Ok so. Last night was billed as the second biggest football event in the sporting calendar.
The culmination of two years of qualifiers, group stages, knockouts. On top of that there was history in the making as well. Spain could lift an unprecedented third major football trophy in a row.
This was it. The big one. How would a television heavyweight like the BBC cover this? Bearing in mind that only a week before they’d drowned us in footage of Gazza’s tears in a rabble-rousing montage of hyperbolic knee jerk inducing imagery so strong that it even had my dog barking along to God Save the Queen like a humble citizen.
The final itself didn’t disappoint. Even the neutral was swayed by the way that Spain’s tika taka approach ripped through the Italians. Four goals. Super Mario getting emotional. What a game!
Well. Unless you’re the BBC.
You see, it seems that the BBC think the tournament came to an end last week when England crashed out. Despite the fact that the vast majority of Europe and the world aren’t actually English, the Beeb didn’t give the impression that they gave a flying toss about this game and the pomp and ceremony that surrounded it.
Like sulky kids who want to take the ball home cos they’re not deployed up front they decided that the final of the European cup was barely worthy of their attention.
Let’s start with the magnificent pre-match closing ceremony. A chance for the hosting nations to shine and show the world that they really can throw a party. Forget the early skirmishes between fans, Ukraine & Poland want you to know they did a good job in their no expense spared appeal to the world.
Well. To most of the world. The Beeb decided all that gubbins was wayyyyy less interesting than Lineker, Shearer, Hansen et al indulging in a quick round of dull-as-dishwater pre-match analysis where they talked about subjects as inciteful as Spain’s playing style, the genius of Pirlo/Iniesta and the volatility of Balotelli.
If you wanted to watch the culmination of enough spending on entertainment by Poland & the Ukraine to rescue Greece (for an hour) then you had to do it through that precious resource known as the red button. Otherwise you just got to hear Alan Shearer telling us that Spain were a good team.
Then there was the game itself. Blimey what a game eh? Enough to get anyone excited. European finals. Spain rampant. The world cup awaits? I figure the only person watching who wasn’t excited was the ever-depressing presence of co-commentator Mark Lawrensen, who appeared to spend the entire game moaning about players making too much of being tackled and wondering why Liverpool ever sold Alonso. At one point I thought I heard him swear and I wondered about all the kids who stayed up late to watch the final as accompanied by his depressing dirge.
That was when things got weird. Cos the BBC must have thought of that. They only fucking had a red button offering CBBC commentary for kids. In a bid to escape Lawro’s suicide-watch banter I switched up immediately.
The result was a three-way-amphetamine-pumped-see-saw between unwitting genius, absolute banality and a nihilisitc absence of anything that had me laughing, cringing and wondering where the respect for the tournament had disappeared to in equal measure.
The CBBC presenters weren’t so much commentating, but having a conversation about football generally. But not a conversation you have in seasoned opinionated pub talk terms. A conversation you might have with someone who wants to know what football is but no-one knows in the conversation. So you just end up asking each other stupid questions until someone is brave enough to change the subject or physically kill the other two.
They barely noticed when Torres scored as they were having an argument about how to explain the offside rule. It was like listening to three twenty-year old Alan Partridges on student radio go at it. In fact my listening was greatly enhanced by imagining them as wearing Alan Partridge masks.
Suddenly the football genuinely didn’t matter. It had been superseded by a farce that wouldn’t have looked amiss in The Thick of It. At one point a CBBC commentator pointed to the prophetic powers of a watcher who had texted in to say “Spain should win because Paella and Nachos are better than Pasta and Pizza” there then ensued a small debate about whether Nachos were Spanish. At some point Spain scored again but it didn’t matter. Nothing mattered any more. The football was an afterthought. Farce was the true winner and society as we know it is approaching a spectacular climax of irrelevance.
The contempt shown by the media for any tournament when England crash out is encouraging though. Roll on the Olympics when we can hopefully expect to see the red button offering up the cast of in the night garden making excitable noises during coverage of the opening and closing ceremonies.
Anything’s got to be better than Sebastien Coe!