Let me state this without fear of equivocation, to make sure there is no reading between the lines, no interpretative hooraw:
It is impossible for me to hate That Other Spanish Team any more than I do right now.
Just so we’re clear.
For those who have been sleeping on the news, Sergi Busquets has been cleared of all charges by UEFA, and will be playing in the Champions League final against Manchester United.
Whether justice has been done (some say) or “He knows what he did” (one BritJourno says, aping the worldviews of others) doesn’t matter. Not to me. I’ve been clear on this from the outset.
But That Club has managed to comport itself in such a vile, disgusting way that it is impossible to feel anything other than revulsion for it right now.
Make no mistake, when I became a cule, I began to dislike them. When I became a soci I grew to hate them. At present, I don’t have an appropriate word for the emotions that said entity rouses in me.
Because what it has done is the equivalent of a spoiled child who loses as checkers, then name-calls because he is upset. Because they couldn’t handle their business on the pitch, we became cheats, divers and racists. How dare they allege that WE have committed unsporting actions?
In the dimwitted, reprehensible, ultimately Pyrrhic war they have waged in the media in the wake of getting their asses handed to them this season, they have damaged us, themselves and Spanish football as a whole. Instead of two of the best club sides in the world, we are laughingstocks.
Nice work, idiots.
When we hung losses on previous EE coaches they took their lumps, did the press conferences and vowed to work harder. Like men. Then they were fired. In 2009, we hung a 2-6 on them in their house, and here’s an excerpt from one press report after the match:
XXXX coach Juande Ramos said Barça deserved to win.
“We have lost a lot of the hope we had about winning the league,” he said. “We still have to put all our effort into the competition. Of course it’s difficult and much more difficult than before.”
What would their coach say in the here and now? After the manita he was reasonably gracious, because he could afford to be. Nothing had been decided yet. In the wake of the home draw that effectively decided the Liga, and our eliminating them in the Champions League, the kid gloves came off.
–We were cheats and divers, disreputable, unsporting louts.
–We’re in cahoots with UEFA to win matches.
–Sergi Busquets said racist things to Marcelo.
–It didn’t bring the allegations against us. UEFA decided in its wisdom to pursue them on their own. Besides, Barça started it. And yet, the UEFA document concerning the decision states very clearly, “The report lodged by XXXX XXXXXX CF concerning racial abuse against Marcelo by FC Barcelona player Sergio Busquets has been dismissed due to a lack of strong and convincing evidence.”
Yes, the racism allegation is the one that has generated the most commentary and discussion in these parts. But as a collective grouping, That Club should feel shame. It should apologize to us, Marcelo, Busquets and all of world football. Simply put, a world-class club isn’t supposed to act like that. It doesn’t matter if that club has world-class players on the pitch, because on the pitch is only part of the battle.
The other part is how a club comports itself off the pitch, and after matches. What did Arbeloa say to Keita, that drove the preternaturally calm Malian midfielder to violence and caused our reserve keeper, Pinto, to come to his aid/defense? Good question. Some have suggested that it was a racist slur. Keita hasn’t said anything, however, and neither has the club. No press releases, no UEFA complaints, no official statements on the club Web site.
Whether this is right or wrong is immaterial. This isn’t the time nor place for a discussion about whether Keita should have reported the incident, had one occurred. And I don’t even want to get into the Marcelo inci …. yes, I do.
There is an old joke that a man is asked about whether he beats his wife by asking him “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?” The joke is that the question is impossible to answer because however you answer, you’re an abuser. No. Wife beating isn’t funny. Far from it. But as with the way they leveled the racism charge at Busquets and tangentially at the club, it is fundamentally impossible to deal with, unless done immediately.
As I’ve previously discussed, the club didn’t and the train of public opinion went berserk. The BritPress say we’re racists, self-serving crap that is rooted in the fact that we will be able to field our strongest club for the CL Final, which might once again damage their puff-chested claims that the Premiership play the best football ever witnessed by modern man.
“He got away with one,” many will claim. For me, that isn’t the point. We don’t know, and we will never know. It’s “he said, he said,” in a case that wasn’t proved to a degree sufficient to satisfy UEFA. The point is that those vicious, sore-losing spoilsports weren’t content with losing on the pitch. They wanted to make us lose off the pitch, to taint our victories in a way that made it clear that (to them and their supporters) the best team didn’t win, that were it not for all the conspiracies, racism and diving, justice would have been done.
And that is just wrong. I don’t mean wrong, prima facie. I mean morally wrong, and a violation of every tenet of good sportsmanship. When we were defeated by them in the Plat del Reig final, we moved on. We congratulated them, and moved on. Could we have said it was more rugby match than football match, cried to the Liga to investigate and called them bullies, thugs and heinous miscreants? Sure. But thankfully, that isn’t how we roll.
I said before in a previous thread, that no matter what happens, we shouldn’t let this campaign of theirs bear fruit in damaging our view of our club, and dividing us as cules. I still believe that. I know that people think that I believe that Busquets did it, am on a soapbox, have “personal problems,” blahblahblahblah. Don’t let them win. If we let them win, everyone loses.
They might yet issue a very public apology, but I doubt it. I don’t see the club that has behaved in the way that one has, apologizing for anything. But just as our club should have said something in the Busquets matter immediately, That Club should have already apologized. It should have been done weeks ago.
It was the heat of the moment, 4 Clasics in a row that spawned so much hate that people aren’t behaving normally. No. Wrong. It isn’t our fault that they spent so much money for so many players with so little result, then spent even more on a coach who was supposed to get the most from all that money. And let’s be clear about this, we aren’t innocent, either. We embellished fouls, and went down as if thunderstruck from the slightest contact. We, too, owe some folks some apologies for those incidents, for doing a disservice to the beautiful game that we play 99.9 percent of the time.
That probably ain’t gonna happen, either. And not to excuse our club, but the actions of two players during that one match don’t weigh on the collective negative karma like the nonsense that they have perpetrated. Were we right not to fight fire with fire, tooth and nail? Yes, even though I believe we erred in not quashing the Busquets business immediately.
But as my mother always says, the best view is from the high road.
Speaking of ass ….
Next season’s home shirt has been leaked. It was for sale and on full view at the Nike e-commerce site. It has since been yanked down, so forgive me for not putting up a pic of it. Actually, don’t forgive me. It’s asstastic, an ocular abomination made even worse by the immense, gold “Qatar Foundation” on the front of it. We could have had a picture of two dogs humping on the front and it would have been more palatable to me than the living, silkscreened embodiment of a club that sold its soul for a few bucks.
How does it look? T-shirt collar, closely grouped stripes, blaugrana prison stripes say those poetic types who feel like just a little bit of the club’s soul is being held prisoner for as long as Qatar Foundation remains on the front of our shirt.
From a Twitter follower: What I get out of this is both clubs do not think racism is a serious issue, by their actions and statements & that saddens me.
That is the lingering effect in the wake of this Busquets crap. And it underscores my rage. Some believe it should “Yay, for us! He isn’t racist, didn’t say those things and we can go back to being Barça. Yay for us!” Not so fast. This club will never be the same again to many cules, because there has been an unseemly incident introduced by those allegations. As everyone knows, clubs can start black players and have racist fans. That isn’t going to change in my lifetime. Maybe the young’uns like Eklavya have a shot at seeing that crap go away. We can remain optimistic.
Player choices are rooted in the expedience of the result-based world of professional football. Barça didn’t start Thuram, Abidal, Eto’o, Henry and The Yaya because it wanted to be a Benetton ad. It started them because they wanted to win matches, and championships. Can this mean that the club felt comfortable starting those players because the stands weren’t teeming with froth-mouthed racists? Absolutely. It can. But it doesn’t necessarily.
This case for me illustrates perfectly why I’m always ambivalent about players. I don’t care about Busquets as a player. It don’t care about any of our players as players. Their results matter to the club, and it is the club that matters to me. So I don’t love or hate Busquets, which makes it easy for me to say that whether he did it or not doesn’t matter. Doubt will always linger in the minds of some, just as a relieved sigh will escape from the lips of others.
What I know is this: Our club has been damaged. In less than a month, we went from being paragons of the Beautiful Game, to cheating, racist scum in too much of the world’s press. Our actions are in part to blame. But to a much larger part, it’s the actions of a vicious, bitter rival that should know better. It probably did know better. And it did know better and still didn’t do the right thing, makes me say damn them. Damn them to hell.