Some things to bear in mind before publicly announcing you think politics have no place in football, courtesy of the excellent Llandudno Jet Set:
The parts of the internet that have held my recent attention have been full of football secularisation debate anger. Lots of angry people have been getting really angry about the fact that some people seem unable to separate politics from football. The anger has seeped out of both ends of the political spectrum.
From the primordial swamp end the massive, and politically significant, group “The Pie And Mash Squad” “think” Clapton FC should be forced out of business. The intellectual vanguard of the racist moron movement don’t like the smelly bearded leftard Clapton fans displaying “political” flags because that kind of thing is against “FA rules” or something. A quite literally massive amount of non-threatening vanguardists have consequently threatened to stage non-threatening, non-political and, above all, peaceful demonstrations until the smelly bearded leftards go home for a wash.
So what’s it to be then, eh?
From the smelly bearded leftard end some followers of the club I co-own, FC United of Manchester, have decided that they’ve really had enough of that politics. The feelings on message boards and facebook groups has been coalesced in the “LOVE UNITED, HATE POLITICS” flag at Boxing Day’s match.
To be fair to the people that want a secularised football, there’s nothing remotely political in 22 millionaires kicking a bag of air about while 50,000 people pay 70 quid to silently consume the glorious product. Well apart from the idea that to get anywhere in football you need a set of players that works together to achieve a common goal via the principle of communally agreed roles.
On the other hand, there was this interview with the Super Furry Animals that I read more than a decade ago. During the interview the interviewer described the SFA’s position on adverts – No allowing capitalists to use their music – as “political”. The comment led to Gruff’s explanation of the band’s political position.
Gruff conceded that the SFA’s position was “political” but then pointed out that the opposite position – musicians freely allowing companies to use their music in adverts – was also “political”. Gruff stated that when musicians allow their art to be used commercially they uphold the exploitative nature of the capitalist mode of production. Therefore musicians were acting politically by not acting politically.
Since I realised that Gruff’s idea is as applicable to football as it is to music it has been both a good comeback and the maxim that governs my outlook. Doing nothing, or being consciously apolitical, is a political act whether people like it or not, it helps the ruling class to rule through complicity.
Some of the “Non-political political” acts football fans perpetrate include; Turning their minds off because you’re at “the football”, deluding themselves that they’re part of the “we” because of a replica shirt, buying Murdoch’s products, bantering themselves to death.
If doing nothing or acting and looking like a dick is a political act you might as well do the opposite. Here’s the XXXXXXXXX Jet Set guide to being a more political football fan.
1. Resist corporate football
Corporate football is the version of football that belongs to Gazprom, Nike, Murdoch and Blatter rather the likes of us. It is responsible for the champions league, the premier league, third party player ownership and season tickets that cost £2018.
Corporate football has thrived because people looked away. People didn’t have to believe in corporate football but they willingly chose to follow the lies, the spin and the glossy PR, as Steve Biko once said;
“The greatest weapon in the hand of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.”
The first and most important “political” act a football fan can undertake is to resist the grasp of corporate football. The first step to resisting is being aware that there’s another way to “do football”. As people become aware of the other ways they will be reminded that football is tied to people and community rather than money and shiny PR glamour.
When people make the simple decision to resist everything else follows. If enough people resist change will naturally happen. The carelessness of people got us in to this situation, the righteousness of people will get us out.
2. Resist Murdoch
Buying a Murdoch media product is not a perquisite to enjoying the football.
3. Humanise other fans
Why hate someone merely because they’ve acted in the same way as you? All fans made a decision to be interested in football, all fans decided to follow a club. What’s the point in hating someone merely because their club plays in other colours? People generally live in the same sort of houses, eat the same sort of food and wear the same sort of clothes as the fans of your club.
Why regurgitate the execrable humour of Soccer AM? No-one cares that you think you can do what you want, or that you want to go home, least of all the local residents.
We need to humanise other fans by acting normally with them. To put this more simply. DO NOT USE THE BANTER. NEVER STOOP TO THE BANTER. Using “The Banter” is wrong, it turns people into morons and alienates you from your fellow fans.
Having said that there are still people that deserve contempt – comedian chanters, pricks, racists, those that tolerate corporate football – don’t hate them, they’re still humans, they can be changed.
4. Think Global, Act Local*
*This point refers the wrong sort of fans, rather than ex-pats. I think we all know what sort of fans are “the wrong sort of fans”.
Paying 60 quid for a polyester advert doesn’t bestow membership of the “we”. Turning up at the pub on a Sunday in your personalised replica shirt and shouting a lot doesn’t turn you into a massive fan of whomever. Enjoying a season ticket holder discount for the coaches and being in with the clique that controls your area’s supporters’ club doesn’t allow you to look down at the fans of “lesser clubs”.
There’s no moral superiority in standing at pub counters and shooting dismissive glares towards people that obviously don’t support a proper team or disrespecting the people from another place by dismissively labelling the area around “your” ground as a shithole.
When everything is boiled down, propaganda has been swallowed, Murdoch has been paid and local clubs has been traded for glamorous ones. Think global, act local. Have a look at the local football options and do something useful in your own community.
5. Volunteer at your local club
If you really want to feel the glow of righteousness volunteer.
6. Help organise a General Strike in football
This idea was mentioned in Issue 2 of Stand. A general strike would be a great time to be alive.
Imagine a mass withdrawal of interest and attendance. A month without fans, a month of empty grounds, empty official Murdoch pubs and disused club shops. Then imagine a second and a third month. Imagine everyone standing together, united by a common desire to make things possible.
A general strike may be a little more utopian but we can make it happen, as the Stand article told us we have nothing to lose but our chains. We can all miss a few matches for the greater good.
Political change can be easy if you want it to happen.