There has been a discernible lack of ‘anti soccer’ articles this World Cup. I did noticed a distinct change of mood this time. More people seemed into it, and this is with an Australian team that was, despite its heroics, relatively poor.
I think that most of those who hate the sport are suffering in silence, like having a cold or being in a heatwave. Knowing that it eventually it will pass. They may ignore the A-League as it plays in summer, but the World Cup is a huge juggernaut of a world event that permeates all media, and all of it in the middle of their own codes’ season.
I think though Bernard Keane finally cracked in Crickey today. Like the inmates of Guantanamo Bay being subjected to Metallica, AC/DC, Eminem, and Sesame Street songs at loud volumes for hours or days on end Keane couldn’t hold his feelings any longer. “I despise the World Cup. Not dislike it. Not hate it. But viscerally loathe it.”
Before any soccer fans starts to get into Keane, most of the article is a bit tongue in cheek, and meant to be a bit of lighthearted fun. And mentions the reasons why he dislikes the round ball codes. Things that we soccer fans have heard many times before. To wit:
Soccer can’t use arms: “fundamentally, let’s be blunt, it’s a silly sport. Human beings have four limbs, but this match, 10/11s of the time, pretends we only have legs. “
Soccer fans let out flares because bored: ” Soccer fans are always letting the flares off in the stands. What on earth is it with flares and soccer? Are they so bored with the lack of scoring they want planes overhead to send rescue teams? Is there some weird historical connection between yachting and soccer that I don’t know about?
Diving: Even ardent soccer fans will agree the whole diving thing materially degrades the sport. Although I do like the dives where the diver doesn’t just theatrically hit the turf, but then proceeds to writhe in unspeakable agony, perhaps with the occasional glance to see if he’s successfully milked the penalty.
Keane goes on to say that ultimately all sports are silly. “But hey, look, all sports have their ridiculous aspects. At least soccer doesn’t have scrums — 12 people (or, in rugby, 16!) bend over and shove their heads between each other. Ugh. It’s just … so buttocky.” which is true. Ultimately grown men and women putting so much importance on how many times a ball goes through a wooden frame or posts is irrational.
But then Keane, who is ultimately a political writer gets serious.
No, I really despise the World Cup because FIFA is probably the world’s most corrupt organisation…….The current World Cup is reaping US$4 billion, tax-free, for the Blattercrats of FIFA, while Brazil is blowing $14 billion hosting the thing. Even just bidding for the thing costs serious money as well, as Australia discovered when it wasted nearly $50 million bidding for a World Cup that Qatar secured through bribery. The soccer World Cup is the ultimate repository — or probably suppository — of what I call Major Event Mathematics, that branch of applied maths beloved of consultants and sporting administrators, in which hosting large events produces double-digit economics multipliers and magically erases negative signs in front of numbers. FIFA, like the Olympics, is so corrupt it taints mathematics itself.
OK, I can hear you say, sure, FIFA’s a bunch of crooks, whatever, but can’t you just enjoy a game that brings pleasure to so many billions of people? That’s a bit like saying “look, the cocaine trade is one riddled with violence, corruption and exploitation, but can’t you just enjoy this snort?” And, yes, I take the point about how billions of people around the world enjoy the World Cup. As an economic liberal, I can’t laud market outcomes everywhere else and then complain that soccer is so successful (OK, I could, but then I’d be the sort of half-arsed selective economic liberal I’m always complaining about). But it doesn’t mean I have to overlook the profoundly toxic global phenomenon that lies behind it.
Not being a soccer fan, Keane may not be aware that many, if not a majority, of soccer followers hate FIFA as well. They hate the corruption, they hate the exploitation. ChangeFIFA is one example of how fans are trying to express their desire to change this organisation. But here is the difference between the fan of the sport and someone like Keane isn’t. We hate FIFA exactly because it taints the beautiful game – Our game. We can’t hate the game because of FIFA. By this argument AFL fans should hate Australian Rules because some teams have been involved in enhancing drug taking or hating the sport of Rugby League itself because of what happened in the Super League War in the mid 1990’s.
I am sure that Keane, and others who like their winters being dominated by AFL/NRL talk without this huge soccer Behemoth will be relieved that the World Cup is almost at the end. The final will be on Monday 14 July at 5:00 am. Not long to go now………