Hell is other people

20 08 2010

The Jet Set used to own a Manic Street Preachers T-Shirt that bore a quote from Jean-Paul Sartre on the back – “Hell is Other People”. They were less cynical times, the t-shirt looked good but we didn’t truly believe the words. We knew nice people, we went to Blast Off in Wolverhampton and Le Bateau in Liverpool, we generally had a good time. Nowadays Sartre’s quote seems apt most of the time.

We hear few people saying agreeable things, politicians bullshit, shrill celebrities clog digital TV, xenophobic bell-ends are everywhere, inconsiderate morons plague ASDA, twenty-something showboating footballers see you as a canvas for their art etc etc etc. We usually count to three and exhale but then you’ll see another one…..

Yesterday we were in Llandudno’s premier shopping arcade and we noticed a bloke wearing a Manchester United replica shirt, a common sight in North Wales especially as the season has just started. When the bloke turned around we noticed he had printed a slogan on the back of his shirt, in bold white text (letters and numbers were the same size) it said;


Of course everybody knows that there’s a rivalry between Man United and Liverpool. Of course Liverpool‘s supporters and Man United‘s supporters see things differently. There are theories and positions about it and even icons (John Peel and Tony Wilson) weren’t above the rivalry.

You may also know that this rivalry has gone past the natural consequence of two different  teams existing, in the last decade it has become very poisonous, a poison displayed from both Liverpool and Man United directions. From our detached position there are similarities between the two places, their location, their role in radical politics, their role in shaping our cultural heritage, therefore the intense rivalry seems a little out of touch. Even Scousers like the Smiths and even Mancs like the Beatles. Then there was this Man United shirt;


That someone went to the trouble of glorying the suffering of 96 people in the name of football rivalry, well it makes you speechless.

When thinking about this rivalry even at the mostcharitable level, you might understand that those from the north west feel the rivalry strongly; the clubs are an extension of their home areas, they are institutions of civic pride etc  etc, but understanding it is as far as it goes, the poison is never justified.  When it comes to our friend from Llandudno it’s a different matter.

Unfortunately what the metropolises of the North West do today, the woolybacks of north Wales do 9 months later.  Therefore the bloke with the shirt, who seems to think that Llandudno is part of Greater Manchester, is only doing what come naturally to the easily led. Here’s why it’s wrong;

This slogan printing is not even a particularly novel idea anyway. People have been doing it since the advent of squad numbering – a period that coincided roughly with the time that  football developed into the most important thing in the world – and the humour faded with ubiquity.

 The nub of our problem with the moron from yesterday is not really the fact he had the slogan printed so much  his execution is the problem; he hadn’t gone to a shop that’s an authorised premier league printer (he could have gone to sports direct, as you can see from the above photo they’ll print anything). The moron had gone to one of those t-shirt printing establishments because the 8 was the same size as the letters. He couldn’t even be bothered to do the job properly.

This particular joke relied on the fact that player sized numbers and letters were used. Hence the 8 was always much bigger than the letters.  At first the slogan was regarded as funny, or even “slightly clever” because the act required a bit of thought. Yesterday’s example was wrong from every conceivable angle.

Firstly, the size of the letters. Second he has ruined a shirt that costs £40. Thirdly what the hell is all this “we” crap.

Watch the video again to see what’s wrong with all this “We” crap. The slightly overweight fan seems to think he speaks for everybody, as if it’s impossible for humans to put aside the choice of football clubs and get on like civilised human beings. The fact that we’re talking about someone from Llandudno (58 miles from Liverpool and 84 miles from Manchester) highlights the problems in contemporary fandom for those that care about football, it is also another example of the corrosive effect of SKY TV on football. Why doesn’t the moron care enough about local football in north Wales to do this?

Imagine this guy walking around Llandudno, a holiday resort, why the hell would we want some people to know that he hates Scousers? This might be the only thing that people will want to bother finding out about him. Let’s hope he thinks the £2.50 was worth.

Hell is definitely some other people.

A moron speaks

9 06 2010

Behold this triumph, we found it whilst surfing the internet.

World Cup Fascism
By Dennis Hale (bio)

The FIFA World Cup TV spots, in the run-up to the opening events later this week, have been touting the ability of international football (what we dim Americans insist on calling soccer) to change the world for the better. A sport played on every inhabited continent, World Cup football has a universal appeal. It seems logical, then, to associate it with “internationalism” and the idea of everybody getting along famously. To further this impression, the FIFA ads show us soccer players of many ages and races engaged in sweaty sportsmanship, which we are led to believe can only lead to world peace.

But is this claim supportable?

For those who hope that World Cup football will bring us all together, here is (to borrow a phrase from Al Gore) an inconvenient truth: since the beginning of World Cup competition in 1930, every Cup winner has had a fascist government at some point in its history, though not always at the time of its Cup victory, with the single exception of Great Britain, which won the Cup in 1966 (in overtime, with a disputed goal, against Germany). This fascist connection is clearly not what the FIFA campaign has chosen to emphasize.

It is not enough merely to have been governed by a tyranny – no communist country has ever won the Cup, despite the best efforts of Soviet-style sports bureaus.

Apparently, only fascism is compatible with international football success.* And more often than not, the World Cup finals feature competition only between fascist or formerly fascist regimes: e.g., Argentina & Germany, or Uruguay and Brazil. In 2006, each of the countries in the final four had fascist connections: Italy, France, Germany, and Portugal. Countries that have never had fascist governments rarely make it to the finals: besides Great Britain (once), the only continuously democratic governments to compete in the final round have been Sweden (once) and Holland (twice).

The grim details are in the list below – for anyone who can explain them. I cannot. There is nothing intrinsically fascist about soccer – it’s just another game in which players move a ball back and forth across a rectangular game space. NFL-style football, with its heavy use of military metaphors (the “blitz,” the “shotgun”), body armor, and helmets, would seem to be a much better candidate. But nobody plays it except Americans and Canadians, who have never shown any serious interest in fascism.

But if you like betting on sporting events, this might be news you can use. Let’s see if the tradition continues.

1. Uruguay: ruled by the Terra regime, 1933-1938, and by military dictatorships, 1973-1985; won in 1930 (defeating Argentina) and 1950 (defeating Brazil).

2. Italy: ruled by Mussolini, 1922-1943; won in 1934 (defeating Czechoslovakia), 1938 (defeating Hungary), 1982 (defeating Germany), and 2006 (defeating France)

3. Germany: ruled by the Nazis, 1933-1945; won in 1954 (defeating Hungary), 1974 (defeating Holland), and 1990 (defeating Argentina).

4. Brazil: ruled by the Vargas regime, 1930-1945, and by military dictatorships from 1964-1982; won in 1958 (defeating Sweden), 1962 (Czechoslovakia), 1970 (Italy), 1994 (Italy again), and 2002 (Germany).

5. United Kingdom: never had a fascist regime, won in 1966, defeating Germany in overtime, with a hotly disputed goal.

6. Argentina: ruled by Juan Peron, 1945-1955, and by military dictatorships, 1976-1983; won in 1978 (defeating Holland) and 1986 (defeating Germany).

7. France: ruled by the pro-Nazi puppet regime in Vichy, 1940-1944; won in 1998 (defeating Brazil).

* I admit to a somewhat broad definition of “fascism”. But all of the regimes listed here as fascist had these traits in common: they suppressed civil liberties, abolished competitive elections, crushed or controlled labor unions, extolled violence, and drew their support from middle class voters fearful of labor radicalism and economic chaos. They were also nationalist in their appeals and, to varying degrees, anti-Semitic.

That’s an awfully long way of saying that you don’t like football. It’s obviously a crackpot article but what can you expect from a person that wrote an article called “Why Health Care is not a right“? The Jet Set may appear to hate the World Cup but at least we try to apply a little logic to the situation. 

Let’s deconstruct his argument. The main thrust of it is; Football is Fascist. This is wrong on so many levels. The Jet Set, the Hibby Boys, Low Profiler, FC United, Bangor City fans, in fact just about all football fans apart from Real Madrid , Rangers, Chelsea and Lazio ones would be mortally offended at such a concept.

The facts of his arguments are shaky at best. Only 4 out of 18 World Cups have been won by countries ruled by a dictator or junta. (Italy in 1934 and 1938, Brazil in 1970 and Argentina in 1978.).  Two of those tournaments were engineered by dictatorships to produce a glorious victory for the state (1934 and 1978) so that’s only two truly Fascist triumphs.

Only an idiot would say the Vichy regime is even partly responsible for a victory in a football tournament held 54 years after it’s collapse, that’s right FIFTY FOUR YEARS.. Only a moron would say that Uruguay’s first World Cup in 1930 was the result of a fascist dictator that came to  power three years AFTER the win. Exactly how was Lothar Matthaus the product of the Nazi period?

Silly old Jet Set, aside from the obvious cases of manipulation and gamesmanship we always assumed that the winner of the world cup possesed at least a modicum of talent. As fascist dictatorships tend to try and control things, how would they control the production of world-class sports performers and ensure that their’s were better than anybody else’s? For example Germany didn’t do as well as they thought in 1938, and that was after they’d absorbed the skilful Austrians.

The tone of the article is irritatingly dismissive, what he seems to be saying is; “Football is sooooo beneath us. As football is Fascist and we’re not football fans, we can’t be fascist”. His definition of fascism is so  wide that parts of American history could qualify America as partly fascist in outlook.

Here’s a short list, the creation of Living Space on the Western Frontier by John Wayne and the other cowboys, the McCarthy witch hunts, the denial of civil Rights to Black Americans, threats to people on strike in Reagan’s first administration, we could go on.  But America haven’t won a World Cup these examples can’t be fascist in any way. 

The article emanates from an irritating American sub-culture, the vehement anti-soccer mindset; “Soccer is Communist“, “Soccer is full of criminals,”, “Soccer is wrong plain boy, I’m off for a lyching, yeeeeeee haw!!!!!”. Basically Soccer Sucks because Soccer is like soooo Un-American.

Why do these people get so aeriated? They don’t have to like soccer, I mean football. Besides since when has it been impossible to appreciate more than one sport? Even knuckleheaded American Football has its good points.

It seems that talking bollocks is a truly international concept.

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