Monday, June 7, 2010

In Defence of The Beautiful Game . . .

“Its just twenty two men running around the field chasing a bag of wind . . .”

Yes, its that time of the sporting calendar again when some journalist/columnist will see fit to wheel out that most hackneyed of quotes in the name of creative writing. Without fail, every single World Cup sees valuable column inches wasted by these tiresome tirades about how they are sick of having footie shoved down their throats, of the media-saturation that follows this sporting bonanza, and how they are missing their fave soaps due to other family members hogging the remote.

Boo-fooking-hoo!

And at the risk of sounding like a fooking MCP, it’s almost always the women folk who feel the need to recycle this chestnut like they are dispensing some sort of sagely advice. As if having to put up with these pseudo-columnists isn’t fooking bad enough, unfortunately, many feel the need to repeat this ad museum as though it were some fooking mystic mantra. Me remembers when me was running a football-themed bistro during the 2002 World Cup and me overheard a lady patron spew out the above-mentioned quote.

Despite the place being jammed pack with customers and me was laden with orders, me coolly put down me tray and launched into an attack on this unfortunate soul who was telling her companions how silly men were for wasting time on such frivolous matters.

“How dare you belittle this beautiful game as mindless nonsense when you ladies lose all sense of reason & perspective when faced with four simple letters – S.A.L.E!” At which point her dining companions which included her hubby gave me a round of applause. Yes, me knows it sounds self-righteous-as-fook but all too often we have to listen to non-converts dole out such gems that me feels compelled to retort.

Why can’t they appreciate the excitement and unpredictability that is sports when they stay glued to vacuous soaps? Do they not realise that aside from sainthood, this is the closest thing a person can do to achieve immortality of sorts? Don’t believe me? Why are the names Garrincha, Puskas and Moore still talked about in such revered tones long after their owners have left their mortal coil.

Of course, many will try to defend their position by saying they can’t understand the hullabaloo when it is only a game. ONLY . . . A . . . GAME.

Again, their pig-ignorance fails to recognise the social importance football has on society. They will have failed to see how Zvonimir Boban became a national icon when he openly assaulted policemen who were beating on Croatian supporters at a Dinamo Zagreb v Red Star Belgrade game just before the Balkan states imploded into civil war.

Why is Maradona revered in his homeland when he openly cheated on the biggest stage of all? Because he single-handedly (yes, pun fully intended) buried the shame and humiliation a nation felt at their defeat in the Falklands War.

The above examples are perfect illustrations of George Orwell’s description of sports being war minus the weapons. But instead of revelling in the game’s ability to foster notions of nationhood, patriotism and even revolution, these ignoramuses prefer to see it as Neanderthals banging on the big drum of tribalism.

And if they had bothered to watch the fascinating documentary series on Astro’s ch804 called ‘International Football Rivalries’, they will note that Czechs and Slovaks are openly suspicious of each other but will countenance reunification only because the national football team would be in better shape!

Do these people not comprehend what it means to score in a World Cup final? One of the most enduring images me recalls is from the 1982 edition when Marco Tardelli reeled away bug-eyed with euphoria after his goal sent Italy on their way to their third crown. Such was the emotion that the term ‘Tardelli cry’ has entered the popular lexicon of Italy – meaning ‘unbridled joy’ or ‘crazy celebrations’. How’s that for cementing your place in folklore?



Me fully understands that not everyone appreciates the game but instead of spewing gormless sayings as the one above, they might do well to ponder on French Nobel Laureate Albert Camus’s altogether more meaningful quote -

“All that I know most surely about morality and obligations I owe to football."


Here’s to everyone enjoying the Copa Mundial in peace . . .

ps: me knows women (eg wifey) who know their shit who are, of course, NOT the target of this tirade . . .

35 comments:

premo said...

Well done Bals! Although I'm not a football fan (despite being an Arsenal supporter during the early days just to piss off Biren and Singh),I must say this one of the most well written tirades you have blogged in a while. Cheers!!

anfield devotee said...

Danke Premo! :-)

Bernard said...

Can do no better than Shanks famous quote, ""Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that."

anfield devotee said...

Bernard: Yups, precisely.

mozHASturnedINTOaMartian said...

to pick up from where premo left off:

http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/breakingviews/article/in-defence-of-the-beautiful-game-r.-bala/

'nuff said?

appreciatively,
moz

Mohan said...

salam dude: amazingly articulate piece dude. read it here and mInsider, and liked it quite a bit dude. nice work and thanks. who're you rooting for anyway? am all the way for Argentina as always. btw am fine dude. :-). M.

Mohan said...

been a little to simple in my comment. it's amazing you can conjure and combine the various comments from the greats that have ever been on the pitch in some form, and it's always the pitch that matters. haha...we used to treat PE lessons as the world cup..ask Gavin..washing outside of the toilet and ending up 30mins. into the next lesson.

Mohan said...

am starting something new here now(with your blessings of course):: Best moments and Worst moments when you were on a pitch. Mine was scoring a penalty against fizal in standard six. worse was getting my cruciate ligaments torn in a muddy field in high school. common' guys..some comments of your experiences..well in the spirit of the WC(and you do know i'm absolutely wasted haha).

Les Malais said...

Agree. Football is something important in our society. But, not only in a positive way.
During the Roman Empire the poet Juvenal said: "Give them bread and games...." to divert the attention of Roman increasing poverty that struck the Empire, through the fault of the negligence of its successive leaders.

World cup, Olympic Games.... I think we have plenty of Games but do we have bread all over the World?

So, after this pessimistic phase I would like to say: COME ON FRANCE !!!!

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Anba said...

The first time i really played football was when i was in Stndr 2..bck in 86...
Those days..football was the most simple and fun games yous just slippers to act as goalpost ,..a ball and your foot...no boots shin guards etc...
Then world cup came in 86... and it was magic...i blame Maradona..
Mesmerized and inspired by his single handed determination and wizardry..
for that..till now World Cup is a special event that i will welcome every 4 yrs...
The things i done just to watch a world cup game is something i can tell my kids and grandkids every time the world cup comes...
Hope this world cup brings even greater memories...
As usual be hoping that Argentina can win again...
hehehe...
By the way those who complain and nag ..would never do so i they had played the game and had score atleast one gola in their lifetime..

anfield devotee said...

Mohan: When is ye NOT wasted? he he!

Not rooting fer anybody. Me just wanna be entertained. Stress free footie.

But me has a feeling the Dutch are finally gonna break their jinx.

Les malais: True. That's precisely the reason why the military junta of argentina brought the world cup home in 1978.

They paid off the refs/opponents (eg Peru) to ensure they would win the damn thing to divert the public's attention away from the atrocities being committed.

Watched a documentary where a prominent activist from that era said despite the torture & culture of censure under the dictatorship, everything was forgotten when Kempes & co lifetd the trophy.

All the pain, hurt & grief dissappeared fer a brief moment of euphoria.

Whether that is right or wrong is open to debate.

Teng Hock said...

Great article. Though I enjoy a basketball match more than a football match due to the fact that I play with my fingers instead of my foot.

One of the reasons that got me started with football was God Fowler's finishing touches as well as his intelligent plays. Being a kaki bangku, it's hard for me to play with my legs what more finishing the play with such precise finishing without any hesitation.

I still remember us playing against Basel a few seasons ago, still hurts, but I couldn't help but remember the play making skills of Hakan Yakin, he single-handedly destroyed the Liverpool's defense and remember it was Houllier's time and how hard was it for teams to penetrate against us.

It's because of this, I have always insisted that we need a composed 2nd striker/attacking midfielder to play behind Fernando, or a stronger and faster Benayoun...Arda Turan anyone? Kewell was a great fit but lacked the will to win. Joe Cole? Can we afford to pay him? I must admit that I enjoy watching Arsenal games more than Liverpool's.

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

Well written bro, extremely. that 22 men chasing a ball quote is favorite amongst women, and i get that a lot which comes to no surprise but imagine to hear it coming from a guy!

How the hay am i, or are we, footie-loving men to react on that when it is mandatory to strut our punditry skills on the beautiful game whenever we hangout during a guy's night (or day) out?

p/s- stress-free football. I like that bro...hahahah...

ISA said...

the beautiful game...only that it isnt just a game...it will never be just a game for me..

i was advised by my doc to stop playing in january this year after years of abuse to the knees (severe degenerating of the meniscus) if i wanna continue using my legs...for walking and running!! (but degil lah...now and then will still put on the boots and suffer for weeks after)..

yup, the good doc's advice really did hit me for a few weeks..though i never quite made it to the big leagues, i've been kicking the football since 6..and now, time to stop...

football has given me so many memories...at least i can say i've played in two world cups (albeit lawyers' world cup lah...)hehehe...led the Malaysian Lawyers' team...ranked much higher in the world than our proper national team (32nd, mind u..)

i've experienced it all..like the old abc world of sports tagline...the agony of defeat, the ecstasy of winning...the camaraderie, the friendship with football fans throughout the world..(even met maradona's mentor..the bugger has got pics of maradona since he was a kid till he retired in his wallet!!! i kid u not)...

nice article AD, and here's the finger salute to anyone who thinks football is just a dumb game of 22 men chasing a ball...

anfield devotee said...

tth: Basel . . . don't even talk about that game. 3-3. Switched off at half time . . .

anba: fer me it was the 82 edition that cast the spell. That magnificent Brasil side with Socrates, Junior, Falcao et al. Then there was the wonderful French team with Platini, Tigana, Sixt etc. And then there was Paolo fooking Rossi . . . basterdo!

kerp: Like me said, me understands if ye don't gets the game but the fact these wankers need to make statements like the one cited pisses me off.

Did ye see the irritated comment one reader posted on the Malaysian Insider page? He he . . . Must be one of those guilty of making such comments me thinks or just lacks a FUNNY BONE!

ps: Am sure after the season we've both had, stress free footie is just what the doctor ordered . . .

Isa: Thanks fer the compliment bro. But me thinks yer bum knees were due to too many roy keane-like misplaced, late lunges at yer opponents rather than any sort of athletic endeavour on yer part . . . (*snigger*) . . .

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

Yea man, saw that comment but that coming from TMI, it didnt really surprise me to read feedbacks from wankers.

p/s- I'm with you Bala, its been a while since i get to enjoy a stress-free football match, for mere reason we Gooners had to wait till the last game of the season before finally clinching the 3rd spot and more importantly finished above the impressive Spuds.

Sorry Mozz, i know its off-season and all but still cant resist taking a dig...hehehehe...

Tinesh said...

Woh! Awesome piece man. Thank goodness the only people I've watched football with are all fans (how NOT to find a person who's not a footie fan in Malaysia, I dunno).

You know what's worse than the 22 men running after a ball comment? "Soccer nations" degrading football. Especially the fuckin yanks here. But they shut up when I mention how their "World Series" consists of STATES of the USA lol

anfield devotee said...

Me article also made pg 14 of the Sun today . . .

Kerp: yeah, last thing me needs is fer me bp to rise. However, me thinks if we needs some excitement, we can always place a bet or two to make things slightly more interesting.

tinesh: Oh yes, the usa is one of me pet hates. Greatest sporting nation in the world? Sure la, only play yer own sports in yer own 'closed' world series . . . fook off!

Anba said...

Only suckers call it soccer...
p/s
I have the same disdain for ppl who call thrash metal trash metal...

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

I'm already on it, but ofcos, ehem...all deals will be done behind me wifey's back...hehehehehheheeee...

Starting with Eng vs USA game. Come on you YANKS!

kevo said...

great stuff AD. enjoyable read.

eh can't believe after all these years we're still knocking paolo. he was the italian rushy to be fair. quick feet, uncanny awareness and the original fox in the box man. although brazil had the best side (minus that bungling idiot serginho! all his fault lah!) to never have won the world cup, Paolo Rossi destroyed the samba (talk about single- handedly) and credit to him and that tardelli/antognoni powered italian machine. twas glorious memories of me first ever w-cup. never forget espana 82. only wished keegan and brooking had a better run minus the injuries but brilliant all the same.

switzerland for the cup!

Achilles said...

AD: Waaah... unleash the warrior within. hehehehee. well done macha.

BTW, any predictions on who will take the cup home? Me want to enter this office pool, so looking for some advice before me join.

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

Raj,

Although me roots for Brazil, I think this time around the cup belongs to Argentina. So the safest bet would be to place your money on them. The Netherlands comes in close second. Just my 2 sens bro.

anfield devotee said...

Kevo: Thanks matey. Fook that Rossi la. Fooking convicted match fixer . . . PTUI!

achilles: Don't ye know, NEVER ask advice from so-called "experts". Sure wrong one.
Though me is backing the Dutch to finally break their duck.

Kerp: Argentina will not go far. Messi has NOT produced anything close to his club form fer his country. And lest we forget, there's a emotional cokehead in charge . . .

Anba said...

Predicting world cup outcome is a very tricky...from past experince the final four itself from 1982 shows atleast one team that's very least expected

1982
Poland n France

1986
Belgium...what the fook...?

1990
England after 1985 and no euro action...

1994
sweden n bulgaria(after kena 3-0 by nigeria in early rounds...how many thot they will go till the semis?

1998
Croatia

2002
South Korea..n Turkey

2006
Portugal..and France after their dismal show in 2002

2010?... lookin forward to be suprised

anfield devotee said...

anba: me thinks host nation will go far simply because them fooking vuvuzels or wotever they call it is gonna drive everyone fooking bonkers . . .

Achilles said...

Wow... muchos gracias amigos for the tips. I feel more confused now.

I spoke to one more super footie fan...his prediction is Spain or Argentina...so when in doubt, take both. So i put money on both teams... if either one wins the cup i make some money. otherwise me loses Rm 20.

Achilles said...

Kerp Bro... what happened to your blog-lah macha... still familiarizing yourself?? kekekekeke

Tinesh said...

I just remembered another pet peeve. Girls supporting teams just because they have good looking players.

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

Raj,

I myself have no idea when the next update will be...haha...pretty much bogged down with a few jobs i got, juggling between them that i rarely get the chance to just sit down and write as freely as i can. Cant afford to rest on me laurels la nowadays, unlike before. Even now catching up on datelines and with the WC starting, need to rush and hopefully by the time the tournament gets into 2nd gear i'd managed to clear some off by then. OKU issues can take the backseat la for now.

anfield devotee said...

achilles: Good luck macha, but me seriously thinks it will NOT be eng, spain or argentina who will be lifting the copa mundial.

Brazil. Why? Because they are so fooking un-Brasil-like!!! Fer once, they've got a mean defence & good keeper. Not quite the samba maestros but me thinks they are hot faves fer their 6th title.

Dutch - fer once, they are not beset by internal bickering that has destroyed previous teams with incredible talent. Their 4-3-3 formation is also quite killer.

Best of luck with the pools dude!

Tinesh: Tu biasa la. Even that me can stomach. Like me said, me can understand people NOT being footie fans. That is cool. But it is when they start lecturing us with that smug look on their face is when me will fooking give it to them. Just fooking irks me that they talk like they are some intellectual behemoths who has discovered some ancient truth when all they are doing is revealing their severe lack of understandig of what motivates grown men & women to behave so irrationally.

kerp: Still on honeymoon ah macha?

佩GailBohanan1蓉 said...

Man proposes, God disposes.............................................................

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

Sibuk cari duit la bro.

Btw, my take is its gonna be Argentina's year this time around. Doesnt matter even if Wan Jamak Hassan mans the team becos looking at the line of stars they have, Argentina's too good not to miss this one.

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