Saturday, August 12, 2006
Football... According to a Tartoussi
A month had passed since the end of the Germany Football World Cup 2006. Although in terms of organization it was one of the best world cups ever, the play itself, the refereeing and the final game have left plenty to be desired. It is important that I state that I don’t care much about world cups. The only advantage I see in it is that it brings in new fans to the world most popular sport. I can speak about Syria only, but it might be true elsewhere, when I say that the world cup brings in women and children in large numbers. It also brings in shallow faddists who get terribly excited because it’s the in-thing to do once every four years.
I have no national team to follow in the world cup, and I’m certain this affects my attitude. I can understand why people get excited over their national teams. Yet, I’m not fully certain that this is simply it. I love Italy like a second home. I love the food, the places, the language and the people. I am happy because they are happy. But in all honesty I never liked their football. The Italian way of playing football is the most un-Italian thing I’ve ever seen in Italy. It is in total opposition to the way Italians truly are. Just look at the half-empty stadia during most Calcio games.
For me, an avid European football follower and a devoted Arsenal FC fan, the fiasco that is the world cup is an overrated sporting event, although I must admit that it does more good than harm. In 2006, a shameful damage was inflicted on the sport and probably made my last statement untrue; the end of the free to watch era and the introduction of the highly controversial Pay TV for this very popular event. As if they weren’t suffering enough already, the underprivileged all around the world were denied this basic entertainment right.
I don’t see it as wrong for the different “good” leagues around the globe to charge viewers. Clubs in the end need to make as much money as possible. Money keeps the business wheels spinning and the level of play certainly continues getting higher and higher. Good players cost millions and the loyal fans have to share part of the expenses. How can I be a devoted fan of Arsenal FC, an English team in the north of London, and not sound like a hypocrite at the same time? This brings me to the main point behind the entire post.
Tartous never had a good football team since the creation of the Syrian League in its present format. The Tartoussi football fans always looked outside. Almost every football fan in Tartous is either an Ahlawi or a Zamalkawi (the most famous 2 Egyptian teams). I would daresay that if the Syrian and Egyptian Cup Finals were playing at the same time, the vast majority of real Tartoussis will be following the Egyptian cup. We’re not unpatriotic in any sense. We just love good football and have the easy and common sense (enhanced by the fact that we don’t have a team in the first division) to admit that Syrian football sucks. Why would anyone waste 135 minutes of his/her life on one of the most boring forms of entertainment possibly available? This goes to include, again according to real Tartoussis, all Asian-Arab football leagues. When we feel nationalistic, we search for an African-Arab football game. When we feel like watching real football, our eyes and hearts go to the old continent (as it’s called). We are all devoted fans of one good European club or another. We are all avid followers of at least one major European league.
I follow, and in term of frequency, the English Premiership, the Spanish La Liga, the German Bundesliga and the Italian Serie A. Besides Arsenal, I also like Barcelona FC and these are my favorite 2 teams. In the Italian Calcio, I don’t know, I will say without much conviction that I’m a fan of the Inter. I will see how it goes this year. As for the Bundesliga, and although I’ve always admired the high level of football it offered, I never had a team to support. That is until yesterday, and thanks to a dear German friend who showed me the light! I’m just making the announcement: I’m a Bayern Műnchen fan for this season and beyond (They won 2-0 yesterday in their excellent opener against Borussia Dortmund).
Finally, why the picture of Thierry Henry? The answer is very simple. HE IS THE BEST PLAYER IN THE WORLD - END OF STORY.