Sunday, 20 June 2010

Was Fabio Cappello ever a primary school teacher?

The other day there was a report in Midi Libre, our local paper, of an interview with a primary school teacher from Boulogne who had moved to the south. Twenty years or so ago she had had a lad called Franck Ribéry in her class. 'C'était un petit dur,' she said. Her meaning lies somewhere between 'he was a tough little nut' and 'he was a little hooligan'. She went on to say that he achieved nothing in school (if you achieve nothing in primary school it's unlikely that you'll achieve anything at secondary level, although miracles happen) and that he lived only for playing football. Deprivation of football, or the threat of it, was her only means of bringing him to heel.

This Franck Ribéry is clearly an outstanding footballer who has played in his time for Lille, Galatarasay, Marseille, Bayern Munich and for the French national team. He's instantly recognisable by his punchy, rapier-like style of play and by the disfiguring scars on his face, caused by a car accident when he was a small child.

At the moment Ribéry, who has converted to Islam, is with the rest of the French World Cup team in Knysna, their HQ in South Africa. The French team is even unhappier than the English team. Despite the obvious quality of their players they seem unable to score any goals at all, let alone win. French team supporters are practically suicidal. Their despair is further deepened by the scenes of the greatest excitement and frenzied celebration in France when Algeria held England to a draw the other evening. The north African presence in France is enormous.

Raymond Domenech, the meek and unassuming French manager, is usually made the scapegoat for French failure.

Yesterday however, new troubles bubbled up from the depths. Nicolas Anelka was sent home after hurling insults at Domenech which sound surprisingly prim and verge on the comic in translation: Go and sodomize yourself, son of a dirty prostitute. (Ruderies in Romance languages lack the more robust Anglo-Saxon directness.)

Yesterday too there was a television discussion about the roots of French failure, and some extraordinary revelations came out. It appears that at the heart of the French team there's a clique, what the French call un 'clan', a term often applied to the mafia or criminal gangs, of four or five players who resent or accept the presence of other players, however gifted, according to their readiness to knuckle under to the clique on and off the field. If a player ostracised by the clique is played on the wing, for instance, it can happen that that wing will be starved of passes. The ball is passed to outcasts only with reluctance. The clique is greater than the team and than the nation it represents. The term caïd, gang boss, was aimed at Ribéry. Anelka is too individual a player to be accepted by the clique. Domenech's greatest problem has been his failure to root out this noisome growth.

And his failure to consult primary school teachers.

This couldn't happen in the BMCC, could it?


Dave said...

I haven't even had to resort to the naughty step in the BMCC, so far this season.

Christopher said...

She must have come pretty close to it, though, mustn't she?

Vicus Scurra said...

Now you have disproved my idea that no one has anything worthwhile to say about football.
You'll be finding something nice to say about Thatcher next.

Spadoman said...

This is the best op-ed piece I've read about the World Cup! Here in "Merica", we all know what football really is, and it isn't what their doing in South Africa, that's soccer.
Now share with me what the BMCC is.
By the way, Like Ribéry, I was smart in the things they didn't teach in school. People were surprised so many years later that I had stayed alive and managed to feed myself let alone father children and own a home. After all, I was a terrible student and didn't even have futbol to haul me in, (now if the teacher would have used girls as a carrot.....)
Peace to you and all you hold dear.

Charlene said...

I've been watching the World Cup. The first week end they even broadcast the US vs England game on network TV here. Anticipating the minor games wouldn't be, I upgraded the cable. Only way I can watch though is with the TV on mute!

Anotoher note, the commercials are clever and bunched into nice sets that allow small home errands without missing the play.

Rog said...

Come on Christoff, it's only a game!

I have, however, pinched Nicolas Anelka's swearing for an email to my ex brother in law. It has just the style and substance I was looking for.

Geoff said...

If only England had a clique they might put some passes together.

moreidlethoughts said...

*sneaks quietly in through back door*
what happened to Italy?
"runs away."

Christopher said...

Vicus: I'll do my best, but it won't be easy...

Spadoman: Good to see you back. Thanks for calling in. BMCC stands for Bow(e)l Movement Cricket Club, an imaginary cricket XI which exists mainly to allow our gallant captain to accomplish great deeds and to have something to blog about every Sunday. This is England, after all, so you must forgive us our eccentricities.

Charlene: Hi. We too watch the occasional match with the sound off, because of the appalling noise of the vuvuzelas. Clever commercials? You are very, very lucky.

Rog: Very glad to be of any service connected with effective communication.

Geoff: Isn't that a cleek you're holding in your image?

MIT: ITALY? Or did you mean BURMA?

Z said...

No, no, the vuvuzelas are great. I've completely withdrawn my objections and I wish they hadn't banned them at Wimbledon.

If you think that an invitation to self-buggery and gross offensiveness to a man's mother is prim, I would be enthralled to hear the directness of your insults. But the BMCC is a whole teamful of individualists, isn't it? I can't imagine any cliques there. Maybe a few get-togethers behind the pavilion, but in a one-to-one sort of way.

Christopher said...

No, no, Z, it was the insult IN TRANSLATION that sounds prim, etc. Anelka's original French would have been offensive enough to another Frenchman. I myself tend not to insult people, certainly not in such terms - sorry to disappoint. As for the BMCC, I only know one of them, and him not as well as you do, so I shouldn't comment on the level of individuality.

Z said...

Ah, my apologies. Going by the bit in brackets, I thought you were referring to translation the other way. But now I see what you mean.

mig said...

Are vuvuzelas those things that sound like a horde of angry wasps? I wonder what effect the noise has on the players.