The parts of the internet that have hold my attention are often full of football secularisation debate anger. Lots of angry people have been getting really angry about the fact that some people seem unable to separate politics from football. I’ve seen this anger has seep out of both ends of the political spectrum.
From the primordial swamp end the massive, and politically significant, group “The Pie And Mash Squad” “think” Clapton FC should be forced out of business. In late 2014 / ear;y 2015 the intellectual vanguard of the racist moron movement didn’t like the smelly bearded leftard Clapton fans displaying “political” flags because that kind of thing is against “FA rules” or something. A quite literally massive amount of non-threatening vanguardists consequently threatened to stage non-threatening, non-political and, above all, peaceful demonstrations until the smelly bearded leftards went home for a wash.
From the smelly bearded leftard end some followers of the club I co-own, FC United of Manchester, decided that they’ve really had enough of that politics at around the same time. The feelings on message boards and facebook groups has been coalesced in the “LOVE UNITED, HATE pOLOTICS” flag at 2014’s Boxing Day’s match.
To be fair to the people that want a secularised football, there’s nothing remotely political in 22 millionaires kicking a bag or air about while 50,000 people pay 70 quid to silently consume the glorious product. Well apart from the idea that to get anywhere in football you need a set of players that works together to achieve a common goal via the principle of communally agreed roles.
On the other hand, there was this interview with the Super Furry Animals that I read in about 2003. During the interview the interviewer described the SFA’s position on adverts – No allowing capitalists to use their music – as “political”. The comment led to Gruff’s explanation of the band’s political position.
Gruff conceded that the SFA’s position was “political” but then pointed out that the opposite position – musicians freely allowing companies to use their music in adverts – was also “political”. Gruff stated that when musicians allow their art to be used commercially they uphold the exploitative nature of the capitalist mode of production. Therefore musicians were acting politically by not acting politically.
Since I realised that Gruff’s idea is as applicable to football as it is to music it has been both a good comeback and the maxim that governs my outlook. Doing nothing, or being consciously apolitical, is a political act whether people like it or not, it helps the ruling class to rule through complicity.
Some of the “Non-political political” acts football fans perpetrate include; Turning their minds off because you’re at “the football”, deluding themselves that they’re part of the “we” because of a replica shirt, buying Murdoch’s products, bantering themselves to death.
If doing nothing or acting and looking like a dick is a political act you might as well do the opposite. Here’s the XXXXXXXXX Jet Set guide to being a more political football fan.
1. Resist corporate football
Corporate football is the version of football that belongs to Gazprom, Nike, Murdoch and Blatter rather the likes of us. It is responsible for the champions league, the premier league, third party player ownership and season tickets that cost £2018.
Corporate football has thrived because people looked away. People didn’t have to believe in corporate football but they willingly chose to follow the lies, the spin and the glossy PR, as Steve Biko once said;
“The greatest weapon in the hand of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.”
The first and most important “political” act a football fan can undertake is to resist the grasp of corporate football. The first step to resisting is being aware that there’s another way to “do football”. As people become aware of the other ways they will be reminded that football is tied to people and community rather than money and shiny PR glamour.
When people make the simple decision to resist everything else follows. If enough people resist change will naturally happen. The carelessness of people got us in to this situation, the righteousness of people will get us out.
2. Resist Murdoch
Buying a Murdoch media product is not a perquisite to enjoying the football.
3. Humanise other fans
Why hate someone merely because they’ve acted in the same way as you? All fans made a decision to be interested in football, all fans decided to follow a club. What’s the point in hating someone merely because their club plays in other colours? People generally live in the same sort of houses, eat the same sort of food and wear the same sort of clothes as the fans of your club.
Why regurgitate the execrable humour of Soccer AM? No-one cares that you think you can do what you want, or that you want to go home, least of all the local residents.
We need to humanise other fans by acting normally with them. To put this more simply. DO NOT USE THE BANTER. NEVER STOOP TO THE BANTER. Using “The Banter” is wrong, it turns people into morons and alienates you from your fellow fans.
Having said that there are still people that deserve contempt – comedian chanters, pricks, racists, those that tolerate corporate football – don’t hate them, they’re still humans, they can be changed.
4. Think Global, Act Local*
*This point refers the wrong sort of fans, rather than ex-pats. I think we all know what sort of fans are “the wrong sort of fans”.
Paying 60 quid for a polyester advert doesn’t bestow membership of the “we”. Turning up at the pub on a Sunday in your personalised replica shirt and shouting a lot doesn’t turn you into a massive fan of whomever. Enjoying a season ticket holder discount for the coaches and being in with the clique that controls your area’s supporters’ club doesn’t allow you to look down at the fans of “lesser clubs”.
There’s no moral superiority in standing at pub counters and shooting dismissive glares towards people that obviously don’t support a proper team or disrespecting the people from another place by dismissively labelling the area around “your” ground as a shithole.
When everything is boiled down, propaganda has been swallowed, Murdoch has been paid and local clubs has been traded for glamorous ones. Think global, act local. Have a look at the local football options and do something useful in your own community.
5. Volunteer at you local club
If you really want to feel the glow of righteousness volunteer.
6. Help organise a General Strike in football
This idea was mentioned in Issue 2 of Stand. A general strike would be a great time to be alive.
Imagine a mass withdrawal of interest and attendance. A month without fans, a month of empty grounds, empty official Murdoch pubs and disused club shops. Then imagine a second and a third month. Imagine everyone standing together, united by a common desire to make things possible.
A general strike may be a little more utopian but we can make it happen, as the Stand article told us we have nothing to lose but our chains. We can all miss a few matches for the greater good.
“Political change can be easy if you want it to happen!!!!!!!!!”
We all know that football needs to change but sadly football won’t change until some kind of revolution forces change upon it. If this revolution ever happens, and I’m anywhere near the vanguard committee, football will be reorganized in the glorious future that we will be creating.
The main details of this lovely would-be democratic centralist reorganization are contained in the manifesto that I’m about to impart.
A MANIFESTO FOR CHANGE
In the new way of doing things this is how it will be.
- The words “Football” and “Business” will never appear in the same sentence.
- Plutocracy, marketization and profit-maximisation will have no place in the sport.
- Governing bodies will be disbanded or reformed to reflect football’s new emphasis.
- Joao Havelange, Sepp Blatter, Richard Scudamore and Jack Warner will be held accountable in peoples’ tribunals for their roles in polluting football.
- All football clubs will be 100% owned by their communities.
- All football grounds will be 100% owned by their communities.
- Football clubs and football grounds will not be owned separately
- Football clubs will adopt a social role at all times.
- There will be a maximum wage.
- Squads will not contain more than 20 players.
- Players will not be permitted to change clubs until they are 25 years old (unless they can prove that they are being poorly treated.)
- Transfer fees will be replaced by development fees.
- Development fees will be capped to a nominal amount.
- Styles of kit will have to be approved by a “Good Kit Guide”.
- Goalkeepers will be required to wear traditionally coloured kit.
- If people wish to retain their identity as football fans they will have to sign contracts.
- The contracts will have four clauses; 1. I will not act like a moron in public. 2. I will not act like a moron on social media. 3. I will never sound as though I think I am a football expert until I’ve watched football for 35 years. 4. I will never use “The Banter”.
- Failure to abide by these generous conditions will result in three months of intensive cultural re-education.
- People will not be allowed to claim they are “massive fans” of a famous club unless they live within a 15 mile radius of the home ground, or have lived in a club’s home area.
- Unless people live within a 15 mile radius of the home ground, or have lived in that area, they will only be permitted to visit once a season. (The trip will not include a visit to the souvenir shop and they will not be able to tell anyone about their trip.)
- The sale of replica shirts will be outlawed.
- Only one match per national league per week will be broadcast on television.
- Only one match per European club competition matchday will be broadcast on television.
- All football matches will be broadcast on free-to-air channels.
- Hyperbole will be outlawed.
- Commentators will be retrained until they are freed of the power to annoy people.
- Co-commentator will be retrained until they are unable to resort to cliché (either national or personal).
- No-Clem-Ber will apply to every month.
- Football will be restricted to a 5 page sport section in each newspaper.
- Transfer gossip, rumours and general tittle-tattle will be replaced by an interesting cornucopia of fiction, features and quality interviews.
- Only one match report per week will be extend beyond a paragraph. It will be written by journalists with imagination.
- Rupert Murdoch, the estate of Leo Kirch and Silvio Berlusconi will be held accountable in peoples’ tribunals for their roles in polluting football.
This manifesto will truly sort out football in two ways.
Firstly, football will feel “normal” again.
Clubs and players would become beacons of non-judgmental civic pride once again. Players would feel an affinity to a club and an area once again. With only one match on terrestrial television per week 99.9% of European matches would kick off at their traditional times. Without the hysterical media coverage people wouldn’t feel obliged to be interested any longer. Without replica shirts football wouldn’t seem omnipresent. The fan contracts would allow proper fans the chance to enjoy public transport again. Everyone , the easily led and the people who like football on it’s own merits, would feel like a winner!
Secondly, football would be fairer.
The maximum wage and the limits upon squad size and transfer age would allow more competition through the equalisation of resources and sharing of talent. Clubs would be fan-owned so financial doping would not exist and television companies wouldn’t be needed to pump money in to the sport.
The new way of doing things is not utopian pie in the sky, it is based on a very simple premise;
The behaviour of people got us in this mess and the behaviour of people will get us out.
The simple premise leads to a simple idea; sometimes people need to be rescued from themselves. For example, the people that use social media to type stuff like this;
“The quicker he (Aaron Ramsey) follows Gary Speed the better.”
These people obviously need to be reminded that wishing death upon someone merely because a particular club has lost is unacceptable in a civilized society. This behaviour is not only anti-social it dehumanises the abuser, steps need to be taken. Practical steps will improve matters; people acting in this manner will be rewarded with a NEW ASBO.
People would also earn a NEW ASBO if they’re caught doing any of the following;
– Indulging in “The Banter” – Thinking they’re indulging in “The Banter” – Using combinations of “mate”, “top”, “banter”,”bantz” or “genius” – Calling someone “mate” and sounding like Jack Whitehall
A second offence would result in a Banning Order. Subsequent offences would result in house arrest. Banter users need a long, dull, drawn out shock. The new system will make people stop and think about their behavior.
In the new way of doing things the constant moaners will be freed from their self-applied obligation to care about football. This is vital for the rest of us as no-one wants to hear moaners shouting rubbish like this;
” ‘e don’t know what ‘e’s doing’ “e’s lost the dressing room.” “Why’s ’e still picking that knobhead? ‘e’s crap!!” “I could play better than that useless fucker!!” “I give ‘im a month to turn it around!!”
In the new way of doing things there would be a vacant place in every professional team for moaners. The winner of the place would be the person that produces the most outlandish, or most sustained, diatribe during the 24 hour period after a match. Let’s see how well they’d cope with the pressure.
If a fan constantly moans about players not trying something special would be lined up for them; a bespoke kidnapping. This would involve a week’s stay in a luxury deserted house on a deserted island. They would be blindfolded and chained to a radiator for the whole week.
When the week ended there would be two days until the next match, the moaner would be placed at the nearest motorway junction to their home and told to find their own way home. When they made it to the ground they would have a first team place. Let’s see if they would be able to concentrate on playing football after their ordeal.
The moaners wouldn’t be the only people helped by their therapy of cultural re-education, everybody would be helped; the therapy would encourage other moaners to think twice about externalising their feelings in the future.
Practical steps would also sort out the governing bodies. Here’s a practical way of dealing with a problem like UEFA;
- The Restitution of the Cup Winners’ Cup – Tuesday for the UEFA Cup, Wednesday for the European Cup and Thursday for the Cup Winners’ Cup.
- Prize money will become expenses – If the prize money is turned into expenses UEFA do not need to charge TV companies all that money, consequently matches will return to their rightful home on terrestrial television.
- The club competition draws will be refigured – There will either be open draws or the reversal of the previous season’s draw. For example the clubs that now play in the qualifying rounds will go straight to the group stage and the clubs that normally go straight to the group stages will start in the qualifying rounds.
When these practical steps are coupled to the general approach European football will be reconfigured. The removal of massive prize funds, television revenues and merchandising revenues will not matter because they are longer needed; revenue streams won’t need to be safeguarded as clubs will be fan-owned and wages will have dropped to realistic levels under the maximum wage agreements. In this situation European club competitions will then return to their founding principles; inspiring friendship and understanding
A final practical example would help society as well as football. The new way of doing things would subject people like Murdoch to the peoples’ justice. We’d start with Murdoch as there’s no doubt that he is the biggest cause of British football’s moral malaise.
While we already know that we’re better than Murdoch a moral victory is not enough, society needs total victory against malevolent people, they need to be held to account.
We would hold him to account by taking the fucker to court, everybody is equal under the law, even rich people. Gaining victory against Murdoch would be easy as the case against him is watertight. The inevitable victory would represent a victory for society as well as football as by lessening his grip on British society we would also be lessening his grip on British society a little bit more.
However, before we get too excited taking people to court is a game that’s played by rich people. In order to make society better we would need to indulge in a little fundraising.
I would think that a fighting fund of 4 million pounds would suffice. While this may sound like a large amount raising 4 million pounds should be simple; all we need to do is convince every non-premier league club in England and Wales (over 40,000 of ‘em) to donate 100 pounds each. With 4 million pounds we could hire the best law talking guys in the British Isles. With the best law talking guys on our side our victory would not only be assured it would lead to Sky going bust.
The post Murdoch society will be an advertisement the benefits of the revolution; world football would automatically have become a closer-knit community, club will feel more connected to each other by the fundraising and people will have learned to smile again!!! In the post-Murdoch football world premier league clubs would feel just like the post-revolutionary bourgeoisie; life will be less stressful, the corrupting chains of the system and Sky’s money will have been thrown off!!!
Without Murdoch’s imperial control football would shrink to “normal” – anybody will be able to win the oligarch-free league, there will only one live match a week on terrestrial TV and there will be an updated version of Saint and Greavsie.
The process will be glorious to behold. The end of Sky will mean the end to Sky’s prize money and this will cause wages to fall. Failing wages will mean there’s no need to keep up with the Joneses of Siberia, Dubai and New England. Without the need to keep up with the Joneses of Siberia, Dubai and New England there will be no need for the Joneses. People would feel less stressed in the new way of doing things; there would be no need to devise novel marketing ruses, without Sky hype would be redundant, there will be no need to sell, sell, sell anything.
This step would undoubtedly help the moral restitution of the world by ending the plutocrats’ reign of terror. The precedent set by our pursuit of Murdoch could be utilized to go after all nefarious officials.
Come on people, let’s make this happen! Let’s get the revolutionary committees formed!!!