It’s been a rotten year. Aside from all the political shenanigans that have left the UK with literally no one to talk to at parties and the US with a comedically coiffed demagogue at the wheel, the music world is significantly poorer as a result of Death having a bit of an indulgent spree.
In short, we’ll all be delighted to see the back of 2016 and the utter lunacy therein. But before you race off to festoon yourself with mistletoe and await midnight on the 31st December, do yourself a favour and watch this again.
Yep, I know it’s done the rounds on the internet this week and since you’ve declared an interest by reading this column you’ve probably watched it eight million times, but the sight of Murtaza Ahmadi, the Afghan boy with the plastic Messi shirt made out of a bag dressed in an outlandishly oversized Barcelona kit, toddling about on the pitch and refusing to let go of his idol, is an indulgence you deserve.
The purity of that kid’s adoration is something we should all hang on to. In a world so hard to comprehend, so riven with difference, helplessness, darkness and confusion, these moments encapsulate what it means to be human and also what we’ve lost over the last twelve months. Faith. Joy. Wonder. An appreciation of simple things.
You can, of course, scowl and respond with “Ah, it’s a publicity stunt setup to make Messi look good,” or point out the fact that the timing is suspect because it happened in the week Cristiano Ronaldo won his fourth Ballon d’Or, but so what? Murtaza Ahmadi is six years old and, according to the BBC, lives in a room with seven members of his family. Opportunities of escape from poverty will be limited in his life, so even if this was ‘staged’ in some way, his reaction wasn’t.
To put it another way, what grows from the seeds of intolerance, cynicism and a lack of understanding? 2016, essentially.
Let’s not do that. Let’s focus on something beautiful instead.
If we don’t stage an intervention soon, Sergio Ramos is destined to retire from football physically but fail to do so mentally. He’ll get into management, go clubbing at weekends, get a puffy stadium jacket with The Ramos™ monogrammed onto the breast pocket and basically become Alan Pardew.
You see? It’s later than you think…
Finally, if you haven’t had an opportunity to peruse the English FA’s plan to entice more girls and young women into football, please enjoy some excerpts below.
If I wasn’t in such a good mood, I’d be inclined to ask whether any of the people who attended the meeting from which these ideas emerged had ever met a woman or girl before.
But I am in a good mood. So I won’t.