Category Archives: football

The BBC is the real villain of football’s commercialisation

Dalrymple notes that the British state broadcaster, which is funded by a poll tax, pays hundreds of millions of pounds a year for its right to televise association football matches. He asks:

What on earth is a public body doing, funnelling huge sums from taxpayers’ pockets into organisations that could perfectly well stand commercially on their own two feet, and that require no public subsidy to survive and prosper?

He points out that the BBC

acts to drive up the very price of the rights it seeks, in order to provide a service that could perfectly well be provided without it.

He likens the state broadcasting poll tax, or ‘licence fee’, to foreign aid. It is, he says,

the means by which the poor in a rich country subsidise the rich in a rich country.

Fatuity can go no further

Twenty thousand cretins

Many decent people, writes Dalrymple, are

viscerally disgusted by the vast salaries paid to star footballers.

What also appalls is

the general culture of which football is now so large a part. (Such British newspapers as the Times and the Guardian devote more space to football than to all foreign affairs.)

There is

the sheer idiocy and bad taste of 20,000 morons who are prepared to shell out good money for shirts with Neymar’s name printed on it, and who find Neymar himself so fascinating — though it is unlikely that he is exceptional in anything other than his ability to kick a football — that they are prepared to spend their spare time reading about him.

Top soccer players’ pharaonic salaries

The pay of leading professional association footballers causes a variety of reactions, writes Dalrymple. The large salaries turn the soccer players into celebrities. Their appearance anywhere

launches a thousand cameras, and their doings, such as crashing Ferraris into a tree half an hour after they have bought them, is an inexhaustible source of gossip in celebrity magazines.

But, Dalrymple says,

almost everyone who reflects on such things is made uneasy by their salaries — to say nothing of their non-salary incomes from endorsements and advertising. What do their incomes, earning more in a week that ten teachers in a year, tell us about our society’s scale of values?

Even the most laissez-faire liberals

sometimes feel uneasy at such colossal rewards for an activity which, while entertaining and exciting, is not, or at least ought not to be, an important part of the world’s work. Very few people are immune from the feeling that something is out of kilter.

Since, Dalrymple adds,

the whole world is now run on the oldest and most durable of political philosophies, namely that of bread and circuses, the latter are flourishing.



Fillon sounds false note of national self-congratulation

screen-shot-2017-02-12-at-19-01-42Dalrymple observes that anyone who would be a candidate for the French presidency must write, or have ghost-written for him, a book, just as anyone who wants to be Britain’s prime minister must pretend to be a fan of some soccer team. This is not to say that the French are better at writing books than the English, or that the English are better at football than the French (for a start, English players tend to drink too much the night before the match).

Zowat elke persoon die Frans presidentskandidaat is, vindt het noodzakelijk om een boek te schrijven. Net zoals iedereen die in Groot-Brittannië premier wil worden, moet doen alsof hij voor een of ander Brits voetbalteam supportert. Dat wil niet zeggen dat de Fransen beter zijn in boeken schrijven dan de Britten, net zo min dat de Britten beter voetballen dan de Fransen. (Om te beginnen zijn Britse voetballers geneigd om veel te veel te drinken de avond voor de wedstrijd.)

screen-shot-2017-02-12-at-19-25-51One of the things Dalrymple finds annoying in books written by French politicians who hope to win election is the tone. It is one of national self-congratulation. The books refer to France as the country of human rights, in the same way as many Britons believe that the world envies them their health. Nobody is jealous of Britons for having miserable health and terrible hospitals, and the greatest of Francophils would hardly think of France as the country of human rights.

Een van de zaken die ik irritant vind aan boeken geschreven door Franse politici die hopen om verkozen te geraken, is de toon die je er in vindt: één van nationale zelf-felicitatie. De boeken verwijzen naar Frankrijk als hét land van mensenrechten. Precies dezelfde soort van mythe als die van de Britten die geloven dat heel de wereld hen hun gezondheidszorg benijdt. Niemand is jaloers op de Britten hun miserabele gezondheidszorg en verschrikkelijke ziekenhuizen en niemand, zelfs niet de grootste francofiel in de wereld, denkt over Frankrijk als zijnde hét land van de mensenrechten.

People who love France think of her landscapes, her towns and villages, her gastronomy, her literature, her savoir-vivre, her intellectual achievements, in short, her civilisation — in fact, everything except her human rights.

Mensen die houden van Frankrijk, houden van het land omwille van haar landschappen, haar steden en dorpen, haar keuken, haar literatuur, haar savoir vivre, haar intellectuele verwezenlijkingen… Kortom omwille van haar beschaving – in feite alles, behalve haar mensenrechten.


From P.G. Wodehouse, The Aunt and the Sluggard (1916)


France has a ‘universal vocation’, according to François Fillon. Dalrymple is allergic to nonsense of this kind.



Compulsory footballer panegyrics 

World-historical figure

World-historical figure

The hold, writes Dalrymple, that association football has

not only on the popular imagination but on that of the leaders of society, at least if their public professions of interest in it are to be believed, is wholly bad.

Hyperbole about mere footballers

reflects the regime of bread and circuses under which we live.

One silly newspaper headline reads: Cruyff, father of the modern game who shaped Dutch culture. The question that is not asked, says Dalrymple, is

what kind of culture it could be that could be shaped by a mere footballer.

Dalrymple looks back

with nostalgia to the days when footballers were just footballers, and not, in the opinion of journalists, the unacknowledged legislators of the world.

Prophylaxis against our own thoughts

Screen Shot 2015-12-26 at 08.15.00Dalrymple points out that in many public places, electronic entertainment of a deeply unpleasant kind is compulsory, including

The assumption by the management of these places, he writes, is that rather than being left to our devices, we must have the gap in our minds filled with

  • the weather forecast
  • share prices
  • football results
  • sex scandals
  • scenes of war
  • episodes of soap opera
  • cookery programmes

The stimulation

acts on the mind as a food mixer acts on vegetables.

The secret of the British economic problem

English cuisine

Emetic: English cuisine

A service economy without the service

The British no longer have the faintest idea how to prepare or serve food, either in establishments they are pleased to call restaurants or in their own homes. According to W. Somerset Maugham, the only solution when in England is to eat breakfast three times a day. But the English can no longer manage with minimal competence even to prepare a halfway-decent breakfast.

British eating houses, bar-grills, cafés and other places where dining (of a kind) goes on, from the humblest truck-stop to the most exalted, starred restaurant, are easily the worst in Europe. It is better, for example, to go to bed hungry than to risk an evening meal at, say, an English public house.

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 09.59.02

Suburban Tudor

The Moon Under Water it isn’t

Dalrymple is reminded of this when, hungry one evening and with no other dining establishment in the vicinity, he enters a pub (which, like many from the 1920s and 1930s, is built rather pleasingly in the suburban Tudor style), and is greeted by

the flashing lights of fruit machines


Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 10.45.20numerous large flat screens disposed in such a way that it was impossible to escape them. It was as if one had a duty to watch.


At least, he says, they

were all showing the same thing — a football match, football being a 24-hour activity.

Dalrymple dare not complain. British popular culture is

crude, unpleasant and inescapable; if you criticise it, you are taken for an enemy of the people.

The Codfather. Bon appétit!

The Codfather. Bon appétit!

The smell in the pub

was of stale beer and even staler fat in which standard British prolefood had been fried.

He peruses

the grubby menu, a triumph of quantity over quality. The fish dish was called The Codfather, size trumping taste. Everything came with chips, of the frozen variety.

Soupe à l'oignon

Soupe à l’oignon à l’anglaise

The table is

sticky and long unwiped.

Dalrymple orders soup. It is

packet soup which had not been properly dissolved, so that it had little balls in it that if bitten exploded into a kind of salty dust.

He orders steak, and asks for it to be rare. When it comes, it

would have been regarded as incinerated in any other country.

Fried mushrooms: at least their own weight in fat

Fried mushrooms: at least their own weight in fat

The fried mushrooms

contained at least their own weight in fat of some type.

The next morning

I woke with a strange and unpleasant taste in my mouth.

The meal

The flashing lights of fruit machines

The flashing lights of fruit machines

wasn’t even cheap.

This is the vital point. British food is not just atrocious — it is execrable value.

During the meal,

the man who had taken my order came over to my table.

Everything all right?‘ he asked.

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 11.02.01‘Yes, very good,’ I replied.

Dalrymple concludes:

The slovenliness, the bad quality, my pusillanimity: voilà the secret of the British economic problem.

Miseries annexed to a vicious course of life

Screen Shot 2015-09-18 at 09.14.15Dalrymple writes:

Not so long ago, I was asked by a newspaper to write an article denouncing the second liver transplant given to a late drunken footballer.

He declined.

Latrine cleaning needs left-handers

Screen Shot 2014-07-07 at 10.47.37Moreover,

The grossly overpaid tattooed thugs who play for England

Losers — and fuckin' proud of it!

Idle, gutless losers — and fuckin’ proud of it!

They have demonstrated themselves to be duds — utter flops. Despite their riches, their phalanxes of media supporters and their cretinous ‘fans’ (who accorded them a standing ovation after the side’s worst ever World Cup performance), they simply aren’t any good at all, says Dalrymple,

at what they do, which is hardly surprising in view of contemporary British culture.