I didn’t risk much when I started a blog. The worst that could have happened was that I’d waste some money and time and make a fool of myself. In other contexts, saying what you think can be dangerous. The sentence imposed on one Saudi blogger for criticising clerics was 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes to be carried out over 20 weeks. His first flogging occurred last week. And in France, cartoonists who used satire as their weapon were killed by men who used guns.
Technology has transformed activism; those with internet connections can promote anything from important issues to trivial preferences. On the important end of the scale, human rights activists can defy autocratic regimes. At the trivial end, football supporters can complain about the owners or managers of their clubs. But if fans want to get things changed, they have to do something more than Tweet.
Vincent Tan bowed to fan pressure and agreed to change Cardiff City’s home kit back to blue after the fans refused to buy the red replica kits, stayed away from games, organised protests outside the ground and unanimously voted for a return to their traditional blue. Well done to the Cardiff fans for working together and demonstrating what fans can do when they are united. Well done for persisting too; the change from the traditional blue to red was made two and a half years ago. I think it helped that it was a clear cut issue and not difficult to understand. Cardiff City Supporters Trust (CCST) listed several issues in their January 8th statement ahead of the meeting between the supporters and the club: the first was the rebrand of playing colour and crest and the second was the conversion of Vincent Tan’s debt to equity. I have a feeling that CCST may find it harder to rally support for converting debt to equity as some fans won’t understand what that means or why it’s important.
I think that one reason why Birmingham City fans have not launched a united campaign against the club’s owner is that the situation in Hong Kong is complex and hard to understand. We are also an anarchic bunch with lots of different opinions and a tendency to argue rather than actually do something. I am sure that many have good reasons for not doing anything; some people lead incredibly busy lives and many things in life are more important than football. I’m afraid that there may also be some whose absorption with connecting electronically has left them less able to connect with people in real life. (An article about a coming electronic apocalypse resonated with me but that could be because I’m old enough to have grown up in a house without a telephone, TV or computer. The university I attended also didn’t have a computer back then and a friend studying for a physics PhD had to go to another university to use theirs.)
Supporters groups at other clubs also find it hard to recruit people to do things. Hereford United Supporters Trust (HUST) have put out a statement explaining why they decided that 100% HUST ownership of the club was not viable. They don’t think they can raise sufficient finance and they don’t have enough people willing to commit the time that such an undertaking would require. So they have decided to co-operate with a consortium of businessmen who plan to create a phoenix club.
It’s not inconceivable that the battles between various people in Birmingham International Holdings Limited will leave them unable to raise sufficient funds to stay in business and Birmingham City supporters may be faced with decisions to make about what they can do to secure the club’s future. But, as I wrote in my previous post, worrying about that shouldn’t stop us enjoying the good things that are happening on the pitch. We won another game on Saturday, Clayton Donaldson got a hat trick, the referee used vanishing spray and Blues are in the top half of the table. Good times indeed!
There are terrible things happening in the world. The massive demonstrations in France were a great way to show that people were not going to let fear control their lives. Another way to counter terrorism is to carry on with our ordinary lives, to keep laughing and enjoying trivial pleasures. Football is important because it’s unimportant.