Football is about identity, and authenticity, and masculinity. Football requires drama, a groupbuilding myth, a legendary roughness to contextualize the smooth, to authenticize an imagined right to sporting success, or to authenticize the lack of success (thus itself forming an integral part of “success”).
5) Togo Team Bus Attack 2010
4) Gabon Air Crash 1993
(Fascinatingly, I couldn’t find a YouTube video forA WHOLE FUCKING TEAM DYING after numerous searches. Doesn’t matter, of course, they’re only black people…)
3) Turino Superga Disaster 1949
2) Hillsborough 1989
1) Munich Air Crash 1958
If football punditry could ever get over its neverending politeness-hemorrhage of conservatism and mythologies, they’d properly address tragedy and disaster with the same moribund mundanity they do offside decisions… And now i imagine Alan Hansen – who has the face and hairstyle of someone you could imagine starting a coup with Mark Thatcher – grimfacedly looking over replayed slow-mo footage of the attack, belittling the low deathtoll (“At Liverpool in the ’80s we were more committed. All champions are. Like the Busby Babes – you can win things with kids.”) Particular vile bile would be reserved for Adebayor, “the selfish primadona.”
It wouldn’t be right. It wouldn’t be correct. It would unease me deeply. Dream on, dreamers. Dream on. It would make such sense. A vibrantly disgusting celebration of morbid honesty. Party poppers loaded with snot & blood clots.
Post-Script. At the time of publishing there is debate and confusion surrounding the Togo national team and whether they will compete in the 2009 African Cup of Nations. In one sense they have won the competition already. There is no need to play in it and risk not winning it, having already won it. You see?! And in direct contrast to Zambia a mere 17 years ago, the media seems to have found a lot more room/appetite for reporting/feasting on the perils of black footballers. However, a more potent cocktail would be to “do a Zambia” – who in spite of having lost their entire first choice squad to niggling cases of DEATH only months before, managed to combine tragedy with relative success, narrowly losing the 1994 African Cup of Nations final to a strong Nigeria side. Decisions, decisions. Do they want to gamble?It’s like a quiz show. But not.
It’s also much like a simple ballgame played by children. But not.