Terrible beauty, Transformers & El Clasico

Too much of a good thing is bad.

Faraway hills are green.

Two sayings my grandmother used religiously, herself being a past manager of Red Star Belgrade, a noted scholar on green hills viewed from a distance and how too much Iberian soap opera can have ill effects. After round three of the world wide marketing titan that is El Clasico, I pulled my Madrid/Barcelona frankenstein jersey from my body and flung it to the ground in a fit of passion. Popular media would have you believe Spanish football is the pinnacle of entertainment. Not being able to afford the hi-tech, other-worldly rapture of Skysports, I view Spanish football as often as I would deposit solid gold into my bank account or eat caviar from a silver fork held by a butler. Never.

After catching the latest offerings, let me tell you they know how to put on a show. All the frills! Pleasant continental balmy evenings, Cristiano Ronaldo lathered in enough grease to ease the titanic down a manhole, Lionel Messi continuing the impressive facade he has developed to divert our attention from the fact he is most likely an alien from planet Mazyrun.

Seeing the world through a cage of my own fingers I fretted. I was sick of spains duopoly, was I being force fed the SPL with a gipsy king soundtrack? Forcing my innocent eyes to watch them play summoned images of two lumbering bank buildings duking it out in wall street, each emblazoned with a respective Madrid or Barca crest, errant dollar bills fluttering from windows as ‘Mes que un Banc’ lands a blow on the ‘Banco de Madridista’, a la Transformers.

I watch the money float downward, settling in piles like autumnal debris. All around me shards of glass and chunks of concrete sprinkle like extras from an action film finale, slow motion not at a premium. As fists of concrete and metal crush together, I stand horrified, tears streaming down my face. This is football? This is not football?

Football is something I play with my friends. What is this monstrosity? It takes place in a parellel universe where money rules the roost, and enjoyment shovels shit out the back. It is a farcical soap opera with the biggest budget imaginable. Aligning the aspects of war and sport that clicks with us commoners, the money minds behind football have created a thing so terrible in beauty it has assumed polarised morals. I wipe the tears away, not sure if they are from grief at the loss of my beloved games soul or joy at the sheer watchability of what unfolds before me.

The middleclasses have appropriated it and with them they have brought showmanship and the threatening gleam of entertainment. Naivety has given way to marketing savvy. The working class associations have been slowly but surely nudged aside. Roy Keane has made way for Ronaldo.

We do not suffocate a vomit reflex as some vacant footballing millionaire waves an imaginary card at a referee to get another vacant footballing millionaire booked. We do not recoil in horror as Cristiano Ronaldo refuses to celebrate a team mates goal because a refereeing decision went against him in the build up. We do not renounce Mourinho for his childish and mind numbingly egotistical outbursts whenever defeat taints his mood. They are all exalted, and rightly so, for this is not sport. This is football! Once you get that straight, then you can enjoy it. And do enjoy, it’s the greatest show on Earth.

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