How the Flat Earthers took over football journalism at the Guardian.
By Tony Attwood
From my perspective one has to be either fairly silly or rather desperate to dismiss a proposition as “ludicrous” without giving any reasoning or evidence, especially in a newspaper that prides itself on the quality of its journalism and ability to analyse, as does the Guardian.
And yet generally speaking, in the media any rules that might apply in reporting the rest of the news absolutely don’t apply when it comes to football. As with…
“The accusation of some kind of premeditated campaign by referees against Arsenal is ludicrous”. But of course because this is football journalism, we can have predictions, such as “
The prediction is fine. The notion that there might be something amiss with the ultra secretive PGMO is not.
And one can imagine the need that was felt in that paper and others to hit back, because once football supporters do start to think not only that journalist reporting is biased, but is also biased because of the rules laid down by the League and PGMO, then the edifice of journalism begins to fall down.
So Wenger is called “paranoid”, and his arguments are dismissed as “claims” and these “claims” are dismissed as “extraordinary”.
But no. The Guardian, a paper that ceaselessly promotes the quality of its journalism, gives us not one hint of the need for such analysis, but instead comments only on this match saying Mr Wenger “was fuming when the referee, Anthony Taylor, awarded a penalty for the visitors, even though there was contact from Bellerín on Eden Hazard.”
It is the traditional game played by the media. Take one incident and then generalise outwards from there, and then question the mental stability of the person involved. One might as well have a reporter write, “The Martin Rees, the Astronomer Royal, was left fuming when the Daily Express reported that the earth was flat, even though it does indeed look flat from my bedroom window.”
No broader context or analysis is permitted. And one has to ask why, since self-evidently, there is broader analysis elsewhere else. It is as if the flat earthers have taken taken over football journalism in the Guardian.
The article continues,
Wenger had been raging since the award of a controversial penalty against his team at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, which in effect cost them two points.
Notice at once the use of the pejorative “raging since”. It suggests a person out of control, not a person who has undertaken any analysis (even though the Guardian clearly hasn’t). He’s demented, running around nonstop like a headless chicken. A clever ploy, when in fact a little deconstruction of the article shows that it is the journalist who is jumping from proposition to proposition without context, without evidence, without connectivity.
Then we were told
Wenger’s tone turned darkly conspiratorial when he highlighted how Tottenham Hotspur’s first goal in their win at Swansea City on Tuesday night had been offside while they also might have had Davinson Sánchez sent off. “The referees get away with you, with the English press, always, no matter what they do,” Wenger said.
So rather than analyse the nature of reporting via the media (which is how most people get their football news) they now consider Mr Wenger’s sanity…
The notion that the accusation is “ludicrous” is taken as self-evident, without any analysis, and then suggests that as a result the mindset of the players is affected negatively by this is just given: it is not a proposition, it is a fact.
And yet, if referees are making large numbers of mistakes, and our two major analyses suggest that is the case, then the question of why? must be asked. And if those mistakes don’t all balance out in the end, that question of why? must also be asked. And if the newspaper itself is not investigating the accuracy of referee decisions across a season (as it clearly has the resources to do) and making all the evidence public, then a very, very big question of why? is left hanging in the air. They would only have to do ten games with video evidence as we did, and ideally let us know in advance, then they, ourselves and anyone else interested, could do analyses, see how the referees do, and we could all compare results.
Why don’t they? That is a real question.
Elsewhere in the same report Mr Wenger is quoted as giving an answer to the point about his mindset, where he is reported as saying “We have to account in our preparations for that’s what we have to face.”
In other words the manager is saying to the players, “the referee is likely to give more decisions against you than for you, and there might be a dodgy penalty. Prepare yourself for that, and if it happens, redouble your resolve to fight back. In this match you are taking on the opposition, and the referee, and to win you have to be twice as good as the other side who have the referee with them. Don’t let the ref get at you.” That is a perfectly reasonable way to motivate, but clearly beyond the grasp of David Hytner.
The journalist persists, even though the press conference is over saying, “Seriously, Arsène, what did you make of it? Did you see the incident?”
“Honestly, no,” Wenger replied, and then he goes through the door, having had the courtesy to answer.
And from this we get the hole in the heart comment, and the comment that “Wenger also saw something deeper and more sinister”. But by utterly refusing to investigate what that “something deeper and more sinister” might be the paper leaves the reader with the notion that Wenger is a nutter.
Yet in reality this is the classic manipulation of the reader by a reporter and editor for we have been reporting that “something deeper and more sinister” for around ten years, and have provided a range of supporting evidence to suggest that there might well be Type III match fixing going on.
As I’ve often reported, we can’t prove it, in the way it was proven in Italy, because that proof took the resources of hundreds of jouranlists and their newspapers who wanted to investigate, and a series of phone taps. Here we don’t have that, but we can still produce evidence. Evidence from the 160 games analysis, supported by the utter secrecy surrounding PGMO, and its decision year after year to restrict the number of referees in such a way that were there to be Type III match fixing of the type seen in Italy, would flourish rather than be restricted.
It is a simple notion to say that there should be enough referees so that no club gets the same referee more than twice in a season, but the Guardian refuses even to consider that as an issue, just as it won’t consider the utter secrecy surrounding PGMO as an issue, or its own failure to investigate any of these issues, as an issue.
Instead they report events suggesting that Arsenal official believe “that Arsenal are persecuted by officials.” And of course they resort to that old journalist trick, the sneering headline. For example
- How much have Arsenal’s rivals spent on transfers in recent years?
- Why is it becoming so difficult to find a sponsor for new football stadium?
- Corruption flares up again in Italy, as Premier League figures don’t look too clever
- How much does a club have to spend on transfers to get a trophy?
- Does the team that is top after 14 games usually go on to win the league?