Edd McCracken of the Sunday Herald said:

“I don’t think my boys will have much to worry about come Sunday. Everyone knows that comedians are a bunch of rampant individualists who could never pull together as a team.

“They all drink too much, smoke twenty a day and have never seen the inside of a gym. Nothing like us journalists.

“We’ll be first to the ball every time, strong in the tackle and incisive in our passing. But our real secret? The threat of a bad review.”

Amnesty’s involvement with the world’s largest arts festival is based on the celebration of freedom of expression and fighting for the rights of people whose free speech is denied. This year the organisation is campaigning for Zarganar, Burma’s top comedian (and a keen Manchester United fan), who is currently serving a 35-year jail sentence for speaking out against the government. Amnesty will be out on Edinburgh’s streets this year asking festival-goers to take their own stand for freedom of expression, in solidarity with the people of Burma, by joining its photo petition or taking action at www.amnesty.org.uk/edfest

Amnesty is highlighting the campaign for Zarganar at the Stand Up For Freedom comedy night at the EICC’s Venue 150 on 19 August with John Bishop, Mark Watson, Tim Key, Josie Long, Adam Hills, Fred MacAulay, Dan Antopolski and Danielle Ward – plus Germany’s top stand-up Michael Mittermeier flying over for a one-off performance just for Amnesty.

Amnesty International UK spokesperson Steve Ballinger said:

“We’re used to dealing with some pretty appalling abuses but I still think Sunday’s game mightn’t be one for the faint-hearted. There are clearly some scores to settle between this lot.

“Amnesty’s job is to ensure fair play. And we’re here at the festival to campaign for freedom of expression, so we might have to take it on the chin if they start abusing the officials.”

Find out more at www.amnesty.org.uk/edfest

Photocall details
WHEN:    11:00am, Wednesday 11 August 2010
WHERE:    The Meadows, between Jawbone Walk and Middle Meadow Walk
WHAT:    Comics and critics captains square up and tackles fly for the cameras with Amnesty International referee dishing out red cards

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