Perhaps Marcus Rashford was trying to be too precise. Whilst Frank Lampard, my dad and thousands of others criticised Rashford’s stuttering steps in the build-up to his penalty, he successfully sent Gianluigi Donnarumma the wrong way. Had his effort been just a few inches to the right it would have been hailed as a brilliant penalty. But elite sport is a game of inches.
By Isaak Lewis-Smith
Tonight, at the Estadio do Dragao in Porto, Chelsea play Manchester City in what is set to be a mouthwatering finale to this year’s UEFA Champions League. The only sporting competition I know the theme tune for, I’ve hardly missed a final since that famous night in 2005 when Steven Gerrard’s Liverpool hauled themselves back against Carlo Ancelotti’s inimitable AC Milan.
by Howard Green
From a certain perspective, mobilisation amongst football fans is something that is wasted in the route toward social progress. Frequently individuals sacrifice their money and a vast amount of their free time to follow their football club, or just to participate in the general activity of football. If this sort of frequency and mass of mobilisation were done in the name of protest and justice, we would probably see greater change in our society. But since the initial announcement of the breakaway European Super League, the views of the most loyal of football fans are not being taken into account. A powerful elite are changing their audience, and in many ways it is necessary that football fans must call out what this is: mere capitalism.
by Howard Green
There are few people in this world who have had a more eventful life than Diego Armando Maradona, who has unfortunately passed away aged 60 years on Wednesday 25th. His existence has been a tale of spectacle and interest. The man has died as one of the best footballers ever to play the game, and a hero to the Argentine people.
by Jonathan Lee
Content warning: sexual assault, racist slurs, violence
On Monday 14th October, a UEFA Euro Qualifiers match between Bulgaria and England was forced to stop on two occasions after racist abuse from Bulgarian fans was aimed at Black players on the England team. The match, which was already subject to a partial stadium ban for previous incidents of racism, saw black clad, nazi saluting, monkey-chanting skinheads hijack the proceedings and force the stadium to issue announcements and the refereee to halt the game.
The three step UEFA protocol (which reached the second step on Monday night, the third would have abandoned the match) has been criticised for being ineffective and too soft to counter discrimination. Whilst UEFA’s public reaction to the racism has been firm, calling for “football’s family” to “wage war on the racists”, whether or not neo-nazis should be given two free gos at abusing Black English players before they are punished is a valid point.
by Jonathan Lee
After the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, England football fans had enjoyed a slightly improved reputation internationally for behaving themselves a bit better at away games in Europe. This illusion was shattered last week in Portugal for all the world to see, as boozy lads in shorts and polos attacked locals with bottles, wrecked cars, and clashed with police on the streets of Porto. It turns out that, without Russian ultras and law enforcement to keep them in line, England’s lads-on-tour stag party of intolerance and imperialist nostalgia is just as present in the travelling fan culture as it always has been. Embedded homophobia, a staple of the hooligan culture of old, also reared its ugly head again in Portugal with some England fans feeling unsafe among their own supporters.
“I experienced more homophobia in 3 hours here than I did in 3 weeks in Russia,” said Joe White, an English football fan and co-founder of LGBT+ supporters group Three Lions Pride. “And this has all come from England fans” he added. “LGBT+ is clearly not welcome.”
by Jonathan Lee
You would be forgiven for thinking that any England football fan who decides to follow their team to the 2018 FIFA World Cup must be either crazy or a hooligan looking for trouble. UK Police Chiefs, senior MPs, sports experts, and – most perniciously – the British press, have all issued sombre pronouncements warning of the dangers awaiting any English football fan foolish enough to brave the shady hinterland of Mother Russia.
Earlier this week, Norwich City Football Club announced that they would be moving young season ticket holders and their accompanying adults out of their seats over safety concerns caused by supporters standing up during matches. Fans are not permitted to stand in seating areas of the stadium, and the club is responsible for enforcing this. This latest move has come as advice from a safety advisory group, who warns that the club could face their stadium capacity being reduced if fans continue to stand up during games. Safety must be the number one concern at football matches, but there have to be better options in the long term than displacing young fans who are being moved through no fault of their own.
by Mike Vinti
This weekend saw the start of Euro 2016, every European’s second favourite quadrennial football tournament. As I write, football fans of every stripe have descended on France and the op-ed writers of every political persuasion are spending their time priming think-pieces about what the clashes between England fans and the French police say about the EU referendum. However, the arrival of not-quite-the World Cup 2K16 also brings with it a chance to break away from eye-ball gauging mundanity of the referendum – to instead talk about, you guessed it, the relationship between music and football.
Football and music have always been locked in something of a confusing relationship. As someone who doesn’t really watch Football but listens to a lot of music, catching snippets of fan-made chants, usually through Facebook videos, has been my main access to the culture surrounding Britain’s favourite sport. The more attention I’ve paid to how the two interact, the more I’ve come to realise that music plays a huge, often vital role in the world of football.
by Robyn Banks
In previous years, you could be excused for not realising the women’s world cup was on. Not this year. We have been one of the few countries to broadcast every game live, albeit that games were only moved from soon to be online only BBC Three to BBC One for the quarter final, and the games have attracted a lot more attention than they have in the past. An unnecessarily sexualised image of a female footballer didn’t even cross my path, and FIFA announced that for the first time women’s football teams will appear in their annual playstation game. Perhaps it’s because we did so well, coming in third place, and everyone loves a winner, or perhaps it signifies greater steps towards the equality of women’s sports in culture.