So it has finally happened. Since Alan Ball first played in white boots for Everton in 1970, the colour and design of football boots has become big business. The Adidas Predators have become one of the most iconic innovations in the sport, and boots have been made in almost every colour you can think of. But until now, no one had ever made pink boots. Surely no one would play football in pink boots? Because football is a man’s game, and men don’t wear pink. Well, not any more.
Nicholas Bendtner wore Nike’s new Pink boots the other night, and rumour is that Nicolas Anelka will soon follow. There has been uproar from some quarters, with Chopper Harris making it very clear that ‘you wouldn’t get away with that in the good old days’. Christ, picturing someone on the same pitch as Harris wearing pink boots conjures stunningly hilarious images doesn’t it? Even if they were on his team. He would not have stood for that.
Bendtner loves them though, he actually said that he loves them. But unfortunately I think this is love for all the wrong reasons. He gushed that he had always wanted to play in pink, but also said that “The only way anyone can beat me now is to play with diamond-encrusted boots.” Firstly diamond encrusted boots, please don;t tempt Christiano Ronaldo. He has the arrogance and the bank balance to just about pull it off I think. But more importantly, what the fuck?! Boots are not a competition! They are a tool! It doesn’t matter what they look like, it’s how they fit, the contact they achieve with the ball, that matters.
I recently got new boots, and though they are stunning (see picture) I adore them because they are effortlessly beautiful to play in. The contact with the ball is so sweet, they fit so wonderfully and complement the movement of my foot so perfectly. They are less a boot and more an extension if my foot. A very good looking extension, granted, that doesn’t hurt, but most importantly, they are effective.
And that’s the problem here. Firstly, Bendtner wore these boots as a sort of parade (no mardi gras gags please), a show, to grab himself some attention. Not even himself, just the boots he was wearing. But there’s a reason that the expression is not “let the boots do the talking”. We should let the bloody feet do the talking. Resent them we may, but cliches do help keep your mind on important matters sometimes. So Bendtner’s attitude must be questioned. If when he runs out onto the pitch he is more concerned with the entire world going “Oh my god, pink boots, what a poof/legend” [delete as necessary], than wanting to make the entire world go “What a fucking cracker of a goal” (or for Dynamo Kiev fans “Oh shit, he scored”), then surely he shouldn’t be running onto the pitch at all.
But also, a worrying thing is that we are talking about it! Honestly, type ‘pink football boots’ into Google and see all the results you get. It’s big news! It was on the New Zealand lunchtime news the other day! And there are countless blogs (here’s another one!) and radio shows and TV shows all talking about it. So is he right? Is it more important that he was wearing pink boots than that he scored? Because no one is talking about the goal! Is this what football has come to? That the colour of a player’s boots is more important to the result, and that Arsenal made it through to the last sixteen of the Champions League. Pink boots trump the knockout stages of the world’s premier domestic tournament? Madness.
Bendtner may well be criticised then, but he is only what we have made him. The constant obsession over everything that footballers do has created this situation, it has created players that are less players than bloody images, splattered over everything. Images that have their own clothing lines, big expensive stores with silly names (CR7: honestly?). At the end of the day, all they do is kick a ball around a pitch. Lots of men get very excited about it, that’s strange, but that’s accepted and established. Now the world is beginning to get excited about how they are dressed while they run around kicking a ball.
It’s a global shift though. Everywhere it is not the what that matters, but the wear. “So and so did such and such”, “Wow, what were they wearing?” (Sexual innuendo not intended). It’s such an image conscious society that we live in, and it’s beginning to impact on the beautiful game. But the game isn’t beautiful because of the players. It is beautiful because of what the players do, of how they move the ball. Look at Arsene Wenger! He’s not exactly a looker (euphemism of the century?) and yet he produces possibly the most beautiful football being played in the world today!
We need to stamp this sort of thing out. It’s the sort of thing that let diving become part of the game. It’s all a big facade. if you can make it look like something then you get a free kick. Now it’ll be, if you make people look at your boots you’ll be better known, get a bigger salary, a transfer to a bigger club. Each time something like this comes along it detracts from the football, from the very root of it all. If it weren;t for football none of these players would be anyone. And yet they are trying to steal our attention away from that which created them, that which they should love as we do.
So don’t watch the players, watch the football. Who is the most attractive footballer in the world? Who cares. What colour boots do they wear? Not a clue. That is how it should be. It’s tempting to say that all boots should be plain and black. It’s tempting, but I’ve got a lovely new pair of blue ones… perhaps they’d better all be blue then. But now I’m doing it too. I’m talking about my boots again. See what the world is coming to? Chopper Harris would never have stood for this.
You know what… Chopper for Prime Minister!