The hypocrisy innate within being a modern football fan
Football consists almost entirely of hypocrisy – the sphere kicking is only a prolusion. Profit-making owners spew rhetoric about the interests of fans alongside accruing debt in a club’s name and players declare loyalty to their clubs as the precursor to inevitable moves away: hypocrisy is life. The most painful hypocrisy though, with its horrific proximity, is that of fans. Sitting in the Tilton Road end of St. Andrews, watching Birmingham City playing Manchester United, contradictions and hypocrisy range from the laughably ridiculous to the frustratingly idiotic – and there is significant overlap.
1.) 15 minutes into the match: A Birmingham Fan mentions in passing to someone sitting next to him that he “hope[s] Seb Larsson stays” following rumours linking the player with a move to Stoke City.
70 minutes into the match: The Same Fan shouts “Let’s hope he fucks off to Stoke”. Larsson had played reasonably well.
2.) 20 minutes into the match: A Birmingham Fan explains to those surrounding him that “that Berbatov is a lazy bastard, but when he gets on the ball…”. We can assume that the pause was an endorsement.
Towards the end of the match: The Same Fan enunciates the delicate demonstrative “Fuck off, you Hungarian twat!”. Yes, he said Hungarian. But why even attempt to mention his nationality? In what way is it relevant?
3.) In the opening 5 minutes of the match: A Birmingham Fan shouts “come on [Jean] Beausejour, let’s see what you can do then!”, pronouncing Beausejour adequately whilst doing so.
Towards the end of the game, just before Beausejour is taken off: The Same Fan questions “what’s Beausejour done again?”, this time pronouncing Beausejour: Bos-er-jow. An attempt to undermine the player based on his ‘foreign’ name.
It is, variously and simultaneously, fascinating and utterly depressing to hear the things that people shout at football grounds.
The hypocrisy innate within watching matches
For all that fans complain with clichéd sentiment about the state of modern football, their actions endorse and sustain it – as I wrote in a more detailed piece about capitalism and football which wasn’t good enough for publication even on this, my own site. Anyone entering grounds, having paid for a ticket, is difficult to take entirely seriously when they use any of the following phrases:
1.) “Look at those over-paid prima donnas.” Players’ wages are being paid with fans’ money.
2.) “Look how few people are here.” Say the subscribers to Sky.
3.) “The owner is ruining this club.” Buying a ticket, or even watching a team play on Sky gives the owner an incentive to own – fans are paying the owner through paying to watch the club.
4.) “The team needs investment.” Fans that use this phrase can also be heard using the previous phrase – “The owner is ruining this club.” - at later dates. Fans are prepared to accept the free-market model* because they believe that they, or their team, will come out on top through that model – that they will get the dream owner, bringing massive investment and trophies.
The way that reality works though, with limited resources, means that there are far more losers than winners – because having winners means directing resources disproportionately in one direction, thus leaving most with less and only a few with more. Many fans will eventually come to bemoan the results of the system that they once endorsed as they ‘lose’ the free-market game. Relatively few will find the flaw in the actual system.
This piece contains little insight: it lays out the contrasting and opposing statements and actions of football fans as a means of drawing attention to them. From that point individuals are free to form their own opinions. My own opinion – taking the idiocy of the in-game contradictions as an accepted truth – is that innate within being a ‘fan’ of modern football is a hypocrisy: fans love watching football, but through doing so: through paying to do so: we are funding an unsustainable system: funding football’s inevitable implosion.
Substantial, but not all-encompassing regulation is my solution, for what it’s worth. Regulation that would push membership systems like Barcelona’s onto clubs and eliminate the ‘run for profit’ element, would be a better way. Failure has a role to play in football – it makes sport interesting – but seeing clubs go out of business and watching on as a ‘competition’ inevitably becomes a monopoly, is not interesting, only sad. And being a part of it is worse still.
*an economic system in which prices and wages are determined byunrestricted competition between businesses, without government regulation or fear of monopolies. – http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/free+market