What’s so “beautiful” about football?

The tabloids are already bristling with excitement and soon flags will be fluttering from every patriot’s bedroom window. With the same grim inevitability as a trip to the dentist, I have to accept it’s football time again. Is it the World Cup? Really, I’m not entirely sure. I know there’s something about to happen because everyone’s talking about it and I’m already bored. You will have gathered I am not a fan. I put this down to the fact that I have no natural ability to kick a ball (or throw one for that matter). So pathetic are my soccer skills that when, aged 17, I asked my dad when he first realized I was gay, he said, “I stood and watched you trying to play football… then I knew.”

Truth is, I only like things I’m good at. It’s a weakness, a character flaw exposing my insecurities and a fear of failure that’s excluded me from the joys of opera, salsa and wallpapering. To me, football just means groups of bibulous blokes intimidating nice people on trains; rowdy overweight men in red nylon shirts outside Weatherspoons, where testosterone and beer flow in each measure; and (revoltingly) politicians pretending to be caught up in the national spirit. Like Gordon Brown claiming to enjoy the Arctic Monkeys on his iPod (bless him), the public can spot these cringe-worthy PR ploys a mile off. Hard luck then, when an English politician admitting no interest in football is akin to an American congressman from Ohio admitting he’s an atheist – they’d be shown a red card and banished to the benches. Hardly “the beautiful game”.

So I’d like to speak up for the football anti-fans. The clear-headed folk with more important things to concern themselves with than a 22 year-old millionaire’s ankle bone, who are not rushing out to buy a 65 inch telly from Tesco, and who would rather watch the Antiques Roadshow with a nice cup of tea than a bunch of strangers kicking a bag of wind about a field for 90 minutes. Our voices should be heard, if only we dare speak out!