Saturday, 12 June 2010

Why I hate the world cup.

Much as I hate to disagree with Gary Younge, I can't get on board with his utopian vision of the upcoming FIFA world cup evoking a "collective sense of latent English identity...infused with positive energy." I despise the world cup. I will not be supporting England, nor any other team. I refuse to get excited about some wealthy misogynist jocks tossing a ball around in the name of patriotism and product endorsement.
Mistrust of team sport as a fulcrum of social organisation comes naturally to me. I'm a proud, card-carrying member of the sensitive, wheezy, malcoordinated phalanx of the population for whom the word 'football' still evokes painful memories of organised sadism and unspecified locker-room peril. I'm a humourless, paranoid liberal feminist pansy who would prefer to spend the summer sitting in dark rooms, contemplating the future of the British left and smoking myself into an early grave.
The fact remains, however, that there are more pressing things to worry about over the soccer season than the state of Frank Lampard's admittedly shapely calves. This country is in crisis. Young people are in crisis, poor people are in crisis, unemployment stands at 2.5 million, the Labour movement is still leaderless and directionless, and there's a brutal train of Tory public service cuts coming over the hill. In short, the left has more important things to do than draw up worthy charts determining which FIFA team is worth supporting on the basis of global development indicators.
The British left has an uneasy relationship with international sport. Liberal alarm bells can't help but be set ringing when a bunch of overpaid PE teachers get together to orchestrate a month of corporate-sponsored quasi-xenophobia; however, as soon as world cup fever rolls around, members of the otherwise uninterested bourgeois left feel obliged to muster at least a sniffle of enthusiasm, sensing that not to do so is somehow elitist.
This is a misplaced notion: football is no longer the people’s sport. Just look at the brutal contempt that the police reserve for fans, or count the number of working-class Britons who can afford to attend home matches, much less the festivities in South Africa.
Then there’s the uncomfortable fact that the world cup is only and always about men. Younge is right to celebrate the fact that race is no longer an impediment to his young niece and nephew’s vision of football as a world ‘in which that they have a reasonable chance of succeeding’ – but unfirtunately, his niece can forget about it. [read the rest at New Statesman]

22 comments:

  1. So right. I was trying to explain this to someone just last night. I hate football at the best of times, but the World Cup really makes me sick in all the ways you write about!

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  2. I stumbled on this post after googling "I hate the world cup". Thank you. I do not know you, but thank you - because everything else told me I was alone. The "contribution" of sports to our society is not only non-unique but mostly harmful. I am flummoxed as to how the world can be so completely snowed to believe the hogwash that this creates "unity" and somehow promotes goodwill - it's competition, for christ's sakes...how can that be possible? Anyway, thank you for letting me know I am not alone.

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  3. Good point and I have to say I share your feelings. I do support rugby, however, and one of the reasons I do is because the womens teams are not sidelined completely in the way they are in soccer. That is not to say that they get equal attention or funding, but at least they belong to the same organisations, get some funding, some pubicity and this does increase down the food chain at grassroots level.

    Still isn't perfect, but its a lot better than soccer where women just seem not to exist except as contemptible WAG stereotypes.

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  4. are you serious? sounds like a sorry excuse to me. if you can't take the comments, get out of the blogging business.

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  5. Completely disagree with you here. Not because i'm a football fanatic, but because it's such an absurd application of rhetoric i typically support.

    In addition, there is some conflation above. FIFA is not an extension of the FA nor is the world sport an extension of the English game and its culture.

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  6. On the contrary! Sport is a great way for working class kids to make it; almost the entire England team is working class - and they make it on talent and talent alone.

    Internationally, sport unites people like nothing else. Just look at South Africa today, and cast your mind back to that glorious summer's day in 1995 when the Springboks won the rugby World Cup.

    Anyway, good to bump into you yesterday! :P

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  7. That was an awful article that if I were you would do my best to forget quickly. Any real points you might've made were buried under hyperbole.

    It's one thing to dislike football as a spectator sport and write about that, another to critique certain aspects of the current Worldcup as you seemed to try to do in the article, but instead it turned into an attack on the Worldcup/football as being inconsistent with being leftist. That sort of absurd kulturkampf, in which everything has to be analysed to see if it's compatible with your politics is best left to the sort of thirdrate rightwing bloggers who specialise in seeing the hand of communism in every other Hollywood movie.

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  8. Is it a coincidence, or is there a gender-split in how this article has been received?

    As I've commented here, my main problem with the world cup, and football in general, is the hegemony of it, that seeks to whitewash and silence dissent. Which I did naively think was a bit counter to a leftist or feminist agenda.

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  9. So, Laurie - did you watch England's women in the European Championship final against Germany last year (screened on the BBC)?

    [redpesto]

    PS: Re. a supposed gender split in the comments, I'll just cite Marina Hyde at the Guardian:

    World Cup Widow newspaper columns. Again, not strictly a tangible product, yet somehow as mass produced and imbecilic as plastic England tommy helmets used to be. Based on the luminously flawed principle that what women who don't fancy watching the World Cup really want are endless articles about not fancying watching the World Cup, as opposed to articles about almost anything else.

    If, as Laurie argues, "The fact remains, however, that there are more pressing things to worry about over the soccer season than the state of Frank Lampard's admittedly shapely calves", then perhaps a column about them - or some other aspect of popular culture - might be more interesting than 'Why I hate the World Cup' (and no, that doesn't mean a piece about Wimbledon fortnight: that would be the same column with - ahem - smaller balls).

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  10. I love footie! What could be better for a geezer than a boozy coach trip, foreign piss up, football match and a bloody good punch up afterwards with all and sundry?

    Shit hot!

    That's what I call a bloody good time!

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  11. It's a huge con. the average S. African will benefit in no way from this circus although they are paying towards it in all sorts of ways. As usual the guys (and it's most likely to be guys) with the big money will make even more from this charade. Would we really be any worse off if the whole thing stopped tomorrow and they all went home?

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  12. Must say thanks... Err...
    I'm Brazilian, and here, there's a lot of money expended in constructions to 2014. A LOT of money. I can't simply support that people may invest more in 'fun' of a ball game then things like misery, hunger and many other things! Well, and why I’m thanking is...
    This last... two weeks? Anyway, I’ve been down thanks to all of this. My country stops because of this game, literally.
    So thanks to you, I can feel that I’m not the only one that can’t stand it.

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  13. i hate football! i hate it how everybody make a big thing of it. i know its ecxiting for boring people, no offence anyone, but football shouln' t rule the world!!!!!!!!!!

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  14. no offence anyone, but football shouln' t rule the world!!!!!!!!!!

    It doesn't: that's what the giant lizards are for.

    [redpesto]

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  15. South Africans have embraced the World Cup, knowing that sport is the one thing that's never failed to unite a diverse nation.

    Such is the nature of being self obsessed. Could you just for one second let other people do something that they enjoyed? Never mind. Don't answer. Having read some of your more recent posts, it is clear that your existence depends on anger only. Do you have any idea how big the insult is to someone like myself, raped at three, that's had to fight for dear life to be able to get rid of their anger?

    You'll get over your sense of self importance with age. And trust me, the anger will subside.

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  16. I Hate the flippin world cup, coz al my family want to watch it and they don`t let me watch anything!!!!!

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  17. no matter the years, you got the words right, girl. I am proud to be from the same species. Keep the head up for us all. ;)

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