The Friday afternoon Mailbox is awaiting a screeching U-turn from Jordan Henderson, but it’s already too late. Also: reactions to some morning misogyny; and more on Dele.
Get your views in to firstname.lastname@example.org…
There’s a valuable rule of thumb that many, including Sarah Winterburn, have missed when assessing the likes of Jordan Henderson and their credentials when it comes to “speaking out” and “standing up for causes”; are they leaving anything on the table?
A protest without risk is not a protest at all. The countries at the World Cup that wanted to wear rainbow armbands; the threat of a yellow card saw them fold.
Players taking the knee pre-game; Sky/BT are running a banner saying “Black Lives Matter”. It’s not a protest if ‘The Man’ agrees with you.
Take a knee for Uighurs in China. Reveal a shirt that specifically calls out the treatment of LGBT people in Qatar. See what happens when those places threaten to cancel their overseas rights contracts and cease broadcasting the Premier League. It won’t happen again; the league wouldn’t allow it.
In the age of social media, the line between activism and marketing is very, very hazy indeed. You can only be sure they mean if they’re willing to forego money and opportunity for it.
Lewis, Busby Way
Just normal men
Even as a Liverpool fan, I couldn’t stop myself cringing at the Jordan Henderson love fest in the mailbox yesterday. I suppose there is still time for him to do an about-turn, but the damage is probably done at this point, and I can think of twenty million reasons a year why he won’t. Low tax over there as well, making that obscene figure even more ridiculous.
When will football fans ever learn? These are not special people we are talking about – they’re just normal human beings with good foot/eye coordination. Am I concerned about the notion of sportswashing? Yeah, a bit, I suppose, but as people keep pointing out, our moral outrage about the middle east is deeply arbitrary and blinkered. And would I get over these concerns if I was offered considerably less than JH? Fuck, yeah. I’m not even money hungry, but I am sick of busting my arse day in day out, without an end in sight, so I would totally take the money and find a way to square the circle.
And so would pretty much everyone on here. The difference is that no-one is going to offer me (or you) a king’s ransom to move to Saudi Arabia, so I never need to test my resolve.
Henderson seems like a decent fella for a footballer, but he is not the messiah. He’s handled his career well, used a good PR firm, but that’s all it is, a marketable image. And who needs to be marketable when you can take home over 50m over three years and be treated like a king whilst doing it?
And fans need a reality check. Do Liverpool fans have a propensity to think that their club is more virtuous than others? Maybe, I don’t know. I do know that this sport messes with our heads and makes us canonise ordinary, flawed individuals. Fuck, I defended Luis Suarez for years. It actually made me a bit nauseous to watch him in the end – his behaviour was just appalling – but even now I would say the majority of Liverpool fans still look back on him fondly because he was a terrific player, even though he dragged the club through shit on several occasions.
And this isn’t the folly of just Liverpool fans – as long as a good footballer is delivering on the pitch, nearly all of us look the other way.
I am sure the rest of the mailbox replying to this will be just as considered and fair.
Matthew (lose Thiago as well and we go into the new season minus three tried and tested midfielders as it stands)
Awaiting the Henderson U-turn
I hope I’m not too late, but after the mailbox, one would be cruel to laugh at the pontifications of Liverpool fans, the “captain of captains!” Would NEVER take the Saudi oil money.
HA! Never underestimate the almighty dollar.
Of course I just want to add I fully expect a PR U-turn, “I’ve listened to the fans!” So, if that occurs, whatever Jordan, you’re not fooling anyone!
EFCraig (The Saudi League… “this pays more!”)
Sergej in Saudi
Is it just me or is the Sergej Milinković-Savić transfer the most ridiculous of the summer?
This is player who has been linked with top clubs in Europe for as long as I can remember but has ended up being snapped up by a Saudi club for only 34 million. He is only 28, has been in fine form the past couple of seasons but no top Prem club who all seemed to need quality midfield reinforcements even tried to sign him at that bargain price? The fact any member of the top 6 didn’t sign him is bizarre. I watch Serie A and the guy is a beast with 20 goals and 19 assists in the league the past 2 seasons.
Al-Hilal now have him and Neves in their midfield. That would be central midfield pretty much any top club in Europe could have had for a bargain 80 million in the current market and been very competitive.
Are Prem clubs just very stupid or are players just very greedy and want to coast the prime of their careers in the Middle East rather than winning things that matter?
I’m sure you’ll get loads of these, but IronsMan mistake seems to have been taking Talksport’s reaction to players going to Saudi Arabia as representative of the wider world’s reaction to this. He’s compounded it by listening to Agbonlahor, who has long since proven himself to be the opposite of a deep thinker.
If IronsMan looks for reactions elsewhere, I think he’ll see plenty of people questioning the morality of players going to Saudi Arabia. In fact, it’s so prevalent that it’s hard to believe he hasn’t picked up on it.
Players owe you nothing
This is a slight tangent on the Dele interview but it’s something that I think needs to be said. I’ve seen a lot of commentary from journalists and fans along the lines of “I thought he lost his motivation, I thought he was wasting his talent but now I have the context as to what he was going through”. Look, that’s great and hopefully it leads to a bit more understanding that players exist outside the pitch and are actual real-life human beings with all the experiences that entails.
And having said that, if a player does lose his motivation, falls out of love with the game, seems to be “wasting his talent” for any reason, we have no say in that. If they decide that football is just not for them anymore and they walk away because they have significant financial security, that is entirely their choice, and should be a choice open to them without widespread anger or scorn. We may all yearn to have their talent but it doesn’t give us a stake in their career or life. No one is put on this earth just to work and for some players, football is just a job.
If I won the lotto tomorrow, I’d Keyser Souze out of my job so fast there would be a hole in the wall. And I don’t have millions in the media telling how to do my job or live my life.
Football has gotten a bit too “live or die”. It can be a hobby, a passion and your club can mean a lot to you. But it doesn’t give you a say in how anyone lives their life. Thinking “well if it was me, I’d want to play” is fine. Deciding that someone else should play because that’s what you would do is not.
Kevin (as for Henderson….)
I knew his name was Dele Ali.
I know that I have used social media to mock players for being paid too much and not putting a shift in.
I know I’ve mocked their clothes and language.
I know I’m not perfect.
I know nobody is.
I know close people to me who suffer from mental health.
I know I respect them enough not to tell people this.
I know that people no matter how rich or how poor suffer.
I know money can’t change peoples past.
I know children from poorer areas have less of a chance to succeed than I did.
I know profile and money means nothing to what people have suffered.
I know he is brave.
I know that tabloids should be pursued for how that have forced someone who has clearly suffered to sit in front of the world to bare his soul.
I know they don’t care.
I know they will never change.
I know that maybe we can.
I know his name is Dele.
How far have we come?
It will be interesting to see how far we have come next time Dele Ali runs out on a pitch in front of 50,000 football fans.
Given that historically fans have gladly sung songs about being racist and liking it, or made aeroplane wings with their arms in mockery of the 3,000 souls lost in 9-11, this day will be a gauge as to whether football fans still live in an age where all things are fair fodder, whether they will react with a huge show of stadium style emotion with a rousing throng of applause, or simply have no reaction at all.
I am hoping for either option B or C, but option A isn’t off the cards is it?
This could tell us how far towards enlightenment football has come.
ANON’s hard on
Wow, where to start with ‘ANON’s message? First of all, by not disclosing their name they know full well what an idiotic message it was in the first place. Men who use the fact that they have a wife or daughter as the reason for why they are a feminist are almost always the most misogynistic people around.
I personally won’t be tuning into a lot of the Women’s World Cup but that primarily just due to a lack of time (the Qatar WC was the first time I experienced one with a full family and it was pretty hard keeping up with that as well). It certainly won’t be because I’m afraid my little fella will rise up at the sight of a *gasp* woman playing football.
What does ANON do with other sports? Can he only watch men’s tennis? Did he have to pick and choose what Olympic events he watched, lest he popped a boner watching Jessica Ennis handle a javelin? Lord knows how he could watch a Ronda Rousey UFC fight without keeping a cushion over his lap.
It’s 2023; what a ridiculous view to hold.
…Did you really need to publish ANON’s weird and (correct me if I’m wrong here) unprompted message about why they don’t watch women’s football? I get the idea about presenting “both sides” of an argument but when you publish messages like that it just legitimises a weird and toxic attitude that we really need to get over.
There can be lots of reasons that you don’t watch women’s football. We’re saturated with football content and it’s a reasonable thing to say you choose to watch men’s football because it’s easiest to access and it’s what you know. You have other responsibilities and only a certain amount of time to devote to football.
Saying you don’t watch women’s football because you get distracted by their bodies is really creepy and odd. I’d be worried for your female colleagues if you can’t help being distracted by the bodies of women who are technically at work.
I can assure you this doesn’t make you a “normal, heterosexual man”. Most normal, heterosexual men aren’t constantly sexualising women at work. Or those that do probably keep it to themselves, because women deserve to not have to worry about being objectified simply for being alive.
It does make you a creep, and someone that women shouldn’t have to be around. You’ve said you’re not a misogynist because you have a wife and daughter who you love. That’s the bare minimum, do better.
F365, you don’t need to legitimise these views by publishing them. Doing so means ANON thinks these views have a place in the public discourse, and those that share them think they can hold these views too. They should be left in the dark, dingy sewers where they belong.
F365, you should do better too.
…Was Anon’s mail actually from Chris Finch from The Office? “How can I hate women? My mum’s one?”
Mike, LFC, London
…I thought recognised the tone and narrative style of anon before, then it hit me, i had read several f his other works prior. they include
I’m not a racist, I have black friends, but….
I think it’s nice people with disabilities can get jobs at supermarkets, but….
Why would a gay person even WANT to get married in a church
Same sh!t, different day, different way. If you weren’t a misogynist ANON, you would a) sign your name b) keep your ‘private’ thoughts exactly where they should be, to yourself.
Dan (I call out bigots when i see them), LFC
…In response to ANON with his “I’m not a mysogynist, but”
Check yourself mate, yes you bloody are. Be better or at least own it.
Nick (Love my wife and daughter, am capable of engaging in life with women without defaulting to “phwoar, tits and ass”.)
…Just a few responses to ANON’s email about why he doesn’t watch women’s football.
1. Why should anyone give a flying f*ck why you don’t watch women’s football. Why, every time that there is a women’s tournament on, are we subjected to a deluge of mails in the mailbox explaining why men (and it is always a man) don’t care about the women’s football, won’t watch it or don’t like it. No one gives a sh*t. Just go about your life not watching it. You don’t write into the mailbox justifying why you don’t watch Mongolian wrestling, Kabaddi or Polish third division matches, so why bother wasting your energy writing in to tell us what you don’t do. Who f*cking cares.
2. Having a wife and daughter does not preclude a man from misogyny. Donald ‘grabbing p*ssy’ Trump has a wife and a daughter, and his views on gender and equality are about as progressive as a Bernard Manning monologue. In fact, the notion that being nice to women should be predicated on a man having a mother, wife and/or daughter is pretty sh*tty in and of itself. Women, just the same as men, deserve respect and empathy because they are human beings, not just because you are emotionally attached to them.
3. Based on your rationale, I am surprised that you managed to vote for female politicians without being preoccupied by the t*ts and @ss in the House of Commons, or all the women making their way to the polling booths. It is a wonder you still have a job if you are unable to witness women in their professional domains without getting sexually aroused, and it is a worry that you have to ‘consciously make an effort’ not to disrespect or diminish women. Presumably, you won’t want to get too involved if/when your daughter starts playing football because by the time she and her team mates reach sexual maturation, you’ll just be too distracted by your irrepressible sexual appetite as a ‘normal heterosexual’ man. Actually, ‘normal heterosexual’ men are perfectly able to be involved in and enjoy a great many walks of life without reducing every lived experience involving women to sexualisation.
4. The reason you watch football is to talk to people about the football that you and they watch. Men’s football. And yet you took the time to talk at length about women’s football and how you don’t want to talk about women’s football in today’s mailbox. Why? If you don’t want to talk about women’s football, do the world a favour and don’t f*cking talk about it.
5. You abhor the public objectification of women, but wrote into an openly available public forum to explain that you can’t watch women’s football because of how distracting the t*ts and @ss are.
I have absolutely no problem with people enjoying or not enjoying different spheres of football (country/gender/standard) etc. And if Anon enjoys men’s football because it represents a form of cathartic pressure valve that appeals to him and helps with escapism, that is absolutely cool. If the women’s game doesn’t represent what he is looking for from sport then I think that is a fair enough argument. I watch and enjoy the men’s Premier League for what is predominantly high-octane, intelligently structured, fast-paced football. I watch international women’s football because I find the players more relatable, demonstrably passionate and compellingly patriotic than in the men’s game – it looks like the players actually enjoy playing, and I like the football because the patterns are a little less structured, which lends itself well to the influence of individual brilliance. I watch my beloved Luton Town because of my personal connection to the club and its history in my family; (spoiler alert for PL fans) I do not watch them for beautiful, aesthetically pleasing football. What is not cool is writing at length or espousing lengthy detailed opinions about why something you don’t like is sh*t – just keep it to yourself and carry on enjoying what you enjoy and ignoring what you don’t – in dissecting and attempting to justify your position you’ve made yourself look like the exact opposite of what you set out to.
Kane’s happy ending
It’s not really funny funny but it’s funny just how much has been written about what Kane wants, by people who not only don’t know Harry Kane, but actually aren’t Harry Kane.
So neither knowing him, nor being him (promise), here is what I think will happen; Spurs won’t receive an acceptable offer from Bayern – ¢70m is not remotely enough when United are paying £55m for Mount. Kane will stay but unlike previously, he won’t down tools until January, this time Big Ange will, along with a feisty team of players not constrained by a megalomaniac of a manager, flourish. Kane will see that it’s 16/17 all over again only this time with shiny pots and medals to put in his cabinet marked ’medals’, sign a contract and remain at Spurs until he signs for the new London NFL team The Tottenham Bagels.
Everyone will look back and laugh when they said he had to sign for Munich to win anything, but in a perverse twist of fate, Munich go on a barren run for three years anyway.
And Arsenal get relegated (what? It’s my letter!)
Song for Andre
Seemingly Onana will be joining United. This may have been proposed on here already but a rendition of the Fugees’ Fu-gee-la for him will be something else.