There’s some sort of big football tournament coming up, apparently. It’s in Brazil, I hear, though there hasn’t been a lot about it in the public prints.
That may be something to do with the fact that the England team, although in the Maracana mix, can only choose from a squad of second-string shufflers because all the Premier League’s big shots will be appearing for their own nations, and consequently for once our chances are not being relentlessly inflated beyond all reasonable expectation.
That won’t stop the BBC sending hundreds of staff all the way to Rio and beyond to beam back every second of every game, and fill endless hours of screen time with punditry, piffle and witless shots of keepy-uppy on the beach and gauchos tucking into huge steaks. But I’m not getting tetchy about that – well, not yet.
And even though the general view is that England will do well to progress much beyond the group stages, that won’t stop fair weather fans flying red and white banners from their cars or their bedroom windows for the duration, but I’m not getting tetchy about that, either. The flags haven’t even started to sprout yet, so I can’t really get hot under the collar about something I haven’t even seen – I’ll leave that others.
So what is the grit in my oyster this week, you may be asking?
It’s commonly accepted that the beautiful game is one of the many gifts that we have presented to the world.
The way we play it may rarely have been beautiful, it may now be ruled by a bunch of blazers in Zurich, but we came up with the rules and we exported it all over the world.
And do you know what we called it? With admirable simplicity, the game that primarily involved the foot and the ball was dubbed football. All clear so far?
Now some may lean towards soccer, but they are just wrong. Soccer was only ever used to distinguish the game from rugby by the sort of inbred idiot who insists on claiming that a game that doesn’t involve a lot of kicking and isn’t even played with a proper ball could realistically be described as football. Let’s move on.
More worrying as we head towards the world’s biggest festival of football is the creeping use of a new way to describe the game – a jokey, blokey appellation that immediately marks out anyone who uses it as a Johnny come lately bandwagon jumper who claims allegiance to a Premier League side which plays at the other end of the country and which they’ve never seen play except on a big screen.
So please be on the alert as football fever begins to build.
We may not have much chance of winning, but we can only hold our heads up high if we all resolve to show an immediate red card to anyone, anywhere, who says ‘footy’.