I'm also nauseated by people who claim to be African when we're hosting a World Cup, but mysteriously become South African when asked to account for kids having their hands lopped off in Rwanda. It's bad enough being asked to believe in a country, but a continent? And there's nothing more irritating than some white oke who thinks that the Castle beer ad is 'moving', and who claims to love African music because he owns a Juluka CD.
[F]or the most part football these days is the opium of the people, not to speak of their crack cocaine. Its icon is the impeccably Tory, slavishly conformist Beckham. The Reds are no longer the Bolsheviks. Nobody serious about political change can shirk the fact that the game has to be abolished. And any political outfit that tried it on would have about as much chance of power as the chief executive of BP has in taking over from Oprah Winfrey.
I thought I was getting away from politics for a while. But I now realise that the vuvuzela is to these World Cup blogs what Julius Malema is to my politics columns: a noisy, but sadly unavoidable irritant. With both Malema and the vuvuzela, their importance is far overstated. Malema: South Africa's Robert Mugabe? I think not. The vuvuzela: an archetypal symbol of 'African culture?' For African civilisation's sake, I seriously hope not. Both are getting far too much airtime than they deserve. Both have thrust themselves on to the world stage through a combination of hot air and raucous bluster. Both amuse and enervate in roughly equal measure. And both are equally harmless in and of themselves though in Malema's case, it is the political tendency that he represents, and the right-wing interests that lie behind his diatribes that is dangerous. With the vuvu I doubt if there are such nefarious interests behind the scenes; it may upset the delicate ears of the middle classes, both here and at the BBC, but I suspect that South Africa's democracy will not be imperilled by a mass-produced plastic horn.
When I was in London in 2008, I spent a couple hours hanging out at a pub with a couple of blokes who were drinking away the afternoon in preparation for going to that evening's Arsenal game/riot. Take away their Cockney accents, and these working-class guys might as well have been a couple of Bubbas gearing up for the Alabama-Auburn game. They were, in a phrase, British rednecks. And this is who soccer fans are, everywhere in the world among the college-educated American elite. In Rio or Rome, the soccer fan is a Regular José or a Regular Giuseppe. [..] By contrast, if an American is that kind of Regular Joe, he doesn't watch soccer. He watches the NFL or bass fishing tournaments or Ultimate Fighting. In an American context, avid soccer fandom is almost exclusively located among two groups of people (a) foreigners God bless 'em and (b) pretentious yuppie snobs. Which is to say, conservatives don't hate soccer because we hate brown people. We hate soccer because we hate liberals.