Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Il famoso fair-play

It has always made me laugh that the Italians have no words for fair play. They say: "il fair play".

Tonight the commentators on Arsenal-Liverpool have been discussing this "English virtue" (ha!) in terms which might surprise the English media, currently undergoing one of the mass handwringing exercises with which it intermittently intersperses its relentless jingoism. I have been lent a small telly by a kind friend of mine, P, a chap I met in the Sud and who has a spare set on the grounds that two 42" flat screen tellies in a one-bedroom flat is probably enough already, and the third TV can be safely sent out on loan to play out its final years at a lower level (i.e. being used sporadically by someone who hasn't had any kind of TV for about 4 years now). So using this exciting new technology I have been watching Arsenal draw frustratingly with bloody Liverpool in an annoying way.

Anyway, when Hleb broke through impressively into the box skipping past several challenges only to be brought down by ?Kuyt?, the commentators both felt it should - or at least could - have been a penalty. One then pointed out to the other the astonishing lack of protests about the decision:

"Neither Wenger nor the home players are protesting to the referee, they seem to have accepted the decision."
"Indeed, an impressive display of sporting behaviour."
"Absolutely, it's right that when others display superior behaviour to us here [in Italy] that we should acknowledge it."

Superior behaviour?? Sporting conduct? ha. Of course, the same handwringing media who are lamenting the current handcart -> hell vector in English football would probably still feel happy to assert the greater sportingness of the English over the Foreigner, especially of course the Italian, long accepted as the epitome of dirty cheating. But really, to be lavished with praise for... not arguing with the ref over a slightly contentious decision? since when was following the rules worthy of special praise?

Surely "an impressive display of sporting conduct" should require some special *positive* action, not merely the absence of bad behaviour? or am I hopelessly out of date?

6 comments:

chris c paul said...

Nah- unquestionable respect for authority is the new black spanglyprincess. Together with 'serious dabates' about immigration, and 'serious debates' about benefit reform. In this way football is just reflecting England's growing conservative geist.

possibly.

john said...

Given the culture of English Football dominated by Wenger, Mourinho, and Ferguson, where actively manipulating referees is part of the game, it is commendable to see players not mobbing the ref and arguing every call.

There's a great Rio Ferdinand quote from after last year's Roma match where he complains about not being able to talk with European ref's like you can English ones.

Brian said...

The best part of this is the idea of Arsenal as bearers of English virtue, despite the fact that they haven't started an Englishman since around the time when they first signed Joan of Arc.

Spangly Princess said...

but Brian, Arsenal will be imbued with English qualities by their manager... er... their major shareholders, no wait, their sponsor... erm... I think Arsenal Ladies are all English? is that any good to you?

John I remember that, yeah. lovely stuff.

TrentToffee said...

yeah those cheating belarusian/french things. Trying to pretend they're English with their fair play :0)

Mind you, it has to be said. The Sky commentators do come out with the most awful guff. Especially the English ones.

Anonymous said...

slightly contentious decision???????