Hunter S. Thompson had the Old Testament. Whenever he was stuck in a hotel room in the arse-end of nowhere with a deadline looming and nothing to write about he would find the book he knew that the Gideons had stashed somewhere, copy out some fire and brimstone, and the words would flow out from thereon after. Easy. My wife has not been secreting Old Testaments around the flat, I’m pretty certain of that, but on these Wednesday mornings while I flail around like a fisherman in the desert, desperate for something to knock 700 words out about, there is always someone there that I can fall back on for a bit of inspiration.
By dint of his coming from Berlin Kevin-Prince Boateng belongs in this blog. The fact that he is a footballer with a rare, outrageous and instinctive talent helps, but he is also, possibly, Germany’s most divisive footballer. He can be a preening idiot swollen with a sense of his own self worth (unfortunately a useful simile, comparing him to a puff adder, falls down here because though it does inflate itself, is wildly unpredictable and often moody as well as having the fastest strike in the animal kingdom, the puff adder is actually a bit short, a bit slovenly and bloated for our man). He was conveniently used as the scapegoat for the end of saint Michael Ballack’s career when everybody knows that Jogi wanted shot of the old carthorse anyway, and the fact that he decided to play for Ghana, the land of his Father, was seen as further proof of his lacking in any moral fibre whatsoever.
When he smashed up some cars along the Ku’damm it was hardly a revolutionary moment, but with hindsight I love the fact that these Mercedes’ belonged to the very people that are emitting orgasmic yelps at the fact that David Bowie has mentioned the same street in his latest in a line of over rated singles that champion style over substance, that stretches back over fourty years. His very bone-headedness rails against mediocrity (this is facetious, by the way. I am desperate to attract some comments to my blog, but I don’t intend to get them by condoning the mindless smashing up of cars, even if they do belong to David Bowie fans).
But last week he did something genuinely important. Kevin-Prince Boateng led his AC Milan team-mates off the field in a friendly (rarely has the word had so little meaning) against Pro Patria, bringing the attention of headline writers across the world to the fact that football’s leadership was now so morally corrupt, that it was up to the players themselves to do something about racism from the terraces in the face of hideous, vile mouthed provocation. He had the ball at his feet, but had heard enough. He simply picked it up and booted it where the insidious noises were coming from, tore his shirt off and stomped away to the tunnel. It is to his team-mates credit that they followed him.
Naturally Sepp Blatter thought he had done the wrong thing, proving unequivocally that he hadn’t. The head of world football is so repugnant that he made Silvio Berlusconi seem reasoned and logical in his responses. It should not be up to the players to fight against racism from the stands, but they had been left alone, without the backing of their governing bodies. They had been deserted for too long.
Around the same time that this happened, pictures were circulating of Ruud Van Nistelrooy blacked up at a Christmas celebration on the internet – proving the old adage that you can lead a horse faced man to water but you can’t make him think. This is a different argument, admittedly, but it proves that so many footballers do not see themselves as the moral leaders that we somehow (and possibly unfairly) expect them to be. Prince Boateng showed up the flaws in this argument, he smashed in the windows of that straw Mercedes, if you will. And for that Kevin, son of Wedding, we salute you.