lunes, 10 de agosto de 2009

Más fútbol europeo, por favor

Este es el primer artículo que me publicó la web del Times. No me han dejado ponerle los títulos en español, cosa que yo quería hacer en todos, para darle más exotismo y talycual. Cachis.

Fanzine Fanzone welcomes some European flavour

Rogorn Moradan answered our plea to join the Fanzine Fanzone and he hit the nail on the head with the example below. If you feel that you have what it takes to join the best football fan blog on the net then e-mail

I'm a teacher. I know, starting like this is not the best way of endearing oneself to internet football fandom, but bear with me for a minute. One day, a couple of PE teachers weren't in, and I was asked to cover a lesson for them. Easy, I thought. A few footballs, a kickabout with the kids, and all sorted. But, this being merry ol' England, it started to rain heavily just as the students were changing into their PE kit, so they were sent grumbling and restless into a classroom, due to health and safety issues, unable to put all that adrenaline and hormones to good use. With no alternative lesson plan and a head of department running away from us, as he had to be somewhere else, I was told: "Look, it's not ideal, but can you just wing it for an hour?".

And I did. Fortunately, those teenagers and me had in common being of the male persuasion and liking football, so I just gave them a few pieces of paper and told them to write down as many XIs as they could remember. Any team? Any. England or clubs? Any. Can we make our own? Have I said 'any' already? And off they went, starting with England and the Big Four, with some scattered Spurs and a single Everton pariah. Soon they started asking me if they could do Real Madrid and Barcelona. Because the other thing about me I haven't told you yet is that I come from Spain, home of the Best Football League In The World (hey, the job description to write here said, and I quote, "biased and ballsy", so here's my bias and my, erm, balls).

Anyway, I was quite impressed with the ability of most of those 14-year-olds to name at least 9 players for each of those two clubs off the top of their heads. One particular group was even able to do a whole XI and a fully eligible subs' bench. Intriguingly enough, though, no-one was able to do the same with their nearest Premier League club (which, incidentally, was none of the Big Four. Moreover, between that town and the nearest Big Four club there's at least two other Premiership clubs. Talk about catchment areas). And that's where I'm headed with this whole anecdote-which-builds-up-to-something approach: put your hand up if you have ever been to Spain. Good. Put the other hand up if you have been to a football game in Spain. OK, first half good, second half not so good, but a decent result nonetheless. Now put one foot up if you feel more comfortable naming Real Madrid players (even if they're only former Man U players) than Wigan's. If you need to check, do some mental warm-up (and remember that Gabriel Heinze is now a former Real Madrid AND Man U player. But you knew that, because you read this site often). Revealing, innit? This tendency would be even more pronounced were it not for fantasy games such as The Times' very own Play The Game, which are undoubtedly as geeky as you can get, but do wonders for the footie literacy of the nation. Many a Wigan player's name owes its place in someone's brain to these games. You can put all your hands and feet down now, by the way: you look like Gabriel Heinze trying to head a corner, and failing.

So, I wonder if you'd all like to have more international ranting and bantering here. The football world turns in curious ways, and one of them is that it's possible to watch live Champions League games free on terrestrial television, but not Premier League games. You also know that your team's Champions League games will start on Tuesday or Wednesday at 7.45, but not really what time or day the domestic kick-offs will be. Chelsea play Barcelona more often than they play Charlton these days, and the kids' walls are covered in overseas names like Torres, Fàbregas, Tévez or Ronaldo (oops, the R-name) where once English surnames reigned supreme. The stories this paper runs on foreign football are top-notch and Gabriele Marcotti in particular is an ace. Even people who can't say 'paella' can pronounce 'Dirk Kuyt' correctly.

What say you, then? You know you want to, and as I said before, I'm a teacher, so I can't be scared. Except by inspectors.

Gracias y hasta la vista, baby.

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