Football fans are a funny bunch; they have never had any doubt whatever that their enemy’s friend is their enemy. Or their enemy’s enemy is their friend. So once they dislike a team, that dislike is forever and ever. Amen.
Logic and reason have nothing to do with it. It may simply be that that hated person or team was responsible for the result that caused their team to be relegated 20 years ago. Or it might be that the person or team had won a dodgy penalty that lost their team a title or a trophy.
Whatever the reason, most fans have a team they love to hate. But what do you do when your hated team is actually quite good and fields some decent players? Or worse, when your team fields a player from a nation that is, quite literally, your enemy?
Take, for example, the case of the English dislike of Argentina. And Argentinians. This hatred was born out of the Falklands War in the late 1970’s and exacerbated to the point of virulence by Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God” goal in 1986. And it posed a particular problem for Tottenham Hotspur supporters who had in their ranks at the time the Argentine star of the 1978 World Cup and a great Spurs crowd-pleaser, Osvaldo Ardiles. A major conflict of interest was therefore in evidence, pitting the fans’ English patriotism against their loyalty to their club favourite, Ossie.
I find myself similarly conflicted these days. You see, I have my reasons to dislike both parties in the TTFF versus Anil Roberts dispute. But, truth be told, I also have an urge to support both parties, my friend’s enemy being automatically my friend, get it?
Anyway, in this dispute, I am not really as conflicted as the Tottenham supporters of the 1980’s; I’ve decided without too much difficulty that Minister Roberts is my friend. Surprised? Well, yes, so am I. But let me explain.
There is no doubt that the minister is being vindictive against Tony Harford and Lennox Watson. And this anti-football stance is easy to understand in the light of the letter written by Jack Warner instructing his colleague to cut off all funding to the TTFF until they showed themselves more plaint and malleable However, Roberts, yes, Anil Roberts, has called for accountability and transparency, in the process highlighting his ministry’s inability to accurately record information as well as the Minister’s truly amazing ability to quote figures from accounts that he has not yet seen.
But you can’t disagree, can you? Every taxpayer dollar should be accounted for, whether it be spent on defence, construction, helicopter rides, producing unnecessary and unremarked Machel Montano albums or expensive basketball projects involving high-profile NBA stars. There really should be no need to repeat this but, one never knows, there may be a minister or two reading so I shall have taught somebody something.
Anyway, Minister Roberts’ stance, though dubious, is laudable; the only problem for me is that he has not gone far enough.
Why, for instance, did he not demand full accountability of the FIFA Grassroots funding received by the TTFF for years? I look around and I see technical directors, coaches, administrators, etc, but I don’t see any grass. And for the life of me, I don’t see any youth academy.