Political Football

In recent days, I’ve been cutting down on my consumption of BBC Radio. I think that it’s incumbent upon the responsible citizen to keep themselves informed so they can participate in democracy, but I’m increasingly unsure that listening to Today or Good Morning Scotland or The World At One or PM is a good way to do that. Particularly now Eddie Mair has moved on.

Stick with me – there’s fitba and a bangin choon at the end of this one
Check the Apoplexy Tiny Letter for a soundtrack to keep you going to the bottom of the page.

Besides, Doctor Who is in fine fettle
There’s no arguing with that. Do you hear me? No. Arguing.

Here‘s Nick Robinson defending Today’s interview with Ann Coulter at the end of last year, wherein she defends Donald Trump’s retweet of the deputy leader of a British fascist organisation. And here‘s a recent report on Today shedding around a tenth of its listenership in the past year.

Bringing it like a less sexy Joseph Goebbels
The deputy leader of a British fascist organisation. And Nick Robinson. AH-HAHAHAHAHA!

So it was a relief to hear a truly lovely piece of radio from one of Aunty’s well-paid presenters a few days ago. Gary Lineker – former England captain, their highest scorer in World Cups, winner of the Golden Boot at Mexico ’86, and European Cup Winners’ Cup winner with Barcelona – was asked to share his reaction to the death of Leicester City FC owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha this past weekend on the 606 call-in programme.

People ask me ‘What is the greatest sporting moment of your life?’ It is Leicester winning the league [over twenty years after Lineker retired].

I have played lots of sport and lots of World Cups but nothing matched that. It made me cry and still cry now. That wouldn’t have been possible without Vichai.

This is what retired, middle-aged British men look like, folks
Gary promised to present Match Of The Day in his pants if Leicester won the league

He was choking up as he related the story, and for a second, my faith in football was restored. One might have thought that Aberdeen‘s victory over Rangers in the Scottish League Cup semi-final on Sunday would have done that already. I’m tired of Scottish football, though.

We don’t have time to dwell on the myriad failures of the Scottish Professional Football League or the Scottish Football Association. Like, seriously. We only have 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe.

But since we’re here…. Only in Scotland’s Mafia-like football establishment could it be controversial that the two teams in a cup final get an equal split of the tickets for the game.

Still, don’t worry if you can’t get a ticket to a big game at the much-derided national stadium, there’s always Aunty to… Oh. Hold on.

At that rate the BBC’s best-paid star, Gary Lineker, could probably pay for every Scottish professional game to be played in his back garden. Although as Liverpool manager Bill Shankly once said of rivals Everton –

If that shower were playing down the bottom of my garden, I’d close the curtains.

I wouldn’t begrudge Gary his salary, though. He comes across as a good guy who tends to talk sense regarding the matters of the day – as if that should be part of the job description.   And just as goes for footballers – for example, Gary in his days at Barca or Grampus 8 – he’s strictly speaking one of the workers, not an owner of the means of production.

'Is it cos I get the good drugs?'
Guess that’s why the tabloids get so furious about overpaid footballers

Shankly, as befits a man who grew up in a small Ayrshire mining community in the first half of the twentieth century, knew a bit about how the world works as well as being funny as hell.

Big Jeezy would have no truck with it
The festival of capitalism that is Christmas approaches, reader…

Which brings us back to Brazil. Newly-elected President Jair Bolsonaro has spoken nostalgically about the country’s 1964-1985 military dictatorship and has promised to fill his government with current and former military leaders.

Blog idol Sócrates (Brazilian footballer, captain of the seleção and national hero ) had a different take.

Seriously. I love this guy.
And this was after he formed ‘Corinthians Democracy’ to reclaim power from his famous club’s management!

I guess there must have been something about the way he saw football that was similar to Shankly’s vision. I wonder if Sócrates’ training as a medical doctor might have contributed to his worldview as well.

You know, a bit like training in jurisprudence and then living through the experience of how luck can alter a life as a stroke survivor…

STROKE KLAXON!!! We got there in the end!

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2 thoughts on “Political Football

  1. The Maradona video… I was living in Boston during the ’94 World Cup, and could have attended that game. Sadly, at the time, I did not appreciate how special it would have been to see him play live. Oh well. I did attend the cracking Italy-Spain QF match, with the last-minute Baggio goal and the elbow to Luis Enrique’s nose. (Yes, it was literally a cracking match for poor Luis.)

    Also, wasn’t German great Paul Breitner a hard-core Marxist? (Or Maoist?) I’ll take him over Paolo “fascist salute” Di Canio any day.

    As for the media normalizing awful right-wing behavior… we can thank Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes for getting the ball rolling back in the ’90s (at least for the modern versions of it that we know and hate today). As one of our conservative presidential candidates once said, one dollar should equal one vote. To which Bob Dylan replied (30 to 40 years previously), “Money don’t talk, it swears.”

    1. Totally jell. That was a great World Cup until the final. Kind of relatedly, I heard an apocryphal story today that Dylan’s A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall was a description of all the songs that he wouldn’t be able to write as the Cuban Missile Crisis heightened in intensity. And it reminded me that I was glad to see the Maradona-esque Bob play live at Terminal 5 (and even nail Ballad of a Thin Man).

      You inspired me to visit Breitner’s wiki page. What a complex – or entirely uncomplex? – character. Money don’t talk it swears, indeed. I don’t suppose anyone escapes unscathed from being part of F.C. Hollywood.

      After the last scales were ripped from my eyes in 2014, I’ve seen the likes of Murdoch and Ailes as amateurs of the propaganda world. I’ve been gaslit so hard that trying to give up Today, The World at One and PM is like trying to quit smoking. I managed five days after the atrocity of the Trump and Farage love rally that was Thursday’s PM. Then today’s show opened with

      Hello. 872 days since we voted for Brexit, it seems we have the news we’ve been waiting for.

      Guess I’ll have to take another run-up.

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