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Sunday, June 11, 2006


so it has started: the world cup is underway and the boys have got their first win under their belt.
now i have to admit that i am not a great football fan nor am i a great believer that in the theory that your team winning makes a difference to your life or the life of the community in anything other than the short term. (the years of supporting the london leopards basketball team-taught that no matter what the result i was still going back to work the next day.)
that being said the world cup is a hard sell for me, but this year i already hate it. the reason i don’t like it has nothing to do with the football, it has to do with all the stuff that is talked about the football and fans.

we live in a celebrity driven world and the media has to fill airtime and newsprint with stories about celebrity. for most footballers are easy game (geddit) they are generally attractive young men who are adulated and envied for their skills and their lifestyles. footballers get well rewarded for running around and kicking a ball. what they are paid to do is be footballers, they are not paid to be role models yet their every foible is put under scrutiny (strangely this sort of attention is not paid to the editors of newspapers, people who really do have an influence on people’s lives…) pity the poor footballer on the one hand they are great and on the other hand they are failures, and this is never so true when they are plating for england in a world cup. hero to zero in the space of a paragraph or a news story.
the run up to the world cup has pretty much given the tournament to england, yet after the first game (which they won) they are not fit to lick the boots of the class of ’66. it must be confusing to be an english player.

if it were just the building of the players up just so they are more vulnerable to the (inevitable) knock down that will follow if they do not win the world cup, it wouldn’t be so bad. but it is not just the players that come under attack; the other target is the fans.

it seems that if you are a supporter of england you are racist, nationalistic and a hooligan. the media make a song and dance about the fans behaving, while all the while hoping that there is some trouble so that they can fill pages about the hooligan british abroad. (tonight i listened to a story that said the british can’t drink – even though we have had numerous stories talking about how we are a binge drinking nation…)

of course the fact that english fans want to carry the cross of saint george immediately brands them as racist, for the simple fact that the english flag has been co-opted by the bnp. now i might be missing the point here but the only reason that the bnp have been able to get away with it is that the powers that be, such as local councils, have shied away from the use of the english flag and of englishness.
even the welsh police authority have gotten into the act saying that the display of the english flag by supports of england in wales could be seen as offensive. meanwhile on radio 5 steve bunce (a sports commentator) proclaims that because of growing up in brixton the cross of saint george will always be associated with racist thugs, no one challenges him. a cheap shot is allowed to land.

english fans draping themselves in the cross of st george are seen as nationalistic, turn that into the flag of trinidad and tobago and it becomes a celebration of a nation’s achievement. when the scots, irish or welsh wave their flags they are never accused of nationalism. their patriotism is fine.

the other crime laid at the feet of the english supporter is that they are hooligans and cause trouble wherever they go. the media are at pains to ask the fans not to get into bother, don’t sing songs that may cause offence, don’t mention the war etc. we all know that what the media really wants is a story of how the english fans caused untold damage, for the media well behaved fans is a non-story. it seems that the whole world over the only fans ever to cause a problem have been english. mind you the indie carried a small paragraph the other day of how a korean footballs fan was attack in germany by german fans. if it had been an english fan who had done the attacking it would have been a story over several pages with lots of hand wringing and “we told you so”, others doing it is a non-story and it ruins the impact of potential english thug stories.

it is this aspect of the damned if we do damned if we don’t of the media that has gotten up my nose and has meant that the world cup will be a chore. if england does not win the world cup then it will have been disastrous. by having fans supporting england we have once again proved that we are a nation of racist nationalist thugs and that is before one of the beered up footie fans throws a punch. once there is a bit of argy bargy (no matter who causes it) it will be a national shame and we should all be wearing sackcloth…

at least this year i have had to listen to people tell me that they can’t support england because of some political reason or another and so they had to pick another team

so for a few weeks get behind the boys and cheer.
come on england (in-ger-land in-ger-land in-geeeeeeeeet-land…. come on you know this one join in the chorus – you beauties….)


ems said...

Glad you got that out your system!

pat said...

i am steadily becoming angry middle-aged tory man!