Pre-season friendlies are meaningless. Take the results as an indicator that you’re going to have a banging season and you can fully expect to be out of contention for Europe by Christmas. A tour of south east Asia where the only notable event is your left back making a racial slur on Instagram and you can prepare for silverware.
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Thirty-six hours before a ball is kicked, the narrative is taking shape. In the vernacular of the British tabloid press, England’s plucky Lionesses are now pitted in an ideological battle against the arrogant US Women’s National Team (USWNT). Not for goals, victories or honours, although one can assume that a game of football will break out at some point, but for the title of most dignified.
Megan Rapinoe won’t be winning that. She and her trophy hoovering cohorts’ behaviour on and off the pitch have been endlessly scrutinised and critiqued since this latest incarnation emerged onto the world stage, consistently failing to impress despite winning a World Cup, Olympic Gold, two CONCACAF Gold Cups and two SheBelieves Cups. They’re arrogant, apparently.
Never a good look on a lady.
Israel Folau’s contract with Rugby Australia has been terminated after the New South Wales Waratahs player posted the above Bible quote on his Instagram account back in April.
This is Israel’s opinion. I assume he believes it with every fibre of his being and for my part, I hope he’ll be crushingly disappointed when he arrives in the afterlife, realises intolerance is a unwanted by-product of humanity and that he’s about to spend eternity with the drunk gay fornicating atheists who know how to throw a decent party.
Yesterday a man in a flat cap and an ill fitting shirt ran onto a football pitch and attempted to punch another man in the face. The puncher was a twenty-seven year old Birmingham City fan. The punchee was Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish.
An interview emerged yesterday in which Liam Neeson stated to the Independent that he had sought to avenge the rape of a close friend by hanging around in London hoping that “a ‘black bastard’ would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could kill him.”
A shocking, repugnant admission immediately condemned as such by Neeson in the same interview. Still too late though.
It’s been twenty years since I pressed a piece of broken glass into my forearm and drew a line. Watched blood flooding the wound, temporarily obscuring the puckered white flesh beneath. Felt dopamine flood my mind, soothing the frayed edges of my nervous system, the perfect agony driven into abeyance for long enough to make it seem worthwhile.
Unfortunately, the reflexive recoil that self-harming prompts – and that you may well have felt while reading those words – is one of many reasons why we do it. There’s no language to effectively convey the inescapable roaring in my ears back then. No words to describe the excessive energy coursing through my veins like an orchestral surge. The only way to get it out – let it out – is to cut a hole and feel it leave. The blood and the gore, the shock and the awe. The inside turned outward for the world to see.
Please. Look at my pain.
Today Gillette released a new ad asking men to engage with cultural changes highlighted by MeToo.
The response from men’s rights activists has been strong, with reddit issuing (unintentionally amusing) lists of Procter & Gamble (Gillette’s parent company) products to boycott, including tampons. Some make it easy to mock them that we’re obliged to do so.
There are many conceits in English football, but the most important one is that you have to be hard. It’s important because unlike many of our footballing traditions, this one has some foundation in reality. England is cold a lot. If you’re going run around on a frozen field for 90 minutes on a Sunday morning chasing a man who may or may not have spent the previous night in the local police station, you can’t cry when he kicks you. That’s human survival.
As a fan of some years standing, I can confirm that football is not an easy life companion. I love it, of course, but it’s like that mate who turns up late to the Christmas Day do, drinks all the brandy and then starts throwing shapes on the dancefloor thinking they’re Travolta.
Just as you’re trying to quietly usher them out without further embarrassment, you realise they’ve tucked the table cloth into their collar and in bolting to the bar for last orders, have showered your Gran in Iceland vol au vents.
Mere proximity to their work taints you.