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The Congo and modern football

Submitted by on May 19, 2013 – 3:55 pmNo Comment


AFL regular Chris Taylor wrote this for the ace Stand AMF fanzine:

A few years ago I went to Cuba for a couple of weeks of the three Ss – sun, socialism and shitloads of rum. Havana is, to quote a mate of mine, some place. It’s my kind of town. Mooching is big business there. Everyone mooches. Some people mooch for a purpose, others mooch because that’s all there is to do. I mooched because I was on holiday, and because, well, I know nothing else.

I did my best to immerse myself as much as I could in local culture and history. Not because I’m some hoity-toity intellectual (though I am, obv), but because immersing yourself in local culture and history mainly involved looking at boss murals of Castro, Guevara and Cienfeugos whilst necking a ridiculously strong Cuba libre and smoking a cigar fatter than Anderson after a month of Bem Brasil half-price lunch offers.

While over there I read Richard Gott’s ‘Cuba – A new History’. It was as dry as all fuck and very nearly ruined the holiday for me, but once I start a book I have to finish it. (Except for my first choice for that holiday, ‘Dirty Havana Trilogy’ by Pedro Juan Gutierrez, which opened with graphic depictions of foreplay and anal sex, leaving me to question if it was ideal pool-side reading. Nah man, best leave that tome for a room with a lock, I reckon.)

While Gott’s book was the literary equivalent of jogging through knee-deep golden syrup, there were bits that made it all worthwhile. Did you know, for example, that Castro never used the word Communist in relation the revolution until they courted Khrushchev and the Soviet Union’s help during the early part of the 60s, a period of history so accurately documented in the film X-Men: First Class?

There was also an interesting passage concerning Che Guevara’s time in The Congo. To paraphrase very crudely, there was some argument between the Congolese rebels, and their Cuban revolutionary partners over the goal of their war. Guevara was looking to further the plight of Internationalism, a Continental cause to overthrow Western Imperialism. The Congolese just wanted to win their sodding freedom.

Was this not somehow applicable to us as football fans at FC United and beyond? I wondered. Is this not exactly the issue we face today? I mused. I put the question to my (now ex) girlfriend.

“Here, Kelly…” I started, placing my book down on the floor and taking a large mouthful of Bucanero, a local lager that tastes so dirty it could be a chapter in a Pedro Juan Guitierrez novel. “Do you not see parallels between Guevara’s time in the Congo and the fight we have as football fans today? Should we place aside petty parochial squabbles to further the cause of football fans in general? Or do we ignore wider issues to concentrate on furthering our own club’s agenda?”

Kelly stopped reading whichever Stieg Larsson she was on at the time and peered over the top of her sunglasses. “Chris. I’ve told you countless times. I don’t like football. I don’t care about football. I don’t know anything about football. Stop talking to me about fucking football.”

But I was right. Of course I was. I tend to be on matters of, well, everything. Take the recent Manchester city ticket price hoo-hah. Did we as rivals see this as a prime opportunity to make a stand that would benefit us all, or did we use it as an excuse to take the piss out of city fans not being able to sell out a ludicrously expensive allocation?

Well the answer is both, actually. There was plenty of support from rival fans for their stand, but also loads of point-missing and cheap point scoring. And an opportunity to show solidarity and a unified front as football fans was missed. Good work, dickheads!

Recently Liverpool and Manchester United fans have joined together to make a stand over the ridiculous spiralling of ticket away ticket prices. This isn’t the first time the two great rivals of English football have joined together to make an ineffective protest against something or another. But the result of the protest/movement almost isn’t important at this stage. What’s important is that fans are willing to put rivalry at arm’s length and do something for the greater good.

Success can wait. Success will come after people work out that paying £62 for a ticket in order to wave a bed sheet protest saying £62 for a ticket is ridiculous is, well, ridiculous. This is exactly the sort of protest the clubs will love. They’ve got your money, and within thirty seconds of unfurling it they’ll have your banner an all, under some spurious fire or health and safety regulation. If you genuinely, honestly have a problem with ticket prices, then hell, don’t go to the fucking match. Simple as. But that’s probably another article entirely.

History has shown us that controlling powers use differences and rivalries to control the masses. Divide and conquer, they call it. At least they did when Nasty Nick utilised it in Big Brother 1. The Tories are doing it to us today, turning public sector worker against private sector worker. And while we’re all fighting amongst ourselves, we’re not fighting the real enemy. Them.

Football is exactly the same. Without the rivalry there is no product. Hell, there is no football. The Premier League and Sky realise this and play on it with rousing background music, flashing text, and capital letters TWENTY FOUR FUCKING SEVEN. Endless looped videos of controversial incidents. Intense scrutiny of fuck all in order to create a story where there is none. Incendiary reporting. The whole fucking Sky Sports News channel. All tools to hype their product and keep fans from realising the enemy isn’t the badly dressed city fan in Lacoste trainers and Kappa manager’s coat, but the men in suit themselves.

I’m not asking for a widespread ceasefire and hideous hippy love-in or owt like that. I guess I’m just asking for a bit of other people’s shoesism. Next time a rival fan group try and make a stand against something or another, no matter how frivolous, try and find a way of laughing your tits off at them without undercutting the whole point of their protest. Because every time we do, we’re holding ourselves back just that little bit longer.

For more aceness visit Stand AMF’s website at: STAND!

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