WN Opinion – Trust issues and UEFA conspiracy theory By @FinlandPsg

PSG World Nation opens this page to supporters around the world to share with us their opinion / feelings about Paris Saint Germain. Today, our friend Mikko / @FinlandPsg talks about trust issues and the resulting UEFA conspiracy theory:

Trust issues

One tries to be a rational human being for the most part, but when you are a fan of a football team, it is not always easy. Being a fan is a bias and you have to constantly ask yourself whether your opinion on any given situation on or off the pitch is influenced by your lack of objectivity.

When you are a supporter of PSG, these feelings are like a recurring nightmare. Emotionally, with every cell in my body I feel like there is a semi-conspiratorial invisible roadblocks that keep on appearing on our way especially when we play Champions League. Sketchy refereeing, worst possible opponents, the group of death. Things like that.

In the emotional turmoil, it is easy to forget that Liverpool and Napoli were also in a group of death and they were in that to their own detriment as Napoli continues in Europa League and Liverpool will have to face a winner of some other group, so it’s not like it worked out for them all that well, but nevertheless, I am wondering when, if ever, will these unofficial #UEFAsanctions end.

Many conspiracy theories are easy to dispel. There does not seem to be a motive or even realistic avenue of execution. Noam Chomsky once said that all the September 11th 2001 conspiracy theories are impossible just for the reason that they would have required such level of secret cooperation from so many different people that in the end it would have been unlikely that they could have kept it a secret for this long. That even by accident we would have heard about it. That’s me paraphrasing him and to be honest, whatever you feel about Chomsky or the events he was commenting, the point, as it applies to our Champions League campaign dilemma is clear – if things are the way we feel, perhaps even think they are, then how are they organized? How could UEFA realistically ensure the refereeing decisions that are costly to us and consistently the worst possible draws?

UEFA, much like FIFA are infamous for their corruption. It is the melancholic sidestory of the beautiful game that its admin is done by the most suspicious organisations. There has been evidence of corruption and many serious accusations that need to be looked at. Football media is pretty scandalous and disreputable – much of its content is generated by trashy tabloid papers who also enjoy phone tapping and racism – so we cannot take all these clickbait articles at face value and our moral code should not be based on the old idea “where there is smoke there is fire”, but things do, still after all these disclaimers feel very fishy.

But let’s get back to us, the PSG supporters.

A quick rhetorical questionnaire here:

    1. Do you feel certain that we are getting the worst possible opponent in the first and possible every subsequent stage of the knockout rounds?
    2. Do you think that we are inherently unlucky?

Based on the English speaking PSG Twitter and at least to some extent the French speaking one, many have made peace with Atletico Madrid being our next continental opponent in February 2019. The near future will show us what happens, and what happens is not necessarily the main point here. We might get supposedly an easier draw, but enough things in very suspicious circumstances with seemingly inexplicable consistency have gone against us in Europe for years – since the Qatar take over to be precise – so we have these trust issues with an organisation that probably cleans its browser history more often than a gambling addict on a work computer. To reduce these real life events into just being unlucky year after year also seems a little disingenuous.

It is understandable that we feel skeptical. UEFA is not an organisation that is morally above corruption. There also are many referees who have issues with players who embellish physical contact because it makes their job all the more difficult and PSG has a terrible reputation when it comes to that. Let me be clear: we do not necessarily do more of it than others, despite the popular belief, but our reputation is unquestionably in tatters. Having said that, that played no part in the so called ‘Remontada’ which according to such logic should have then gone the other way, but perhaps there is no collective action against us, just some bad luck and some incidents of unrelated decisions against us. Actually, now that I have mentioned the Remontada, my rational mind cannot even comprehend that infamous night in the Camp Nou. The team was admittedly awful but even more so was the refereeing and perhaps it is that trauma we should work on because basically, so many of these theories get back to that.

Let’s think about all this one last time from a real world practical angle. I am using last year as an example. We were the best team in the group stages out of all the groups. By a good margin as well. We scored and scored and won the group with ease. Neymar scored, Mbappé scored, Cavani scored and even Kurzawa had a hat trick. We were the team that nobody wanted to face.

When we look at it through our bias – and partially through the now historical hindsight – we feel like we got the worst possible opponent, but if you take a step back, you have to admit that at the time in light of all available evidence that was around, it was actually Real Madrid who got the worst possible opponent and no one wonders whether UEFA tries to sabotage them. I have not heard anyone suggesting that by being drawn into the group C, Liverpool, Napoli or Belgrade were punished for their sins.

I am not saying that nothing sketchy has happened, I do not know if it has, only that our feelings about these things do not get to define the entire reality of them. There has been definitely unfairness. Sometimes I wonder what instrument of torture would the opponent have to bring into the box for Neymar to be awarded penalty, but my point is, perhaps it is not as bad and all encompassing as it feels. And ‘feeling’ is very much the key word here.  

And after all that, I still have trust issues. My rational self does not feel proud of these conspiratorial musings and hopefully the VAR will ease our anxieties a little, but bias is part of sport. To feel something is part of enjoying the sport and therefore perhaps it should not even be analysed too much. If we did not feel our feelings, what passion would we have for the sport and if we did not feel for our team, what would be the point of staying up late or waking up in the middle of night depending on your time zone in order to support a group of rich people who you do not personally know and who do not know you, wearing their shirt with adverts that you paid for to wear and which they cannot see and chanting support they cannot hear. If we were to look at all of this purely rationally, instead of emotionally, we would have bigger issues to deal with.

Mikko / @FinlandPsg

French version to follow…


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