Flint's Off on One

I’ll almost certainly regret this, but what the hell – I’m hardly out to make friends in this game am I?

Nor, it seems, is some deranged, cloth-headed ape found wandering around London vomiting words. If you do happen to cross paths with this creature of less intelligence and grace than a dung beetle, run. You will hardly be able to understand the utterances from his mouth in any instance. If by some unfortunate twist of fate you can, what scant meaning you might extract from his garbled nonsense will be laced with dangerously idiotic, hideously uninformed and downright racist bollocks.

It’s time to get political: the prat in question is, of course, Boris Johnson. Rack your brains a moment if you will and try and conjure up a more embarrassing tool to represent an entire nation than our beloved Foreign Secretary. Go on. OK, point taken… It doesn’t make it any more palatable that he is the man at the forefront of overseas affairs.

Hang on, this is about football, isn’t it? We’d be here all day if this column was broader-reaching, but yes, you are in the right place. Unless you live under a rock in the Kalahari Desert, you will know he compared Russia hosting this summer’s World Cup to Hitler’s 1936 Olympics.

In the interests of full disclosure, I should point out at this point that I live in this wild dictatorship. Russia has given me a job, my own home, a wife and children when England could not. I am passionate about this land and its people so I accept that I cannot always be entirely Impartial. On this, however, I cannot budge, however, balanced and fair I attempt to be.

Actually sod all that – I AM being balanced and fair. Labour MP Ian Austin – no, not the rotund former Lancashire paceman – said that he hated the idea of Putin using the World Cup as a PR exercise to gloss over his “brutal, corrupt regime”. Erm, hi Ian; just waking up are we? Only had one sip of your Pret-a Manger skinny latte? NO FUCKING SHIT IT’S A PR EXERCISE! Anyone who wants to pretend the World Cup is just a football tournament is unbelievably naive. As for the ‘brutal corrupt regime’ he did at least get it half right, but if we really look into every government around the world, is there really a single one that is honest and honourable? Sweeping, yes; wrong? I really don’t think so.

Yes, there is a lot wrong with Russia. Last time I checked, though, the country I left behind was an utter mess. Racism on the rise, homeless people treated like scum, genuinely uncertain financial and social future, more cultural division than ever before – beautiful isn’t it?

Is all of the UK a cesspool of vice and sin? Obviously not, but that’s part of my point; neither is Russia. The general Cold War-esque propaganda bile from both sides would be childish if it wasn’t so bloody important. In a playground, a teacher would slap them both around the head and tell them to behave. In this playground though, a thunderblaster is not just a 35-yard screamer into the top corner.

Austin’s comments were misplaced enough as it is, but Johnson then waded in with characteristic diplomacy to stir things up. “Your characterisation of what is going to happen in Moscow in the World Cup, in all the venues, yes, I think the comparison with 1936 is certainly right,” the Etonian tosser blurted. Now I’m no history buff, but I do know around 20 million Russians died protecting their country from Nazi Germany. Every day I walk to work past a mural celebrating the war heroes from my city. That alone is offensive enough, but the worst part is that he knows a fair portion of people will lap it up.

In all venues? So the entire Russian Federation is united in eugenic racism and has a bloodlust for foreign fans? It is utterly astonishing that anyone could be so incredibly lazy in their analysis of a whole people. In recent weeks – I forget exactly when, but the incessant tidal wave of garbage doesn’t hold my attention anymore – apparently, all British citizens have been warned to be on their guard for a backlash thanks to the political tensions. These government warnings conveniently forget that the British ‘brand’, for want of a better phrase, is strong. Russians love British people; they just hate British politicians and media.

The Conservative government appears to be struggling to gain any confidence whatsoever from the broader public. I am quite happy to be corrected by those more in tune with domestic politics, but I reckon I’m quite close. Naturally, like any feeble, cornered animal, they are lashing out. Poisoning? The Russians did it! No evidence? Who cares – the Russians did it! Remember James Bond? Yep, that’s right – the Russians always did it!

So while the newly victorious Russian president is clearly using the World Cup as a platform to showcase his country, I would argue it is, in fact, idiots like Johnson who are using it as a PR exercise to gloss over their own significant shortcomings. Football will be played across several stunning venues and cities in a country that can’t wait to host the world. People will be welcomed. Games will be played. The banned Royal Family won’t be missed.

Personally, I love the fact that BJ and his pals will hate all this.