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My Gran once told me that to be clever was harder to live with than being dense. She was referring to another family member rather than me, sadly, but the point has merit: a vivid imagination, and an awareness of what's going on in the world (rarely cheery) can lead to the spirits being severely dampened in a way that those who sail serenely through their days, unencumbered by the chin scratching problems of the Middle East, or disease in West Africa, are untroubled by. I had never thought that bright people were suffering a drawback, but then life is full of contradictions.

 

For the cerebral football fan, the close season allows far too much time to think about such things, the lack of action leaving the professorial punter to mull over thoughts which can normally be shunted aside in favour of yelling at the ref, the other side, or Ian Black, whichever irks you the most. Strictly speaking it’s not quite the close season, as Scotland are currently playing Qatar before a crowd which couldn’t be more Spartan were it wearing leather shorts and numbering around the 300 mark, but given the dreadful human rights record and limited footballing ability of that nation – I should make it clear I refer to Qatar - I've little desire to switch it on.

 

Talking of Qatar, FIFA's awarding of the World Cup to the Arabian state has been held up as the epitome of all that's wrong with football’s upper echelon, with the resultant slew of skeletons catapulting from cupboards at a rate that will keep Ikea busy for months repairing the damage. Ordinarily I wouldn't give it much thought, but with precious little else to do the chin is stroked and the eyebrow smoothed in concentration. Certainly, FIFA seems about as honestly run as Glasgow City Council and all but the most gullible will surely welcome a new era, should it arise, but was it – is it – all that bad?

 

After all, it was this ostensibly most corrupt body which took the World Cup to Africa, and which plans to take it to the Middle East. These are, all other considerations aside, ‘good things’ which probably wouldn't happen were the decision to be made on logistical or practical grounds, since the alternative - domination of hosting by first world countries, grudgingly interspersed with the odd visit to a South American country - is surely not a means by which the game will evolve worldwide. It's a strange contradiction that an appalling body came up with some good decisions. It maybe by the wrong route, and for the wrong reasons, but the right decisions nevertheless...in some ways.

 

In the reaction to the FIFA news, contradiction abounds. On Friday, Nicola Sturgeon joined the ranks of those calling for a rerun of the World Cup bidding process, should it be found to be corrupt. Which is, I suppose, fair enough, but as noted earlier the result will likely be the biggest boys in the playground taking all the toys again; and anyway, it’s slightly obscene to hear, rising from the south, the far from lily-white voices of English football loudly assert the moral high ground, and even more so to hear their media cheerleaders, surely the last people who have a right to voice concerns about morality, join in.

 

Such contradictions are rarely felt as such by the people or bodies which are held to suffer from them as by others, looking on. The writer Kipling was held to be the poet laureate of Imperialism, yet frequently lionised Indian cultures as vastly superior to British; he seemed to manage all right with these perceived polar opposites. More locally, many Scots football fans like to talk, at length, about how Rangers are dead…then talk, at length, about Rangers with an energy which, had Dr. Frankenstein used it in his lab, would not only have revived the monster but lit up the village below as well. A sad end for the guy who owns the burning torch and pitchfork shop, but notwithstanding that it’s a contradiction which non-Bears seem to carry off without much effort.

 

There’s maybe confusion in my mind between contradictions and perceptions. For the Gersnet reader, the current thread berating the BBC for institutional bias again raises the question of whether we're helped or hindered by the press and broadcasters. But as we're hardly alone in feeling bruised by media coverage, something isn’t right: we can’t all be victmised, surely? I mean, yesterday's Guardian carried a story from within Labour's hierarchy during the general election which reveals that the party felt the BBC were massively helpful to the SNP, and wafted them forth on a fair wind of coverage to their startling success at the ballot box. And yet, in their distaste for the BBC, the SNP are matched only by Rangers fans, with both groups having held protests outside the Pacific Quay bunker, inside which staff cover tremulously before launching more propaganda both for and against everyone.

 

For as well know, many fans from across the city (and across the country) are equally convinced that the BBC operate exclusively on behalf of Rangers FC, which is dead, except it isn't while they're frothing about it on Radio Scotland, while plenty of Bears are convinced that the same body gives one club in particular a ridiculously easy ride. Unless the media operates by picking on everyone all the time, someone’s got it wrong.

 

Maybe it would be the ultimate contradiction were Rangers fans and the SNP to organise some joint protest at that sounding board for everyone's angst, BBC Scotland. Watching their coverage of both football and politics I struggle to understand why anyone thinks they are pro-SNP or, even more laughably, pro-Rangers, but everyone needs an Aunt Sally to chuck coconuts at, I guess. The BBC, and BBC Scotland in particular, seems able to unite Rangers and Celtic fans in a way not seen since that lad drove a jeep into Glasgow Airport and, despite being in flames at the time, was promptly set upon by a posse of vengeful Glaswegians, delighted to put the boot in against a common enemy.

 

I’m far from immune to all this - as a Rangers supporting SNP voter I feel I have the pleasure of being held in contempt on both counts by most media outlets, as well as plenty of Rangers fans. The campaign trail offered many opportunities for the Bluenose voter to accuse me of being a twice-over traitor. Not a single person mentioned it, though, despite my being very clear where my allegiances lay when the subject of the fitba came up, as it always does in the west of Scotland, which suggests any link between football and politics is pretty tenuous.

 

And anyway, given the election result, it's pretty certain that a great swathe of Rangers fans voted for the SNP, so maybe that's not such a great contradiction after all. Yet we’re still portrayed as the club of Unionism, and for some simpletons on social media there’s nothing to pick between the Orangefest in George Square this weekend and the people who follow follow at Ibrox.

 

The argument doesn’t hold water, from any side. After all, if Rangers fans were as homogenously against the Nationalists as some like to claim Brendan O'Hara would hardly have romped to victory in Argyll & Bute, while, equally, Mhairi Black's victory in Paisley suggests Celtic fans don't give much thought to football when voting, given her widely broadcast youthful view of them.

 

I don't suppose these examples, backed up by the votes of tens of thousands of West of Scotland people, will persuade the most 'vigorous' on whatever side. Nothing will. But it does highlight, for those who care to see, that football and politics are as firmly separated in Scotland as Gwyneth Paltrow and him out of Coldplay.

 

Whatever expressions of political views fans come out with in years to come, I don’t suppose they’ll pay much attention to the impressive levels of indifference their best efforts have generated across the country. Yet some people will defend them, and berate them, and devote hours and hours of their time online and on air to something which has become, deservedly, super-niche. If you’re looking for contradictions, look no further.

 

PS - Someone on the radio yesterday made the very good point that Barcelona, most beloved of world clubs, happily run rings round the opposition with Qatar Airways emblazoned on their shirts, and face no opprobrium whatsoever. It's a funny old world!

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For as well know, many fans from across the city (and across the country) are equally convinced that the BBC operate exclusively on behalf of Rangers FC,

 

Really? I don't recall Celtic fans protesting outside the BBC Scotland offices or BBC Scotland being banned from interviewing Celtic's management.

 

I'm sure there are various media that both sets of fans look upon as being as biased against them (Record?), but I don't recall BBC Scotland getting anywhere as much criticism from Celtic fans as Rangers fans over the last 10-15 years.

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Really? I don't recall Celtic fans protesting outside the BBC Scotland offices or BBC Scotland being banned from interviewing Celtic's management.

 

I'm sure there are various media that both sets of fans look upon as being as biased against them (Record?), but I don't recall BBC Scotland getting anywhere as much criticism from Celtic fans as Rangers fans over the last 10-15 years.

 

Well, they do think the BBC is against them and they do think it's still run by an establishment cabal. I'm not saying they're right - they're clearly delusional - but the feeling is there, just the same.

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Well, they do think the BBC is against them and they do think it's still run by an establishment cabal. I'm not saying they're right - they're clearly delusional - but the feeling is there, just the same.

 

They probably think that about every media outlet but I'd argue that they do not feel anywhere near the "dislike" for them that Gers fans generally do.

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