Inspired by reading Tommy's post on sports, The Really Deep Questions, I've decided to say a little about my own views on the religion of football.
I grew up in England. English people, everybody else on the planet assures me, love football. Americans call the phenomena soccer, which often results in English people calling the American people "twats". Sports, it appears, can be divisive.
Football, or soccer (for twats), is an English religion based around a primitive ritual involving two groups of men running around a field kicking a piece of dead cow at each other and occasionally into one of two fishing nets. The English followers of the religion are waiting for the second coming of Bobby Moore who will lead them back to victory in the World Cup, as is told of in their ancient texts from 1966.
The objective of the ritual is to get the piece of dead cow into the other team's fishing net as often as possible. The team that gets the dead cow into the other's fishing net the most is declared the winner. The more rituals they win, the more fat people pay huge amounts of money to buy the same t-shirts that the winning team wear. The team can then spend that money on buying David Beckham or some other bald ape that is particularly famous at the time for kicking bits of dead cow about or marketing shaving equipment and other products. This in turn allows the team to sell more t-shirts to more fat people. Cleverly, the t-shirt design is changed often ensuring that it is easy to spot the less devout followers due to outdated t-shirt designs.
Every year there are numerous tournaments in which teams of dead cow kickers from different countries get together to see which one can get the dead cow into the fishing net the most. The winners receive a big cup and the opportunity to sell more t-shirts. This is ironic in many ways, not least because the winning team almost always seem to take off their t-shirts when they win and swap them with the losing team, giving the impression that anybody that is still wearing a winning team's t-shirt may be something of a loser.
During any particular ritual, known as a match, large groups of people known as fans, who's lives are effected in absolutely no way by the dead cow or the fishing nets, pay great attention to which dead cow kicker has the piece of dead cow, where the piece of dead cow is going, the proximity of the dead cow to the fishing nets and how much of a wanker a lunatic wearing a black t-shirt is who spends the entire ritual running around the field blowing a whistle. Occasionally a fan will be so overcome by the experience that they will remove all of their clothes and run across the field naked, being chased by the local authorities who are keen that the intellectual spirit of the ritual not be debased by the presence of wobbling breasts or a bouncing cock.
The fans are indeed fascinating and essential to the ritual. Hypnotised by the random motion of the piece of dead cow, their emotions are placed under its complete control. Since some fans support one team of dead cow kickers and other fans support the other team of dead cow kickers, football seems to follow the old adage that you can't please everybody.
Since some of the fans are invariably very unhappy about what's happening with the piece of dead cow the two groups of fans have to be separated to prevent them from killing each other before the ritual has finished. Although it does happen, especially when a particularly shiny cup is at stake, fans are discouraged from sacrificing each other even after the ritual as presumably dead fans will result in lower t-shirt sales. General violence however is very common and after any ritual numerous ripped and bloodied t-shirts will have to be replaced.
Now, the interesting thing about the religion of football is just how popular it is. It's a much bigger business than Christianity, Islam or any of the other religions that battle it out for the fans in England. Some believe this is because football is less boring, but careful observers see no evidence that this is true. Others have pointed out that both Christianity and Islam have yet to integrate a truly effective t-shirt strategy into their practices. Mosques and Churches also have extremely inadequate bar and fast food facilities on site, which is certainly a major mistake, but overall it may simply be that the level of violence in the theistic religions is simply too great. People prefer activities they feel comfortable taking their children to, after all.
Footballism (soccerism, for twats) may be the world's largest religion. People from every nation will line up and scream emotionally for a glimpse at an ape called David Beckham at any chance they get. Many people in China will work long hard hours on a sub-minimum wage making t-shirts with the name of a football team from England on just so that after a hard months work they'll have sufficient funds to buy one of those t-shirts for themselves. The t-shirt tithe system has made Footballism such a wealthy religion that football teams and particular dead cow kickers are often paid vast sums of money to associate with numerous other products that have absolutely nothing to do with football. If they did they would make playing the sport very difficult indeed, although almost certainly much more fun to watch. These products range from minivans to moisturisers, and razor blades to extremely unhealthy processed foods for children. It is estimated that without David Beckham, a particularly famous dead cow kicker, as much as 80% of the planet's marketing economy would collapse.
If you find that you are unfortunate enough to attend a football ritual here is some brief advice that may be of use. Do not watch the ritual. It will be extremely boring. Watching the fans will be far more interesting and it is obviously far safer to remain alert. If one of the dead cow kickers of the team the fans around you support (see t-shirt tithe) happens to get the dead cow into the other teams fishing net then it is vital that you immediately stand up and shriek like an orgasmic baboon to blend in. Do not be alarmed when complete strangers around you start to touch you, hug you and possibly even kiss you in ways that you may consider rather gay. Homoerotic displays of instant and profound affection are a common response to a dead cow fishing net convergence. The fan will usually stop jumping up and down rubbing his groin against you and screaming after a short time. So far there are no solid data to suggest that you are at significant risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease whilst attending a football match.
You should at no time say anything to a fan that could be construed as a compliment to the other team. It is also highly important that you shout insults at the whistle blowing lunatic with the black t-shirt, officially known as The Wanker, whenever anybody around you begins to do so.
It would be extremely unwise and potentially very dangerous to laugh at the tsunami of misery that will strike the fans around you whenever the piece of dead cow finds its way into their team's fishing net. This can be very hard to resist, so please do be prepared. Since football fans can be a little touchy, especially when their fishing net has been well used, immediate tensions can often be dissipated by complimenting someone on the pleasantness of their t-shirt. Shouting at The Wanker can also be a useful way to divert attention if you need to make your escape.
Finally, after the football match you should do everything you can to leave as quickly as possible and get as far as you can from the area. The losing team will be extremely keen to beat up anybody that isn't wearing the same t-shirt as them and the winning team will be overwhelmed by alcohol fuelled homoerotic urges towards anyone that is. A neutral t-shirt is usually a good idea. Remember, at no time should you reveal yourself to be a twat, an American visitor, by using the word "soccer", which is considered blasphemy by most.
I hope this brief introduction to the beliefs and practices of Footballism has been useful to you. Next week, Rugby – a similar religion in which large men try to bury their faces in each other's rectums whilst attempting to get a piece of dead pig over a giant letter H.
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