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Football journalism and player comments: It has all got totally out of control

By Tony Attwood

From day one, Untold has taken the view that most of the stuff written by journalists is best kept for wrapping up cod surrounded by a rather overwhelming load of gunge.

But if that was the case back then, what now?  Half of the country’s footballers and all of the country’s journalists are tweeting and giving interviews of a type which no one could have imagined 20 years ago.

I happen to agree with Koscielny in his interview in L’Equipe, about Suárez where our man reported the S word as a cheat.   Which means I suppose I agree with Tony Pulis who said much the same. (Is there a clinic I can visit?)

If this was a spat in the playground a teacher would wade in and break it up.  But of course this is football, so Jim Boyce of Fifa said “players who dive” should be punished retrospectively.  Who could he be talking about?

Then Brendan Rodgers, the manager of Liverpool said it was all unfair and claimed he had been unfairly targeted.  The Uruguay national coach wants an apology and is demanding Fifa take action.  Koscielny said he would like to kick Suarez.  (I’d like the kick the Prime Minister, but I don’t think either of us will do it).

“He is a player who likes to dive as soon as there is contact. During a challenge we jostled a bit with each other and he fell. He started to talk to me in English, to say it was a penalty,” he said.

Steven Gerrard and Glen Johnson said that referees were refusing to award penalties because of his reputation, the nearest Liverpool have ever got to saying that refs are biased.

So we move on to a joke on France 2 which showed a picture of Japanese goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima with four arms and called it the ‘Fukushima effect’.  Tasteless yes, but the cause of an international crisis?  Hardly, but it is.

Japan’s chief cabinet secretary Osamu Fujimura said it was “inappropriate” and that the Japanese Embassy had sent a letter of protest.
Perhaps funnier was the president of Spain’s football association claiming that “racism does not exist” in the Spanish football leagues.   Even Uefa, which puts up with anything and everything, fined the FA of Spain during Euro 2012.   Dani Alves and Samuel Eto’o have spoken out on the matter.  But no, apparently it is not there, so that’s all right.
But let’s try this one.  United Arab Emirates FA secretary general Yousuf Abdulla threatening legal action and accusing the Asian football governing body of “racist acts” after using an inappropriate term for the UAE.

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“What happened is unacceptable and shows disrespect to others. It is proof of racist attitudes that are starting to surface,” said the man from the UAE.

So that must be it must it not?  Well, not quite. Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been accused of being arrogant, dirty and childish as a result of his behaviour in his country’s 1-0 win over the… Faroe Islands.  Benjaminsen who plays for the islands said “He elbowed me just before the interval and when we left the pitch for half-time I asked him what he was doing.  Just when we got inside he grabbed hold of me … He was belittling our team and me. What he said was not nice. He talked about where he is playing and how much he is earning. It was so childish.”

And I haven’t even got onto A Cole Esq.

Perhaps the best story of the lot though is back in Liverpool.  Sean Cummins – a copywriter (excellent fellows all – and I mean that) invented “Duncan Jenkins” – a sort of Billy the Dog McGraw on heat.  He started posting the Liverpool starting XI two hours before kick off.  He got it right, so then everyone started to take his made up transfer stories seriously.

So outraged were Liverpool FC by it all that the communications director, Jen Chang, went to meet the man and find out where his information was coming from!   To get this clear this really is like a senior man from Arsenal coming to see Billy the Dog and demanding to know how he had access to Dennis Bergkamp’s allotment in Enfield.

Chang then hired investigators to find Cummins, told him that unless he came clean there would be “dog s**t coming through your letter box” and he “might even have to move house” because “football fans are crazy”.

But that’s normal in Liverpool I suppose.


18 comments to Football journalism and player comments: It has all got totally out of control

  • walter

    With not much to report I could write another article on Suarez and use the angle on how he was looked upon in Holland. Might give an interesting extra view on him.

  • walter

    About the Fukushima-Kawashima I can tell you a story that indicates that people from Japan cannot laugh about Fukushima.
    Eiji Kawashima is his full name and he is the keeper of the Japanese team. And because of some freak coincidence he plays in the country I live in, Belgium.
    He started his career at Lierse the Belgium PL club closest to where I live. Lierse was team that had to play to stay in the top league and much of them staying up was down to Kawashima. Now he plays for Standard Liège, well known from our visite in the CL a few seasons ago. He really is a good keeper by the way.

    Shortly after the Fukushima distaster Lierse played Beerschot, a regional derby one can say (20 km distance) and at some stage the Beerschot supporters who where behind his goal started shouting “Fukushima”. During the game the keeper let the ref know that he wanted them to stop this shouting as it was disrespectful for he dead people from Japan. The ref stopped the game for a while, the speaker asked to stop it.
    After the game Beerschot got a relative (for Belgium) big fine. And even got a possible one game without spectators if it would happen again.
    Beerschot later officially apologised to Kawashima, the Japanese people and embassy and to Kawashimi himself.

    So people from Japan cannot laugh with any use of the disaster in a funny way.

  • frank

    Mr Attwood, I think you should look up the word ‘bigot’ in the dictionary.

  • nicky

    I hope, by your remarks at the end of your interesting post, you haven’t put ideas into the Big Wheels at the Emirates, to interfere in any way with DB 10’s allotment at Enfield. DB is no longer on Arsenal’s books and he can grow what he likes on his land without interference from anybody (except Enfield Borough Council who rely on his annual gift of elderberry wine for their Christmas Party).
    My mate Lee who has a rifle factory at Enfield (and also the allotment next to DB) says anyone who appears in a bowler hat and pinstripe suit with Fly Emirates on the back will not be welcome.
    DB is using Lee as his spokesman as he doesn’t want to jeopardize his chance of following Arsene as Manager of our great Club. He already has the players’ backing as he has promised elderberry wine in their Lucozade bottles at pitch side.

  • rusty

    That Duncan Jenkins piece was crazy! Liverpool’s director of communications (not a small fry in the organization) met with him personally and made threats against his person and his dad’s business! Considering the bad feelings John Henry’s ownership group has already incurred, sending their recent hire out to intimidate a blogger / anonymous twitter account seems reckless.

  • John Tee

    Well as interesting your article may be to Arsenal supporters, you may find that your insular views are not what real football supporters want to read. I suppose your final remark ‘But that’s normal in Liverpool I suppose.’ forced me to reply to your propaganda. As the Admin of a respectable Liverpool blog with nearly 20,000 members I had made it my mission to respect all other clubs. I delete comments that intentionally bring down other clubs or players. We totally respect the fan as a general football supporter whoever they support. Your article places you in the same spot as 95% of other blogs and fanzines that only have one mission – to abuse everyone else not connected to your own club.

    As far as we are concerned writers like yourself only succed in chipping away at the respect your club has built up.

    So in reply to your final remark – yes it is the way we do things in Liverpool.


  • El Tel

    Gareth Bale is the biggest cheat since Ginola.

  • Pat

    I hope you will write the article about Suarez, Walter.
    It would be interesting to get another view.
    I was a bit sad Laurent Koscielny was quoted on Suarez negatively.
    I think the amount of bad publicity Suarez is getting is way out of proportion.
    And to hear Tony Pulis asking for three match bans for diving makes my blood run cold.
    I can never see diving in the same light as a dangerous tackle that might break somone’s leg.
    And diving is also much harder to judge than a dangerous tackle I think. Players have been accused of diving and on closer examination it is clear that they have been caught.

  • desigooner

    Walter @ 7.33am
    ‘So people from Japan cannot laugh with use of disaster in a funny way’
    I beg to disagree with your comment. If what you say is right then there is nothing wrong with chants about Munich air crash and Hillsborough!! You know some people find these chants funny! Are you suggesting that reminding people about disasters in which people died is fun and if someone resents then it shows lack of humour? If you justify this then maybe in near future Belgians fans will start chanting Hiroshima and Nagasaki!!

  • bjtgooner

    Tony, interesting article. Pulis did correctly report that Suarez dived against Stoke, but he did not report the deliberate stamp on Suarez by Huth. Strangely no action is being taken against Huth. We all remember Adebayor was retrospectively punished for his stamp on RVP – a correct decision – so why not Huth? Is it because putrid Pulis is a pal of Red Nose and hence Riley et al?

    Suarez could be quite a good player for Liverpool, but his diving, constant appeals and his unwelcome comments to Evra all bring too much baggage. If he cannot change his behaviour and I am not sure he can, Liverpool would be better without him.

    Journalists do appear to have targeted him, but is this because he upset Red Nose?

  • bob

    Thank you! I have to agree completely with your being so disturbed by the way the comment is worded. To me it is evil to use massive tragedies like Fukushima (and it continues, btw) as normalized “funny” football chants. Are football fans licensed to turn anything and everything into their cruelest jokes because it’s “just football.” Ffs, if that is normalized then there is no line that cannot be crossed. Everything can be shit on for the sake of a ball in a net. After all, it’s just a “funny” football chant. Walter, you state it so factually and take no stand against it. What if that keeper (good, bad or mediocre) knows people or family or neighbors or friends whose relatives are now or soon to be sick with radiation? Even if he doesn’t know someone personally, his whole country has been in deep mourning – it’s a massive tragedy. Are you slating the Japanese for not having a sense of humor? Is the ignorance of oiks a license to trash other’s grief. Good on the Belgian authorities to take those fans to task.

  • My point was very simple: comment seems to be out of control. And it seems even more so for this morning I read that Britain’s Ambassador to Chile has been forced to issue an apology after posting a derogatory football tweet about Argentinians and the Falklands War.

    Jon Benjamin claims he was trying to send a private direct message to a friend on Twitter but accidentally published it. The message alluded to a popular chant by Chilean fans in which they sing: “Argentinians, gays, they took the Falklands off you because you are cowards.”

    According to the Independent newspaper, Mr Benjamin said: “What were the islands that they took, from whom and for what reason? Maybe I’ll get to know at the National Stadium this Tuesday? I’ve already got my ticket.”

    Mr Benjamin, describes himself as an avid West Ham fan

  • Walter

    Desigooner and Bob,

    I think I badly expressed myself then.
    As your interpretation was not how I intended it at all.

    I just tried to report the events as sec as possible and as short as possible where Fukushima and Kawashima were brought together. As happened in France the other day.

    While I was typing the comment I got interrupted a dozen times and maybe my wording could have been better. And after the interruption nr. 13 I just hit the post comment button and didn’t give my own opinion.

    To put the dot on the i: I detest such songs and chants!
    (putting the dot on the i is a translation of a Dutch idiom by the way if it isn’t clear. And it means: making your point clear. 😉 )

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    John Tee,
    I think you’ll find that was sarcasm…

  • Ugandan Goon

    @John Tee,

  • Ugandan Goon

    I find myself sympathising with Mr. Benjamin, that is precisely the sort of crack that i thought would be too banal to engage any adult seriously (exactly my range).
    Mind you, if thou shalt tweet, blame only thyself when the shit hits the fan.
    p.s our victory at Upton park, was even sweeter because the sods had spent a good deal of the match calling carzola “just a shit iniesta”, the boss a pae…., walcott shit as he was warming up, i noticed they drifted away quite a while before the final whistle

  • elkieno

    It’s ok walter I got wat u said and meant.
    Speaking another language is not an easy thing, I speak Spanish and always get caught out with interpretations.
    At first I thought the Fukushima joke was funny too, but shortly after realized the deeper down meaning.
    Still think this is the best blogs indeed!
    COYG, not long now to real football!