Studs Up

In Defence of Helplessness
March 11, 2009, 5:57 pm
Filed under: Football


Sometimes it’s strange being a football fan.

As Man Utd and Inter Milan prepare to go head to head in tonight’s deciding leg of their UEFA Champions League Last 16 tie, I might be forgiven for wondering whom should I support. Inter, whose current domestic success has been achieved purely via the punishments that were sustained by their rivals during the Italian match-fixing scandal? Mourinho, whose extreme arrogance and negative tactics induced a plague, which swept across the English game relentlessly until the whimsy of a billionaire saw him banished? Or Utd, whose current extreme success has admittedly been built fairly and squarely over time? Or Alex Ferguson, a socialist Scot who has single-handedly put his (and my) country on the world map of football?

In fact, as a Liverpool fan, the answer is obvious: Mourinho’s Inter Milan of course. And although this stance might seem counter-intuitive, I can barely imagine a scenario that would see me abandon it. This is because for me football allegiances are not based on character judgments (much as it often feels otherwise), they are not rational and above all they are not logical. But what they are in my case is as heartfelt and seemingly important as any other value judgment I make.

For example, I was full of appreciation for Kaka’s recent wonder-goal scored against Argentina, even though I had no preference whatsoever about the outcome of  the actual match. But an ugly, scrappy goal with a foul in the build-up would give me infinitely more pleasure, so long as a Liverpool player scores it (at the right end please Jamie lad!). Similarly, red seems to me to be a beautiful colour to play football in, symbolic of pride, bravery and success. Meanwhile, blue seems just awful, reeking of bitterness, pomposity and a complete lack of class. But, it’s just red and blue after all, yet I truly feel these emotions towards these colours within the context of football. It’s a bit bizarre when you think about it.

But if football allegiances are largely not grounded in matters of politics, character and ethics, what is it that makes them so compelling? I honestly do not know the answer to that question. But, I’m actually not even sure I want to know. I’ve got a feeling that part of it is down to the sheer uncomprehending vulnerability that every proper fan is subject to. We are at the mercy of our clubs, and while they can bring us to the point of despair sometimes, they can also lift us in a way that nothing else can. So perhaps if we had more control over our allegiances, more power to decide our fates as football fans, then that sense of euphoria might well be lost.

In other words, ours is not to reason why. And on that note, come on Inter!



2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

personally i have become increasingly indifferent to these kind of dilemmas. As a life long arsenal fan from north london i can relate to the bitterness you feel to your local rivals. however i find myslf increasingly frustrated with the attention given to our rivals position. i cringe with the amount of times a home crowd will feel the need to ‘stand up…’ to display their hatred towards spurs when we are playing say, sparta prague at home! particularly as our rivals (everton/sp*rs) are so far behind competitively etc
what i suppose im trying to say is ‘forget them, concentrate on our own game’ to use a familiar footy cliche!
saying all that however, eff spurs ; )

Comment by gooner

Cheers for the comment Gooner.

You’re right, it’s better to worry about one’s own team.

Comment by GW

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