The Premier League Is Back. England’s Griping About It Never Stopped.

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And most of all, it was there in the fraught discussion over how, and even if, the season should be resolved. That conversation was conducted not only between soccer fans and the public, but among soccer fans themselves, between those who longed for their passion to return, a signpost that life might once again return to normal, and those adamant that even thinking of a mere game demonstrated the most warped priorities.

To some extent, of course, it was a false dichotomy — it was possible to want soccer to come back, to end the season on the field, even while it felt too soon to be discussing it — and it was not always a discussion held in good faith. Much of the debate was rooted in tribal loyalty, in believing that what was best for your team — or what was worst for your rival — just so happened to be best for all.

  • Updated June 16, 2020

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But it was striking, still, to see lifelong fans of a club, or of a sport, rail against the meaning of that club, or that sport: to hear the conviction with which they claimed soccer did not matter, even if the consequence might be that their club suffered, or ceased to exist; to read of the anonymous executives convinced of the moral repugnance of trying to keep their business model, if not their industry, alive; to see, with the framework removed, how easily the ornament might be smashed.

All of it meant we could see clearly the bind in which soccer exists, this cultural force and community institution that has turned into a vast, corporate monolith. Clubs could not access government funds because they are perceived as nothing but lucrative entertainment businesses; nor could they look to minimize the damage to their industry by returning as swiftly as was safe because they are not just lucrative entertainment businesses.

We saw, too, how fragile our affection for corporate soccer is, how high the standards we demand of it can be and how easily it fails to meet them. The Premier League might be the central pillar of English culture, but much of that is despite its flaws, not because of them.

Most of all, though, we saw just how persistent, just how pervasive, the Premier League is, and how little it needs games — actual action — to remain.

There has been no soccer, no Premier League, for 100 days, but the noise — the claim and counterclaim, the arguing and the briefing, the venality and the tribalism, the passion and the faith, the self-interest and the self-loathing — never stopped. Its absence just became another plot device, a storyboard on which to depict the same narratives as ever.



Source : NYtimes