Now is Love, Sweet Love…
Please pardon the ancient song and the hippy-dippy sentiment of this Bacharach-David classic just as I plan to pardon the lyricist for ending a sentence with a preposition and the you-tube ‘artist’ for misspelling various words on his/her video… In fact, this is what I’m talking about…
That’s a couple of Englishman celebrating a Frenchman’s goal, even if the two in the foreground might be competing for playing time. It’s a team game, after all…
Likewise, today at Wembley, two teams will play football. The one will be trying to “beat” the other, but, really, it’s a gathering for the fans of the game. One which–if our hearts are in the right place–we can choose to make beautiful.
With the events last Friday in Paris, we need this reminder. Football, at the end of the day, is NOT about one team winning (and all others losing). It’s a game where more is at stake. Yes, competition is a part of it, but it’s also an exchange between people and cultures. If we adhere to simple rules–including respect for our opponents–football has the power to bring people from the far flung corners of the earth together.
As in life, if we do not, uglier things can happen.
I’m all for recognizing differences…France and England ARE different (and Vive La Difference, I say…) just as Arsenal and Spurs are different. That said, all four of those teams contain young men of many colors and nationalities and religious backgrounds and beliefs. Supporters may not see it quite that way and their support might be on the basis of longer standing divisions. Still, if you want the game to go on, respect for the similarities–even more than the differences–is the key.
In the end, it’s just football. Or is it? I would suggest it’s young men–no matter what kit they pull on–coming together to enjoy sport, competition (friendly or fierce) and fun–ideally in an environment of respect if not beauty or even love.
The Christian prophet (Jesus) said “Love Thine Enemy.” Trust me, I’m no Christian, but if there was ever a time to NOT divide the world based on national or racial or religious background, today is that day.
So, tonight in London, let’s do just that.
Then, tomorrow, in London (or rather up at London Colney, which is actually in Hertfordshire) let’s do it again when the Arsenal first team re-unites to train for West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.
The games must go on (as they say)… but maybe they can go on even better…
Today we have two posts linked to the England v France Friendly….
Today’s friendly between England and France made me think about how much France has become part of Arsenal and indeed English football.
France is one of my favourite countries and we spent many a holiday over there. Once you drive south of Lyon, you know you have entered a totally new area of Europe. From the Ardeche and Cevennes to the lower Alps and Aix-En-Provence, the world is pretty much perfect during the summer months over there. But Paris in Spring, and especially in Autumn, is also great, and so are summer holidays in the Bordeaux, Dordogne, French Pyrenees areas; and a week in Bretagne or Strasbourg is also a real treat. From food to architecture and from the gorgeous femmes (armpit hair and all) and stunning sceneries, France is a great country.
It is hard to envisage Arsenal without any of the French connections over the past 20 years or so. Just imagine there never was an Arsene Wenger, Petit, Vieira, Anelka, Henry, Pires, Sagna, Flamini, Clichy, etc etc at Arsenal. How much wonderful football would we have missed out on; how many trophies would we not have won; how much style and flair would never have graced Highbury and Ashburton Grove, or indeed the rest of England?
The sad and horrific events in Paris last week Friday will cast a shadow on today’s friendly. As a Dutchman, being both a Francophile and Anglophile at the same time, I do not feel the usual rivalry between the English and French. I reckon that in normal circumstances today’s game would not be played as a friendly but a lot feistier. Tonight, though, is about showing respect and support for the French and that we are united through similar values and beliefs across Europe.
However, I am still looking forward to seeing some of our Arsenal boys on the pitch, and I hope the game has a good tempo, with lots of passion to play some good football. As a measure of respect, I have put together the best possible French Arsenal team from players who donned The Shirt over the best part of the last twenty years. Just imagine all these players playing at the peak of their careers for Arsenal… we could have Arsene in goal and still win the league! 🙂
Victory Through Harmony – Victoria Concordia Crescet!!