Seefingizzlike, whorritizizz an’ shit, football’z game o’ two arvs innit?
And indeed it is. For one half of it is the Cro-magnon Neanderthal nature of most players (and almost all commentaries) alongside the ludicrous “sugar-daddy” business model that keeps inflated salaries alive. Whereas the other half of it is the most perfectly developed international team entertainment our species has yet developed…..perhaps the best form of sport rendering Homo sapiens’ confrontational tribal love of war relatively harmless.
The pretentiously moronic side of footie is an easy target, but is nevertheless an infinite seam of thoroughly-deserved parody. Watching the Spain v Russia game earlier today, I heard the studio experts insist beforehand that Spain would be too good for the Russians. As the game started, I listened as the commentator’s “expert” analyst guru partner kept on saying the Spanish defence was “keeping its shape”. I wondered what this shape might be – a 3-2-5 hourglass shaped Spanish senorita perhaps – or whether the shape was being kept on the bench until the last twenty minutes. Like all nonsense about channels, ball-carriers and width, the shape thing is a classic of bollocks engaged in by all professions in an attempt to make what they do look difficult. The equivalent in US market analysis over the last decade has been “space”.
“The important thing,” one of the studio team asserted at half time, “is to get the ball into the box”. That sort of observation is the very quintessence of glaringly obvious inanity, given that the main thing of interest contained in the box is the goal. But it was 1-1 at half-time, and the armchair analysts wanted to know if the Russian team could now think outside the box. Spain was having trouble getting into the box, while the Russians were striving to get their heads beyond the beyond the bloody thing. It was anyone’s game.
But after half-time, neither side could penetrate or escape the box, and so at full-time it was extra time for the first time in the tournament. Had Spain’s time finally arrived?
The neutrals could be forgiven for spotting that one Russian player’s name was pronounced Jerk-off. It would’ve been far more appropriate if the commentary double-act had been called O’Nanist and Plonker.
But all that is, at worst, barely a quarter of what Association Football is really about. For as a sport, it has so much insight to offer anyone prepared to question the ignorant assumptions of élites and ideologues everywhere.
The first and most obvious insight is that the World Cup is about nationality, not globalist One World Order geopolitics. There is no team called Europe United or Russo-Chinese Wanderers or Estudiantes South America. There is one side called USA; notably, the team didn’t make it to the finals.
The next Page One observation is that, before each game, national anthems are played. These anthems evoke both silent respect and enthusiastic singing by all the players and most of the country’s supporters. While the Young Left would have us all believe that the emotions of nationalism are at best infantile and at worst dangerous, the evidence suggests that it is a natural emotion. For me, if you can listen to the French, Russian, British and Brazilian national anthems without feeling some sort of frisson, you may well have a bit missing.
My third point, however, is I suspect a telling one. While every four years we get worked up about the national football side, soccer fans get hysterically off-the-planet excited about how their local team plays every week. In turn, there is no atmosphere in the world at a football stadium to compare with a local derby. And finally, while the European Champions’ League is an international tournament, no investment in the game can compete with that behind the will to have a club side triumph in the European Cup Final.
A club is a tribe, and genuine desire to play for that club outstrips any other. We may have such sides run and represented by international talent nowadays, but a foreign player who becomes a local hero is like no other. Today, twenty years after his retirement, Eric Cantona is still the biggest legend in the post-Munich history of Manchester United.
Globalism gives power to remote apparatchiks. Devolved localism gives power back to the People.
Russia won on penalties, by the way