Ugly war of words over beautiful game
Guy came into my local the other day. Ordered a pint of Coopers. When he saw his 425ml glass, he hit the roof.
“That’s not a f*(*&kng pint! That’s a f(*&&King schooner,” he blustered, all red in the face and foaming anger. “You effing c! You’ve got no right to be pouring this shit you useless bastard! Everywhere else in the world calls that a schooner. You must hate beer, you’re trying to destroy it!”
Then he bored us all witless with his ranting about the history of beer sizes, the proud global legacy of beer, and how we were all top-notch arse clowns for calling a pint a schooner.
Then he drank his beer and had another, because beer is great.
As is football. Or, as some call it, soccer.
The one thing that can ruin a relaxing beer or an exciting game of fokker? Paranoid rabid twitbags with persecution complexes.
As my fine colleague Ant Sharwood found out last night (oh, OK, he’s a sports writer so he’s peered into this specific abyss before).
Sharwood wrote a fairly straight forward news piece on he-who-must-be-adored Alessandro Del Piero and how he insists on calling the beautiful game ‘soccer’, while ‘football’ has become the preferred nomenclature. Cue the explosion of heads.
Now, ‘football’ makes more sense. It is a ball game played with the foot. Soccer is derived from ‘association football’ and came from England, but is now associated predominately with America.
Australia is definitely tending towards ‘football’. People are understandably keen to align themselves more closely with the European roundballers.
As Sharwood says, it’s about identity:
Soccer people crave a kind of global belonging through the sport they love, so they do not perceive themselves as provincial and irrelevant.
Any perceived potshot at soccer, even when it’s a very neutral article like the one I wrote … completely undermines all that.
Sootball is the battleground on which many ancient rifts are fought – ethnic, religious, political – which is why it gets pegged as the game of hooligans by people who should know better.
Tensions run high, and fans are often on a hair trigger when it comes to anything to do with their beloved World Game.
Then there are more banal reasons that it sparks a fight. My club’s still called a soccer club – as are many across Australia – but I love to call it football when I want to get up the nose of AFL fans.
Here’s the thing: there’s no reason we can’t just have both names for a bit. Eventually, everyone will probably call it football and occasionally have to deal with the confusion in a country that thinks that’s a different sport.
In the meantime, dear football fans, just drink your beer and watch your sport and take a f**king chill pill, please..
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