I am not a racist.
That’s what I always thought.
But on closer self-analysis it appears I do become a racist when I play football simulation games.
No I don’t make monkey noises when I pass the ball to Jermaine Defoe or spit at the screen every time it suggests I select a white player for the South African national team.
I do however have a team selection policy which, were I a real football manager, would be considered at best inappropriate.
Let me explain.
A large part of my enjoyment of playing FIFA comes from knowing and utilising the specific strengths of my players. So if I know the ball is heading for Zlatan Ibrahimovic then I can make a quick decision for him to flick the ball on, use his strength to hold the ball up, go for a 1-2 pass or do something else that I wouldn’t otherwise unfairly force Gareth Barry into attempting.
So an important part of my enjoyment of the game becomes about being able to recognise which player is which. And because the game is fast it’s important to be able to do this as quickly as possible. And anything I can do to make that easier improves my enjoyment of the game…
So unfortunately the other white centre forwards I have in my squad simply aren’t going to get any games, lest I think I’m controlling Zlatan Ibrahimovic before realising with horror that I’m actually controlling Andy Carroll.
Andy Carroll is therefore sold, meaning I will need to scour the transfer market to find a black centre forward to replace him. Preferably a small one.
Nothing controversial there.
But for some reason the game doesn’t allow you to conduct player searches based on a player’s ethnicity.
Nor can you specifically send your scouts out with the remit of finding you a black defender, or a white red haired playmaker, or a little distinctive looking Asian chap who can play on the wing.
In the end my FIFA teams resemble the kind of regimented multicultural ideal you’d expect to find in the fantasies of a forward thinking OCD sufferer having a mental breakdown in 1960s Alabama.
And in doing this I am made to feel uncomfortably similar to Ron Atkinson, the ex-football manager who once referred to Marcel Desailly as a “fucking lazy thick nigger” and then went on a series of TV chatshows complaining about the criticism he was receiving and dismissing any allegations against him with the FACT that he's managed black footballers - in what I think is as close to a dictionary definition of a cunt as I can think of.
And really I’m an even bigger cunt than Ron Atkinson because I simultaneously practice negative discrimination and positive discrimination. At least you knew where you were with Big Ron. He’s a racist and a cunt. The players in my Fifa team must just be confused. When Florent Malouda asks me why he’s not in my first team I’ll have to reply “Because I can’t tell you apart from Ashley Cole” which, frankly, makes me feel like I’m the bad guy.
Which is how Ron Atkinson would feel if he was able to comprehend the concept of shame.
I also doubt many managers in real football have signed as many players on the basis of the novelty of their haircut as I have in FIFA. Liverpool’s managers aside. Conduct a quick Google search of Andy Carroll, Djibril Cisse and Abel Xavier and you’ll quickly see why these players are among the finest to ever establish themselves in my FIFA teams.
Abel Xavier deserves special mention here. An average player, but when the ball came near him I would sure know to pass the ball on to someone else.
You see it doesn’t really matter how good the players in the game are because FIFA 13 is only as good as the person who’s holding the controller. And in my case there is absolutely no correlation between ‘time spent playing FIFA games’ and ‘ability at playing FIFA games’.
It doesn’t matter how good Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen are in the game because if I play them together I will end up attempting through balls with Owen and trying to spring the offside trap with Rooney.
Then I’ll lose possession and rely on Paul Scholes to break up the attack with a perfect sliding tackle before using the creativity of Gareth Barry to play a killer ball for David Beckham to use his pace and dribbling skills to run onto.
Although anyone who has watched England in recent tournaments will recognise that this pretty accurately describes the last 10 years of international failure.
Maybe the England national team could do with following my FIFA formula.
After all Arsenal only dominated English football when they had Henry and Bergkamp up front. Newcastle enjoyed their best period in recent history by partnering Alan Shearer with Les Ferdinand. Manchester United have based much of their recent success on the rock solid defence provided by Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand. And Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea dominated domestically by relying on Michael Essien and Frank Lampard to marshal the midfield.
You can prove anything with facts can’t you Ron?