By Tony Attwood
I am not enough of a cultural expert to know if it happens in other countries, but it long struck me that in England one of our prime pastimes is that of sneering and laughing at others. We highlight their errors, and if they are not making errors we give them errors, pretending that whatever has gone wrong was their fault. “If only I was in charge” seems to be the message, “I’d have this sorted out in a day.”
It was interesting to me that when Walter wrote his report about a few days spent in England with his wife Carine, how incredibly polite and kind people were to them at every turn. That seems such a contrast to the way in which English people are portrayed in the media each day.
But in the media what we get is constant attacks on the value and behaviour of people around us, which leads to simplistic analyses of everything around us. The focus is normally (but not exclusively) on individuals – we blame everyone else for everything that is wrong, and if we can’t identify a leader to blame only then do we seem only to blame organisations.
And because we are on a heightened nationalism alert (what with England, Wales and Northern Ireland all playing in the latest tourney, the newspapers in England are packed with such stories.
Take Super Victor for example. According to the Guardian “Euro 2016 organisers face embarrassment of a different kind after it emerged their mascot shares its name with a popular sex toy.”
Now that is of course a huge, huge…. story and one that certainly requires bold headline treatment from a serious newspaper. “Uefa is hoping for a sizeable income from merchandising featuring the Euro 2016 mascot” it tells us, without telling us if the association with the sex toy (shock horror it is available from Amazon) is actually reducing or enhancing the sales.
It turns out this is another of those things where governments and organisations like to ask the public their opinion, and then find it blows up in their face (like an inflatable sex toy I suppose, not that I am an expert on such matters). Rather like finding that when Margaret Thatcher died, the great British public arranged that “The Witch is Dead” was number one in the charts. Or asking the public to name a £200m research vessel, only to find the public decide to call it Boaty McBoatface. This is, I must admit, for me just about the most endearing aspect of the British public, although I do wish they would carry it through to general elections.
Back with the football, one story that has to arise is that one of the Great British nations in the tournament (or failing that Ireland) has screwed up by booking a hotel where they will not be able to get a good night’s sleep. This comes from our eternal desire to knock administrators (which is something I don’t like because I am the chair of the School of Education Administration and Management in the UK).
So we learn again from the Guardian “England’s footballers are facing the prospect of a sleepless night before their opening game against Russia on Saturday after being given a hotel directly opposite Marseille’s fan zone – and a beach party that will go on until the early hours involving up to 80,000 people.”
Well, at least we can blame the perfidious French this time.
But anyway – planning ahead – it’s not very… British, is it?
However speaking of foreigners, Venezuela beat Uruguay in the Guardian Copa América Centenario to go through to the quarter-finals. And wouldn’t you know, Luis Suárez, the old vampire himself, has been filmed totally losing his temper and throwing one of his boots on to the pitch after he was told he would not play a part in the game.
Even more bizarre Suárez could be seen warming up on the touchline in the second-half despite not being even being named as a substitute. We are awaiting information on whether he actually bit the boot in order to keep up the tradition he launched at the 2014 World Cup, when he bit Giorgio Chiellini. Uruguay had been named as one of the favourites. Suárez has been named as a very naughty boy.
The size of this result (the Vens beating the Urus) can be seen from the fact that Venezuela did not participate in the World Cup until 1966, when they didn’t get a point. In 1970 they got one point. In 1974 they withdrew without playing a game and in 1978 they were back to their record breaking high of one point. In 1982 they got their first win, and got their second in 1994 beating Ecuador. In 1998 qualifiers their goalkeeper scored against Argentina and they failed to qualify for 2002 and 2006 world cups. Now they are beating the Vampires.
Meanwhile, away from the international front, the papers are now certain that we are not signing the being known as “Vardy”. “Vardy ’80 per cent’ certain he will snub Arsenal” is the headline in the Independent, leaving readers to ponder exactly how one measures a man’s future decision making in percentage points. Mind you the mood against Vardy seems so strong now I think he might have a hard time of it if he changed his mind, but the papers press on with (again from the Independent which amazingly has failed to latch onto the sex toy story), “Arsenal transfer plans face disruption over Vardy delay.”
The notion that Arsenal laid plans that just assumed Vardy would sign seems just bizarre – and to make that a fundamental assumption not even worthy of examination seems to remove the news organisation from the realms of reality.
(However since it is still running the Heathrow story Could this be Britain’s most expensive airport link? on its main football page as the lead story under “Bournemouth” suggests that perhaps it is not so serious after all.)
But of course it is all the fault of the dreadfully slow Arsenal administration. On the other hand “Mkhitaryan nearing Arsenal switch as Wenger continues summer plans” has no worries about Arsenal’s ability to sign players. And the Indy also goes with “Arsenal ‘plan to offer Bellerin new contract’ to fend off Barcelona.” (I think that process is well under way, and on this occasion the Independent is just finding it hard to keep up).
The Telegraph, the paper that notoriously picked up on Untold’s piece revealing that England’s persistent failure in international games is due to a lack of quality coaches, and ran the full story a while after we’d done the research (without quoting us of course), is back with another Untold story.
Revealed: One in three players at Euro 2016 could play for another country
You may recall several pieces here where we have considered what qualifies a player for a country. The list includes being born here (even if it is just during a stop over), having a parent or a grandparent who were born here, having a parent or grandparent who one way or another has a British passport, being born in the Channel Isles (not only not part of England, they are not part of the UK nor part of the EU), applying for nationality, (which in many cases means living in the country for two years…)
Still the Telegraph does have one amusing headline…
When Chelsea faced the music over their dismal treatment of Eva Carneiro, they folded quicker than their title defence
And one that is not at all unexpected
Zlatan Ibrahimovic transfer to Manchester United held up so striker can collect large loyalty bonus from Paris Saint-Germain
And one that is just utterly appalling
‘Isis, where are you?’ England fans ‘chant about terrorists’ amid Marseille clashes ahead of Euro 2016 opener against Russia.
And that’s more or less where the world seems to have got to this morning (or evening if you are in Australia).
- Right, let’s get the performance enhancers out. Its the Euro 2016 drugs fest and nothing is barred.
- Arsenal buy a “spitsbroer*”.Walter and Arsenal Belgium reveal the latest transfer drama from behind the scenes
- Apparently it wasn’t Vardy we were after at all. Here’s who we are actually getting…
Untold Arsenal has published five books on Arsenal – all are available as paperback and three are now available on Kindle. The books are
- The Arsenal Yankee by Danny Karbassiyoon with a foreword by Arsene Wenger.
- Arsenal: the long sleep 1953 – 1970; a view from the terrace. By John Sowman with an introduction by Bob Wilson.
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football. By Tony Attwood, Andy Kelly and Mark Andrews.
- Making the Arsenal: a novel by Tony Attwood.
- The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal by Mark Andrews.
You can find details of all five on our new Arsenal Books page