Of Snobbery and Soccer (Theodore Dalrymple)

The glory and civilisation of France was thus reduced to eleven men on a field successfully, and admittedly with great skill, kicking a ball about. Zidane, incidentally, was a player of Maghrebian descent, the great hero of the 1998 competition and a man who looks considerably more intelligent than any of the players today; he blotted his copybook slightly when he head-butted another player, an act that he explained by saying that you can take a boy out of a slum, but you can’t take a slum out of a boy.

On the subject of football, I am a snob. I do not detest the game as such, for I accept that it can be played with skill and achieve a kind of beauty, but rather the excessive importance attached to it by millions and hundreds of millions of my fellow beings. Try as I might to expunge the thought from my mind that this enthusiasm is a manifestation of human stupidity, I cannot.

Of course, we are all of us snobbish about something or other; the important thing is to control ourselves and not express our snobbery openly, so that we do not give offence by it. I am therefore always careful to disguise my contempt for enthusiasm for football from enthusiasts. Besides, if I were to reveal it, they might hit me.

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