Thursday, 16 June 2005

Football Commentary

The Disapointing Harry Kewell has recently taken Gary Lineker to court because Gary said, in print, that Disappointing's transfer from Leeds to Liverpool looked a bit dodgy from where he sat and cast an ill light on English football. Apparently, Disapointing was humiliated by this accusation. Anyone who saw his recent non-performance for Liverpool in the Champions League final — and his miraculous healing powers when whatever he'd snapped mysteriously unsnapped moments before he dashed to get his mitts on the trophy — will realise that Disappointing is a man who would be hard to humiliate.

Anyway, that's all for the court to decide. What caught my eye was this comment in the Media Guardian:
And as words broadcast on television are as susceptible to a libel action as those published in the newspapers, we may even get to a stage where commentators on a live game refrain from criticism for fear of a claim.

Stuck out here in Austria I only ever watch football live (Vorwärts Steyr just got promoted by the way, I vaguely remember being there) or on Sky. It may be that BBC coverage of football games is full of vitriol for the players, and their performance in general, along with the occasional near-the-knuckle anecdote about a certain players nocturnal activities. Or it could be the same bland platitudes, repeated catchphrases ("you've got to test the goalkeeper from there...") and vomit-inducing sycophancy that you get on Sky Sports.

Then again, I do sometimes wonder if Andy Gray is talking some kind of footballer's polari, because as far as I can tell "there didn't seem to be much in that", for example, seems to translate almost directly to "have you seen what that cheating little bastard just got away with", "I've seen them given" maps to "that's one for the end-of-year nasty tackles compilation" and "I tell yer wha', tha's the value of puttin' a man on the post!" is roughly "I have photographic proof that that player's a bottom..."

Football and football punditry is, essentially, a very fickle boy's club that brooks no criticism from the inside, on pain of permanent expulsion; it's simply not possible for commentators to get any blander. Although when Alan Shearer finally retires as a player I'll no doubt be proved wrong.

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