I was watching TV last week, sports in particular when I noticed that the Manchester United vs. Liverpool FC match was going to be live on TV, which promised a great Sunday’s viewing. I was looking forward to seeing how far my team, Liverpool, had progressed since the last time we had played Manchester United.
Here's a brief history for those who are either;
A: None football fans
B: Deceased so suddenly you are unaware of the condition you are experiencing.
The most successful teams in the UK, no that's not correct because Glasgow Rangers have won 50+ Scottish Championships which is more than Liverpool and Manchester United have won combined so let me start the sentence again.
The most successful football (soccer) teams in "Inger-Land" are Liverpool and Manchester United.
The rivalry is the biggest in the country and rivals Sheffield Wednesday/Sheffield United, Madrid/Barcelona, Arsenal/Tottenham matches however there is a football rivalry that I think takes the trophy of "Beyond Rivalry" and that is the matches between Celtic vs. Rangers which when they play each other (and do be aware that they are from the same city), the Police state that the reports of domestic violence in the city increases to unacceptable levels (yes I know all reports of domestic violence are unacceptable) plus the cost of policing this match and the aftermath equates to millions in costs.
Now I'm a man of age (74 next birthday) and I had never had the opportunity to attend one of these matches between "England's Finest" until Sunday 13th January thanks to the kindness of two wonderful peeps...
My quality friend Damon Hague (@MrHague333) works in Manchester with a friend called David Golding (@DavidGolding) who kindly donated three tickets to us (ZeN aka @gmanZeN) so I took two wonderful brothers Kal (@GlastnostNow) and Adeel (@6pmStudios).
Kal and I are both Liverpool fans however Adeel is Man U 4eva! Not saying which one enjoyed the score at the end of the match however no one in the entire stadium could have enjoyed the experience more than me.
Damon, David, thanks for the kindness and I'm glad you're both part of and demonstrate the values and spirit of ZeN.
Now I've been into football all my life (watching even though I was surprised that no team wanted me to play for them. Their loss eh).
Being at the game and sitting in The Stratford End meant that I was surrounded by United fans, and Kal and I were warned by David not to show too much exuberance whilst watching the game or we could find myself being escorted unceremoniously out of the ground, so I resigned myself to "chilling" in my seat regardless of the potential excitement LFC created on the pitch and it got me thinking.
Liverpool was a region of England that greatly benefited from the Slave Trade mainly based on the fact that Slaves were sold at the docks then the Slave would either continue to the Caribbean to pick Cotton (Barbados if they were compliant, Jamaica if not), or go to the cotton picking fields in the Good ol’ US of A.
Because of this trade Liverpool as a city was prosperous based on it being a hub for the world slave trade.
Some of the oldest Mixed Heritage communities in the UK can be found in Liverpool yet it was only in the mid 1980s that you saw black footballers coming to play for Liverpool and a little later before the other club based in the city, Everton followed suit.
I'm not saying my club Liverpool are racist, rather I'm just pointing out the fact that the city was made wealthy based on the blood, sweat, tears and death of a race that was once considered "Subhuman" based on Scientific reports, even though history has testified the worldwide achievements of this "Subhuman" race (but I digress).
I pointed out the above to show that even though Liverpool the city has its chequered past, the football team seems to galvanise support from all people and all races, the same that could be said of both the Manchester clubs and every club in the country for that matter.
I got to the match just as the two teams were kicking off, and unfortunately I didn't get to see if Liverpool's Suarez and Man U's Evra had shaken hands on the pitch. It was total drama when they didn't after Suarez was found guilty of racially abusing Evra (Suarez is Mixed Heritage and Evra French African which is also technically a mixed heritage too eh).
All this made me think, the authorities try and settle issues involving race with "best intensions" (in some cases) but if I could give them some advice, it would be to not take advice from the prosecuting services, but rather to employ people of colour who are involved in race relations. The Saurez/Evra case seemed a trail and conclusion based wholly on a lack of common sense.
Apparently the offensive word used by Suarez to Evra was "Negro" which is a word you will find on foreign black shoe polish.
During slavery days the owner was encouraged to adopt the Willy Lynch method which was to get the male slaves to hate the female, dark skin to despise light skin, you get the drift.
In those days Slaves had their issues sorted by the owner or the Overseer (a black person who was given the owner's power). Now slavery was permitted, justified and made legal to make money and you will see behind every legalised injustice is money.
Manchester United is in the top two when it comes to the richest teams in the world, the other is Real Madrid. The issue in my opinion was resolved based on money/power and not on fairness. I do not remember seeing any black people being senior representatives of any arbitrary organisation that was directly involved in reaching a fair conclusion in this case.
Don't forget that Rio Ferdinand of Manchester United boycotted an initiative instigated by the so called anti racism organisation called "Kick it Out!" based on his belief that they don't do enough in this area. While I'm at it, I have to ask, why does the British press whip up the football public into a hateful frenzy whenever Mario Balotelli (Manchester City) is mentioned? Even his positive actions are reported negatively by them. Again, he is an obvious target because he looks like a Mandinka Warrior that would have been sold at the docks in Liverpool back in the day and a third of African Americans are descendants of this tribe (but I digress).
On the whole the fans on the terraces of football clubs are (in most cases) united behind their respective club and team regardless of the ethnic background of the player. This attitude needs to be reflected in the wider footballing body especially in relation to maintaining racial harmony.
When I think of the most successful band in the world ever, The Beatles, I think of the track Penny Lane which is a location in Liverpool that is heavily steeped in slavery. James Penny was a Liverpool merchant who made his money from the transportation of slaves. (See more)
Slavery existed and exists based on keeping the masses ignorant of the real issues involved which are; (forget about whether it's legal), is it right/fair?
Does it exist on the shoulders of others? Finally, does it encourage and promote equality and co-existence?
Slavery doesn't, and it made me think about which organisations encourage/support slavery in its many guises? Answer, the political class.
Take for example The British Empire. It had a wonderful song which explained the Empire's ethos.
When Britain first, at heaven's command,
Arose from out the azure main,
Arose, arose, arose from out the a-azure main,
This was the charter, the charter of the land,
And guardian angels sang this strain:
Britannia rules the waves.
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.
I notice two things in the song that stand out.
1: The use of the word "Heaven" which gives the actions of the nation "Devine Rights" to maintain their course of action because it is ordained from ABOVE.
2: Britons will never be slaves (because GOD-IS-ON-OUR-SIDE) we have the power to enslave everyone else who isn't a Brit.
The funny thing about rivalries are that they may have started as a genuine grievance between regions/competitors, however, if business or governments can exploit them for their own ends then they will.
Remember, if there is no rivalry between clubs, then there are no tribal instincts that countries can encourage and use in time of war.
Example, Oswaldo Ardiles was a player who came to play for Tottenham Hotspurs after the world cup which they won in 1978. The fans quickly took to this foreign player, who was one of the first players from abroad to play in the league he even recorded a track called "Ossie's Dream" with Chas N Dave, and had a speaking part on the record that was performed on Top Of the Pops four years later.
War is declared between The UK and Argentina. Ossie becomes ‘Public Enemy Number One’ and based on the fans around the country he has to leave the country and ply his trade for one year with Paris Saint Germain before coming back to Spurs.
On the whole football chanting is harmless unless you're playing in some of the less enlightened countries who are not just tolerated but given status within their respective clubs.
For example in December 2012, Zenit Saint Petersburg fans published a manifesto demanding that the club exclude all non-white and homosexual players from the club's roster. The demands were refused by the club, which released a statement saying that "the team's policy is aimed at development and integration into the world soccer community, and holds no archaic views." Until the summer of 2012, Saint Petersburg was the only team in the Russian top flight never to have signed a minority player.
The above is a great stance from the club and needs to be supported and encouraged by the wider footballing community and World governing bodies because the fans that harbour this mentality need to know that their mentality and behaviour is not just unacceptable but criminal too.
Now please don't leave this page thinking that I'm anti fans cause I'm not, I'm one too however I think we should adopt the American example where fans aren't herded into pens and kept "segregated" (another word with racial connotations), fans should be mature and enlightened enough to be rivals without the immature threat to each others safety...
Football is a game and not more important than life and death....
P.S. Well done from Luis Suarez for admitting what we all know, he likes to dive and score or stop a goal with his hands.
Brendon Rodgers the manager of Liverpool should resist the urge to follow convention which would insist on punishing the player.
So not punish, rather applaud his about turn and encourage honesty, fair play and integrity which all sports and life in general should be based on....
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Article by @gmanzen / 21st January 2013
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