There are many reasons why soccer is, by far, the world’s most popular sport. The drama on the field, the passion in the stands, and the seemingly endless supply of peculiar and hilarious stories all make soccer such a great sport to follow. Last week we had artificial clouds. This week, we get the hilarity of a great and proud London club and their now seemingly permanent relationship with Michael Jackson. (Yes, that Michael Jackson)
Fulham Football Club, a London based team with a legacy dating back to the late 1800’s, is owned by Mohamed Al-Fayed, an Egyptian businessman and father of the late Dodi Al-Fayed who died in a car crash with Princess Diana. Besides being Fulham’s owner, the elder Al-Fayed apparently is also Michael Jackson’s most intense fan and he has decided all of Fulham’s faithful are as well, or at least they should be. After erecting a statue of the King of Pop outside of Craven Cottage, the team’s home, Al-Fayed has this to say…
“Football fans love it. If some stupid fans don’t understand and appreciate such a gift, they can go to hell. I don’t want them to be fans. If they don’t understand and don’t believe in things I believe in, they can go to Chelsea, they can go to anywhere else.”
Now it is possible that Mr. Al-Fayed had a close and personal relationship with Michael Jackson. And it may also be possible that he believes Jackson to be the greatest singer of all time, and therefore a statue of him belongs anywhere and everywhere. But does he really believe that if one or more of the thousands of his club’s faithful, who pay their hard-earned money to cheer on their club year after year, do not share his love for the King of Pop that they should “go to hell”?
And what about the players? Has he gone through his dressing room and asked what they think of Michael Jackson? And the ones who are not such big fans of Jackson’s music, will they be moved to other clubs? A ridiculous notion, perhaps, but this does seem like a very passionate employer we are dealing with here.
On a serious note, Al-Fayed suggests that those fans he speaks of should go find another club, and who could blame the ones that do? And to make matters worse, he broadens his arrogance to include “all things I believe in”, a frightening idea to say the least. Many football fans, just like fans of sports teams here in the United States, come from families who have supported their club for generations. The least they should be allowed to do is express their dislike of such a ridiculous display of arrogance, and, by the way, a statute that looks only slightly better than a five dollar plastic christmas ornament.
But those of us across the blogosphere, and obviously only those of us who do not support Fulham, must thank Mohamed Al-Fayed for a good laugh today. Cheers!
By Dave McBride