Fake Plastic Respect
THE DAY Luis Suárez was charged by the FA for the incident with Patrice Evra the media had fallen over each other in a race to condemn Sepp Blatter for a comment he made about handshakes. What he’d said seemed to be along the lines of endorsing racism on a football pitch during a game – as long as the players involved shake hands afterwards.
It was a stupid thing to say and one that he’ll never live down, but if football was the kind of game the authorities want it to be – and that includes the English FA – the comment wouldn’t be completely without merit. But football isn’t a nice pleasant game played by people full of ‘respect’ for each other. It’s a regularly depressing game watched, played, run and reported on by far too large a proportion of selfish individuals. Respect in football is as fake as the outrage from the hacks who change their principles every time there’s a new line to go for to earn their crust.
Liverpool fans find it difficult to look at Alex Ferguson and see any good in him. Maybe there is some good in him – after all most Liverpool fans would have thought the same of Gary Neville but many now find themselves agreeing with a painfully high amount of his punditry – but it’s hard to see it.
It’s hard to imagine Manchester United fans would think any differently about Kenny Dalglish, certainly if the Man U opinion formers are anything to go by.
This applied long before Suárez and Evra had their disputed conversation and it will probably go on long after both players have hung up their boots or taken them elsewhere.
With that in mind it goes without saying that the two managers will think much the same of each other. Ferguson’s hatred of Dalglish goes back a long way and whilst many of Kenny detractors were laughing at his return in place of their beloved Roy Hodgson it’s unlikely there was much laughter from the more elderly Glaswegian.
Whatever really went on between Evra and Suárez, there still isn’t enough evidence to be completely certain. That’s something that’s been discussed at length by numerous people – and of course ignored by those who don’t like to sully their agenda with truth or questions about what the truth might be.
Sadly for football, and the fight against racism, the case has done nothing to make it easier to work out the truth of any future incident along those lines that takes place.
The FA’s independent panel seem to think there’s a good chance of it happening again – this is an extract from their lengthy report on the Suárez-Evra incident:
“We took into account the fact that it is a real albeit unattractive trait of human nature that we all act from time to time, to greater or lesser degrees, in ways which may be out of character. This is especially so when we feel under pressure, or challenged, or provoked, or pushed into a corner. We do and say things that we are not proud of and regret, and that we might try and deny, sometimes even to ourselves. We occasionally things that we would be embarrassed to admit to family or friends. It is not inconsistent to have black colleagues and friends and relatives, and yet say things to strangers or acquaintances about race or colour that we would not say directly to those closer to us.”
Quite an admission from the panel (imagine if Blatter had said that stuff in the last sentence) but the general point is fairly obvious. People do things they shouldn’t do, and wouldn’t normally do, in the heat of the moment if feeling under pressure.
And this is where the handshake comes in, or where it would come in if football was the kind of game the authorities like to pretend it is. If two players, on opposing sides, are angry with each other for some reason, the two managers, from the two opposing sides, should be able to sort it out. That ‘sorting out’ might still lead to action from The FA, it might lead to one or both clubs disciplining their own players, but if football’s the kind of respect-filled game the authorities want us to believe it is then that handshake idea works perfectly every time.
Even if the managers are at loggerheads there’s still – in this idyllic version of the game – plenty of respect between the officials higher up at both clubs. A director of football at one club can chat to a director at the other club. They get the handshakes started, the dialogue underway, the problems ironed out at least to a point where punishment is for something that happened, not an extreme playground argument version of what happened.
Football isn’t that kind of idyllic game though, not in its current guise, certainly not in England under the ‘control’ of The FA with a greedy Premier League atop the league structure, fair to itself but dismissive of the league that feeds into it.
The Premier League isn’t even fair to the punter. The price of tickets is astronomical, as is the cost of the tacky shirts the clubs throw out three versions of each season. The FA doesn’t care, it has its own tacky shirts to sell and as long as it gets the use of those players whose wages make those tickets so expensive why would they care? There’s always the option of watching on the TV – but even that’s out of reach of more and more people as the sport leaves its past behind and heads for a place that the people who made the game what it is would never recognise.
Handshakes used to be something that happened before cup finals and internationals. The players would line up, some dignitary would shake their hands, then the tracky tops would be ditched and some football would be played. Nowadays it costs so much to go to a bog-standard league game that maybe the powers-that-be feel they need to try and pretend it’s as good as a cup final. Handshakes you can hardly see anyway when you’re at the game, crap anthems you don’t want to listen to, football so poor that the talking points aren’t even football any more. And you pay a fortune to watch that.
A fortune to watch fake football.
And when the football is as fake as this you might as well just offer a fake handshake. If you don’t you’ll only get fake outrage.
Fake outrage like that from Patrick Barclay. Supposedly a respected writer, days after using Heysel as a stick to beat some prat on Twitter with, insulting and offending countless others in the process, he uses the word “immoral” to describe Kenny Dalglish’s answers to questions about a player not offering a fake handshake. A fake handshake Dalglish said he thought had been offered.
In what kind of world is someone like Patrick Barclay, with his thinly disguised views of Heysel and Hillsborough itching to come out with every spiteful word he says, tweets or writes, respected? And it’s not just Barclay, a man trying to make some money in the last days of his career. It’s a wide range of so-called respected writers who are stirring up trouble so fast that they can’t see their own hypocrisy through the dust they’ve sent flying. Respected writers patting each other on the back, a big circle of hypocrites who can’t praise each other enough for the fakery they’ve worked so hard to make fact. Respected writers?
It’s that word again. Respect. In football it has a completely different meaning to anywhere else.
Respect in football is fake.
Rafa Benítez put it best.
Football is a lie.