Monday 18 November 2019

The commentators’ cultural curse

Many thousands of years ago, a week and a bit before the beginning of this November's international break, a Champions' League infringement took place that has, until now, been overlooked.

The incident took place in Borussia Dortmund's Signul Iduna Park, just five minutes into the hosts' game against Inter Milan in Group Z of the, some say, inflated competition. UEFA had arranged the game, organising a ref and everything, but no, it is not them responsible for the misdemeanour that has only just now, a little belatedly, come to light.

Some time past the eve of those five minutes, Inter Milan's Argentinian striker, Lautaro Martinez,  blitzed his way through the Dortmund defence and slammed his shot past Roman Burki to open the scoring. Up until this moment, the biggest blot on the commentators' network when describing a goal against a German team came 20 years ago when Clive Tyldesley, reacting to a far later strike, ruthlessly, scandalously and with much mock, inquired after the disappearance of Bayern Munich's back line while desperately hoping no one had heard or could remember Barry Davies' almost exact words from the 1988 Olympic Hockey Final between England and West Germany.

Until this moment.

With the net still rippling from Martinez's crack, BT Sport's BBC words man, Guy Mowbray, tried to take the heat off C to the T with a remark allegedly linking the heritage of the goalscorer with the hot form he is currently in.

"He's smokin!", Mowbray announced, using the goal just scored as evidence.

Guy knows what he's done, but is failing to admit it. "He's smokin!" is not the normal response of a commentator to a goal, or indeed of any sane, rational human being to any instance of excellence. He could argue that he was just trying to engage with the 'kidz' by referencing 25 year old film The Mask, but the cold hard facts are that Martinez is from Argentina, and Argentinians, like Cesar Luis Menotti for example, are known for smoking a lot.

Mowbs', if say, interviewed by fellow BBC observer, Emily Maitlis, might claim that Argentinians have an illusionary effect on him, such as was apparent in the World Cup of 2018 when the selection of the South Americans' full back, Mercado, sent him into a sweaty or not tailspin that humiliatingly resulted in a stream of toy-car related "jokes" only marginally less awkward than a member of the aristocracy being caught bantzy-ing around with a famous criminal. 

But Mowbs' has previous, having once mimicked the American accent of former Sunderland player, Jozy Altidore, going full "Oh my Gad!" when catching his dugout response to a goal by Sergio Aguero (admittedly another Argentinian... ok, maybe Mowbs' isn't entirely fibbing).

I myself cannot declare whiter than whiteness, for a start I subconsciously used the term "blitzed" in the lead up to describing Martinez's goal against Germans, but while I hold my hands up (Maradona) to that one, the "smokin!" Argentinian stereotype, triggered or otherwise, can only ever be an unforgivable, regrettable, mis-steak.        

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