If I ruled the (football) world


Every edition of Prospect magazine begins with an article titled ‘If I ruled the world’, written by an assortment of guest writers.  Simon Schama (proposing more history in schools), Grayson Perry (suggesting a blanket ban on suits) and Lord Sacks (advocating observation of the Sabbath by all) have been among the enjoyable and erudite contributors.

I’m not actually completely convinced that wearing a onesy to work and spending every Saturday doing nothing would be the panacea that we so dearly need. But it seems like great fun and I’m keen to exercise the same fantasy.

Lacking the ego and ambition of the above luminaries however, I can’t claim to know how to solve the world’s ills. Fuck knows how to deal with a world ravaged by famine and riven by civil war.

So, while still embracing the spirit of sweeping reform, I’ve decided to narrow my scope and restrict my hypothetical presidential powers. My mission will be to heal the world of football. After all, I know much more about false nines than number ten, way more about Damarcus than Damascus and far, far more about trequartistas than Trident.

While not promising to deliver world peace, my rule will nonetheless rescue football from the spitters, the biters, the racists, the granny-shaggers, the whorers, the tax evaders, the tapper-uppers, the ‘at-the-end-of-the-day-ers’, the badge-kissers and pundits called Alan.

The below is my four-point manifesto.

1.Keepers may no longer use their hands to touch the ball

Goalkeepers have become way too good. Manuel Neuer scares the shit out of strikers with his bear like frame, weird three fingered gloves and impenetrable forcefield of teutonic arrogance. Mark Schwarzer is tediously consistent. Hugo Lloris pace and positioning were behind Spurs’ good run of form last season apparently. Pace? In a fucking goalkeeper? This has to stop before Scott Carson becomes Sports Personality of the Year.

Preventing keepers handling the ball will address this issue, reminding them that their rightful place is Danny Baker’s Own Goals and Gaffs, not shampoo adverts. Also, it would be fucking hilarious. Deprived of their digits, keepers would have to learn how to cartwheel and and karate their way to clean sheets.

West Brom would have Jackie Chan between the sticks, round-housing the ball out of the top corner and into the stratosphere. Pep Guardiola would pack his Louis Vuitton bags and travel to Shaolin monasteries to scout for Buddhism’s best projectile paupers. Can-can dancers would move off the stage onto the pitch. It would be amazing.

2. Football pundits are to be binned

Every year, the terrible tight-suited Skymen meet with the gormless BBC bumchins at a conference centre in Kettering. Between limp cheese sandwiches and warm Carslberg, they discuss how best to homogenise the language of football. The guidelines issuing from the summit are followed rigidly.

Misses must be ‘rued’. Passes must be ‘slide rule’. Successful dribbles by ‘diminutive’ wingers with ‘bags of pace/ pace to burn’ may be one of ‘slaloming’, ‘jinking’ or ‘mazy’.

As a result, football coverage is ultra heat treated, completely devoid of the lyrical lilting of  rugby’s Eddie Butler or TMS’ s masterful balance of banter, bat and ball.

So let’s get rid.

In their place I would suggest one or other of:

  • Sir Terry Wogan. Having honed his detached irony with the camp and deluded madmen of Eurovision, Tel would provide delightful accompaniment to the pantomime prunes of the Premier League.
  • Sir David Attenborough.  Dave wouldn’t be expected to discuss any of the tactical complexities involved in the game.  He wouldn’t even mention players by name.  He would be there to provide a zoologist’s eye view of the chaotic Darwinian mess that unfolds every time Premier League teams meet.  “The Uruguayan rat is known to be a particularly aggressive combatant, using his oversized teeth to terrify its adversaries.  He is also a noted racist.”
  • Daft Punk.  Cos they’re boss.

3.  The following are to become straight red card, backpage filling crimes against football

  • Long throws, either down the line or straight into the box.  Awful, just awful.  10 match ban.
  • Socks over knees.  You know who you are.
  • Shielding the ball out for a corner or throw in.  Why the fuck is this always clapped to the rafters?  IT’S SHIT PLAY.

4.  All games are to be refereed by a man sized/ Crouch sized version of Sir Killalot from Robot Wars



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