Why I find it difficult to cheer England at football


6:16 pm - June 13th 2010

by Guest    


      Share on Tumblr

contribution by Madam Miaow

Football — the continuation of war by other means.

The trouble with football (collapsing a whole long list into a handful of bugbears) is that its mindset bears an uncanny resemblance to the belief in “my country/party right or wrong”. It appears designed to programme the collective brain out of thinking and nuance, making those same synaptic connections that can only deal with black and white, binary three-minute hate. Us (good) and them (bad).

Coming out of the Second World War, which devastated huge swathes of the globe, we valued our intellectuals and artists for helping to make the world a better place.

Nowadays, changing social conditions means social engineering, militarising society and the creation a nation of gladiators. From Sky to Skynet, turning you into a combat machine. Prepare to be assimilated.

It’s like living in Spartacus: Blood and Sand. Existence reduced to sex and death as we close ourselves down. All hail the sacred ground where you mash the opposition into the dirt, whether on the field, in the ring or at the dispatch box.

Laurie Penny writes a very funny miserablist piece on the upcoming World Cup in the New Statesman — Why I Despise The World Cup — and makes the point that, while we’re staring at the bread and circuses spectacle of the World Cup (on at a television near you from today), this is the reality for those of us who swallowed the red pill.

Young people are in crisis, poor people are in crisis, unemployment stands at 2.5 million, the Labour movement is still leaderless and directionless, and there’s a brutal train of Tory public service cuts coming over the hill.

To those who cry that this is a proletarian pastime, whatever it was, it ain’t now.

… football is no longer the people’s sport. Just look at the brutal contempt that the police reserve for fans, or count the number of working-class Britons who can afford to attend home matches, much less the festivities in South Africa. Then there’s the uncomfortable fact that the World Cup is only and always about men.

Er, and the WAGS. Don’t forget the frocks and the shopping, a crucial component of any major footballing event.

Do I really want to identify with massively overpaid narcissists and their big-buck masters? How does victory for one set of businessmen over another set improve my life?

I love the artistry of great footballers. Watching George Best run rings around his opponents like he was occupying a different time and space was a joy to behold. But the small local football team that was part of the community is a myth, destroyed when British soccer emulated the American sports system and became a money-spinning industry, making your passion something that could be bought and sold. It bears the same relationship to the beautiful game as porn does to sex. So your team can spend millions on a talent from Nowheresville, Abroad? Well done. That means you are the best because some oligarch had deep pockets.

An irate Nick Cohen quoted Orwell at me (cheeky!) because I said I wanted both sides to lose this Saturday when England plays the US, accusing me of being ashamed of being English like the typical lefty wot I yam. But he misses the point. Which England does he mean? The England having its safety net dismantled by the Tories and Ramsay McClegg? Or the England that produced some of the best art and culture in the world with the post-war democratising of the state?

I cheer England on in athletics because it isn’t about two sides crushing each other. It really is the best man or woman winning through skill and it is possible to appreciate the accomplishments of the winner even if they aren’t on your team. Same with British culture when we do something great in film or music.

There’s no point admonishing detractors of the sport for somehow not being patriotic.

To riposte with an Orwell quote of my own: “If we really want to punish the people who weakened national morale at critical moments, there are other culprits who are nearer home and better worth chasing.”

I’ll probably succumb, though, and watch the bloody thing out of curiosity and an indulgence of my own pack instincts, despite Loved One insisting the only thing worse than watching a team sport is playing one. For those about to die over control over the TV remote, I salute you. I wonder who’ll win.

———–
First posted over at Madam Miaow’s blog. She is on Twitter here.

    Share on Tumblr   submit to reddit  


About the author
This is a guest post.
· Other posts by


Story Filed Under: Blog ,Realpolitik ,Sport

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.


Reader comments


Then there’s the uncomfortable fact that the World Cup is only and always about men.

Hmmmmm, let’s look at facts rather than emotive twaddle, eh?

Womens world cup

You can, with a simple, interactive, Google search find the same about womens cricket, Rugby and – amazingly – a multitude of other sports.

Now, the financing around the womens game, that is a different matter. But, I would have a peek at what some of the American women are paid, not the same as men, but, again, that is another matter.

It is a simple thing, our football, you are into in and love it, or are not and hate it. With the latter you cannot, ever, change peoples minds until the day they come to love the game. Then there is that knot in your stomach when your team plays …………. ask all those fans who support the lower league teams, taking away football or any other ‘gladiatorial’ past time and asking people to like Monet more it trying to take away some part of what makes us human, and, as yet, I haven’t seen that making any real progress other than in totalitarian states – and yet …

Hmmmmm, let’s look at facts rather than emotive twaddle, eh?

We’re talking about the amount of attention paid as well aren’t we? Or is that conveniently to be ignored?

3. George W Potter

It’s a relatively simple explanation as to why people like football – it’s quite simply the enjoyment and reassurance of belonging to a tribe and experiencing the highs of their victories and the bitterness of their defeats. It’s simple human nature, it’s a non-violent way to express the tribal instinct. As to why people support England, that too is fairly simple, if you’re going to pick a team and support them it makes sense to pick one composed of people similar background to yourself and who speak the same language. You could support a foreign team if you wish, and some people do, but you generally have far much more in common with your national team than a foreign one. It’s really quite simple psychology.

I gave up after I read this Laurie Penny line:

I refuse to get excited about some wealthy misogynist jocks ……..

Though I do agree that football has been ruined by big money.

Still, to turn one’s nose up at the national excitement of the world cup seems like sour grapes IMO.

The goal is too small. http://bit.ly/9j9PFC

Uh, not to go be all ignorant here, but it’s just a game. It’s a bit like the Olympics, but with only one sport. If someone implies that you’re unpatriotic for not following the team, tell them to sod off.

And much love to Laurie, but her NS piece is possibly one of the most insane things that I’ve read for ages. Her point about official contempt for fans is about right, but I can assure you the situation is a lot better than it was back in the eighties when it was genuinely a working class sport and fans were treated like animals.

I find it difficult to cheer, as well. Far too busy yawning…

/pretentious snobbery

You just have sour grapes because all the commie countries are inevitably crap:)

Believe it or not, this is a news report from Saturday:

“A vicar has revived an ancient law to call members of her parish together for archery practice. The Reverend Mary Edwards, of Collingbourne Ducis, near Marlborough, called residents to the village recreation ground on Friday.

“Church warden Mike Cox said: ‘It seems she’s still entitled to do that.’

“‘I’ve been checking on the web and most archery experts and clergy seem to agree she is,’ Mr Cox added.

“‘Though a lot of the laws were repealed, that particular one still stands so she’s entitled to call the men of the village, and presumably the women and children too, to archery practice.'”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/wiltshire/10300924.stm

In medieval times, the English longbow was an inexpensive weapons system for warfare and easy to emulate but its effective use depended on skill and practice so there was a raft of laws encouraging archers to hone their skills:

“Cause public proclamation to be made,” declared an Act of 1369,”that everyone of said City of London strong in body, at leisure times and on holydays, use in their recreation bows and arrows.” Popular amusements such as handball and football were banned on pain of imprisonment.
[See entry for “Archery” in Weinreb and Hibbert (eds): The London Encyclopaedia (1993)]

It seems that in those times the authorities were unconcerned at the prospect of skilled and practised archers wandering around and the longbow was a potentially deadly weapon. Deployment of English archers was decisive at the battles against the French at Crecy (1346), Poitiers (1356) and Agincourt (1415).

The last time I ‘cheered’ for England was in 1998. But that was as an ignorant 13-year-old; thankfully, I’m much better now.

I supported Germany at the last World Cup and this time, it’s the Ivory Coast. (Or Portugal. Whoever gets out of that group alive.)

But the English are wankers. (I should know.)

I love football, but hate what it’s become.

And the collective mentality of (most) England fans – ‘England expects’, the screaming tabloid headlines, the xenophobia of “those cheating fucking [insert name of team to beat England here]” – all makes it rather hilarious whenever ‘we’ lose.

It’s like the decay of the British empire that people find so hard to get over.

So this is opposition is it? This is hardy constructing a new narrative and developing viable aternatives to argue against government policy. Nor will it win friends or influence people, its just a fucking predictable whinge.

We are facing LibCon destruction of the public sector and of many other aspects of our lives promised to us and worked and paid for by us. This shit is all that LC can come up with?

Lets forget Labour, as Sunny has pointed out in the past, the liberal left is more than just one (dead) party. While I cannot attend the conference on the 26th I would like to have a chance to look at the kind of ideas that will be discussed. Recently LC has had a lot of stuff about labour’s internal politics and a lot of fluff.

Time for change?

12. Jimmy Hill

Two points:

Although there are more important things than the world cup (unemployment, the deficit etc.) this brute fact does not mean that no on should be concerned with the spectacle of the world cup. It is likey that atthe margin millions of people focusing on the world cup for a few weeks will bring them more happiness than studiously reading IFS reports and writting to their MP.

Whilst it is the case that some Premier League clubs have lost touch with the communities they originally represented, to make the claim that football clubs are no longer part of the community is grossly ignorant. If one looks a little further down the leagues, and even into non-league there are plenty of clubs (many of whcih I have visited) that have strong community links. They have children’s teams for boys and girls, youth teams and hold functions that local people attend. Clubs in the lower leagues also provide entertainment at a price more affordable to the working man and woman.

“I love football, but hate what it’s become.”

Bankers’ bonuses outrageous?

Scroll down here for an insight into the salaries of professional footballers:
http://www.thefinalthird.com/2010/02/17/footballers-salaries/

Cheers Madam Miaow, well said. My love of football eroded following one too many connections with well-paid, well-loved, high-profile footballers to rape and violence against women.

As for athletics, I thought English athletes competed under a British flag rather than an English one?

J – I hope you live in Kyrgyzstan or somewhere like that.

damon – I live in England. Obviously.

My favourite side to watch was the local team where I used to live. Mostly because the star striker used to work behind the bar at a local pub and it only cost £2.50 to watch a game as a student…

Not a sports car or fancy fish tank in sight!

Th England football team were a disgrace.

Looking at the line up before the match, five of the eleven players were non white (a gross over representation) yet none had Asian ethnicity. This would not be tolerated in Bristol Council far less a team that is supposed to represent our nation.

I also noticed that there were no whites at all in the Nigerian team and that the South Korean oufit was chock full of Orientals.

Furthermore, there were no women in the team.

I understand Harriet Harman has suggested that future teams should be selected on the basis of a strict gender balance- five men, five women and a trans-gender goalkeeper.

Or was the goalie trans-gender?

I couldn’t be sure.

We are facing LibCon destruction of the public sector and of many other aspects of our lives promised to us and worked and paid for by us. This shit is all that LC can come up with?

I hope this was a parody.

I like football (I’ll especially like it if Australia loses tonight) and I’m a girl. Just. Is that wrong?

All the sports I like are run and played by a bunch of misogynists shits, but so what, really. It’s a question of priorities. I’d rather concentrate on trying to get more women into parliament than getting to the bottom of the reasons why the planet likes to watch a bunch of gorgeous young men kicking a bladder at each other. I think Laurie’s a marvellous writer on her day, but that one had ‘running out of things to write about’ and ‘got to be angry for the hell of it’ written all over it. Sure, football is a complete waste of money, but no more so than Fred Goodwin, and I’d rather focus my feminist energies on the fallout from his shenanigans that attack our all-too-brief diversions from it.

I love sport, and don’t believe I’m a traitor to feminism for that.

Australia’s losing. ROCK ON.

Thank you Anna for articulating how I’ve been feeling over the last week or so – all this fucking flag-waving strikes me as distinctly un-English. So what if we suck at football and never win – we should just get on with our lives and not attach our national ego to a game of men kicking a ball around.

Cheers Madam Miaow, well said. My love of football eroded following one too many connections with well-paid, well-loved, high-profile footballers to rape and violence against women.

Earwicga, maybe you should stop reading the News of the World.

Next you’ll be going on about ”right wing lorry drivers” like another poster on LC does.

” The England having its safety net dismantled by the Tories and Ramsay McClegg?”

In what parallel universe is this taking place?

“Or the England that produced some of the best art and culture in the world with the post-war democratising of the state?”

I have no idea what this means? Was nothing produced earlier?

Though please forgive me if I have failed to spot that this piece is in fact a spoof.

23. Dick the Prick

As my grandad used to say ‘love football, not footballers’. I’ve always thought it was British Hollywood. I genuinely do feel sorry for the fans who seem to have it as their, you know, raison d’etre but they’re adults.

This may not be necessarily on topic but it’s a useful topic for insecure lads to talk about; I used to work with a bumch of accountants who were brilliant at their job but footy was one of the only topics other than work which we could all engage in without anyone getting upset.

Blokes are crap communicators, footballers are all wankers, the world cup is the pinnacle of their careers where Tajik can kick Lampard’s over paid arse around the pitch. I’m pretty sure this competition is just democracy (let’s not go into how utterly corrupt FIFA is). Now, if you penned this about the Premiership, well, that’s a different kettle of fish.

Ghana could win, South Korea look good, Brazil are the best team in history regardless of what happens – nah, there is a cherry somewhere.

Hahaha – this rather entertainingly Madam Miaow’s most recent comment on her own blog:

Madam Miaow said…
Well, guys, I ended up watching it after all. We were at a friend’s birthday party surrounded by football loathing musicians but we all succumbed. We thought it started at 7:45 so missed the first goal, but were so surprised that Ingerland had got off to a good start that we turned off the music and watched properly (apart from those who held their moral ground but were driven out into the next room).

I ended up being the noisiest supporter of plucky little England and howled at Butterfingers Green at That Moment. Well done, Bristol Red, for holding the line. You are a better man than I.
13 June 2010 11:51

We’re talking about the amount of attention paid as well aren’t we? Or is that conveniently to be ignored?

I’ll be watching the womens world cup, Sunny, can’t say that billions of others will – but some women play an excellent game. So what am I ignoring exactly? I’m not rich enough to own newspapers and a monopoly on geo-stationary objects high above, so I can’t effect that either.

Laurie Penny – who I usually like – wrote a terrible piece. It was incoherent and based on the lazy generalisations of someone writing about a subject she knows little about. From one of her replies to her own piece she realised that she had written something substandard.

As for your arguments: the possibility of a club buying success is obviously irrelevant here. That there are bigger problems issues than football is likewise irrelevant because they are not mutually exclusive.

I’m not clear on the disctintionyou are trying to make between athletics and football. How is cheering for Jess Ennis less binary than cheering for Wayne Rooney?

I don’t buy for a second the idea that football fans are programmed to think their team is good and everyone else is bad/cheating/whatever. Ask some England fans how bloody fantastic they think Messi is.

Laurie Penny

– who thought male and female athletics ought to be combined, failing to realise that women would never win a medal –

writes a very funny miserablist piece on the upcoming World Cup in the New Statesman — Why I Despise The World Cup — and makes the point that, while we’re staring at the bread and circuses spectacle of the World Cup (on at a television near you from today), this is the reality for those of us who swallowed the red pill.
“Young people are in crisis, poor people are in crisis, unemployment stands at 2.5 million, the Labour movement is still leaderless and directionless, and there’s a brutal train of Tory public service cuts coming over the hill.”

Indeed – hardly a surprise that people want to get away from it for 90 minutes.

Why I find it difficult to cheer for England because they are crap.

End of.

I like football, but I hate footballers. Overpaid, overrated and with the brains and manners of selfish 2 year olds.

The only good think about the Premiership is that it shows up the nonsense of the right wing market model. EG, You have to pay people millions to get results. So you pay a guy £6 million a year as manager and he picks a goalkeeper who is known to make errors. It is the Banking model, payment for failure.

cjcjc – I have to say I find this a little bit sad. It’s apparent from the use of ‘succumbed’ that she wants to watch the football but feels that she shouldn’t. It’s rather like someone enjoying watching Big Brother but deciding they shouldn’t like it.

You shouldn’t feel guilty for enjoying something.

This and Laurie Penny’s piece mirror the commentary that’s being put out by right-wingers in the US who are claiming the World Cup is some sort of globalist plot, distracting the ignorant masses from the political fight at home whilst pushing the agenda of the ruling elite (globalized multicultralism in the eyes of the American right, misogyny, nationalism and vacuous consumerism in the eyes of the British left).

http://mediamatters.org/research/201006110040

Both sides are complete burkes. It’s the nature of popular activities that powerful people and institutions will parasitically try and feed off their popularity to promote their agendas. This is not a reason to abandon the activities. It’s like declaring guerrilla warfare to be useless because corporations now print Che Guevara T-shirts.

As for the claim that commercialisation and corporate misdeeds have killed local fanbases for local teams, look at Oxford United. Completely f*cked over by Robert Maxwell and still being f*cked over by Firoz Kassam, but the fans have remained in big numbers.

Supporting England is not invalidated as racist by the existence of the EDL, or as consumerist by all the crap being advertised with the flag. Nor is the World Cup rendered negative by the fact that there are more important issues.

Ben: Ennis/Rooney — all exceptions excepted.

cjcjc: I contain multitudes.

paga: non sequitur, much?

earwicga: dammit, you’re right.

Ben 2: Big Brother — uncanny. How did you know?

…I could put it another way – there are times when it feels easier to support England than it does to support feminism.

I mean – why the nonstop friggin’ humourlessness? I’ve got very mixed feelings about the so-called new feminism. I like the idea, and would rather have it than not, but the facts are that our great movement seems to have been reduced to a scrabbling through so-called popular culture for examples of female regression. Talk about a self-fulfilling prophesy. There’s a lot more to us girls than whining about the mass media’s hangup with big tits and overpaid male footballers, but there are days when you’d be hard pushed to believe it.

As my dear old Dad used to say about football – it’s only a fucking game. Why spend ages picking round in it for bits that may be insulting to women?

33. Luis Enrique

Shorter: “My preferences are preferable to your preferences”

(although I realise that’s not at all what you think you’ve written, which is terribly earnest and virtuous)

Re female regression, Kate, you appear to be commenting on an article inside your head, not the one about the cultural phenomenon that is the World Cup as above.

Ah, Madam – a catfight for us? Can’t wait.

I was commenting on the article in yr head – Laurie’s, around which yours is based.

“Catfight”? It’s all tits and wimmin with you, innit? As your dear old Dad might have said, it’s only a fucking blog.

LOL indeed he would have!

…although he probably would’ve stayed for the tits.

“We’re talking about the amount of attention paid as well aren’t we? Or is that conveniently to be ignored?”

There’s historically been little to no funding or organisation for women’s sport in areas such as football. Let’s not get picky just because the natural process of time hasn’t yet taken it’s course.

As for the subject of the original article…I am surprised so many cliche’s managed to get crammed in to the space used. It’s always fun to watch football reach the nerve centre of feminism while so many other national based exercises or moments of pride, in sport or otherwise, do not.

“As for athletics, I thought English athletes competed under a British flag rather than an English one?”

Ah yes, that makes all the difference! (though you’re wrong, as it depends on the competition).

Some of us just enjoy watching sport on the telly.

I reqlly hate supporting England at football…mainly because they are embarrassingly bad. The amount of money they are paid and yet they are hamfooted at best. The best players struggle to control the ball…the others jut kick and hope. When lampard takes a kicj, you wonder which universe he is aiming at. The mixmatch of salary, hype and ability is a tragic marxian nexus…history repeating itself as farce and then as something even more humiliating

It’s rather predictable and unfortunate that in articles like this, people conflate different things and everyone gets defensive. Even lefties.

I enjoyed this piece because it’s making a distinction between patriotism and football. In fact it is actually saying, to me, that the problem is that patriotism is reduced to cheering on these guys during football games when actually it could be and should be much deeper than that.

The problem is actually that some lefties are comfortable with patriotism being reduced to just football – and so when that gets attacked (for not being inclusive enough) then they get all defensive.

Football is more than a sport – it’s a national religion. The problem is that as a religion it demands a form of worship (mostly in the form of patriotism) despite the values the game now represents. If we had a form of patriotism and Englishness that was independent of the game then this wouldn’t be an issue.

Anyway, I thought it was an excellent piece.

Will Rhodes: I’m not rich enough to own newspapers and a monopoly on geo-stationary objects high above, so I can’t effect that either.

So you admit there’s a disparity in how men and women’s football is treated yet you seem to think that doesn’t exist simply because you watch it?

43. political_animal

The trouble with the article is that it fails to point out there are many of us who don’t support England because we prefer club football.

I love the World Cup and will quite happily watch every single game, but I don’t get much excited about England (I merely recognise and therefore have a slightly greater connection with a few more of the players). The reason being, I love watching football. It doesn’t matter to me if it’s the World Cup final, or an under 10’s game on the local park. What really matters though, is my local club. This is the real meat and potatoes of football. The club you support all year round (not England where there is only a game every so often).

This also leads into the other problem with the article. By focusing on the Premier League and the money, media attention and hype that goes with it, you have succumbed to the belief that that is what it is all about. You have bought into the Sky marketing campaign. In fact, there are a great many of us who’s local team is not one of the “elite”, wasting money on over-paid prima-donna’s and are thus not affected by the concerns expressed in the article.

Ignore England, ignore the Premier League and the big money and big teams. Get yourself down to your local lower-league or non-league club and feel a part of the community. After all, reaching out to those around us in the local community, is surely what being a left-liberal is all about.

I’ve been going to football matches (going still a very much minority pastime – about one per cent of the population) since the ’60s and always wince when politics gets involved because it nearly always gets it wrong.

Even now, when apparently it’s “a national religion”, you still just don’t get it.

“Football — the continuation of war by other means”

Oh gawd, here we go again – no it’s not.

“The trouble with football…..Us (good) and them (bad)”

You mean rather like the left and right in politics?

<i<"Coming out of the Second World War, which devastated huge swathes of the globe…"

You mean when football in terms of attendances was at it most popular?

“Nowadays, changing social conditions means social engineering, militarising society and the creation a nation of gladiators”

Huh? I think society was rather more militarised in 1914-18 and 1939-45 actually, and the Edwardians had a thing about “the militarisation of society”, historians have written books on it (think: Boy Scouts).

“Laurie Penny writes a very funny miserablist piece on the upcoming World Cup”

Yes, I remember in the ’80s (football’s lowest point*) being told by Marxists that “football is the new opiate of the masses” and reading a piece in “London Labour Briefing” that “football is sexist because, er, it was played and mostly watched by men. At the time unemployment was higher, cuts worse and life rather more uncomfortable than it is today.

(* so low that after HeyseI the Old Staggers could write an article attacking all English football fans as violent, racist thugs and get away with it)

“To those who cry that this is a proletarian pastime, whatever it was, it ain’t now”

Have you ever been to a football match? Sure it’s a lot more expensive and has lots more corporate and middle-class fans now and some fans have been priced out of attending, but the overwhelming majority of fans are still working, or lower-middle class, as always. And proletarian eh? I can trace articles on the death of the traditional working class back to the ’50s.

<I."Er, and the WAGS"

Yes, let’s have a laugh at parvenu, working class women with high disposable amounts of income who live in a a consumerist society the rest of us disdain and take no part in.

“Do I really want to identify with massively overpaid narcissists and their big-buck masters? How does victory for one set of businessmen over another set improve my life?”

But please, let us not extend this attitude to popular musos, artists or actors because, even if they are rich as Croesus, we rather like them and they occasionally say something radical.

“…Or the England that produced some of the best art and culture in the world with the post-war democratising of the state?”

Football is part of culture. It has been called “the opera of the masses”, an unscripted drama without words (well mostly….). And at a professional level it is played overwhelmingly by working class men. Somewhere were working class men dominate is, looking at politics and culture in the round at this time, something to be celebrated.

And poor old Orwell can be used for just about anything. But he made a distinction between a virtuous, defensive (live-and-let-live) “patriotism,” and a true-believer, aggressive, often irrational “nationalism.”

A curious touch of Orwell’s was that the “nationalist” need not blindly worship his own country.

England football fans are called “patriotic”. So if Madam Miaow-Miaow is not patriotic is she nationalistic?

Sunny

Will Rhodes: I’m not rich enough to own newspapers and a monopoly on geo-stationary objects high above, so I can’t effect that either.

So you admit there’s a disparity in how men and women’s football is treated yet you seem to think that doesn’t exist simply because you watch it?

Please feel free to re-read my first reply. I did indicate there that there is a disparity, but that is, as I said, another matter. Is it you just like picking up on certain things in a post and running with it?

Now, the financing around the womens game, that is a different matter. But, I would have a peek at what some of the American women are paid, not the same as men, but, again, that is another matter.

Just in case you can’t be bothered to scroll up.

Will: I did indicate there that there is a disparity, but that is, as I said, another matter.

But that’s precisely what is being got at here – that the disparity is the main problem! That’s like saying no one should care for the conditions of the badly exploited because at least they get paid… surely the disparity is the issue?

cjcjc: I contain multitudes.

You are full of something…

Sunny

But that’s precisely what is being got at here – that the disparity is the main problem! That’s like saying no one should care for the conditions of the badly exploited because at least they get paid… surely the disparity is the issue?

I don’t think it is. What I do think is; the OP read one of Laurie’s posts and decided to go with it and add to the, shall we say, narrative.

Football — the continuation of war by other means.

That is the first line of the OP. Followed up by many-a-thing which made the post, IMHO, disjointed. Football is not a war, gladiatorial, or any other thing – it is a sport enjoyed by billions of people. Some of those billions do not even know what the world cup is, yet – once introduced to it – enjoy it as any man or woman has who ever played the game. The ‘it’ being a simple game that can be played with a tin can, tennis ball, deflated football and a couple of sticks or jumpers.

Because the game is now a global game and is controlled by billionaires in the west, east and south is nothing to do with the disparity. Fuck, you could say the same about cricket! Though, with football, it can be played by anyone who decides they want to play the game, barefoot or booted. It is one thing in this world that is an equaliser – not, unfortunately, at professional level (see many-a-post about matching men Vs women – all down to the nature of things). Some hate football, many do not, and the many enjoy it because they can, do, and will forever do so. I could write an essay on why my sister and my daughter hate football – yet neither one tries to indoctrinate to me why my distaste of inequality has anything at all to do with something I, personally, love. I detest war, a father who was a desert rat taught me that. I detest inequality betwixt men and women, me old mam taught me that one, but for reasons personal. None of this made me think twice about football or the inhuman treatment of those on Gaza or Dahfur.

What football does mean, to me, especially the world cup, as I am an England fan – is that once, every four years, I – like so many who are like me, can stand next to those who would be deemed (by my government) to be my enemy on a real battlefield, are just people who love a game and we can banter about it, call the referee a total wanker, have a beer and be human with each other.

Football is inclusive. Enjoy it. Celebrate it. It’s on TV – and if some took the time to watch the crow rather than the pitch, they would see the total wonderment of it, too.

Sorry for the long reply TL;DR.

@18 Sunny

Irony!

A large proportion of England fans must be the natural constituents of the left. Somehow they do not agree, despite being those who have felt the impact of the recession more than most and who will likely bear the brunt of LibCon policies.

This kind of article fits too easily into a “humourless lefties want to ban Engerland” meme. Neither does it do anything to dispel the elite bourgeous metropolitan stink emanating from this blog.

And you think I’m writing a parody!

“Or the England that produced some of the best art and culture in the world with the post-war democratising of the state? ”

Umm, anyone actually want to try and defend that statement?

Not all that much post war art or culture that ranks amongst the “best in the world” really….

This is possibly the worst post ever on Liberal Conspiracy.

Maybe, if it isn’t, it is very, very close.

And as a disclaimer I am normally a big fan of the writings of Madam Miaow but this is poorly thought out, generalised and ill-informed rubbish.

52. Luis Enrique

Christ this is infuriating on so many levels – “overpaid narcissists” … well, nobody can dispute the overpaid bit, but at the same time, the England team is made up of individuals from working class backgrounds who have found success through hard work and talent. And “narcissists”? Personally, whenever I hear people like Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney etc. speak, I am struck by what decent people they seem to have remained despite having lived in an insane bubble since their teenage years. What a sneering ungenerous spirit this OP has.

“I love the artistry of great footballers.” Oh bollocks you do, otherwise you’d be enthralled by the spectacle of the best footballers on the planet competing in the greatest sporting competition on the planet, and you’d be sharing the excitement with billions of football fans (well, nearly), across every continent, from shanty towns to penthouses, glued to their tellies. I think there was even some artistry on display in the England USA game, and because I do love the artistry of great footballers, I was there enjoying it (alongside being disappointed and frustrated)

And honestly, would you tell a South African or Nigerian that he or she shouldn’t get excited about their team competing in the World Cup, because the social and political situation in their country is nothing to be proud of, and their team’s best players would bugger off to pay for millions in Europe at the drop of a hat? What a crock of shit.

Really, it’s fine that you don’t like the World Cup. There are one or two things that other people like that I don’t like. But spare us this bilge.

“It appears designed to programme the collective brain out of thinking and nuance, making those same synaptic connections that can only deal with black and white, binary three-minute hate. Us (good) and them (bad).”

I consider my case proven and I gladly accept your collective apology.

54. John Meredith

“Umm, anyone actually want to try and defend that statement? Not all that much post war art or culture that ranks amongst the “best in the world” really….”

That’s an interesting point. At first think, it does seem difficult to justify the idea that Britian was as significant a cultural force after the war as it was before it.

MM@53:

You’ve made up enough stuff here without having to imagine apologies as well.

Great blog, I shared this blog with my friends. Hope to hear more from you.

I agree with what Madam Miaow says and many of the comments on this thread are v. bad tempered and knee-jerk reactions to any criticism of football. My own personal opinion is that football has become this nationalist jamboree. As a game I can take it or leave it. There’s a nationalist ideology along with the worship of extreme wealth ideology. There is the join in (not on your own terms) or be labelled a killjoy.

@50 yeah, I will defend that statement Tim W. British popular culture did explode post-war … you should check up on it… Films, art, music, television… you name it. Oh dear Tim, it is hard for you to admit that the welfare state created a higher cultural level.

58. Jimmy Hill

@53

Nice rhetoric but that argument isn’t sound.

You: Football is bad and makes people take agressive positions in relation to one another

Respondents: Hmm, I’m not sure your argument really holds, also there are a lot of factual errors in your piece.

You: By virtue of you disagreeing with me it is obvious that football is just as bad as I said in my original argument.

Your mistake here is to think that arguing about football and arguing about a flawed argument about football are the same thing.

“I will defend that statement Tim W. British popular culture did explode post-war … you should check up on it… Films, art, music, television… you name it. Oh dear Tim, it is hard for you to admit that the welfare state created a higher cultural level.”

Noooo, not hard for me to admit, just something I’d like shown rather than asserted.

And do note what the original claim was:

““Or the England that produced some of the best art and culture in the world with the post-war democratising of the state? ””

Best culture and art. What, the operas of Britten were better than those of Mozart? The Skylon was better architecture than the Adams? Keith Woodehouse was a better novelist than Evelyn Waugh?

Now, if you want to restrict the claim to “popular culture” then, well, umm, possibly, but I’d still like to see you prove it rather than assume it. I’m unsure that Diana Dors was in any manner “greater culture” than the pre (both) war Lilly Langtry. OK, the latter shagged a King but that cannot be the definition, can it?

As I say, do note that the original claim was “best art and culture in the world” not, “popular culture”.

Could post war popular music just be so good because they got first crack of the whip at it?

I mean, I write a song now and there have been over 50 years of millions of people trying to do the same. Maybe it wasn’t anything to do with the culture and they just got lucky and got to go first.

Just an idea…

I’m fed up with all this over-analysis.

If people didn’t try to politicise football to look smart and superior, then maybe others of us could enjoy it for what it is. A game.

Why bring the war into it for pete’s sake?

I love this article. It?s been awhile since I?ve read such an intelligently written piece that acknowledges we haven?t finished with this realignment of the genders. Thanks for all your links and information too!

63. Matt Munro

“It appears designed to programme the collective brain out of thinking and nuance, making those same synaptic connections that can only deal with black and white, binary three-minute hate.”

Er the brain is binary, neurons either fire or they do not, connections are either made or they are not – the shades of grey concept is a social construction developed by indecisive people of low intelligence

64. Matt Munro

This really is the most obnoxious snobbery I’ve ever read on LC

What is your central point, football is the opium of the masses ? Sport is a metaphor for war ? Leaving aside that those are hardly a new observation, would you prefer a real war ? And why is this argument never applied to “high culture” ? Why is it somehow ok for a middle class leftie to spend his weekend at tate modern while “Young people are in crisis, poor people are in crisis, unemployment stands at 2.5 million……….” but not for a working class man to spend all weekend watching football ? Come to think of it why is it ok for the middle classes to be nationalist – all those union Jacks at last night of the proms – but when a working class person waves a flag its necessarily a prelude to racist violence

You’re late to the party Munro, it’s a dead thread you’re arguing with and a post that not many people agreed with anywho.

Chill.

Hey, Matt. A bit more adrenalin. And all together, boyz, “OI! OI! OI!”

67. Matt Munro

MM – Shouldn’t you be at work ?

68. Rhys Williams

I support England and wolves because of national and family loyalties, however I try to remove the tribal link they drag me back every time.The team I like watching is Barcelona. No heartache but half the enjoyment
As for football and its’ ills.
Bring back the maximum wage for EVERYONE, not only footballers. Your fault Hill. Also introduce the debt free German system for the Premier. Also coach our kids like the dutch.
As for nationalism and the England side
I hate to say this I am with Matt on this one.
But let’s have an England anthemr or could we sing the Internationale when England play in red


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Madam Miaow

    World Cup fever & gladiatorial combat. RT @libcon Why I find it difficult to cheer England at football http://bit.ly/a54VWT #football

  2. Mark Best

    RT @libcon: Why I find it difficult to cheer England at football http://bit.ly/9HQe0t

  3. Patrick Tunney

    RT @libcon: Why I find it difficult to cheer England at football http://bit.ly/9HQe0t

  4. Liberal Conspiracy

    Why I find it difficult to cheer England at football http://bit.ly/9HQe0t

  5. Tweets that mention Why I find it difficult to cheer England at football | Liberal Conspiracy -- Topsy.com

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Liberal Conspiracy and Madam Miaow, Mark Best. Mark Best said: RT @libcon: Why I find it difficult to cheer England at football http://bit.ly/9HQe0t […]

  6. Please, don’t feel you have to support England | Sim-O

    […] Oh for fucks sake. […]

  7. Robert Sharp » Blog Archive » The World Cup is Not Xenophobic

    […] who dismiss the World Cup as being somehow xenophobic.  Laurie Penny was at it last week, now quoted approvingly by fellow Orwell Prize nominee Madame Miaow.    Even my friend Ste Curran was at it earlier, and […]

  8. The football world cup is not xenophobic | Liberal Conspiracy

    […] Penny was at it last week, now quoted approvingly by fellow Orwell Prize nominee Madame Miaow. Even my friend Ste Curran was at it earlier, and I […]

  9. Football Nation: Love England, hate patriotism? « Though Cowards Flinch

    […] / being ashamed of their nationality” (a cliché Nick Cohen squarely perpetrated against Madam Miaow). Football unquestionably involves politics – the revolution in how football teams are funded […]





Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.