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!