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Rant: strip teasing

Kenny Hodgart

 

In all the controversy over colonial flags and British Council advertisements on the MTR, it is curious that the many yarns of polyester swathing the citizenry of Hong Kong in the livery of English football clubs have escaped mention.

It would be a stretch to label the English Premier League (EPL) neo-colonialist. For a start, most of its clubs' owners, and players, are not British. But as Britain's biggest cultural export these days, it is unsurpassed in its global reach; and for the local expat that means fending off one-word questions such as "Chelsea?" or "Liverpool?".

Call me churlish - I'm Scottish and nobody ever says "Aberdeen?" - but it seems obvious to point out that in embracing English football, Hong Kong has spurned its own footballing heritage. After all, the city has the oldest professional league in Asia and had a handy "national" side when most other Asian countries still couldn't kick their grannies. Furthermore, pre-EPL, important local matches attracted crowds of 30,000. Nowadays, the average first division gate is just over 1,000. Heavens, in the 1980s fans even had the cojones for the odd riot.

It doesn't help that those in charge of football in Hong Kong have such a knack for making a Horlicks of everything, or that "national" coaches rival David Beckham's hairdos for getting the chop. But consider this: EPL teams make £1 billion (HK$12 billion) in broadcasting revenues every season; in Hong Kong, clubs pay Now TV to show games. Time to get back to watching football in the flesh. Polyester optional.

 

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