“If you wanted to decrease the level of global interest in the climactic match of a European club competition by, say, 50%, you might very well contrive to ensure that both finalists came from the same national football league,” he added rubbing it in.
The piece showed an extraordinary disconnect with the real world of football – made all the more bizarre by suggesting that everyone in England ” – everywhere but in the environs of Tottenham, that is” was excited by the winners’ celebrations.
When will the media ever learn that supporters of clubs don’t all live in the street outside the ground? And even if they did there would have been quite a few people in and around that part of north London who while being football supporters were not enthusiastic about Liverpool winning, even if quite a few were happy about Tottenham losing.
In fact as one friend of mine put it, he was rather hoping for a big hole to open up on the pitch making the match unplayable. He did add that he didn’t want anyone hurt, but just for the match not to be played.
The Guardian article went on, “When the American owners and their families joined the celebrations, no one would have begrudged their enjoyment, since their careful, thoughtful stewardship of a previously troubled institution had made it all possible.” Oh really? Has the writer forgotten that the owner openly admitted in an American sports conference that he felt football contracts were not worth the paper they were written on, and that he had lied, lied and lied again when Arsenal were trying to sign Luis Suarez for his release clause fee – lying repeatedly that there was no such clause in the contract.
By and large I am not enamoured by rich people who lie openly as a matter of habit. That may make me hopelessly naïve but surely I am not alone in this.
However at least the Guardian writer admitted that, “it was still a dreadful match: an hour and a half of scruffy tedium that must have been emptying bars throughout Europe. You can blame the oppressive heat, you can blame the ridiculous three-week gap between the second legs of the semi-finals and the final, you can blame the selection of two centre-forwards lacking match fitness…”
So why must the nation eagerly look forward to every match? Why must the myth of people walking down cobbled streets to their local ground, possibly stopping at their local pub en route, be maintained? Why should we all be living in this quaint, simplistic past that in fact never really existed at all?
Because if ever the word gets out in the previews that many matches are dull and boring it will be harder to sell newspapers and get people to listen to radio stations and watch TV. And that in the end is what matters – the media. The media is not writing for us or creating programmes for us, the people who go and who know what it is like. They are writing for themselves – to stoke up the image that they need, simply to get viewers and readers.
In the 1970s, when football was getting going on TV, the Guardian accused TV stations of editing their programmes (which were in those days all highlights) to make each match look incredibly exciting and amazing. They were not suggesting TV should show endless missed passes, but rather that they should acknowledge that an awful lot of the games were fairly dull and boring. Now they do it another way: fantastic build up, and then say the let-down was to be expected.
But at least there are some good stories in football, not just the fact that not only is Santi Cazorla playing again but that he has been called up into the Spain squad for the first time since November 2015. He had two years without playing and it was felt for a while that he might actually lose his leg. His last game for us was in October 2016.
This season just finished he made 30 starts for Villareal – an extraordinary achievement. And he acknowledged Arsenal’s part in the recovery saying, “I always felt the support of everyone from Arsenal: if there’s something I’ve taken away from there above all else, it’s the fans’ affection. The thorn in my side, the regret, is not having been able to say goodbye on the pitch, the way I’d have liked.”
But for every good story there is one that is really worrying, as is the news that Qatar Sports Investments which controls PSG are looking to invest in either Leeds or another club with similar potential. However we never really thought the playing field was even did we?
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