Hello? Is this thing on?
I'm breaking free, momentarily, of my summer sabbatical to check in and make sure if everyone's sanity hasn't disintegrated like Roy Hodgson's credibility. Iceland getting tonked by France was a reminder that had we managed to beat the Vikings we'd have been tonked by France. Criminal neglect is still the only label I can slap on the back of the FA and the England team. Although I refuse to be critical of the players. Why? Because for all of them to mentally and physically capitulate in the manner in which they did screams of deep-rooted managerial issues. How can you spend a couple of years qualifying for a competition only to get knocked out looking like it's the very first time you've all grouped together to play football?
I've done this already, the autopsy (previous blog). I wanted to briefly touch upon an element of the the mainstream aftermath. I know it's a redundant exercise to reference something or someone that shouldn't hold any true influence (but does) but when it's out there in the ether doing damage, I can't help but comment on it. I'm talking about the tabloids and other seasoned recognisable rags and their one dimensional scapegoating.
Caveat first. I'm not on a PC crusade. I'm no shining knight defending those that require no defending or creating a talking point for the sake of talking. I'm not the only person to have noted this particular dirty narrative and spoken about it on social media. Even the Guardian (Barney Roney) referenced it with some tidy delicate approach work. This is about the Raheem Sterling headlines and the player being singled out more than most. In fact, he's been public enemy number one since the 2-1 defeat.
Yes, he was a monumental let-down, but hardly any worse than most of his team-mates. This isn't actually about the football. The tabloid attacks in question were not of a footballing nature. It's probably worth noting that articles that aren't found in the back pages tend not to be written by sports journalists. He was singled out for supposedly showing off his riches. Context stretched more than England's back-line just to make the kid appear completely detached from the common mans life style. This picture of Sterling is meant to illustrate the disparaging dis-connectivity of modern millionaire footballers. They are meant to care little about what we are so obsessed with.
Kyle Walker was also front-page news (thanks to the Daily Star, famed for its exclusives on the Big Brother reality show), because he allegedly texted some girl that he'd prefer to be in Ibiza (whilst still involved in France). I say allegedly because publishing a story like this has nothing to do with anything other than the person selling the story wishing to make some money. Dele Alli is another that has been tentatively plucked for daring to go on holiday before he has to return to Spurs for pre-season. Scandalous behaviour. The crime here is that it's too soon for him to be enjoying himself and players (like him that 'let our country down') are not showing any remorse or respect. Let's try and apply some practicality to it all. Of course they're going to go on holiday. Why shouldn't they? It's their time to take back.
All stories are absolute non-events of course.
What's curious is, nobody appears to be telling us about what any of the white English players are getting up to since we flew home. Where's the outrageous behaviour and the like? Before someone berates me about how there is no discrimination and that white players have had it in the neck in the past after footballing indiscretions (i.e. Beckham), this isn't quite the same thing. Beckham, considering his media stature and the hype that followed him, was never going to escape the front pages after that World Cup red card.
Citing Jack Wilshere (smoking, spitting) or any other incident (car crash, legal highs, drugs, prostitution) isn't the same thing based on the fact that they're incidents of non-footballing clusterf*cks. Events of either social or professional embarrassment. Even Ledley King was subjected to this (and rightly so) when getting drunk and abusing a bouncer. None of these are quite the same as being targeted for no apparent reason other than to prolong the narrative of injustice and disappointment in us losing to Iceland. Sterling was even used in an unrelated article about a drug dealer living the life that Premier League footballers are accustomed to.
Is it all coincidental? Are we going to get updates on what Harry Kane and Eric Dier have been up to since returning home? I really want to read about England flop Harry Kane being spotted in Chigwell kebab haven Sheesh with his girlfriend, tucking into a meal and drinks. Ooh the humanity of it, out celebrating his freedom to exist beyond the invisible boundaries of ownership we claim to have on him and his peers. Look at him, breathing the same air as me and you. God be merciful if he dares to smile.
As for Dier, he's actually been spotted at Wimbledon eating Haribo Tangfastics wearing a suit and tie. Teasing us with a fruity juxtaposition. The very peak of elitism right there. He's laughing at you, he's laughing at all of us. Having a day out when he should be indoors cutting the word 'forgiveness' into the flesh on his arms.
Or is this just perpetual social media consumption where every selfie and photo and tweet is microscopically deflected to attract more attention by those that faux disapprove of young rich men living their lives?
Even if it's not inherently racist and it's all to do with click-baiting and page-turning you still have to ask why it's the same faces recycled. Whether it's purely circumstantial or not, you can't help feel that some parts of old media always revert to stereotype. Be it consciously or subconsciously (it's the former). I see a distinction. Others will say there is no distinction, that I'm (along with others) are creating one based on the colour of someones skin and that doing so constitutes inverted racism. Whatever that's meant to mean in this instance.
It's far easier to pretend there is no pattern or narrative and accuse the ones that do see it as being delusional. As opposed to admitting that there just might be something underhanded festering deep. That's the crux of it. Take away the tone of someones face and you're left with a poor versus rich story arc to make men that could have been heroes appear like complete zeros, to anger up the blood and have us hating them even more because hate sells newspapers and pushes up traffic for websites. If you admit to that at the very least, then you can let me know why the poster boys are always printed the same colour. The truly ugly epiphany is when you start to consider why those in certain parts of the media persist with it. What exactly are the expectations for the content the readers desire?
You could believe in this
You could believe in that
If you multiply opinion
Then it becomes fact
I aint saying thats real
Im saying thats how they act
Thats why i am the student
Thats why i keep track
~ Spit Gemz - El Estudiante