Robert Hampton

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14th March 2013

Ball ball ball, footy footy footy

I have to love Manchester United fans.

Having spent £1000 on a season ticket, £50 on a replica strip and £250 on a Sky Sports subscription, they have, in the last week, finally cottoned on that the shareholders of their beloved football club are actually more interested in money than the game itself.

Yep, I think it’s fair to say I’ve always been mystified by football. From the reaction to Wayne Rooney leaving Everton, to the behaviour of “fans” attending a European cup game, I cannot understand anything about the game, or why a group of men kicking a ball around a field is a multi-million pound industry.

This isn’t snobbery (well, it is a bit, I suppose) – just my cold, logical mind and short attention span combining to ensure that the tension and excitement of a 90 minute football game is completely unappealing. I simply cannot get excited about “clashes” or “derbies” or anything like that. All those bombastic Sky Sports ads sound exactly like this Mitchell and Webb sketch (originally linked by me back in February 2008, and still just as funny now):

Living in Liverpool and not being interested in football is a huge disadvantage. I’m sure I get excluded from conversations and social events because of it (it’s either that or I have a hygiene problem no-one is telling me about).

Attitude Active Cover with Anton HysenSadly, no matter how hard I try, my interest in football is strictly limited to the game’s “last taboo” – namely, the presence (or lack thereof) of an openly gay player. There is precisely one out gay footballer: Sweden’s Anton Hysén, who has been mentioned in this blog a few times. He plays in the 4th division in Sweden, but that didn’t stop there being a minor media frenzy when he came out. I followed the reports with interest:

Every article I’ve seen about him makes me like him even more, because Hysén consistently comes across as a thoroughly decent, down-to-earth man. He speaks eloquently in interviews. His sexuality is a non-issue: to his team-mates and his manager, he is just one of the lads. He has experienced some homophobia from the terraces, but seems to be taking it in his stride.

It’s so refreshing to see someone so totally at ease with himself about being gay and what that means. In the second decade of the 21st century, sexuality is no longer the barrier it once was.

Sadly, no one has yet followed Hysén out of the closet and remained an active player. Even getting a West Ham player to pose for Attitude in tiny shorts didn’t have any effect.

Elsewhere, the passions of football can still cause otherwise normal people to say hateful things, like when Alan Davies attacked Liverpool FC for refusing to play on the Hillsborough anniversary.

I don’t for a second think that Alan Davies is an offensive person. But get a man to talk about football, and for some reason common sense goes out the window and angry nonsense seems to be the default level of conversation.

It’s worth remembering though, that along with all the stupidity, football can bring us wonderful things. Here’s a picture of Gareth Bale for no reason at all.

Gareth Bale

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3 Responses
  1. Comment by peezedtee
    14th March 2013 at 8:29 pm

    I can empathise with quite a lot of that. I too have absolutely no “proper” interest in football. I like blokes in shorts, that’s all. Unfortunately nowadays the shorts are too long and baggy. Around 1980 was the ideal time.

  2. Comment by Carrie
    14th March 2013 at 10:41 pm

    Hysen is the only out gay MALE footballer. Lots in elite women’s football.

  3. Comment by Robert
    14th March 2013 at 11:56 pm

    You’re quite right of course, Carrie. Sloppy writing on my part. Apologies.