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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

The Euro 2004 Championships

So far, I have not been all that enthused by the Euro 2004 European Championship football tournament being held in Portugal at the moment but finally, it appears, the sporting event has sparked into life. This evening, Croatia came close to beating the former champions France, in a thrilling game. Earlier in the day, England, who lost their first game in the last minutes to France, managed after some hiccups to overwhelm Switzerland.

All to the good. I must say that watching some of the matches has reminded me of why, despite my annoyance at the antics of highly paid sportsmen, I still love watching football, and why I despise those who think it is amusing to sneer at we plebs and our love of what Brazil’s Pele called the “Beautiful Game”.

Take this piece of drivel from an anti-sports snob, for instance:

The players are even more loathesome than the fans. All professional sportsmen are more or less imbeciles, of course, but only footballers manage to be so utterly charmless with it. They are essentially overgrown spoilt children, diving and rolling around pretending to be injured, and practically wetting themselves whenever someone scores. There is a general, and sometimes quite fantastic, ugliness. If I had my way, I would have them all shot.

I wonder if the author of this piece would like to pass on his profound thoughts to one of the England team? Seriously though, for all that I despise the moronic behaviour of certain England football “fans” causing mayhem, I also despise a certain kind of anti-sport snob who imagines he or she is being terribly daring and original by sneering at the pleasures of the ordinary guy and his enthusiasm for team sports.

Oh well, come on England!

17 comments to The Euro 2004 Championships

  • After Croatia knocked Slovenia out of the Euro qualifiers, I prayed to the Good Lord to smote the Croats into dust, or at least to give Dado Prso eternal ingrown toenails. But I enjoyed watching the Croatia-France match so much that I have since recanted.

    I hope the trend continues.

  • Gazaridis

    First of all, the blog is called “Chase Me Ladies, I’m In The Cavalry”.

    Secondly, in the comments, he says

    Brandy, I am a Japanese schoolgirl from Osaka. I use “Harry” as a nom de false to protect my privacy. My favourite school subject is English and my favourite colour is blue. My favourite food is cherries. In my free time I like to unwind with violent blood sports, such as fox-hunting, ratting and badger-baiting.

    When I grow up my dream is to work in an office.”

    Thirdly, he’s a very silly man/schoolgirl as you’d find out if you read his archives (which i recommend you do if you really really need something to fill the time).

    Oh yeah, and he’s educational – He taught me how to say “Death to America” in Arabic so I can fit in at all the cool protests. Ibdah al Amreeka!!

    PS: If you want you can do the kakakaka thing off shooting stars. Might give the game away that you’re not terribly serious about the whole Death To America thing though.

  • Daniel

    As an American who doesn’t watch much soccer (football, yeah you know the drill), is the faking injury meant to give the players on the field a rest, or is there something else to it?

  • madne0

    Daniel: I think it’s more to convince the referee the book the other player. It doesn’t work 90% of the time, but hey, there’s always those 10%…

  • Ted Schuerzinger

    Madne0:

    And of course, one of the 10% was the disgraceful Claude Makelele dive after taking three or four steps in the Champions League semifinal. Of course, since one of the Samizdatistas is a Chelsea fan, we never heard about that one here. :-)

    What really disappointed me is that it was a ManUre player (van Nistelrooy) who scored Holland’s equalizer, and not Makaay.

  • I can see your point, the original article is a snide little dig at anyone who likes sport.

    I adore sports – playing them. I admire the skills of professional players and love to watch a good soccer match myself… (Yep, ‘soccer’ :) )

    …but for the life of me, I can’t understand the second-hand pride that comes from supporting a team. It just seems like an extension of the most base tribalism.

    The supporters don’t actually do anything to help train the team or contribute anything to the results yet can somehow feel ‘proud’ at a win. In local games because they live or lived in the same area as their team’s stadium…in international games because they share a geopolitical border with the players.

    I don’t see the difference between being proud at that and being proud at backing the right horse in a race.

    Any thoughts?

  • I’m not a football fan but thoroughly enjoyed the match. Maybe I was watching a different game but I was convinced that 8 of the Swiss players should have been sent off for diving. Their goalkeeper hurt his hand and young Roonie was penalized for not having actually made contact???

  • Simon Lawrence

    It just seems like an extension of the most base tribalism.

    Voluntary tribalism, everyone consents, also look at the world – people seem unstoppably attracted to tribalism, of some sort or another.

  • Jonathan L

    Sport and the fanatical following that it generates both confounds and reinforces the prejudices of the self elected elite.

    1) It shows how uncouth and non PC the great unwashed are and therefore how much need they have for nanny state.

    2) It allows those whose sporting prowess is far beyond us mere mortals get fabulously rich and laid more often than most of us can dream of. A totally unfair state of affairs, all money and sexual privileges should be reserved for Guardian readers.

    However

    3) Those stupid working class people, all aspire to success and riches instead of worldwide revolution. How ungrateful can they get.

    4) Those horrible swivel eyed little Englanders actually enjoy drinking the local beer and wine when they are overseas.

  • eoin

    Of course it’s tribal. It’s nationalistic, in fact, being a European event. It seems that this tribalism will out, won’t it?

    Note that Latvia and Croatia are playing on direct contradiction of the cultural Marxist claim that culture is mere chimera imposed from above.

  • I do wish people criticising sports and their fans would not resort to such triteness. I am not, nor ever have been a sports fan. I have never gotten why anyone would waste their time, money and more importantly emotion on following a sports team or individual.

    However to each is own, and I like to see big companies making lots of money from this illogical and silly pass time.

    I do however resent it when sports fans expect the tax-payer to help financially support their pass-time or passion. Tax breaks, bond-issues and other forms of state support to sports is a waste of taxpayers money. (Of course I am believe the same for the arts, including opera.)

    Enjoy your passion all you want just don’t expect me or any other non-sports fan to pay for it.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    At least in this respect, the European model of sports, especially in football(Real Madrid notwithstanding) seems to use less of the taxpayer’s money than franchises in the US.

    TWG

  • Gregory Litchfield

    Sorry to say, but I agree entirely with the linked material. Marx was wrong…sports are the opiate of the masses.

  • Tuscan Tony

    Horseracing is civilised. Football is not. But who are we to criticise? Perhaps Saratoga or Plumpton would be as unsavoury as Stamford Bridge or The Kop if, as in “the beautiful game”, it was the horses that got paid the real dough rather than the trainers. Beckham – strength of a carthorse, speed of a racehorse, good for him. But, as they also say, brains of a microcephalic rocking horse.

  • Euan Gray

    I don’t now and never have liked football. Or rugby. Or the unnecessarily, insanely and perhaps not atypically over-complicated version of rugby the Americans are pleased to call football.

    However, sport of the masses, and so forth. There is no difference between, on the one hand, supporting (and paying for) Man Utd or Arsenal, and on the other, being a fan of Blues or the Greens at the Circus in previous times.

    I disagree that horseracing is civilised. It appears so because wealthy people get involved in it (it costs a fortune to keep horses) as do the poor (who pay for all of this solely in the hope of getting a better life by winning a few bets). If there was no gambling, there would be no racing, or at least none worth speaking of.

    And, of course, it’s tribal. Humans are a mixture of individuals and groups – sadly for both Marxism and the more esoteric brands of libertarianism. The vast majority of humans feel a deep need to belong, and nowadays it seems the appropriate way to do this is to watch a bunch of overpaid and underbrained prima donnas kicking a ball around a field for 90 minutes.

    Safe nationalism, too. The chance to cheer one’s own country and rubbish Johnny Foreigner without the wasteful necessity of armed conflict (except in the case of the English*, of course…)

    * And at a local level the Scots. I’m half of each, so I’m allowed to say this.

    EG

  • Hup Holland!

    And Ibrahimovic has just choked the Italian to death! w00t!

  • The Wobbly Guy

    Uhm, the Dutch lost to the Czechs(what a thriller!). We could be seeing quite a few favorites get eliminated from the tourney. I won’t be shedding any tears though. ^_^

    TWG