June 27, 2008


Oh, how I hate the Beautiful Game (Craig Brown, 28/06/2008, Daily Telegraph)

How I hate the Beautiful Game! I hate its cry-baby players and its gruff, joyless managers, its blokish supporters and its sinister owners, its whistle-peeping referees and its chippy little linesmen, its excitable commentators and - perhaps most of all - its unpluggable "analysts". I hate its imbecilic chanting and its self-righteous saloon-bar expertise. I hate its ersatz working-classness, especially now that the price of tickets compares unfavourably with Royal Ascot or Henley. I have even begun to hate those pampered little kiddies the footballers are now obliged to escort on to the pitch before the start of each game, as though all set to embark on a pervy kind of waltz.

Above all, I hate its inescapability. Honk! Honk! Even in a pretty street on a quiet night in Brussels, it was impossible to escape it. Back in our hotel bar, we were confronted by five screens, all showing endless slow-motion replays of failed goals interspersed with furrow-browed trainers and self-pitying footballers. On screen, a succession of experts and analysts and commentators all jabbered away; meanwhile, in the bar itself, Americans and Belgians and Dutch and English exchanged their equally forceful and self-confident opinions as to where things had gone wrong, and how they personally would have made them go so much better.

It is hard being a football loather, a football unfan. I sometimes feel as lonely as the sole survivor in the last reel of a Zombie film, as, one by one, old friends reveal themselves, with their glassy stares and outstretched arms, to have succumbed to the lure. People you had always assumed were salt-of-the-earth anti-soccer stalwarts suddenly start jabbering incoherently about how Cornelius from Aston Villa should be shot for that tackle by Aldomovar of Tottenham Hotspur and, from the look of them, you suddenly realise that all is lost.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 27, 2008 7:14 PM

Almodovar plays for Real Madrid...

Posted by: Jorge Curioso at June 27, 2008 8:24 PM

Sounds like he's just a sport hater. Here he'd just have to deal with the same thing from fans of inferior (to true football) sports like American football.

And of course:

"cry-baby players . . . blokish supporters . . . its sinister owners"

Ladies and gentleman, your Boston Red Sawx.

This guy would just love Youkilis whining after every called strike, the drunk, uniformly white, fans in Fenway, and the cadaverish Henry and his cozy relationship with the used-car-salesman-in-chief.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at June 27, 2008 8:48 PM

Nope, he just hates the hateful game.

Posted by: oj at June 27, 2008 11:05 PM

And yet one assumes that it would be racist and/or un-American to screen potential immigrants for soccer fandom the way we used to for communist ties?

Posted by: Random Lawyer at June 28, 2008 1:45 PM

I'm going to agree with Jim in Chicago. That guy would be griping about whatever sport was in season if helived here. OJ's just projecting his own hatred of soccer.

Posted by: Brandon at June 28, 2008 2:34 PM

Yes, you can control columnists with your mind powers.

Posted by: oj at June 28, 2008 5:49 PM

I can't. You can.

Posted by: Brandon at June 28, 2008 8:21 PM

Frank DeFord, on NPR in the early 90s, had the all-time best comment on soccer. he related how a British reporter had asked him why soccer, the world sport, had never really caught on in the US. DeFord replied, "Here in the US, we like sports like baseball, basketball, and football which require the use of the hands. After all, use of the hands is what separates us from the beasts in the field."

Posted by: John Cunningham at June 28, 2008 9:05 PM
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