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A Symptom of a Greater Malaise
CUP 2010 ON THE 
The exit.  Let’s get this out of the way first as it is totally and utterly irrelevant.  England’s departure from the
World Cup would only have been worth analysing in depth had they managed to board the aeroplane from South
Africa with Fabio proudly holding the trophy aloft as conquerors of the footballing world, landing triumphantly in
London to tour the city, snarling up traffic and bringing misery to everyone who has to be 
somewhere at a certain time and doesn‘t want a bunch of over-paid tossers riding an 
open-top bus getting in their way. Then we could have stopped arrogantly talking about 
years of underachievement and concentrated instead on how, just occasionally, miracles 
happen to the most unlikely and (let’s face it) unworthy people.  Of course, the tabloid 
papers would have claimed this was a deserved victory, talking endlessly about the wealth 
of talent in English football, totally ignoring, for instance, the reason there was no obvious 
choice to play in goal. It wasn’t because we had three keepers who were all equally brilliant. 
No, it was because everyone found it really hard to work out who was most likely to screw up. As it happens, 
David James was excellent, and thus a victim of cruel, cruel irony.

Considering the sport of football involves lots of running, tackling, diving, whining, crying like a baby and
Lazarus-like resurrections the moment a free-kick is given or advantage played, World Cup-related
promotions seemed to encourage little in the way of physical activity or deconstruction of the adrenalin
-rush drama.  In fact, the World Cup actively encouraged the people of England to stay inside and drink
heavily. The result? Gout. Almost inevitably. Just think of all those high-fat-and-salt supermarket meal
deals. Obviously, I’m not talking about the Marks & Spencer dine-in for £10 deal. That wasn’t aimed at the average football watcher. In fact, I’m not sure M&S even acknowledged the existence of football this summer. No, I’m talking about the multitude of offers encouraging the purchase of pizza and beer, of barbeque meat and strong lager, for a slight reduction in price. What football fan could resist? None, mainly because there was bugger all choice otherwise; just pay full price or starve. So the NHS will have to deal with the inevitable cases of gout that come flooding in circa July 12th.  

Furthermore, if you are eating pizza and drinking beer and staying inside for nigh on a month, scurvy 
would be your next major concern. How many supermarkets had an offer on reduced-price fruit to 
combat such a problem? I have no idea to be honest, but for the purpose of this article I’ll say none. 
Football fans are thereby joining the ranks of pirates, bosuns and other miscellaneous sailors who 
have all suffered from scurvy throughout history.  

And how is the football viewer represented? As a beer-swilling, lethargic, philistine pig, that’s how. Perhaps it is not that people wish
to conform to this stereotype, simply that they don’t actually have any other options. Consider the evidence.
Don’t consider it too much though, or you’ll realise it is a load of purposeless toss. I digress. So anyway, we’re
cramming down beer and pizza and getting gout and scurvy, occasionally catching a glimpse of a fat man
wedged in a settee in the reflection of our TV screen, knowing that all we have been sold has conspired to make
us what the world thinks we are. And yet it could have been so different. All we needed was to switch pizza and
beer for champagne and truffles and the whole of England could have been dragged into the wondrous world of
high-class eating. Watching the match tonight? Yes, yes I am. And I’m going to eat lobster and enjoy a cooling
Kir Royale while doing so. Lovely.  

The typical football fan is encouraged to engage with the players of their favoured team as they watch them perform on the screen; experiencing every pass, tackle, shot and header, living vicariously through the England squad. What? That completely sucks. The vast majority of us experience enough failure on a day-to-day basis. We categorically do not need to endure the sensation of screwing up in front of the whole wide world at one remove. That’s potentially soul-destroying. For those who sold their souls to the beautiful game long ago, this situation is a right old pisser at best. It is said, generally by losers, that it's 
the taking part which matters, not the much longed-for victory. Perhaps this should be taken to heart. Have 
your team ever taken part in a World Cup qualifying campaign? If the answer is “yes” then you’re already 
a winner! As long as you managed to enter the competition then you will have succeeded in your aim. 
Hooray! Break out the truffles!

Finally, saddest of all, now Saturday afternoons will forever sound horribly empty (on the odd occasion
when matches are played on a Saturday). Now the referee will again be able to hear what the crowd are
saying about him and, even more dangerously, should a mass swarm of radioactive bees attack a football
ground, people will mistakenly celebrate the sudden burst of noise. Until they realise the error of their ways
and swiftly die a horrible, stingy death.

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