Football hasn’t had much of a look in in recent weeks, so I thought I ought to rectify that. It distracts from the election and the increasingly frantic advent season which really should be about waiting and preparing prayerfully and not about racing around trying to cram in as many events as possible as well as shopping and family visits. Having said that our early Christmas family gathering on Saturday was a real treat.
Football in London SE25 is going pretty well I have to say – three clean sheets in a row is the sign of a good defence however patched up it is just now as result of injuries. If only we could score a few more goals. Perhaps the next transfer window in January will bring us the precious gift of a prolific striker!
More concerning at the moment however is what seems to be a resurgence of racist and homophobic abuse yelled out by a thankfully small number of individuals in a few places. This has no place anywhere in our world, let alone a football stadium. But sadly we seem to be living in times that we thought we had perhaps left behind to some extent. As far as they are able, the clubs and police seem able to apprehend some offenders, but it is likely that others will have got away with it. It adds a very depressing note to what I still believe is ‘the beautiful game’.
Football clubs generally work very hard to promote cultures of diversity and inclusion, and produce extensive advertising and other resources to drive home the message of a zero tolerance approach to racism and homophobia. However this is not simply football’s problem. Communities need to mobilise to combat the insidious themes that seem to percolate in some quarters and churches can of course contribute to an alternative local narrative.
The season of advent is a good time to practice what we preach about goodwill to all people, taking every opportunity to take a stand when we see or hear an injustice.
The next home match is a local derby against Brighton and Hove Albion on Monday. Feelings can often run high born of a rivalry that goes back 30 or 40 years or more. Your prayers for a quiet night will be much appreciated.