PC Brigade 1, Football 0

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Staff member
I received this via email.

Dear All:

Below is an article on the African Cup of Nations and the BBC by Rod Liddle. It was published in the Times of London on January 31, 2004. We are quite upset by Mr. Liddle's over-generalizations, his economic use of the truth, and the racist undertones and overtones of his article. If you are similarly offended, please send an email expressing your outrage to custserve@timesonline.co.uk. If you wish to communicate directly with Mr. Liddle, you can write to rod.liddle@thetimes.co.uk. We are yet to receive a response to an email to him. We understand that a number of the recipients of this message may not share our views. If so, please ignore this message. Thank you for your cooperation.

Tinu, Ayo, Tosin, and Lanre

January 31, 2004

Liddle at large

PC Brigade 1, Football 0
The African Nations Cup is a showcase, says the BBC. Yes, says Rod Liddle, but not for sport

There was a staggeringly dull and ineptly executed football match on television the other night. Yes, OK, I get your somewhat sarcastically expressed point: quelle surprise, hold the front page, etc. But I am not talking about Manchester City versus Tottenham Hotspur on this occasion.
The match in question was between Tunisia and Rwanda, and it was part of a tournament to be shown on BBC Two and BBC Three for four weeks, replete with half-time and post-match analysis every bit as inexpert and embarrassing as the football itself. Even I switched over in the end — and I have never previously been known to turn off the football. However, plenty of other people shared my disaffection: the average viewing figure was 100,000.

The reason the match was so shocking was simple: neither team was any good at football. This was socc er at a sub-Nationwide Conference level. Plus, the presentation of the programme was as bad as the game, if not worse.

But, hell, these are minor quibbles. Because at least everybody involved in the enterprise was black. And that, you begin to think, was the important thing.

What I’d been witnessing — accidentally — was the opening game from the African Cup of Nations. This irrelevant competition is on your screens every night — and you are paying for it through the licence fee. Tunisia versus Rwanda was just the first of the multifarious treats in store. If you’re lucky, you might catch the highly fancied Benin 11 playing Morocco later in the week. Or maybe Eritrea versus Ethiopia — grudge match, that one, I reckon. Get the sandbags out. And have the UN on standby.

In the game I saw, the quality was so bad and the refereeing so useless and the commentary so naff and patronising and the analysis so amateurish that one wondered if, at first, it was a new and particularl y unsubtle satire. But, no, it wasn’t satire. It was something served up quite without irony for our entertainment.

The question that first occurs is why is the BBC showing this rubbish at all? Does anybody here care a toss who wins the African Cup of Nations, given that most African nations are crap at football? No, of course not — and nobody in the BBC would argue for a second that this was the purpose behind the coverage. The purpose behind the relentless coverage is nothing to do with football.

If it were to do with football, if it were a genuine attempt to say, look, there are great things happening in football beyond our shores, just tune in and be amazed, then the BBC would buy the rights to La Liga or maybe Serie A or, better still, the Copa America, where you would get a chance to see Brazil playing Argentina or Uruguay playing Peru. Brazil versus Argentina has a certain cachet, don’t you think? Whereas there are only two African teams in Fifa’s top 60 — and neit her is very high up. But the BBC has no plans for such coverage of South America. As I say, it’s NOT about the football. It’s something else.

You begin to find out what the something else is — were you in any doubt — when you talk to the BBC about it. After telling you that you can’t blame the BBC for the dreadful football on offer (yes, you can, actually — you shouldn’t have forked out our money for it, you mugs), they explain that the controller of BBC Three, Stuart Murphy, once worked in Africa and is “tired of clichéd depictions of the continent”. He wanted to see Africa depicted in a “positive light”. And — oh, dear me, what was the big centre-forward thinking of — his answer is to show Rwandans playing football.

Now, in previous years, on our news channels, we’ve witnessed Rwandans engaged in a sport with which they’re palpably more familiar — genocide. So maybe Stuart has a point — let’s watch them play football instead and, maybe, in the end, we’ll abandon our pre conceptions about Africa and think it’s an absolutely marvellous place to live. Trouble is, the Hutus and Tutsis seemed quite adept at genocide, whereas they’re absolutely shite at football — so where does this leave us?

Other reasons offered by the BBC include the fact that “more and more Africans are living in Britain” — yeah? How many? You counted them, Stu? — and the fact that several footballers from the premiership are out in Tunisia for the Cup of Nations. By which they mean, presumably, the perennially hopeless Lomana Lua-Lua, a handy forward at second division Colchester but neither use nor ornament at Newcastle. Oh, and when he’s sorted his finances out, the genuinely talented Jay Jay Okocha.

And so, as a result, we have useless football and Garth Crooks telling us at every conceivable opportunity how this tournament is a “showcase” for African football and look at how well the Tunisians are running it (despite the total lack of amenities for some teams and the chicanery). In other words, it is a programme which is stupid, inept and patronising, all at the same time. The African Cup of Nations might have made one humorous, perhaps heart-rending, 40-minute documentary. But, instead, the BBC has bought it for four bloody weeks and is trying to sell it to us as serious football. And what it’s actually saying is: Look at these cheerful Africans playing football! Aren’t they lovely! Never mind that they’re useless, at least they’re not murdering each other or stoning women to death!

And that’s what happens when you try to enforce political correctness from the top down; it becomes toe-curlingly embarrassing and, in the final event, actually racist.

Do you remember The Crouches? That was the “situation comedy” set in South London and featuring an exclusively African-Caribbean (or black British) cast. It was unfathomably dreadful and came, I suspect, from the BBC deciding that it had to commission a “black” situation comedy, rat her than commissioning a comedy which was funny and clever and had engaging characters and just happened to be black. Plus they got a (white) Scottish bloke to write The Crouches. Maybe that was as close to “black” as the corporation could get.

When I worked at the BBC as editor of Today I received an e-mail every day or so urging me to carry “positive” stories about Africa. These were from idiots employed in one or another unit — the diversity unit or community affairs unit, one of those euphemisms for ethnic minorities — and could be safely binned before they were even read. But the same impulse was at work: an attempt at social engineering through distorting the agenda. And, of course, none of the people who sent me e-mails was African, any more than the aforementioned Stuart Murphy is African. Africans want broadcasters to tell the truth about their continent. And they will not be fobbed off by watching Nigeria play Mauritania at football.

If I were a black Briton, I’d be mightily pissed off by what is, essentially, racist programming. I do not doubt that it is conceived with the very best of intentions, but those intentions spring from the vacuous and dangerous notions of the middle class, white, liberal. And I don’t see why we should pay for these notions any more.



Well-Known Member
Is it a surprise that this comes from a british?
I am not even going to waste my emotions by being outraged by this.:cool:
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