Down with the World Cup! Featured

Why do I hate the World Cup? For the same reasons Lenin did. The brain of the Bolshevik revolution liked listening to classical music like Beethoven’s but he gave it up. It interfered with his work. His mind had to focus on one single pursuit – the revolution. Everything was sacrificed to that. Hence music had to go.

The priest too, as radical Christian, is a revolutionary. He is and cannot not to be. For the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. A Kingdom which ‘suffers violence’ so that ‘men of violence take it by force’ (St Matthew, 11: 12). Heaven demands that Earth should submit and conform to its dictates. Admittedly it costs me nothing to forsake watching the Cup because I loathe football. It bores me to death. Why should I avidly gaze on morons in shorts kicking around a pig’s bladder? But this is not about taste – it is about the revolution.

Opposition to the Cup is strong even amongst football-crazy Brazilians. People have marched in Sao Paulo protesting against the colossal waste of money, better used helping the indigent. That is correct, though a contingent matter. If football mildly relieved the poor, it would still be a counter-revolutionary pursuit. The Somali militants, al-Shabab, get it. They have declared football un-Islamic. Folks who are caught watching the Cup incur their…ahem… displeasure. It makes sense. Football is reactionary. I wish some of my online radical Muslim friends who seem hooked on this nonsense realised its true nature.

Not just football. In July 1948 the Italian Communist leader, Togliatti, was shot by a far right youth. Revolution was about to break out when…cyclist icon Gino Bartali won the Tour de France. The same fiery proletarians who had shouted ‘Viva la Rivoluzione!’ hours before, poured into the streets crying ‘Viva Gino Bartali!’ Italy was saved – depending of course on whose side you are.

Marx and Engels’ Communist Manifesto boasts a celebrated line: ‘Religion is the opium of the people’. Surely false but Lenin put a twist on it, in his own wicked ways. He called religion the opium for the people. The latter preposition is crucial. M & E opined that the proles drugged themselves willingly on the supernatural hopes Christianity offers. Lenin’s attack was more insidious. For him religion was an opium the bourgeoisie deliberately administered to the masses, to stupefy them into submission. To divert their minds away from the revolution. Now that in the West religion’s influence is either marginal or merely ceremonial, football has arisen as the new, powerful opiate. Fed daily on massive doses to the screaming, hysterical multitudes. And it works…

I am sorry to say this but… women football fans…no, this is NOT misogyny! The priest has no problem with female cops (Russian blondes, especially), female pilots, rubbish collectors, philosophers or…you name it. But there is something inexplicably, atrociously hideous about the females of the species seen on TV yelling and raving about the human chimps jumping about on the pitch. Only a fiendish conspiracy against the ladies could engineer so horrible, so unnatural a spectacle. The media of the British regime (yep – the right word!) plug football and other mass spectator sports as contributing to harmony and cohesion in society. But do you recall the 2011 fearful urban riots? They showed how thin, how false is the appearance of such harmonies in our ‘communities’. In reality many city centres and districts succumbed to violent, rampaging mobs, looting and burning. Suddenly, the pretence of social ‘cohesion’ was stripped off. You were back to Hobbes’ bleak universe where ‘man is wolf to the man’. Or were the rioters perhaps potential revolutionaries who had sussed out the truth? Who refused being narcotised with football? A year later the Olympic Games were held and again the regime pompously blabbed about sport producing harmony etcetera. But what really told the truth? The Games or the riots?

An online article by Shaj Mathew discusses the great Argentinian writer J.L. Borges’ animadversions against football. Borges, a deeply conservative man, detested and feared all mass movements. His criticism stemmed from an aristocratic scorn for the descamicados, General Peron’s working-class supporters. He believed the game fostered nationalism and fanaticism, even fascism. Maybe true of Argentina but not quite of Spain. During the Civil War Franco’s followers rooted for bullfights, while football fans were for the Republic. Anyway, today the game’s apologists bang on about its supposed democratic and inter-racial virtues. They furiously condemn nationalisms and totalitarianisms. Borges’ objections thus are wrong-headed. His genius was essentially literary and poetic, not political or theological. Sport is an English word and so is football. Though its remote origins go back to China and Greece, by the 19th century the game emerges in English public schools. An activity for gentlemen later degenerated into one for yobs. Interestingly, England is the country which has been spared a major, violent revolution in modern times. (The 1688 so-called ‘glorious revolution’ was neither glorious nor a revolution.) That was sometimes put down to the rise of Methodism but…why not the influence of sport? Of football?

Anyway, the World Cup has resulted in tears, utter defeat for England. Technical reasons are no doubt invoked yet…could it be the wrath of Heaven? Judgment from God? A Heaven whose revolutionary will is ignored, affronted, even defied by the hooligans on the pitch and their all too often simian fans? My money is on that.

Frank Gelli I am an Anglican priest and cultural critic and commentator. I have BA in Philosophy, MA in Christian Ethics, MA in Islamic Studies, PGCE in Religious Education and Oxford Certificate in Theology. I have been a journalist & drama critic in Italy and England.
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