Thursday 29 September 2022

Parents are easy scapegoats, and I’m sorry

In my last post, I criticised parents for buying their children, or allowing their children to buy, Paris St Germain shirts. I realise now I may have been hasty, even arrogant, in projecting that view.

Some of those children may not have a full set of parents living with them, or may not have parents at all, and last week, while I sat in the part-Saudi Arabia funded Sainsbury’s petrol station, I reflected that it was unfair of me to blame, for instance, a run-off-her-feet single mum or Dad, who might not be into football and it’s politics, for asking no questions about their son’s football shirt of choice. If it was a birthday or Christmas present, well it’s one job less to worry about. 

In my street, there is a Mum with two children, one of who wears a Manchester City shirt. There used to be a man living there, who I know to be a Tottenham fan, because he was blasting out Chas N Dave Spurs songs before their FA Cup semi final with Chelsea in 2017 and whooping with joy over Kane and Eriksen’s goals that ultimately only contributed to a  4-2 defeat. The Dad never shows up now, or rather I never see him show up, but whatever the situation the kid has presumably taken up with the best team rather than his dad’s. Does his mum, who I have seen going out to work, or at least wearing clothes promoting a business, need the bother of drilling down into the details of why he supports a club 300 miles away? Manchester City, eh? The best are they? I always thought they were rubbish; you sure it’s not the United shirt you want?

Maybe the mum is a City fan, can’t rule that one out, but in future when I see these oil-friendly shirts, I will try not to leap into the blame game, just as I’ll try not to blame them for letting their kids watch the World Cup in Gilead. We’ve all got so much going on, the kids are entertained, not missing out, not asking questions, and that’s cool because many of us are too distracted to have any answers. 

Monday 5 September 2022

Germain measles

It has been a summer of laughs, tears, intense heat and senseless squabbling over technology. Oh, and Paris St Germain kits. They are bloody everywhere. 

Wherever we’ve been during this six-weeks of school holiday turbulence, the Qatari-owned colours of sickening wealth, greed and oppression have been on show; Legoland, Ironbridge, Brighton, Canterbury - kids galore in PSG. There was an adult too, in my local shopping centre yesterday, wearing one. Kids, you can forgive, their parents less so. Lone adults, certainly disappointing. 

As I observed the growing number of these ill-informed or shameless specimens, I wondered what the motivation was behind it; what was it that first attracted you to the billionaires, Paris St.German? 

I assumed it must be a Messi thing, or a Neymar thing, or a Mbappe thing, and at Ironridge there was the remnants of Messi’s name on the back of a child’s shirt (all that money and they can’t even do the honour of making wash-proof material), and though I didn’t actually see any Neymar’s, there was a plethora of Mbappe’s. That said, in my local Tesco I noted a Wijnaldum, which sent me into a tailspin. 

Are these people actual PSG fans, or, as was apparently the case with all the Liverpool fans in my primary school days, is it just the shirt they like? As a child I had shirts other than Arsenal’s - Barcelona’s, Scotland’s, Denmark’s, Sweden’s; I had the Swedish one when I was 17 because I liked Tomas Brolin. Or, in an age of satellite television covering all major European leagues and inaccessible and unaffordable ticket prices (certainly in the Prem), are PSG as much a part of peoples lives as Man City? A couple of years ago, over the Adventure playground with my kids, I heard a child say they supported “Chelsea and Real Madrid.”

So, it is all the more uplifting when I see a child in a Watford shirt, as I also saw in my home town that same afternoon of the adult in PSG (Watford isn’t the town team, but the nearest professional one) or a Brighton shirt when we were in Portslade, just a few minutes from Brighton. I noted too, that these junior Watford shirts didn’t have a sponsor on them, even though the first team is regrettably sponsored by a casino company. Perhaps there is an option not to sponsor the sponsor when you buy. A case of more aware parents, perhaps. Literally Gambling Aware. Watford also cancelled a proposed friendly with the Qatar national team this summer after opposition from the club’s LGBTQ+ and Women’s groups. Good for them. 

It’s hard to be morally perfect, and to always keep the devil’s hand at bay, but a show of principled values is always welcome, unlike the PSG shirts. Anyway, the kids are back at school now, and there’s a lot of Spurs kits worn there, which has somehow become a righteous thing, if still deeply disappointing! 

End of season Premier League review club by club Part 2: 11-20

11th: Brighton & Hove Albion (48 points) Finishing one point behind your made up rivals must sting. A bit. It’s Millwall who hate Crysta...