Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Why I won't let racist thugs spoil my love for the beautiful game

What's the world coming to when fans can't go to the footer for fear of being assaulted by Nazis? I say the word again: Nazis.

You may recall that these were a rum lot and not the sort of person you'd want to bring home or present to your parents. "Mommy, Pappy, this is Hermann. He drove us here in his car. He runs his own business, does voluntary work at the slaughterhouse, and believes strongly in genocide."

"Sit down, Hermann. I'll fetch a nurse."

It's passing strange that Nazism, or some cod version of it, features heavily in the footballing life of Poland and Ukraine. Not unnaturally, therefore, the footer authorities - and at every level in every country, these are exceptionally dim - decided these were just the countries to host the Euro 2012 tournament.

My columnar colleague, Gail Walker, has already backed black English players and former players advising family members not to attend. Sol Campbell says they risk coming back in a coffin.

Bizarrely, a Panorama documentary highlighted the case of Asian fans being attacked by fellow supporters of the same team. This is nuts time ten, particularly the almost comically ignorant Nazi stuff.

Supporters give Sieg Heil salutes when their team scores and wear scarves with the numbers 8-8 on them. Not the score of a particularly memorable draw, but the eighth letter of the alphabet, which my researchers tell me is H. Hence: H-H. Heil Hitler. D'you see?

One leading intellectual opined: "We want Ukraine to be one elite race, one nation, one fatherland." Well, let's see what Santa says, shall we? How dumb is this? Hitler, their hero, hated the Slavs - which they are - and was hellbent on wiping them out.

It would be like Scots making a hero of the Butcher Duke of Cumberland. And, yes, there are freaks who do. But Scotland has been psychically messed up for 300 years.

Meanwhile, the wider world gets weirder with every year that passes. Thankfully, there are comic interludes.

Pictures showed a Nazi training camp featuring various weedy looking nutters doing sit-ups in the forest.

It was like that video of crack al-Qaida soldiers doing a knees-up run in the sand - irresistibly reminiscent of Laurel and Hardy in Sons of the Desert.

But we mustn't laugh. It's just difficult to know how serious to take these nutjobs. I'm looking forward to Euro 2012, and still hope it'll be a festival of football, rather than a carnival of clots.

As an independence-backing Scot - like 99.2% of the country's admittedly limited intelligentsia (remind me to check the spelling of that) - I shall of course be supporting England, as I always do. Indeed, my best scenario would be an England v Ireland final. With Ireland winning 7-0.

Football is a funny game. I've seen mild-mannered men quietly eating a mind-altering pie and reading their programme prior to kick-off. Then the referee blows his whistle to start proceedings, and the same seemingly gentle soul erupts into a volcano of abuse and hate. One school of thought thinks this a valuable blowing off of steam, which otherwise might be expended towards society or even family members. But I'm not buying that. Dignity at all times. And, in general, that precludes stiff-armed salutes and sit-ups in the forest.

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