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When I hated Zidane…
Listening to the Football Weekly podcast yesterday in which they covered the infamous WC98 Final, brought back some very formative memories.
My story is centred around Zinedine Zidane and how i used to absolutely despise the guy (It’s embarrassing to admit it now)
It all started around 1997, at that time I was 10 years old and worshipped the ground the original Ronaldo walked on. I had is posters on my walls, I had a fake Inter Milan kit and wrote “R9 is God” on everything I owned.
Around the same time my mother met my Step-dad, a man that I had always told myself I could not like, out of some kind of misguide loyalty to my biological father. His favourite player was Zidane.
I have some memories of WC94 but WC98 was the first tournament I was fully involved. I was football mad at that point and my bucktoothed hero was going to win the world cup with his Airport-samba playing team mates. No one could stop them, right?
Ronaldo gave me so much joy in that tournament, he lived up to all our expectations, something today’s superstar don’t seem to do very often. Zidane by my memory flew under the radar a little, he even got sent off in the group stages which enforced the dislike I had of him. Rubbish player, rubbish step dad. It all reached a crescendo for the final, Brazil v France, Ronaldo v Zidane, Me v my Step-dad.
We all know how that night panned out…
I cried myself to sleep that night, I was upset to see my team lose, I was upset for Ronaldo and I was upset that my step dad got the last laugh. I was crushed, how knew football could be so cruel?
I kept up that dislike for years after that, much like my resentment for my Step-dad. He and Zidane had become so intertwined I could not separate the two. Zidane was old, he was a shit and he was balding, all the things I thought my step-dad was.
Ronaldo and I got our redemption in 2002 as France and Zidane crashed out of the group stages. I really enjoyed that.
By the time WC 2006 rolled around my football understanding had developed and I could see that Zidane was a very good player indeed, I could never admit that to my step dad. but It was during the tournament that I truly fell in love with Zizou.
Dragging that sorry French team single handedly to final was truly remarkable, highlighted by that performance against my Ronaldo and Co in the Quarter Final. As a 19 year old his Panenka cross bar penalty followed by his gloriously self inflicted red card to save his sister’s honour in his last professional game ever blew my mind.
Not long after that I made the decision to set aside the forced dislike for my step dad because by the time I had realised I was wrong about Zidane it was too late.
HM MUFC London
PS: Does the mailbox stories of players the grew to love after initially disliking them, or how football related mirrored their lives?
Club bad, fans good…
Let’s be straight about one thing – the club themselves deserve no credit. Despite their face-saving leaks through the press, it is clear Liverpool‘s owners see phrases like ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ and ‘This Means More’ as empty lullabies to sing to fans as they dip their hands in their pockets (see the example of the club paying lip service to its socialist roots, yet appalling use of the image of Bob Paisley to promote Standard Charted, a bank). Any mystique of altruism has been shown for what it is, and the owners of Liverpool deserve zero credit for changing their minds when they saw the disgusted reaction and the resultant threat to their bottom line.
With this said, those that do deserve credit are fans. Not the few here who attempted to go full capitalist and act like the bully’s mate, justifying and lauding the bully as he repeatedly punches the little guy in the face; they deserve no credit – to blindly defend any and all actions of a club just because they are the club you are forever tied to is poisonous and destructive, and why there is the attraction to regimes of buying clubs to sportswash. No, those I want to credit are the majority of fans and ex-players around the club who rightly condemned the move without reservation and made their voices heard. Every Liverpool fan I spoke to, and the vast, vast majority I saw online, were utterly appalled by the actions of the owners and raised their voices to say so. There were letters written, petitions started and a campaign of emails threatening to stop buying merchandise.
And it made a difference. The owners reversed their decision,not because of a road of Damascus moment where they fell to the ground weeping, repenting of the error of their ways, rejecting cold hard capitalist principles and pledging eternal allegiance to the brotherhood of man. No – they did it because of intense pressure from fans who made their position unprofitable and untenable. So, well done Liverpool fans.
So then, could this serve as a partial reminder as to whose game this actually is as John Nicholson often reminds us? It belongs not to those in the boardroom, but to those on the terraces. And when we realise this, we can collectively make a difference and change the direction our beloved clubs are going. When this awful coronavirus crisis passes, what else can we fans do to make those in the corridors of power sweat?
I know in some situations it is hard, and can only say how much I respect fans like those at Newcastle campaigning consistently against Ashley’s vile practices, or Manchester United fans who still wear green and gold and refuse to be placated by propaganda flowing from the morally compromised corridors of the Glazer’s power. However, if we as fans continue to act collectively and make our clubs feel the heat, what else could we do? Refusing to buy merchandise that is sponsored by gambling firms and organising campaigns letting clubs know that? Banners held in full view of the cameras by entire sections of the crowd at City or Sheffield United condemning human rights atrocities by UAE or Saudi Arabia, making sportswashing utterly untenable? Organised walkouts at all clubs of entire sections of the crowd during games in protest at the pricing structure and exploitation of fans?
If this whole sordid affair has shown us anything, it is that fans have a voice and can make a difference when they work collectively and threaten owners in the only way they understand – financially.
So in a nutshell, club bad, fans good.
And if we see the power fans hold, what else can we do?
This is what drives me insane about football tribalism, because to me the whole furlough issue isn’t about fans getting one over a rival team, it’s about right and wrong.
You’ve got the majority of lfc fans who, although some begrudgingly, have criticised the original decision and are relieved that their board have seen sense. Although I may not always agree with Oliver from Switzerland, his mails have an intelligent opinion and aren’t just “wah wah defend at all costs YNWA defend defend defend”.
Then we get Marcel G, who’s mail is the epitome of why lfc fans are so disliked, “yeah we shouldn’t have done that BUT ……….” and then makes a case for being the least shitty in a pile of shit.
No doubt the focus will be on the dwarf or pile of shit comments rather than focusing on the point, which is (as following my kittens analogy needs spelt out) sometimes something you really care about and does a really shitty thing, others will say “wow, what a shitty thing”, this is the time to just say nothing or at the very least don’t try and defend the indefensible because it makes you appear foolish
Ryan (trying to sell/ give away many kittens as my original plan was shitty) Whitehaven
Fur-low point for clubs
Just asking a question, the furlough plan is so that business can retain employees rather than being forced to make permanent redundancies and not hinder their ability to continue to operate.
It doesn’t bother me what business needs the help if it is genuine and needed. Liverpool performing a U-turn surely suggests that they didn’t need it in the first place doesn’t it? and were just looking to take advantage of a legitimate government scheme.
If cash is running out, and contracted players are legally obliged to be paid, and no players at that point had offered a reduction then I don’t see why the club should be criticized in needing help and asking for it. Maybe it was just the timing of it all. Had the PFA put forward a sensible plan then maybe the clubs non playing staff could have been funded by the players as would have been correct and I’m sure easy to implement.
I (personally) quite like the concept that players are paid most of their wages, contribute tax AND then help where they see it’s most needed, that may be in the UK, or it may be in their country where they most likely have family and friends and often are far more needing of help.
As an aside, clubs haven’t placed their entire non-playing staff on furlough, estimates are around 40%.
Johnny Nic a response
John Nicholson’s article is an interesting read, now I for one totally understand the point in making sure all clubs are financially self sustainable, I also like the idea of a salary cap and transfer cap based on profits for the previous season, but I do not see how it could be viable, especially when a clubs profit could easily be “adjusted” by sponsorship contracts similar to how Manchester City have played around with theirs to make the FFP look away from their club, well until UEFA dropped their report and suspension but that is a discussion for another day, overall it is a nice idea but I do not see how it would be workable.
Also, hoping the other leagues adopt such a method is pointless pie in the sky, look at how we adapted our transfer window and no other league followed suit so we had to revert back.
Just in response to my new buddy Oliver, you didn’t write in suggesting that people should direct their ire at government, you wrote in saying that people writing in with their opinion on a football club to a football website were “easily manipulated” and invited them to “go ahead” and “just get angry and yell at the clouds” “if they prefer”… dripping with condescension.
The second part of my email was not about your comments, it was to refute Stuart, London’s comment in the Monday mailbox’s assertion that the directors of Liverpool were under a legal obligation to furlough because of their duties under the Companies Act 1982. I disagree with his interpretation of the Act and cited examples – I didn’t think that was patronising – it’s not like I was overtly implying anyone was stupid by comparing them to a Grandpa Simpson meme, after all.
Finally, to reiterate, we are currently correspondents to the mailbox on a football website. People talking about Liverpool’s conduct and not the UK government (whatever their opinion on the matter) is wholly correct. Oliver’s suggestion that we can’t talk about Liverpool’s poor decision making (sure – Sheffield too before you have another go) without first dealing with the government’s response is absurd – it’s the epitome of “whataboutery”. Because at the end of the day, Dominic Raab is probably spreading himself too thin to read the policy 365 mailbox and make his policy decisions based on it…
The F365 Show is on hiatus until the football returns. Subscribe now ready for its glorious comeback. In the meantime, listen to the latest episode of Planet Football’s 2000s podcast, The Broken Metatarsal.