Sunday, May 20, 2007

Football crazies

I was in London yesterday visiting my friend Tim. We hung around Notting Hill/Kensington and saw the new Daniel Auteil film My Best Friend. I love Daniel Auteil - he has such a kind face, so it was a bit of a stretch to have him cast as a businessman with no friends.

There was an "important" football match on in London yesterday, which meant that groups of men were everywhere, breaking out into boorish chanting in that dreary way that they do. I always find it odd how men can judge other men as friends or enemies depending on which team they support, and I witnessed one supporter of a team (I have no idea who was playing) warning some fellow supporter who he had clearly never met before about a group of supporters from a rival team "don't go upstairs!"

But haven't these men got it a bit wrong. Surely, no matter what team they support, the point is that they all have a great deal in common with each other. They all like football. If they were to think about it for a minute, they'd realise that their real enemy is me and people like me who hate them all. Because if I had my way I'd ban the stupid game forever. Or I'd make football fans wear some sort of fitted noice detector brace around their neck, so if they started their usual shouting in the streets or on public transport, the authorities would be notified. Asbos would be handed out like confetti. I'd take all the fun out of it.

Walking home through Bristol town centre at 10pm, the chanting was still in force, spreading across streets as people set each other off. It was all a bit grim. I guess power comes in two forms - there's sanctioned, official power, the sort of power whereby you can decide how much or little money someone is going to be paid, keeping them out of jobs, education, good housing etc, deciding what constitutes a crime and how long someone will go to prison. It is the power of law - which is not always fair or right. It's often insiduous and subtle. It's the little old man with grey hair who goes past you unnoticed. Then there's the sort of power you display when you have no official power - the power to break or bend the official laws - to beat someone up or threaten to do so, to shout and be indimitating in the street. Such displays are more showy, brash and instantaneous. But ultimately, in societies, official power wins out. So maybe that's why people shout and behave badly during football matches. Because in their lives, for that day, they can feel powerful.

I'd still slap Asbos on the lot of them though.


evilganome said...

I live a block and a half away from the baseball stadium in Boston. One of my friends has opined that those of us who actually live in the city should be issued cattle prods to clear the fans out of the way. They really are dreadful. On the down side when there are games on, people tend to stay in the house. On the up side, it's a great time to go grocery shopping the market is deserted.

Trashbinder said...

My father had absolutely zero interest in sports, so I was forever grateful as a child that he made no attempt to bond with me over a football match.

At school, there were around six of us who didn't play football at lunch break. We were considered freaks, which is a matter of opinion. The other lads couldn't understand why we didn't want to belong to 'the gang'.

Football seems to be the one social activity that remains with males from childhood to adulthood. At work I am surrounded by professionals, who I have observed reverting to neanderthals during a match. I was there for the free hospitality and got hammered on Cristal, so felt more than compensated for having to endure the game.

Even after all of the development that mankind has gone through, the taming of the caveman has been relatively successful - until football is involved.

The rivalry in nature over territories, the rejection of those who are different and aggression for aggression's sake all comes surging through the male veins when a leather ball is being kicked around a field by men who claim to be straight but hug and kiss each other after every goal.

I can still recall being terrified for my life when visiting a friend who lived near the Aston Villa grounds many years ago. Yes, I was wearing a fur coat and make up with a very generic gay haircut and if anything is guaranteed to goad the straights my appearnce was. It was my first experience of absolute venom for those who stood out in the crowd.

My friend and I ended up being escorted by mounted policemen along the edge of road because the pavement was full of footie fans shaking their fists at us and shouting 'you're gonna die, you queer bastards.'

Is football just a veil for those who have too much testosterone built up, an outlet for violence or a way for heterosexual men to challenge the boundaries that we have to live within? I'm not entirely sure.

One thing I do know is that I'm so with Lubin on the slapping of Asbos.

Soccer? Balls, I say!

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