Football fantasies and loss of perspective

This is a guest post from Davour, who took me up on my offer of stepping into the crucible. The offer is always open. Just write something up, and reach out to team@barcelonafootballblog.com

After a disappointing Champions League final where the eternal rivals made a fool out of the very team that kept a clean sheet against our beloved Barça, I felt I truly needed a break from football. But couldn’t help but noticing that these dark, quite intense, emotions were spurred by the success of Cristiano Ronaldo, rather than Madrid as a team. This baffled me to the extent that I needed to confront them in some depth. Where did these irrational emotions come from? Why do I care?

If I were comedian Jerry Seinfeld, my approach to football would be: “Hey, what’s the deal with soccer? 22 men running around chasing a ball to get it into a goal. People are paying to watch this?” Of course, his comic success comes from the simple, existential realisation that all human phenomena are absurd if you strip them of context. Take money for example: “You give me this Ferrari, and I will give you a piece of paper with numbers on it. Deal?” Bereft of context this makes no sense. But in context, it is part of a both simple and very complex system of value by proxy. Money represents, channels value and thus fulfills a function on which we have all agreed.

How is this important in this context? Well, football does not make more sense than money, but also serves a function. Well, many functions, depending on who you ask. Entertainment, sure, but more than that. Need to identify with a collective, and in opposition to others? Closer. But for me, it is obvious football has come to represent an escape — a sort of haven where things are less complicated (even as we complicate them), and where I can engage without responsibility or consequence. It’s something to preoccupy my mind from all the complicated things that go on in my own life -– work, relationship, fear of dying and so on.

In other words: football provides a context where meaning is provided, served on a plate. And the trouble begins when you invest too much emotion in this meaning. I started caring about other people’s opinions about Messi-Ronaldo, bla bla. Why? Because it defies the logic of how I perceive this made-up world. It disturbs the order which provides simple joy to my complicated life. When Real Madrid and Cristiano enjoy success, like their Champions League win, it is the equivalent of Sauron prevailing (or Voldemort, for a younger generation). Because football, to me, is just that: a fantasy.

Still, it wasn’t always like this. As a child, I loved AC Milan due to the Dutch, and hated Inter Milan and their Germans — but not to the extent that it killed me. I have always loved Barca (since Laudrup), but I didn’t used to hate Madrid -– I respected Raul, Redondo, Laudrup (!), Carlos, etc. I was a balanced football supporter who even sort of enjoyed young Cristiano’s game at Manchester United.

For a few years, other things were too important, being a student, exploring life. Then Ronaldinho lured me back to football; I started caring again.

And then Messi came along and the fantasy took off.

Of course, it was properly established only after Ronaldo moved to Spain and the silly comparisons began for real. Good vs. Evil. A mighty battle in which we were almost always the winner. Joy was gradually replaced by entitlement -– and, surely, resentment on the other side as they were almost always losing, despite all the money and fame, to some home-grown midgets and a shy Argentinian boy. The humiliation! And for me, us, the ultimate fantasy: the good guys, with humility and solidarity, with ideas and ideology that were so easy to romanticise.

And we won and won -– and Messi kept stepping up every time, always being a little better (well a lot, really) than his opponent, who of course is a personification of all the evil of Madrid: arrogance, superficiality, overblown ego, a capitalist concept with a six-pack and great marketability. What joy, that this beast should be consistently slain by our little super boy!

This one-sided battle killed the dynamic of football, just like the big clubs are doing to the Champions League (imagine Valencia, Ajax or Steua Bucharest in another European Cup final!). It becomes too predictable. And when suddenly the sun does not rise in the east, the world order crumbles. Seem familiar?

I became like the Western liberal elite, who cannot grasp why people would vote populist -– it is so stupid! It is illogical and irrational. But all the resentment of the Barça era now comes back for revenge. Their fantasy is coming true and mine is challenged. They have built an identity in face of hardships, losses and humiliations. Cristiano is their hero, and has finally lifted them to glory. Of course they will gloat, of course they will channel their resentment, regardless of its absurdity. It is their time and they can’t care less about Messi objectively still being a much better footballer. Screw him and all his stuck-up fanboys. We have invested in this, and now it is payback time.

Yes, for me, favoring Cristiano is the equaivalent of electing Trump (weird hair analogy, too). Or denying climate change. A fantasy people hold on to for one reason or another. I understand this. And I understand myself in this.

BUT -– it does not make it right. Understanding should not breed neither condescension, sympathy nor hatred. I must still oppose these forces (Cristiano, Trump, climate change). But I should not buy into the anger industry nor the self entitlement worldview, nor the martyr’s state of mind.

Stay calm and carry on.

So, finally, I will hope for two things: first, that I get my shit together to the extent that I will not need an escapist fantasy any longer, and second, that next year will bring the third coming of Messi –- that he will inspire another victory, Good defeating Evil once again. And that I can enjoy it for what it is. Go Frodo!

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Written by:

In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.

37 Comments

  1. dl
    June 20, 2017

    Davour: congratulations on stepping up! Always nice to hear more voices, whether it is a post or a comment (I haven’t read the blog for too many years, but I have fond memories of soccer mom’s contributions some years back, for example).

    You bring up some interesting points, in particular the idea of context. The game of soccer is, as you say, in essence quite simple. HOW it is done, however, is anything but. But that is just the game itself — when we layer on all manner of fantasies about what one team represents, trying to recast a match as a battle of good vs evil or righteous vs depraved, then it quickly devolves into a mess. Nobody is innocent in this: I cannot condemn another team or player or coach without completely accepting somebody else (an RM partisan, perhaps) slinging an equal amount of mud at Barca. So, I’m right, and they’re wrong? Only a child could argue that.

    This is a small scale replay of how humanity has stayed at war for, well, forever.

    But, if one can step back and enjoy the game and its performance as art and beauty, then there are no winners and losers. I started watching the sport in earnest ~15 years ago drawn by the pure expressions of joy and creativity (sounds a lot like art…) I was encountering. I may have become a convert for life (time will tell), but when the little man hangs up his boots, I may find my attention drawn elsewhere.

    • georgjorge
      June 20, 2017

      Thanks for the article, Davour, and nice comment here! Especially about layering on fantasies. From time to time, say, right before a Clásico, I have some moments where I look at all the people screaming and the players talked about like heroes and villains, and I think “wait, is all that really about some people we don’t know kicking a ball about on a pitch?”. How can one become a hero or villain, let alone a multi-millionaire, by playing that simple game?

      For me, football also has its fair share of escapism. And for that it’s ok to get tangled up in all the emotions surrounding it. But these moments where I see through it all are important to me, and for that alone I’ll never become a 100% Barcelona fan, despair and pure pleasure and everything.

      • Davour
        June 21, 2017

        Thanks! I guess the awareness of escapism will prevent you from ever fully engaging – as a contrast to people who actually view football as their primary focus in life. Still, I guess my issue, which prompted the article, was an inability to manage that my escape, my fantasy, didn’t provide solutions anymore, but problems, negative input. I guess I was drawn into the toxic debates.

        Pretentious as it may sound, writing this article really cleansed me of this – yes childish – notion.

        And yes, DL, Messi has set the bar so high, I too will struggle when he (and Iniesta) is gone. I watched a highlight reel of Hazard’s “best game of the season”, and compared it to one of Messi’s (vs Espanyol). Laughable, the comparison. I guess that’s what I have learned from this (and what Kxevin has known since long) – just laugh.

  2. omoh
    June 21, 2017

    Lovely article about the beauty of being a football fan. The emotions that follows the ups and downs of each teams achievements.

    Nice one Davour.

    Off the topic a little:

    Can someon please explain what barca is doing in the transfer market cos I don’t seem to understand the board anymore(not like that He ever convinced me anyway). They don’t seem to have a clear direction. Almost everyday comes with a new player being linked to the club except for the Verrati and Bellerin story with no visible progress being made.

    I just read on marca.com transfer market update that barca is in contact with paulinho and is also on some other online news platform. I don’t understand the plan of this board and I don’t even know of the new coach knows the game he wants to play or the players that will for into it.

    Apart from the fact that paulinho will be a misfit for this team and barca formation, having too many Brazilians on a team is a recipe for disaster. Mostly they’re not the loyal type and their lifestyles are always a negative.

    • Davour
      June 21, 2017

      Thanks! I think you should not put too much emphasis on rumours, OMHO; this time of year, especially, they are rarely reliable. Let’s hope they have an idea, and that Valverde is thoroughly involved.

    • Jim
      June 21, 2017

      I think the constant rumours but nobody with any real clue is exactly the way the board does and should operate. Hopefully one day we will all wake up to an exciting ( and appropriate ) signing ! Never believe or get upset till its official. I’m just really curious as the purchases will tell us a lot about Valverde’s potential approach. Btw, although we are all getting some downtime just read today that Celtic are back in pre training !

      Also gives me a chance to say, well done Davour. Excellent foray into writing !

  3. omoh
    June 21, 2017

    Thanks Davour and JIM. You guys just calmed my nerves a little. Going forward I’ll start to sieve the transfer rumour I read. Not like I don’t do that already but when I start reading them from more than one news outlet, I get a feeling that there’s more to it than just rumour.

    Like Jim rightly put it, I like many fans are just curious to know the kind of players the coach is buying in other to know what to expect from the team when the season starts. I don’t want a coach that doesn’t get involve or lend his voice to player purchases. This is because I’ve come to know that the barca board including the sporting director seem to know little about the game of football.

  4. dl
    June 21, 2017

    Here’s a comment that in many ways is diametrically opposed to my earlier one:
    At some point a few years ago I was watching something on Youtube about Argentina and Messi, and they were interviewing some old guy in Rosario or somewhere. He may have been an old soccer player but I don’t recall. Anyway, at one point he said ‘When I see Messi, I see God!’.
    My spontaneous response at the time was to burst out laughing at the absurdity of a soccer player evoking images of God, of a crazed south American football fanatic that eats, breathes, sleeps football, etc. etc.
    But what I find really interesting is that with time I have come to agree with him! I can now say that I understand how a person (I’m talking about Messi now) can perform a sport in such a selfless, creative, relentless, otherworldly, magical way that it causes spontaneous feelings of joy and reverence (in the viewers). For most of us that is not terribly different from our attitudes in a Church — I know for myself that I often feel that way when witnessing some transcendental performance of music or dance or theatre. In my view barca as a team embodies that approach more than any other I have seen, so I definitely have a soft spot for them. And, truthfully, I AM a partisan and it will be hard to walk away from them when Messi retires.
    But in the end, I am in search of Magic/Transcendence/Joy/God, and not in search of a person or a team.

    • Davour
      June 22, 2017

      Indeed. God, for me, would be a metaphor in this case: An example what humans are capable of, and pushing the boundaries, surpassing expectations. Genius is always fascinating, regardless of how it expresses itself. And that’s why it is so sad Messi’s brilliance has itself become the new expectation, one only he is judged according to, which means that in the end he must do better than anyone, than his former self, to be properly celebrated (if even then) by journalists, primarily. Other footballers know, of course…

  5. Tata2
    June 22, 2017

    what’s up with PSG takin hostage of a player that doesn’t want to play for them anymore? Isn’t this infringement on a human right?

  6. June 22, 2017

    @Tata2. Haha. Not sure you can use the words hostage and human rights when the guy is getting paid millions each year. He has a contract, which his owners have every right to force him to honour. If he wanted to leave so badly he should not have renewed last summer… I am sure he wont be losing any sleep at night in his million Euro mansion!

    On a separate note, does anyone know anything about this Lucas Lima guy we just signed from Santos? He looks pretty good on YouTube, but I dislike making any sort of player evaluation based on YouTube videos. Has anyone actually seen him play for Santos/Brazil who can comment on him?

  7. omoh
    June 22, 2017

    SOS! SOS!! SOS!!!

    Help barca is leaking front back and center and it is alarming that no one is doing anything to block the leaks but the most alarming is that no one is doing anything tangible to make sure it is being refilled.

    Jordi Mboula is gone, Eric Garcia has agreed to go to City now Dortmund is interested Lee Seung Woo. Just last year we let go of Sandro Ramirez and Munir.

    What is going on. Barca is disintegrating and no one is acknowledging it just because we have the MSN. It is even worrying that barca can t get a meaningful midfielder.

    Preseason is starting soon and we dont have a single central midfielder of note or a right full back that can carry the team for a season. No one to cover for Busquets or the MSN.

    Verratti saga is getting nowhere, Dortmund is threatening barca with law suit over dembele. This barca board are just bunch of failures.

    • Davour
      June 22, 2017

      Take it easy! Nothing new that youth players leave (when they are good enough, Fabregas, Alba, Piqué, etc., they come back! Others, like Sanabria, cause a stir but for little reason). It is still really early, and if there is any substance to the Verratti-rumours it will be a tough battle. The market is toxic and both Verratti and Dembele have long contracts. We’ll see where it all ends up, and I agree the transfers from last season do not inspire confidence, but let’s not go overboard with the pessimism just yet!

  8. omoh
    June 22, 2017

    The Mboula case is not a normal case considering that barca is in the market for dembele. Dembele may have more experience and maturity than Mboula but I believe if given the time Dembele would require to adapt to this team, he would definitely prove himself.

    Pique and Fabregas left at a time when barca was fully stocked in the midfield and the diffence. So their departure was understandable.

    Honestly barca don’t really need dembele. We would get him for a minimum of £44m and have him as a back up for the MSN? Who does that? £44m for a back up? And at the end of 2 years without enough playing time, his performance would’ve dropped and so his value. then we get a loss. Same thing that happened to Turan. Mboula would have gladly sat on the first team bench behind neymar and gradually improve. I’ve seem the guy play he is good enough for a coach that knows how to use kid prodigies.

    Same goes for Seung woo. at their age, Messi was a regular in the first team, Bojan was featuring frequently, same with tello, cuenca, rafinha, thiago but wat do we have now, a board that has started doing business the “Madrid way”. “The way” that led to Madrid winning just 2 La Liga in 9years.

    Its unfortunate 3years ago I wasn’t aware of this site. My comments and fears about LE’s team would have been recalled. This kind of situation is not what you regret immediately. They are the ones you regret in the future and barca is failing to learn from their mistakes.

    Last season we were in need of a back up but we chose to sell our brightest graduates for peanuts and get a flop for a huge sum. Now one of the graduates is an hotshot in the transfer market. Now we are back again to the same spot and yet again we have allowed Mboula to leave.

    We are in need of good center back, and being linked to different young prospects around the world and yet, our brightest graduate Eric Garcia is leaving for England.

    What happened to giving them contract and selling them with a buy back clause same thing we did with Delofeu?

  9. Ron
    June 23, 2017

    Our board has to take atleast partial blame for our performance in the transfer market over the past year or two.. Not just with purchases of players that weren’t forward thinking but with treatment of players themselves just take the case of Alves, who basically went on record to say the only reason he left us was due to the way he was treated by the board.. Alves is leaving Juve this season probably to man city when he could have just as easily been in barca or joined Barca this season if bridges weren’t burnt . And I’m really surprised how lightly our RB problem seems to be taken by the board .. we keep hearing about forwards and midfielders in transfer rumors but rarely about RB… We could last a season maybe without buying another MF/winger but our defensive frailities seem to be glaring and require immediate attention, hell, I’d go as far as to say lets buy another CB to give competition to Umtiti and Pique along with another RB and CM rather than spend 90mn on a Dembele..

    One could say we were carried the past decade by being incredibly lucky with getting multiple once in a generation (and one once in a century) players in our cantera for the cool price of free which masked our transfer blunders, though for every Hleb or three in the past we had a Ronaldinho too, that ratio of Hlebs to Ronaldinhos needs to change in the next few years with our team moving from a cantera based club to a more globalized one in the future.based on the trends in our B and other youth teams.

    • Davour
      June 23, 2017

      On the contrary, I think this was right on topic about the magic-maker, the creator pf phantasies that are so great they become a curse (as I indicated above in a comment). When greatness becomes normal, you won’t know it until it is gone. The thing with genius is that it is different, “other”. The article refers to the CR-Messi debate that my article covers, too, and again outlines why it is silly. It is a numbers game, the comparison, but while CR’s numbers are out of this world, his game is not – it is fantastic, but within the realms of logic and reason. For Messi, both are divine – with CR you expect goals, with Messi you expect the unexpected.

      And for the part where he looks disinterested and aloof – he is searching, I’m sure, for inspiration, for opportunity, for the swirling elements to come together in a pattern. Anyone having spent time with creative tasks know the feeling – only most people’s patterns are not that complex. Originality is not only coming up with the new, but to combine things in a new way, creating new patterns with what’s at hand. And man, does Messi do that.

      • Since there isnt much to read amidst the stupid transfer news’, I was listening to a podcast by Graham Hunter and Sid Lowe (by the way this was about la liga, but the most of it is around Barca, LE, Monchi , it is really worth its time!), some time early this year. And something is very clear. Most people, including the above dear writers, look at Messi as a very higher being than CR.

        • dl
          June 23, 2017

          Foto — can you post a link to that podcast with Sid Lowe and Graham Hunter? thanks.

          • DL, I just pasted the links, but then it says its awaiting moderation??? may be because of the links.
            You may search with the big interview Graham hunter and you should be able to find it. thanks.

  10. Jim
    June 23, 2017

    At the risk of defending the current board ( again?) I think it’s difficult to pass judgement at the moment. For me, the manager asks for players, probably quite often definite names and, if the board has trust in him they will go out and get them or if not the next on the list. I think we’ve done wonderfully well to get Neymar ( remember RM did everything they could to stop it and Brazilian transfers are murky at the best f times), Suarez who for me was the vital piece of the jigsaw missing for several years, Umtiti, TS and Bravo. At the same time we have produced pretty good financial results, pretty good onfield results and have negotiated a good deal going forward. We now face an incredible bill coming up for Pique, Iniesta, Messi ( I’m sure there are others) and we need to be sensible.

    Where, again for me, they have gone wrong, and again I have no info on the nitty gritty, is in their handling of LE. It would have been good if they had asked some questions about his plans for the midfield and the wisdom of just relying on getting the ball forward quickly, some questions about his reliance on Xavi in the first half of the season but phasing him out in the second ( which was one of the main reasons he left). Moving on, they should have asked if it was wise to tie Iniesta, the one playmaker left in the middle, down to a largely defensive role. For those who want to cut Rakitic some slack, how come he gets that and offers diddly going forward yet Iniesta had the more adventurous FB to cover for and he’s just ” old” ?

    Last summer should have been the tipping point. Again, the caveat that we don’t know the ins and outs but it’s probably fair to say the incoming mids were down to LE. Now, in the interests of full disclosure, I have to say I thought Turan would have been better ( one of my biggest errors in judgement along with Cesc’s return – still not completely sure why that didn’t work out better … ) but Rafinha, Suarez, Vidal, Gomes ? Come on. I’m prepared to listen to thoughts that the board didn’t intervene because they thought they were getting off lightly financially but that probably doesn’t fly because they will live or die on results. If there was ever a time to say to LE what are you on that was it. Yes, there will be those who will fight on well into the night in defence of them, that they will come good and to a degree I do subscribe to the year to adapt.

    However, usually you can see something the player has that just isn’t quite working at the moment. With them I just don’t get what LE saw as the potential ceiling. Gomes is never gonna think or move quicker or become a dribbler able to hang onto the ball in tough situations. At best he becomes a Rakitic, where he gets the hot potato and its away again like lightning. Suarez you’d have thought was the second coming but he plays now like he did before – able to perform an occasional dribble but very weak at Barca level passing ( watch him play with his head down) . Rafinha probably for me has the best chance of improving. He had a couple of games before his injury where I thought I saw glimpses but only a couple. Vidal I don’t really rate at all but may be proved wrong.

    Writing the last paragraph I had a horrible vision spring into my mind of a Gomes, Rakitic, Suarez midfield in the next couple of years and it frightened me. Honest question, would it not frighten you ? Yes, I know some think Messi can become a genuine part of the midfield but that would require four in the middle ( not the worst idea in the world) no defensive duties for him and that’s hard in practice, little width up front although I would love to see Neymar playing more centrally overall – less temptation to stop the ball and more chance of havoc as he runs at them drawing players central. So, Messi as mid isn’t an easy option. Needs to be well thought out and practised.

    With regard to La Masia it will always have to provide some players for our first team and that will require some patience. With LE gone I’m hopeful we may see some movement there but they need to get a decent chance and be good enough….

    I’m pretty sure things are going on frantically in the background but we just have to be patient and see. For me, a RB, a chance for Samper, Marlon as backup and a new setup and we’ll be ready to go. If we can add a top mid great but not at any price.

    • Well said Jim. If the comment by our director is true, then some big names are enroute to Barca. And this is exactly what am worried about. We are not really that much into La Masia, but onto big names, a la RM a few seasons ago. Thats worrying for me.

      Jim, am sure you are watching Germany in the confederations cup. Am jealous the way they are doing it, as if they are getting everything right on how to plan their future. To keep away all their stars and try out future talents for a major tournament, that is really something. I wish every FA and club had this kind of foresight.

      • Davour
        June 23, 2017

        I think we have always been into the big names, haven’t we? Just that for a while we managed to produce them ourselves, mostly. It’s rather the squad players that worries me – those, La Masia should be able to deliver with some consistency.

        But it is a tricky business, and it needs constant re-inventing of ideas and smart planning for the now and the later – where I agree with Jim, that this has not happened in a way that inspire confidence.

      • Jim
        June 23, 2017

        Yeah, Fotobirajesh. I’m afraid they are the same as always. Just too bloody efficient without ever exciting me.

  11. Víctor
    June 23, 2017

    Good read, Davour. But I think that you went too far out when you compared Cristiano to Donald Trump or Global Warming denying. LOL. Cristiano is a football player, a great football player (even if you despise him there’s no denying that), a social tendency but nothing more. The other two are influences that can potentially do a lot of harm to the world.

    However, overall is a good read and a good reminder to everyone in here that, at the end, this is nothing more than football and spectacle. A great thing to relax, distract ourselves from everyday matters/troubles and a perfect excuse to reunite with others and have a great time, but just that. Not worth it to start stressing or getting mad because someone else roots for the opposing team or thinks that certain player is better than “ours”.

    Even more, the players we admire and root for, yes, they may care about the fanbase and the team, but they sure as hell do not care if we start fighting with other football fans about which team is better or worse or which team is “evil”. So, for all the love we can have for determined players, let’s remind ourselves that they live in “another reality” and, eventually, they won’t be there playing for team any more. (Retirement, transfers, etc.) There’s no case idolizing anyone.

    A little offtopic: about Verratti’s drama. He now wants to force his exit out of PSG and, obviously, PSG does not want that. The thing is: there’s a contract that links him with the club for 4 more years. And PSG has the right to demand him to respect it. However, there must be some clauses that deal with that situation: when one of the parts do not longer wants to be linked with the other. Verratti should see on that and “force” his way out of PSG if he really wants to come to Barcelona that badly.

    • Davour
      June 23, 2017

      Well, I did not mean to literally compare CR with Trump or climate change! Only the logic of thinking, which I could not accept because it seemed irrational. But instead it was I who were irrational, in a sense, since there is a logic to all o fCR, Trump and denying climate change – only I don’t care for the premises of that logic.

      But again – tongue in cheek, of course. Like the heading states: this is about fantasy, not reality. Trump and climate change are dire reality, as is CR’s quality as a player (only surpassed by his quality as a marketable product!)

  12. Jim
    June 23, 2017

    Not a great fan of the player forcing his way out of a contract situation, Victor. If they sign a ( very,very lucrative ) contract which holds the club to certain behaviours then the player also has responsibilities. Would we accept the club refusing to pay the player until he performs better ? While he’s forcing his way out will he still accept wages from the club ?

    It’s why I’ve little time ( morally) for the actions of players like Masche and Abidal who forced their way to Barcelona by refusing to play for their clubs, if I recall correctly.

    • dl
      June 23, 2017

      The moral aspect of business is a touchy one. Business contracts exist precisely because one man’s vice is another man’s virtue. While individuals may be more or less ethical, it is nonsensical to expect a business to be ethical. One can only compel a business to act legally, and hope that its owners go the extra mile and do the morally good thing. There are various social levers that can be used to get people to steer companies more ethically, but the courts are the only tool to keep them legal.
      So a club can treat a player shabbily (Schweinsteiger at ManU), or well, and a player may behave well, or act counter to the terms of a contract. But in both cases the only recourse is as per the contract or sue in court. Both teams and players seem to me most often to make decisions for short term reasons — players obviously because they have a short shelf life, and teams because they are increasingly run as U.S.-type corporations concerned with quarterly earnings reports.

      • Jim
        June 23, 2017

        Some fair points, DL.

        Don’t know anything about the Man U situation but I do know that a long time ago when I withdrew my labour as a teacher ( ie. went on strike) the local authority were under no obligation to pay me ( and quite rightly didn’t ! ) Seems fair to me that clubs should be able to do the same although with the sums we are talking about that might take longer to bite than it did in my case . It’d be interesting to know if, in the cases of Masche and Abidal their clubs could have taken them to court to force them to play. Wouldn’t have worked because of the nature of the game of course but interesting nonetheless. I wonder if I’d said to my employers that I wasn’t returning to work because I wanted a transfer to a ” better” school what their response might have been 🙂

        Mind you, on the local authority side they also lost a generation of teachers prepared to run football teams in their spare time for nothing which really only hurt the kids so they didn’t much care.

        I’m sure that player’s contracts are a bag of ferrets generally. I know very little about them and that’s probably just as well.

        • dl
          June 24, 2017

          It is tempting to treat the situation of a teacher as an employee of a local school district the same as a premier league football player under contract with a club, but in fact they are only nominally the same. Yes, they are both employees, but the following are all true of football, and I suspect NOT true of nearly every ‘normal’ job you or I would ever do: The players are paid vast sums; the teams (especially the top ones) bring in even vaster amounts in revenue; media, clothing and shoe manufacturers etc. all are deeply entwined with both the players and the clubs, and want one, the other, and ideally both to remain front and center in the public’s eyes; the highest level of players are remarkable, yet are completely dependent upon the rest of the team to perform well; there is a nearly endless supply of youngsters nipping at the heels of the present roster of top players, and as soon as one stumbles somebody else is ready to slot into place, hoping to never give it up (until he moves to another team for a huge sum of money). Oh, I forgot the middlemen, brokers, organized crime consortiums who also ‘own’ and hence control many of the finest players…..
          So, employees they may be, but certainly nothing like any situation I am familiar with.

          • Jim
            June 25, 2017

            I’m sure there are as you say quite a few differences, particularly in the amount of money surrounding both but to me that makes poor behaviour worse. These players we are talking about are financially set for life after a few years at the top. Yes, it’s possible that they waste it but that’s down to them. It’s that financial comfort that means they can behave badly and get away with it.

            Other than that education isn’t a solitary activity. It’s not just something we do to the kids. For it to work we need the triangle of kids, parents and teacher to work together. Above that, as an (ex, yippee ! ) senior manager in a large secondary school , I’d have to say that, for me, the management has a huge part to play in creating the right climate for learning, choosing the best staff who need to be able to fit into the departmental teams, each with their own particular skills and mangling a finite budget.

            Where, again, they differ to me is that if a member of staff refuses to turn up to his job I can begin proceedings pretty quickly to remove them from that job whereas I’m not sure that clubs have the same abilities.

            So, for me, they aren’t, at heart, as different as all that. When you boil it down it’s still about behaviour. There’s certainly nothing so different that means we should condone bad conduct or disrespect for their employers or fans.

            Interesting topic, though, which keeps us away from talking about who is or isn’t coming.

  13. ikool
    June 24, 2017

    Nicely written, Davour, nicely written from start to finish. insightful and accommodating yet honest and bold enough to state ur personal views .Thanks for stepping up. Don’t hesitate to do so again whenever the inspiration comes

    • Davour
      June 24, 2017

      Thanks for the kind words and encouragement!

  14. Mishti
    June 24, 2017

    Great post, Davour. A very interesting viewpoint on football fandom, lovely writing too! Hope to read more of your work 🙂

  15. barca96
    June 25, 2017

    Hey Kxevin, I was reading this excerpt and thought of you as there was a mention of Jordan (23 Jordan);
    twitter.com/BarceIoniista/status/878584361993502720

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