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  • Jacob Sweetman: Unfriendly business


Jacob Sweetman: Unfriendly business

The Sportsdesk is repeating itself. How come we must endure another god forsaken international break, filled up to the brim with meaningless friendlies? I'm bored of it now and would rather watch the Berlin-Liga.

There used to be an old BBC programme – hell, there may still be one – called Points of View. It was an old fashioned show where old ladies could write in and complain about whatever it was they were apparently forced to watch that week, and what was so morally repugnant about it. Every letter read out started with the line “Dear Points of View, Why, oh why, oh why…”

It was a stocking filler of a show, taking 20 minutes without any effort in actual production, and was as cheap and easy to put together as an origami napkin – as well as killing a bit of a public service bird at the same time. This was though, of course, back in the days when everyone at the BBC was a paedophile, or at least a raging moral degenerate, unlike the good folks who write for papers like the famously Nazi appeasing, and by-no-means women-hating Daily Mail, or those who populate SKY TV or any of Rupert Murdoch’s other pet propaganda rags who have, in no way, a vested interest in the demise of the BBC.

Sorry, I forget myself. This isn’t about the BBC, at all. This is the Sportsdesk – where was I? Oh yeah: why, oh why, oh why are Germany playing Holland tonight apart from an effort to make some cash out of a game that nobody really cares about (and not just a game, one of the world’s defining rivalries, a game that should raise the hairs on the back of ones neck as opposed to performing the equivalent of a Brazilian wax job on them)? Oh, why is England playing Sweden, why is Saudi Arabia hosting Argentina, or Andorra Iceland? Jesus Christ on a chuffing bike, does anyone really care?

The answer, the simple one at least, is no, nobody cares, but such is modern football. I was reminded of this on Sunday afternoon watching the Reinickendorf Füchse take on Hürtürkel in the Berlin-Liga – the sixth tier of the ladder. It was cold and grey, the air over the Friedenstadion was simply hanging there, like a long haired dog hung out on the line after a thorough steam cleaning. But it was fantastic. The players tore into each other as if – and this is a radical idea for all of those who will be watching the friendlies tonight – it really mattered.

There was no cash at stake, just pride. They didn’t go home and tweet about the ref, they just bitched at him on the pitch like players always have done, and then trudged away, knowing there was little else they could do about it. It was as gloriously ugly as the beautiful game should be. It was brilliant, damp, chilly and as emotive as any experience can be when they don’t bother opening the bar because of the lack of punters under 70 and over 18.

The Berlinliga on Saturday also played host to an international match of sorts when Türkiyemspor beat Club Italia 3-2. Türkiyem’s press release described it as being the “Mittelmeer Derby”, which is putting things a little strongly, but then what is the point of hyperbole if not to big-up small games of football where everything is actually really important to a small amount of people.

They may be higher up, but I’m sure that the fans of BFC Dynamo would like to be in the Berlin-Liga, where the games are keenly contested and some passion is always bubbling under. It is, as my colleague Stephen Glennon, described it – “the best league in the world”. Alright, he might not have quite said that, but it is certainly more entertaining than the self-proclaimed best league in the world, the English Premier League. It is like all of the best things in life. It is Franklin D. Roosevelt without polio, like roller-skating on jelly, like Adidas gear without the slave labour.

So enjoy your international friendlies. I won’t be watching, I can’t be bothered, and there has never been a good one yet. I’ll just sit here and wait for the next round in the crappy leagues, down on the bottom rungs. I’ll be happiest when the game’s matter and the dank air permeate the thickest of jackets. Where traditional number 10s are fat and the back four are actually numbered two to five, 

God I love the Berlin-Liga.