The festival of pre-summer eructation that are the European Championships will kick off at six this evening. As regular readers know, J’accuse has no real preference at national football level within the European sphere given how we were hooked onto the gold and green shirts of Brasil from a tender age. Thankfully the Olympic Football tournament will give us a chance to appreciate the likes of Neymar and Ganso but in the meantime there is this nuisance of a tournament to attempt to tickle the taste buds.
All eyes are on Poland and Ukraine. Not all eyes. Politicians are rushing to boycott the championships (the latest in line are Barroso et al) particularly because of the not too lovely record that Ukraine has with human rights and more particularly because the lady with pretzels around her head is still being ill-treated in jail. Eurovision had its Azerbaijan and Euro2012 has its Ukraine.
One of the biggest problems facing this years games is that old cliché of the “ugly head of racism”. The Dutch team warming up in Krakow was exposed to monkey chants by a group of Polish supporters. The official line of the ultra-democratic UEFA is that the chants were not racist but rather a protest against the fact that Krakow had not been awarded any of the matches. Sure. Monkey chants.
“Abba dabba dabba dabba dabba” said the Polish fan to the Dutch team. That’s fan talk for “we’ve got nothing against you it’s just that we’d have liked to hot a game or two in Krakow”. Pull the other one Michel. Platini has not been helping much either. He chided the great SuperMario Balotelli for having expressed his very natural thoughts on the whole business. Balotelli had not only said that he would walk out of a match should there be any monkey chants but also that he would kill a person who would perform such chanting.
Ok. The kill bit might be a bit over the top but surely Balotelli need not wait for a ref to work out the complicated formula that involves calculating when the level of monkey chanting and banana throwing outweighs the economic losses incurred by abandoning a match in a major UEFA tournament. We have a suggestion for Mario. Don’t walk out. Just sit down. Do a Drogba. Fly to the ground as though you have been struck by a sniper and stay down. Then when the physio is up and asks you what you want massaged say it’s your pride… because it’s being severely tested and risks major damage. We’re with Mario on this one.
Racism aside we also risk seeing a few extra boobs and I don’t mean blunders. The female activist group FEMEN is bound to make an appearance or two in order to protest against (1) prostitution, (2) spending money on the championships and (3) general lack of democracy. I wonder whether the betting companies have any odds on flashers running across stadia in the Ukraine with the policemen with funny hats running after them.
As for the football. Well. Enjoy the last vestiges of a competitive tournament. From next time (France 2016) 24 countries will qualify for the tournament. Given that there are 53 member associations in UEFA that practically means that almost half of the teams will qualify for the next event. How that will increase the quality of a tournament that gives us such exciting draws as “Poland – Greece” is beyond me. And this is someone who will eagerly watch a Serie B play-out or Serie C1 play-off match.
Expect more random thoughts on the Euros from J’accuse in the coming weeks. For specific attempts at chronicling fear and loathing in Maltese football support there is an interesting experiment going on over at Maltatoday with Wayne Flask. if anything it might make the Euro championship a bit more entertaining. (I DID say might).