A handshake is more important than a cause

Posted by SMD on February 12, 2012, 03:31:30 PM

I don't need to describe what happened. Frankly, I don't want to. I don't care. Really, I don't. I have better things to do with my life. I have assignments and studying to do, I probably need to go do some shopping later, maybe catch up with my family and see how they're getting on. My little sister's growing up, bless her. Doing her GCSEs.
In the world of football, there are more pressing matters. Does Stewart Downing have the mental fortitude to be a Liverpool player? Do we face another summer of transition and rebuilding? What will happen with the new stadium?
Even more important, what's happening with the coalition? Will they force through the NHS reform bill that everyone is opposed to? How will the chancellor propose to combat shrinking growth and unemployment? Is the country going to prosper in the next few decades and will we have the infrastructure to allow for that growth, if we're not investing now?

If you look at the news, you'd think that Luis Suarez killed Whitney Houston. Throughout history, there have been handshakes that resonated around the world. Genuinely important moments like the Middle Eastern peace process, when a handshake means a lot more than just two people agreeing or greeting each other. I'm sure you could spend an afternoon listing sporting handshakes that genuinely had a lasting impact but you would be hard pushed to justify the furore over yesterday's non-event.
Everyone remembers the fiasco between John Terry and Wayne Bridge but no one cares about it any more. No one brings it up and it would've probably be consigned to a Rory McGrath bloopers DVD available at every store of Poundland if it wasn't for yesterday.

The media, the fans and to a small extent the club are completely missing the point when trying to dissect who's at fault for the situation. It really doesn't matter, it's a fucking handshake designed to allow the Premier League to stamp more copyrighted material over their 'product'. That's what the anthem and the sign is for. So I don't care.

What I do care about is how racism has completely devolved into a political issue rather than a social cause. The head of FARE, Piara Powar, abuses a Liverpool fan on Twitter due to his ethnicity. Let me repeat: The head of an organisation tasked with fighting racism in football abuses a fan for his opinion, referring to his ethnicity. By Evra's own admission, he refers to Suarez' origin. Seemingly neither are in the wrong. Alex Ferguson and Gordon Taylor repeatedly refer to racism as being against 'black players'. Is that what it comes to? Is it only racist if you're abusing someone who is black?
The complete failure to address the cause looks to have roused a wave of people too stupid to be trusted to tie their own shoelaces in using racist language as a sort of anti-establishment movement, just like the copycat riots of last year. That too was a result of an inability of authorities to respond to an initial situation that - rightly or wrongly - had erupted and needed to be nipped in the bud. Instead, they stuck their heads in the sand until it was too late and all they could seemingly do was wait for the fire to burn itself out - sometimes literally.

John Barnes put it best when he said that 'we are not the custodians of moral values in the world'. Why are two football clubs expected to enact social change? Where are the equality organisations? Where is the FA? Where is the culture secretary, aside from casting ill advised opinions on Suarez despite the company he keeps? It doesn't have to be a tribal cause whatsoever. In fact, the FA should've been proactive and say 'look, no club is being singled out here, we just want to remind players, staff and fans about what is legal and what is acceptable in this country'. There was a real chance for organisations that do not get much attention to step forward and say 'we have contacted the clubs of the Premier League and will be running these programmes to promote racial equality in sport and in society'. The government, much maligned and derided, could've used it as an opportunity to really nullify anti-immigrant feeling by reminding the country how the sport - and nation - benefits from having a multi-cultural flavour.

Instead it's been an exercise in queuing up to take a pop at Suarez, the club and bask in the 'superiority' of English football. Instead, we've got fans and members of the press using it as a point scoring exercise, even dredging up Heysel once again, in an attempt to glean moral superiority. And instead we've got Alex Ferguson telling us what to do.

Fuck off. Seriously, just fuck off. For all the flack the club, the player and Kenny have gotten, not a single institution has offered us any sort of assistance or a path of reconciliation. Instead, Ferguson said 'there's no need to do anything' before hastily changing his mind before an unexpected return to Anfield. The FA and other organisations seem to feel that the fight against racism is as complex as saying BAD DOG, BAD DOG. The press lecture is repeatedly lacking in awareness of the xenophobia attached to their posturing. We're simply told to bend over and take it until they're done and toss us off the bed to clean up. We're told to stop whinging, that we're always the victim and it's never our fault.

Here's some news for you. We're perfectly capable of being critical of our club. If you are appealing to right minded Liverpool fans, then you will already know that we're acutely aware of the problems surrounding the club. If you are preaching to the moronic element, what do you expect? They're morons. Just because we defend the club doesn't mean we agree with everything the club does. We defend the club because you're wrong and we don't like you.

Where were you after Hillsborough? Where have you been in the last 20 years when the families were repeatedly told that nothing could be done, and every single inch of progress has been fought by a collection of brave, determined and honest folk?
Where were you in 2005 when the FA decided the Champions of Europe didn't deserve to qualify for the competition they'd won, that fourth place was somehow a greater prize despite them supporting the opposite outcome the year before in the event Chelsea or Arsenal (how's that going, London press?) won it without finishing in the top 4?
Where were you when Hicks and Gillett bought the club and proceeded to siphon as much money as they could, trying to drain the life out of it?
Where were you when the club hoarded Champions League final tickets, depriving loyal fans the chance to see their club challenge for the highest honour in football?
Where were you when they began to stick the knife into a manager who, whether you like it or not, had the interests of the fans at heart?
Where were you when that manager had to put out fires all over L4 started by two men who are so disliked in their own country they can't even go to baseball games at their own ground.
Where were you when the manager you had campaigned to take over from Rafa Benitez was sending the club into the Championship?
Where were you when football clubs rammed the price of going to the match up, pricing out a large proportion of families who had a long history of following their club?
Where were you when football fans are still treated like criminals by police?

We really don't like you, in fact we fucking hate you. You claimed we didn't want to hear a bad word against our club, that you're bringing the truth. Why is it then that so many fans have taken to independent bloggers and writers affording genuine tactical insight and balanced critique of football matches? Why have so many people armed with small budgets and a bit of motivation forged careers for themselves on the internet?

Kenny Dalglish was told by a Sky Sports interviewer that he should indulge his questioning because 'that's what the fans want'. His response pretty much summed it up.

"I think we know what the fans want more than you do"

Whatever Kenny Dalglish might do in his life, whatever mistakes he might make, I would guarantee he gives more of a shit about Liverpool FC and its fans than the media.

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