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Frank Lampard: a Tory

Frank Lampard: a Tory

Frank Lampard has declared that he is Tory and that he would love David Cameron to win the next election. Why does this disappoint me so much?

WARNING: the article below contain opinions of a political nature. If you are offended by these opinions, I don`t care: I`m right, you are wrong, best to move on from this site for fear of being crushed by my intellectual superiority and the overwhelming force of my arguments. Besides, it was Super Frankie Lampard who started it, bringing football and politics together.

Gleefully reported in a paper that even one of my Tory friends calls 'a repellent rag`, the Daily Mail, Frank Lampard declared after meeting Mr David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party, that "I had a really good chat with David. As a footballer I don't want to get involved with the campaigning thing but I am a Tory and I really like David Cameron." Apparently Frank met Mr Cameron earlier this year but waited to publicly declare his support. Now the cat`s out of the bag, Frank.

Football and politics are uneasy bedfellows in England. For every footballer who has declared his allegiance, there are others who have kept quiet about their opinions, possibly out of fear of alienating any supporters who vote the other way. Probably many more have said nothing because they don`t have anything to say. Just as R&B is the music of choice of any footballer, we can expect them to be probably bored about politics and pretty apolitical.

Of course, we can cite any number of football`s greats who HAVE been involved in politics, one way or another. Alex Ferguson likes to bang on about socialism (and was a strong supporter of the striking miners in the 1980s.) We wonder whether he skipped the class in socialism 101 about republicanism; that`s the only way we can square his acceptance of a knighthood. Our own Pat Nevin was also famously left-wing in his politics. He stands fairly lonely on that wing, though: more footballers and people involved in football tend to be right-wing. You don`t have to go as far as the delightful American owners of Liverpool FC (who donated to George Bush`s election campaigns, which must go down well with the supporters of a club proud of its working class roots), but, frankly, Ken Bates was no liberal. In fact, he has happily pronounced himself on matters political that firmly stamp him on the right of the political spectrum. Including some incoherent rant he made years back, on the single currency. That said, he is entitled to those views: he single-handedly stamped out Chelsea`s links with extreme right-wing organisations, and for that we are truly grateful.

The link has also gone the other way around, with politicians happily declaring support for a club. It gives them the common touch, see. Hence that serial loser, Ian Duncan Smith didn`t seem to mind being associated with Tottenham Hotspur (one wonders who, of Spurs of Duncan Smith, was more mortified). Another leader of the Tories who has 'something of the night about him` (isn`t that an essential job requirement for the post?), Michael Howard, is a Liverpool supporter. The man who was of the hanging and flogging flavour when he was Home Secretary apparently found only compassion for Liverpool fans at the Champions League final when the loveable Scousers ran riot trying to get into the stadium of the final without tickets.

Tony Blair, of course, supports Newcastle United (in the film 'The Queen`, he is seen in his Toon shirt, though not bare-chested displaying a morbidly-obese tattooed belly); David Milliband supports Arsenal. As does Chris Patton, who said, in his autobiography, that he was 'A Tory, A Catholic, and an Arsenal Supporter`. Former sports Minister Kate Hoey also supports the Gooners. As for those politicians who profess their allegiances to Chelsea, we remember that John Major was a Blue (to be fair, he prefers cricket, though). However, it is difficult not to be moved by the friendship forged between David Mellor and the late Tony Banks. They were on opposite sides of the political spectrum, but nevertheless were extremely close as a result of their shared passion for Chelsea.

In other countries, the link between a club and politics tends to be more institutionalised. In Spain, for instance, Barça was a club that symbolised the resistance to Franco during the dictatorship years, and still maintains a strong identity in opposition to Castillian centralism. And in opposition to Real Madrid, the club that was, until Franco came to power, the second club of the capital (behind Atlético). Franco, however, was a Real Madrid supporter, and he used the privileges of his autocratic dictatorship to bend the rules of the football tournament not only to ensure that Madrid won everything at home, but that they could also build on this base to make a clean sweep in the new European tournaments.

To this day, Real Madrid is strongly linked with conservative politicians in Spain; many people (who are not conspiracy theory nutjobs) date Madrid`s meagre trophy haul these past 5 years precisely to the moment when the Spanish conservative party, the PP, lost the elections. Conversely, Barça`s rise took place at once the Spanish elected socialist Prime Minister, José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who is a Barça supporter. Coincidence? I think not. Maybe it is also a sign that the leader of the opposition in Spain, the bearded lump with the charisma of an arthritic robot Mariano Rajoy, famously once declared that he is a Member of Real Madrid, Celta Vigo, Deportivo La Coruña and Pontevedra. How can you possibly trust (and elect) a man who is a member of 4 different football clubs, at least 3 of which are involved in intense and bitter rivalries?

The political division is reflected in the sociological division that characterises many Spanish cities. In Sevilla, Sevilla FC is the rich club (and therefore right wing); Betis is the 'popular` club, and therefore more left wing. Similar divisions exist in Italy, perhaps more worryingly though: Milan is the club owned by megalomaniac businessman turned populist clown politician, Silvio Berlusconi. Small wonder that the fans of Milan`s city rival, Inter, are more left-wing. And in Rome, AS Roma fans are from the better off area of the city, their bitter opponents, Lazio come from the more working class areas. They are also areas that have had a long association with Italy`s fascist movement, making Lazio fans some of the most unpleasant in Europe. Small wonder that they welcomed Mussolini apologist, Paolo di Canio, who would celebrate goals with an unmistakeable outstretched arm salute. Coming back from extremist politics, we can also cite the fact that the victory of a very multicultural French national side in the World Cup contributed to a temporary slump in the racist National Front`s electoral strength.

We could go further into the murky depths of football in places like Turkey or the Balkans (where local warlords owned football clubs as part of their power empires); even Romania, where Steau Bucarest owner, Gigi Becali, used his football notoriety to launch a bizarrely demagogic political campaign. Or elsewhere in Eastern Europe where clubs` names (Red Star this, Dynamo that, CSKA the other) reflects the fact that they were the clubs of a particular branch of the state or party apparatus. Pele has been involved in politics in Brazil, and our very own George Weah stood (unsuccessfully) for Presidential elections in Liberia. Didier Drogba might not be actively involved in party politics, but he continues to play an active role in bringing together a bitterly divided Ivory Coast.

The conclusion we can draw is that, perhaps, we are lucky that British football is not so closely linked to party politics, even if some of the people involved (inevitably) are. It`s bad enough that politics becomes involved (think of the sectarian divide in Glasgow), isn`t the pure football rivalry between fans on an abstract level enough? After all, you can shout at the opposition during the match and then go for a drink afterwards in a spirit of football camaraderie. That`s somewhat more difficult if the fan is, in fact, identified with The Other through a political labelling.

And so we come back to Frank Lampard. Frank likes to think of himself as an educated person. Of course, as any individual, he is entitled not only to an opinion, but also to express it (even if that opinion is to support David Cameron). Frankly Chelsea has been oft-labelled a Conservative, an epithet that brings me no joy. It`s certainly located in one of the most solidly Tory areas of London, one that, according to a hopelessly outdated stereotype, is populated by Hooray Henries and Sloane Rangers. And footballers, who are extremely highly-paid compared to their work effort, fit also the profile of the archetypal Conservative, probably desperately worried about the amount of their weekly 6-figure pay packet the nasty taxman will take away.

However much I admire Frank Lampard on the pitch, I can`t help but feeling disappointed by this declaration, however. He`s always been a Tory? Maybe, Frank, you aren`t quite as clever as you think you are.

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Date:Wednesday November 7 2007
Time: 4:50PM


Just goes to show that nobodies perfect.
07/11/2007 16:58:00
Hooray Cendrowski, now that was better was than yesterdays! I actually laughed during some of it. Not knowing much about politics in England, am I to take it that The Tory party is conservative and sort of on par with the Republican party? Or are they completely different?
07/11/2007 16:58:00
Also, public scholl boy in Tory support shocker. Not exactly a surprise given his up bringing.
07/11/2007 16:58:00
Yes, entertainmentwh, that is correct. the Conservative party is a dreadul coterie of outdated ideas and crumbling duffers.
07/11/2007 17:10:00
Sorry, I'm conservative, Cendrowski. And here was I thinking that I couldn't think any better of Frank than I already do!!!! :-))))
07/11/2007 17:20:00
Never been one for politics, I think they're all in for themselves but I can't help but remember what my late dad told me, he once said the only good TORY is a LAVATORY!
07/11/2007 17:21:00
Did Lampard really say that?
The Emperor
07/11/2007 17:25:00
Very interesting article. You forgot the communists at Livorno that hate Lazio more than anything. Footballers are hardly admired for their intellectual prowess so I am not really surprised though a feel your sorrow. Personally I detest the left as much as the right. Here in Sweden the former communist party leader and the conservative party leader both support the same team, Djurgården. As does the King that is honourary member in our fiercest opposition AIK! (The last one caused a mild scandal lately). All I can say, football unites more than politics.
07/11/2007 17:29:00
Nice to see Lamps has some sense. Us Tories will welcome him to the fold. Once a blue always a blue..............(I can never understand any true Chelsea fan supporting anybody that is associated with the colour red)
07/11/2007 17:34:00
Excellent article, really enjoyed that. Must admit it is no shock that an uber rich Prem player supports the Tories, as long as he doesn't go all 'Jim Davidson' on you, you'll be ok. I'm sure you can forgive his politics if he carries on banging in the goals. If not I'll turn on the bugger because he is in my fantasy team alongside Barry! Well done for the article though, top notch.
The Fear
07/11/2007 18:09:00
Are we to assume Cendrowski you are a Labour supporter?
07/11/2007 18:14:00
entertainmentwh- (Although somewhat conservative myself) The Tories are the one's being extremely critical lately of non-EU immigrants in the UK. It'll be tough to get at Super Frank if the Torries don't let you into the country because you are American.
07/11/2007 18:25:00
Ahhhhh!! How horrible!! While I am conservative, there are surely many things that they do that I don't agree with, that is surely one of them. Not get at Super Frank????? Just kill me now.
07/11/2007 18:48:00
Well there are two options: Sway some opinions and allow Skilled American Immigrants easier access to visa (heck, we'll even let you send some scoussers to New Jersey); or we could become Canadian citizens. Candians typically have relatively easy access to visas within the EU. So I have to ask- Seriously guys, Canadians? Are most American's so obnoxious that you invite our neighbors to come stay and then say that you don't have enough room when we show up?
07/11/2007 19:01:00
Sorry, I miss my Uni days and I want to go back.
07/11/2007 19:02:00
sw6cfc, I'm going to keep my political views to myself. That is, unless you might deduce them from my piece!
07/11/2007 19:09:00
Americans are obnoxious, but Canadians aren't that much better.
07/11/2007 19:11:00
Call me boring and narrow minded, (I know you will) but I´m a Chelsea Fan, and I find Politics about as interesting as watching paint.
Blue is the colour
07/11/2007 19:29:00
(Not watching paint dry, just watching paint)
Blue is the colour
07/11/2007 19:31:00
Oh, BITC, always a laugh and a half, you are!
07/11/2007 19:32:00
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