Let Battle Commence
Note: The item below is a letter we have received from a gentleman who has what we believe is an original idea in the field of sport. We suspect he may have been inspired by his own name.
To the editor of Madazine.
I write in the hope that you might find space in your pages to publicise a proposal I have for enhancing our sporting scene. I have thought of a way in which the game of soccer could be made much more attractive than it is at present, though I have to admit that my idea also has within it the seeds of the game’s destruction.
What I have in mind is that football hooliganism is currently more often than not disorganised, frequently being spontaneous rather than planned. That could be changed with great benefit all round. My suggestion is that instead of trying to discourage this behaviour, the authorities should promote it by asking thugs to be fully prepared when attending matches, so that they could set about their work in a more systematic manner than they do now.
My scheme requires the ruffians to appear armed with their usual weapons, knowing in advance that that they will be welcomed. However, should any of them be so remiss as to forget or lose the tools of their trade, they would not need to despair. The system I am advocating includes provision for each turnstile to have its own boutique supplying a wide variety of instruments of mayhem, such as knives, blackjacks, knuckledusters, knobkerries, bicycle chains, shields, daggers, swords, helmets, net and trident sets, bows and arrows etc. This would have the added advantage of enabling soccer clubs to increase their incomes.
Though the emporia at the admission points would be excellent sources of revenue, their takings could not approach the funds brought in by the most lucrative idea in my scheme. This would arise from the clubs getting two sets of gate receipts, the first tranche paid by the thugs to allow them to occupy the playing area and put on their performances, the second by appreciative crowds encouraging them.
There would of course be a transition period. At first, the footballers would remain on the field and do whatever they could, though they would obviously be hampered by the competing roughnecks. Eventually, those who now play the game would disappear altogether, as their behaviour, atrocious though it is at times, could hardly compete with the shows put on by the new entertainers described here. I mean, tripping, ankle-tapping, shirt-pulling, lavish spitting and cursing are really tame offerings compared with what genuine brawlers could do.
I foresee a situation in which every stadium currently used for soccer becomes a latter-day Amphitheatrum Flavium,* where the foremost louts could acquire reputations similar to those achieved by the leading gladiators of old. Some might become professionals, receiving payments matching the outrageous sums now paid to professional soccer players. After all, if in addition to paying their own admission fees, then attracting vast numbers of spectators to view their antics, the hoodlums would be worth a great deal of money to organisers.
In conclusion I would like to stress that my proposal is limited to association football and that I have no notion of extending it to any other sport. Indeed, I laughed loud and long when I outlined my idea to a friend and he asked me why I did not include rugby. That’s a non-starter because those who fancy themselves as toughs could hardly equal the violence already displayed in that branch of sport. Incidentally, I believe we should give the new game an appropriate name and here I think that submissions from the public might be the best way to get a satisfactory result. I am happy to start the ball rolling with my favourite – turmoil. (I did think of pandemonium but dropped this because I felt that most of the participants wouldn’t be able to spell such a long word.)
I hope that what I have put forward here will find favour with the soccer administrators.
* Please note that I have used this medieval term to describe the famous Roman arena because I have no intention of being dragged into the tiresome spelling debate about the words Colosseum and coliseum. My preferred source tells me that the first should be used to describe the original stadium and the second for any later one resembling it. That will do for me.
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