Football and the World Cup (2006)

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Football and the World Cup (2006)

Postby Gavin » 04 Aug 2011, 09:31

I loved reading this Dalrymple article on the World Cup some time ago, and will put a quotation on the quotations thread.
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Re: Football and the World Cup (2006)

Postby Michael » 04 Aug 2011, 14:34

The coaches containing the supporters of the away team arrived, and the passengers were virtually frogmarched into the stadium between columns of policemen. This was a vision not so much of free-born Englishmen, as of Englishmen as natural slaves, or slaves of their own ungovernable passions. Unable or unwilling to control themselves, they had to be controlled by main force. I had an uncomfortable and genuinely unpleasant frisson of having observed in miniature the end result or product of freedom when conceived as licence: an almost militarised authoritarianism.


This is one of my worries about the future of Western civilization. While I believe that every social order rests finally upon force and the threat of force, that does not mean it is essentially brutal. If the population becomes brutal, however, any state hoping to maintain order has no choice but to become so itself. I forget who said it but I firmly believe that people get the governments they deserve.
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Re: Football and the World Cup (2006)

Postby Mike » 05 Aug 2011, 10:06

Even as a lifelong football lover, I experienced the same unease as TD when reading the likes of A Season With Verona (a very good book, as he says), and even Fever Pitch. The authors, Tim Parks and Nick Hornby respectively, are educated, intelligent men, but they both come perilously close to condoning the sort of horrendous behaviour they describe on the terraces, partly by delving into the sort of psycho-therapeutical apologiae that TD mentions in that piece.

There are still some very fine football writers around though - notably the venerable Brian Glanville, and more recently Jonathan Wilson, a very insightful analyst of the game.
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Re: Football and the World Cup (2006)

Postby Gavin » 22 May 2012, 12:03

I'm going to try to be considerate here because I know some forum members are interested in football, while I share Dalrymple's bafflement, but does not anyone else find this photograph embarrassing?

106793668_merkel_296662c.jpeg


I was going to post anyway, but Ed West writes on this topic here, citing Dalrymple.

I also find it sad that there is now talk of a footballer being given a knighthood. It may be hard for our foreign friends to appreciate just how obsessed the UK is by football now (and bad it is at it). It is the religion of the nation. It's a game. In my opinion far, far, too much importance is placed upon it.

When they had a match around here recently, I could tell something was going on because of the heavy police presence. I reflected on how I have never seen the same outside the Cadagon Hall when there has been a concert. A man stopped me in the street recently too. He didn't even need to preface what he was talking about. "'Ave you heard the latest score?", he said. I thought, had I been a foreigner myself, I would have had no clue what he was talking about. His assumption was obviously that every human being would be following the football.

"No, mate, sorry", I said, before moving on. Why did I say sorry I thought. I have no interest whatsoever in the sport and am not ashamed of that at all. Admit that in England though at your peril. Admit it near a stadium and expect to be attacked.
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Re: Football and the World Cup (2006)

Postby Damo » 22 May 2012, 18:37

The two men sitting down in that photograph seem to be very uncomfortable.
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Re: Football and the World Cup (2006)

Postby Caleb » 23 May 2012, 04:03

Does anyone know who those two men are? It looks to be at some sort of meeting of international leaders. Actually, I think the guy on the right is Francois Hollande, the new French president. What about the guy on the left?
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Re: Football and the World Cup (2006)

Postby Gavin » 11 May 2013, 16:53

Pat Condell is a fan of football and that's something I can't understand, because it often seems to me that football fans have a lot in common with religious people: they will tend to support the same team as their parents, or a team otherwise selected apparently arbitrarily and not on any rational basis, and they often have a fanatical devotion to "their" team, causing passions to run high.

The sport they so admire seems to me trivial and inconsequential, lifelong devotion to it (and to other such sports) being, according to Dalrymple, akin to "deformation of the soul". I'm afraid I just can't get that excited about people running around a field chasing a ball, not about watching it or doing it. It seems to me a waste of time. This is not to mention the astronomical fees paid to footballers for this feat, or the fact that most of the team members are typically not even from the local area in question.

I suppose, in the end, different things just interest different people and if you dont get it, you don't get it. But it did strike me as ironic that Pat should be such a fan of football while being so opposed to religion, because it seems to me that football (along with Islam, of course ;) is effectively the new religion of the UK.

But, though it has inspired thuggery and it has inspired people to kick balls, football is yet to inspire the great art and architecture that the Christian religion has (I don't think the stadiums really compare). It has its chants where religion has its hymns and vespers - but it would surely be difficult to claim that the former are really more enriching than the latter.

Even Anthony Burgess, author of A Clockwork Orange (a book that TD admires) was a fan of football, but I, like the good doctor, see almost no merit in it. I was once forced to see Chelsea play in order to show me what it was like at a match. There were just some people running about a long way away and some men behind me bellowing obscenities in my ear. I'm not in a hurry to go again (except perhaps as a vulgarity correspondent if I ever get the chance to do that in any capacity).

If anyone can explain to me why they like football, please do so, but as I say, this is probably something which cannot be conveyed. At least on the side of myself and TD we also have George Orwell, who apparently said football is "war minus the shooting". Perhaps it is just an outlet for people's tribal aggression, but if that is indeed its primary appeal it remains unappealing for me.
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Re: Football and the World Cup (2006)

Postby Paul » 16 May 2013, 11:48

Gavin, I have to disagree with some of the points of your post, though can understand the broad nature of it, at least with regard to modern football.

I didn't know Condell was a football fan but will guess he will be a fan of the 'old school type'. He's older than me and has probably met similar people (though doubtless many more) and remembers the times (not least sport at school) back in those days. Quite why he has persisted with his liking for football, in the face of the modern game is not for me to say. Every person has their limit or can justify their preference on older principles. It may be that his main admiration or any time spent (if indeed he does allocate substantial weekly time) is towards the amateur level of the game, in many ways more admirable than its professional counterpart. Maybe not, but I could imagine this is possible.

You obviously don't have a liking for sport (as in ball games), presumably all sport? Neither watching (or following) or playing. That's fair enough. You are however in a minority somewhat and whilst not wrong at all (personally) it's difficult to allow that everyone else (the majority) are themselves wrong - even foolish. It is akin to a recently mentioned thread wherein I disagreed with TD himself with regard to his insistence that all music other than his own preference was worthless. You agreed with that principle. Even if the reverse were true and the majority didn't like football, would it be correct to demean, or (for heaven's sake) prohibit, the enjoyment of a ball game by a minority?

If the latter were true it may be that football would be a less unworthy pastime. It may even have faded into relative obscurity and be struggling to maintain in the face of financial ruin. The latter wouldn't be a good thing and is in fact a cause of much loss of community sport access over long years. Nothing has replaced it, of comparable value.

I do agree I have often thought that human beings, fascinated and excited by chasing or otherwise interfacing with ball-shaped objects, is just like the dog endlessly chasing sticks (or balls even better), to the exclusion of all else around him. It's inexplicable and simple at the same time - just like the antics of the dog. How joyous though (for the dog, ahem) and who would deny the dog his play?

So that's it - humans lke to play, just like the dog. Remarkably similar when you strip it down. The dog just doesn't have the brain to invent lots of rules and laws. Humans need to play, to have leisure - and to have excercise. All the more so as children, as teenagers and then as young people. It is surely natural. For those who don't play team sports or even singular sports (lone golf - do people do that?), there is still weight-training and keep-fit, martial arts, walking and trekking, water sports and angling (millions involved). Who are we to say they, or specific ones among them are wrong?

Have you never played snooker Gavin - or watched it on TV? Maybe not. You have to admit, it's a game of utter skill. I'm no good at it by the way. I admit that it's far away from blindly following football. But if enough people decide to enjoy a certain thing and are prepared to spend time and money pursuing it, then it's natural that an 'industry'of sorts would grow around it. Hence clubs and professionals and the whole movement. On a positive side, all this is generating trade and ultimately a lot of taxation is gathered!

Football is a game that we had to play, by compulsion, at school up to the age of 16 or thereabouts, from the age of maybe seven. At that level and with regard to all the original ethics of sport and excercise it was a good thing. In addition I played probably 1000 hours or more of football in childhood, in my mother's street (little traffic then) and on the local parks. We played other sports too, roughly following the seasons as relayed to us via BBC sport, both TV and radio. Tennis in June, cricket the rest of the summer, but always football throughout, even then. I did lots of other things including reading hundreds of books and endless homework but I would never like to think of a lack of all that activity at that age, and of the great outdoors it represented. There were of course no computers at all or anything remotely like that in the 1960s and 70s.

One cannot sit indoors all the time as a child or teenager. The results of that are becoming evident now I fear. Besides, I used to often go to the local library and borrow books, went on endless sponsored walks (25 or even 30 mile ones round the Lancashire moors via grammar school), was in the local scouts (for a while), had to go shopping with my Mum, had to do other chores, went to the cinema a bit and still seemed to have endless hours of restlessness available. Time seems to last forever as a child. We filled it by countless hours of running about after balls.

The ethics of sport are surely worthy things? Excercise, teamwork and team spirit, good-natured competition, tactics. The Corinthian Spirit. If it be war, or a pretend war, to let out tensions inherent within us, then so be it. Better that than the real thing.

The adherence to a specific team, usually or traditionally local, can be a good thing as long as it's kept in context. Obviously abusing or demeaning any person with loyalty to another team is out of context, as is certainly and obviously spitting on them or even throwing bottles and wielding knives! This is another matter altogether. Quite why anybody should wish to behave like that on so trivial a matter as sport is a question much deeper. Such people are likely to be trouble in many areas of life and have attached to a sport as an outlet for their behaviour. They have thus betrayed the sport itself.

Other than that, on a friendly basis, a support base for a local team has its roots in community. It can become 'tribal', meaning barbarian, but this doesn't have to be so. It's like how supporting England (for any cause, least of all football) is suddenly 'nationalistic' or 'racist' and such when it is simply not so, or needn't be so. It is affirming identity and some local pride and identity could go a long way in a positive manner. I agree that footballl is now least likely to be the best vehicle for that and shouldn't be used as such.

I would agree, along with most people, even those who inexplicably still follow the game, that modern professional football has much to dislike. The reasons are well known and obvious, within the game without ever getting round to mentioning the fans. When the game was 'purer' however, say Condell's era of rememberance, the 1960s and 70s, the fans were often despicable. This did of course continue way into the 1980s or later but has now largely been stamped upon - though only at great cost - which however has by now effectively been passed to the fans themselves. Football fanship is now an expensive business and of course this supports the corporate nature of the moden game - another of its evils in one way, but a necessary one in that sport now cannot otherwise survive in a corporate world such as we have.

As for fans, specifically football, who tarnished the reputation of the game (and the country more so is maybe better said) by their actions, again I say they were a product of their times and would have been (and no doubt were) trouble-makers in various scenarios. They were themselves perpetrators, not victims (of their times or their govt's) and are again a reason why we have, to a degree, got what we deserve. It does seem that, for whatever historical or sociological quirk, a sense of base tribalism has been attracted to football and did gradually over-run the game. It's now mirrored in the mercenary way the game is conducted at the higher levels.

Regarding other sports I can be more forgiving. They haven't attracted anything like the same kind of attitude that football has - though there have been indications - again just mirroring society. But we can't seriously condemn as foolish dullards, or chavs or the underclass, or tribal barbarians those people who for instance are involved with the upper levels of golf, or probably all golf - to give one example. I don't follow the game at all but I do know of the ethos of the Masters tournaments and the sheer excellence of Augusta and other courses. There aren't any chavs and underclass there!

What about tennis and the club at Wimbledon? It's a national institution! Britain without the Wimbledon finals, complete with strawberries and cream and the Royal family in attendance, is a dystopic future. Surely the tennis devotees in the royals are not to be viewed with disdain?

Finally what about the MCC and Lords? The Taverners? Good grief, they are not barbarians. The Duke of Norfolk's XI. Gavin, you must retract!

As you may see, I am a cricket fan, though less of late for some reason. I got interested in cricket around 1975, aged 12. I spent many a summer day on beaches or cliff-tops listening to Radio 3 (as it was then) relay the commentary from the Test matches and have continued to do so ever since when possible (not on beaches anymore). It doesn't dominate my life or anything like that. I am a qualified umpire (level 2 only - out of 6) though have not stood in a game since 2011. Prior to that I played at local clubs from 1996 (aged 33) to 2006 when, for no firm reason, I just failed to be as inspired the following year and drifted out of playing. I spent all my twenties working and dealing with children. By 1996 it was 'now or never', so there you have it. Oh yes, I've been to Lords twice. It's wonderful, especially the Long Room and the immense table and the huge portrait of (Sir) Don Bradman on the wall. The bars are good too and they still serve beer in proper pint glasses - the bullseye ones. Heritage - as rich as any other - almost. A lot of good has been done by cricket, more positive things than many a politician could achieve. That much I will say.

So, surely everyone has played some sort of game? Chess, other board games, including some of the 'classics' - such as 'Monopoly'? What about cards or dominoes? Even computer games? None of them contribute anything material to the world (other than to their makers and the trade thereon) or even to the players - unless there be gambling involved! But they contribute to people's well-being, in moderation, and that cannot be ignored.

So to horse-racing. Is horse-racing a 'sport'? Or is it merely a commercial venture of dubious morality? Be careful - the Queen is involved remember.

Thanks Gavin.
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Re: Football and the World Cup (2006)

Postby Gavin » 16 May 2013, 12:26

I don't mind sport - I like it as a bit of fun from time to time, I just think far too much importance is placed on it and especially on football. Personally I also prefer the idea of people working together - all together - to solve things rather than pitted against each other.

On the issue of minorities and majorities, I don't think it holds that in all cases a majority must be right, or wise - not at all. That many people like Ke$ha does not make her music great. This seems to me a very different discussion as to whether TD might miss the merits of certain genres of music. (Actually he might not, he just doesn't write about them!)

I don't mean to "demean" football, I just think that it is in fact, as TD said, not especially high in the canon of human achievement. It is "a bit of fun". I can't see it as more than that. I can admire few footballers when they open their mouths either, sadly. I wouldn't mind watching a kick around on a Saturday afternoon. I don't think I'd want to participate. But ultimately I just don't care where the ball goes, really. I know that must sound sacrilegious to some football fans, but this is how some people feel. It is we who are cooped up, not we who are doing the bullying! One is almost ashamed to admit to not "supporting a team" in the UK now - I would not dare admit it around here. We ought to be able to say we have no interest in football without fear of persecution! ;)

I don't really mind other sports, I have played snooker, became quite good at pool. Also table tennis in my youth, I recall. Again, I just see them as a bit of fun. Football seems to inspire a unique amount of agression and obsession, again like a religion.

I know what you mean about the old school though, when football was just a game. The culture was less obnoxious then, I am sure. Also the national obsession has gone hand in hand with a decline in patriotism, an increase in national shame, multiculturalism etc. There is probably a link. But if only the thugs who have devoted themselves to kicking footballs (or watching other people kick footballs) would devote themselves to the army or something else more constructive, perhaps this would be of more service to their country and indeed to themselves.

Again, I do not want to insult those who derive satisfaction from watching or playing football, I just wanted to point out its similarities to religion and to say that in my opinion it is not as important as many people hold it to be. Ultimately I do appreciate that people are different and find different things satisfying, I suppose I think this is just a place where I can put the contrary view about football.
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Re: Football and the World Cup (2006)

Postby Paul » 16 May 2013, 13:46

You are right in saying that far too much importance is given to sport and particularly football - in the UK at least.

For my part I have absolutely no interest in football any more. I'm too old to play and haven't played in any case since my teens. I lost any interest I may have reserved (though again I haven't really followed a team since my teens) long ago. The game itself is now foolish, corporate and of shifting loyalties within clubs. The money involved is outrageous, many of the fans are fools indeed and have left a legacy of violence and boorishness and, as you say, it must be dim-witted to pin most of your life and outlook on the antics of a team of football players.

I don't mind saying I eschew football. It's entertaining to say it, in light of certain incredulous reactions. Far from being the 'beautiful game' it is often 'an ugly game, played by ugly people, with ugly manners'. The latter quote is I think, one made by Michael Parkinson. 'Parky' is of course a cricket fan but he didn't say that just to trump cricket over football. Of course, one might have to assess whom one is talking to before coming out with that exact quote. Still, it's good to say one now despises football and then go on to give sound reasons for doing so.
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Re: Football and the World Cup (2006)

Postby Gavin » 16 May 2013, 14:51

I like that quote Paul, and I must say it matches my observations. I suppose Mr Parkinson must have been quite senior before he could "come out" as not liking football.
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Re: Football and the World Cup (2006)

Postby Caleb » 17 May 2013, 01:10

I agree with Gavin on this one.

I occasionally go to see a live sporting match -- Australian rules football or cricket (I think I will go to a match this year when I return to Australia). I enjoy them as occasional diversions, opportunities to spend time with relatives, to show foreigners a little piece of Australian culture, or even to get caught up in the excitement of the experience. Boxing Day at the MCG is really amazing.

Sport in Australia is generally very well behaved. They clamped down on both the yobbo players acting out in public or on the field and the fans (getting drunk and throwing things) quite heavily throughout the 90s and 00s. Even soccer with its absurd Balkan ethnic rivalries transplanted to Australia has been tamed somewhat. A few years ago, an English friend of mine spent several months living in Melbourne, and I took him to an Australian rules football match. He was surprised that fans of the two teams could sit amongst each other and it never got more heated than a bit of a ribbing (at players, often their own).

Yet there is something terribly sad about modern sports fans who do turn it into a religion. There's just something hollow about that. It also hasn't escaped my notice that despite the obsession with watching sports in my own country, people are quite obese. Such people would no sooner walk their dog around the block than run about after a ball for an hour or two.

I personally don't watch very much sport at all. Team sports don't interest me more than on occasion. I am more interested in individual sports, particularly anything where there's a more physical component involved. I started watching the Tour de France in the past, I've always enjoyed watching triathlons and other endurance events (I used to really like adventure racing in the past, and did some myself), or strongman competitions. Yet I don't think I'd follow any of those sports religiously.

I always found sport at school to be an exercise in humiliation. It was always extremely divisive. I was bad at ball sports, but even despite being reasonably good at running and fit generally, there was always someone (or several people) who was picked on. Many teachers also turned a blind eye to such bullying off the court of field too. I also thought there was just far too much emphasis on sporting victories and not enough on people who performed really well in academic competitions. To some extent, these memories still taint my views of team sports and competition to this day.

As a teenager, I did judo. I was not that good really, and there was a lot of macho nonsense in that too. However, it did stop some of the self-styled tough guys in their tracks. I didn't really care for judo though. There's some of that in kendo, though very little in Australian kendo, actually. Here in Taiwan, it's treated as a sport, and I have little interest in refereeing, and even less in competing, though inevitably I get dragged into at least the former.

I'm much more interested in it as a martial art, and here's the interesting part about sport as an analogy for war. The modern martial arts, be they kendo or taekwondo, are absolutely useless as fighting arts precisely because they are sports and must be scored, and so have been distorted and watered down. People are rewarded for performing the most ridiculous techniques that would get them killed or knocked unconscious within instants in a real battle, or techniques that would fail to do much more than draw a little blood (even with a sword it's a lot more difficult to cut through flesh and bone than you'd think -- that's why those clown jihadists often have to flail around like little girls when they try to behead someone). The irony is that the most traditional techniques, as slow and prosaic as they may appear, are the ones that really would kill or maim, though even then, the real emphasis is not on the technique, but the mindset required. Full contact mixed martial arts competitions, or videos of street fights on Youtube in no way resemble a karate competition. They're ugly affairs, and one punch often settles it, perhaps followed up by a barrage of blows that are largely superfluous. Boxing is a different animal entirely though. It is one of the few real martial arts widely practised. I wouldn't mind my chances against the average taekwondo student, even one with a black belt. I wouldn't fancy myself against someone who had boxed even for only a few months though.

Even team sports involving a ball in no way resemble a real battle either. Everything is so abstract. There's no soiling oneself, there are no volleys of cannonballs, bullets or arrows before you can even see your opponent, there's no cavalry riding you down if you break formation. In war there certainly aren't time outs, half time breaks or penalty shots. The activities we call professional sports are a massive charade. That's good, actually, because I don't think I'd want to participate in, or witness a real battle or duel, but it still doesn't mean I'm that interested in sports.
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Re: Football and the World Cup (2006)

Postby Paul » 17 May 2013, 01:47

Gavin, I'm not sure when Michael Parkinson first made that quote. I first came across it about ten years ago. It may then have been recent or may have been a quote from even earlier. I think what you may have to remember is that Parky is an old school, plain-speaking Yorkshireman. A spade is a spade and they don't (or didn't at least) tend to beat about the bush. His one time associates and counterparts were Geoffrey Boycott and Dickie Bird. That says it all really.

Caleb - good points too. Australians are very good at sport, certainly the high-achieving ones. At least that's the perception by everyone else. They ought to be of course, given the amount of money and facilities the country puts into sport. I had always imagined however, it's a (too) highly competetive environment at every level and so tales of macho bullying come as no surprise. If there's yet another thing that spoils the ethos and enjoyment of fair sporting activities, it would be this attitude.

I'm quite surprised there is little bad behaviour among the fans. I thought rules football might be quite partisan and aggressive. I know certain boorish behaviour began to creep into cricket crowds as far back as the 1970s (was the WACA at Perth the worst place for offending?) and was related to a mass drinking culture that outsiders tend to perceive as another aspect of Australian life. Still, it was nothing like UK football violence of the same era, though probably worse than UK cricket crowds. No real violence from what I have read, but certainly rude and boorish behaviour.

Team sports, single-player sports, different sports, all manner of games and pastimes - everyone has a particular preference. I'm not really inclined to say any one specific sport is better or worse than the others. It's in the eye of the beholder. What works for me might not for the next man. I think that's fair enough and neither should impose his will upon the other.

What I obviously dislike is cheating, sharp practise, bullying, lack of respect for team, opposition and officials and all that stuff. The Spirit of Cricket preamble to the Laws is as good a statement as any other on these matters. If a sport begins to attract unruly elements, seems disreputable in its wider dealings in the world or becomes a stereotype for bad behaviour then that would be another series of things to dislike and maybe to abandon any connection with the activity. That's up to the individual to decide and some may rationalise this by referring to core principles and how they behave themselves. That's no doubt the position of Pat Condell. I can't imagine Pat being a bottle-wielding thug, spitting and hurling obscenities at the opposition.

I forgot to say that I would agree that other leisure activities may have much greater merit than sport. Particularly art, music and literature. There is something material that is left behind for countless others to enjoy, even over centuries and surely as much (or more) skill and craft as any sporting prowess.
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Re: Football and the World Cup (2006)

Postby Caleb » 17 May 2013, 02:15

Paul: There were real problems in Australian sport up until a decade or so ago. Cricket matches, due to being drawn out affairs with infrequent action, could lead to extended bouts of drinking. Purely and simply, people can get far more drunk in a day (or over several days!) than an hour or two. Bay 13 at the MCG has always held a certain reputation. There were incidents of people being killed by projectiles, and there has been a lot of controversy over racist chants. However, there has been more and more of an attempt to rein all of this in. I recall being at the MCG maybe eight or nine years ago and seeing yobbos being evicted from their seats by security, and that was long before it got to throwing anything (everything is served in plastic cups now anyway).

As for Australian rules football, again, there used to be more of the same, but that's been stamped down on also. There are serious rivalries between certain clubs, but really anti-social behaviour is not very common. It's more common amongst different soccer clubs whose players and fans tend to be of a particular ethnicity, but even that got stamped down on after one too many ethnic hand signals had incited flares on the pitch and stampedes. I've certainly never felt threatened (as an unaligned party) sitting amongst fans of two teams at an Aussie rules match. I have heard American football is the same. The extreme partisan nature of soccer is quite unique to that sport.

In terms of the athletes, firstly, the Australian Football League (Australian rules football) has come down extremely hard on violence on the field. In this day and age with extensive camera coverage, it's impossible to escape being caught, and the suspensions and financial penalties are harsh.

Off the field, there are still incidents in nightclubs and so on, but the governing bodies of various sports (usually Aussie rules, rugby league and cricket) come down extremely hard on poor public behaviour. An off-field incident can really ruin a sportsman's career, or at least cost him a considerable amount of money, these days. Up until a decade or so ago, both footballers (different codes) and cricketers used to get up to all sorts of mischief in much the same way that rock stars of the day would also. There's generally far less acceptance of anti-social behaviour by celebrities these days.
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Re: Football and the World Cup (2006)

Postby Mike » 17 May 2013, 11:22

Caleb wrote:There are serious rivalries between certain clubs, but really anti-social behaviour is not very common. It's more common amongst different soccer clubs whose players and fans tend to be of a particular ethnicity, but even that got stamped down on after one too many ethnic hand signals had incited flares on the pitch and stampedes. I've certainly never felt threatened (as an unaligned party) sitting amongst fans of two teams at an Aussie rules match. I have heard American football is the same.


That was the Bobby Despotovski incident. Not a happy episode in Australian soccer. But with the advent of the A-League (from which clubs with specific ethnic affiliations were controversially but quite rightly excluded) soccer actually became easily the most family-friendly of all the major football codes in Australia (apart from union, which is very much an upper-middle-class pursuit here). The media tend not to mention that, though - there's still that lingering impression that soccer is somehow un-Australian.

Caleb wrote:The extreme partisan nature of soccer is quite unique to that sport.


Only, in my opinion, due to its exceptional popularity...especially in parts of the world in which sectarian tensions are a constant problem.

As someone who's loved the game since childhood and still loves it, I've always maintained that there is nothing intrinsically conducive to violence about soccer. In fact, I would argue that rugby is far more so.
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