A minute’s silence for the minute’s silence

There’s a wearily familiar three stage process for the start of every single, blooming game of football in La Liga, these days.

1) Both sets of players troop out to the tinny-sounding, Marxist lyric-possessing club anthem of the home team. Or in Real Madrid’s case, the 14 minute version of the club song blasted out at such a ridiculously high decibel level that any unfortunate bird that happens to be flying over the Bernabeu at the time, instantly explodes.

2) Team A or B show off their ‘Animo (insert name)!’ T-shirts they are sporting to show solidarity with whichever team-mate Tinkerbell has cracked a toenail, during the week.

3) The footballers then amble off to the centre circle to stand listening to an out-of-tune, suicidally mournful cello solo for 60 seconds whilst desperately trying not to suffer leg cramp. Meanwhile, any atmosphere that had been build up by the crowd is killed stone dead, as fans face the moral conundrum of whether they can be bothered standing up or not.

Whilst LLL is willing to tolerate parts one and two of this match day ritual - just - it has had it up to its wax-stuffed ears with the third: the flippin’ minute’s silence, the incarnation of Spain’s love of a good old wallow in grief and unashamed abuse of power.

Whilst it may sound more than a little harsh to attack a special moment in time that is dedicated to reflecting on genuinely tragic events, the blog simply doesn’t see what most minute’s silence moments have to do with a football match featuring Almería and Mallorca.

Do cinema goers have to stand quietly before their screening of Jennifer Aniston's latest pile of excrement because the projectionist’s hamster threw itself off a shelf? Of course, not.

But paying punters at football matches do, almost every frackin’ game.

In the past few weeks alone in Spain, the blog has witnessed a minute’s silence being held for the victims of the Haiti earthquake, the Chile earthquake, the death of a former Real Madrid manager, the plane crash that took out most of Poland’s political and military elite, the death of a grandmother of a club employee and the passing away of a football journalist.

LLL is not claiming that these events are not sad and worthy of respect in their own way - although the second from last in the list is surely an extreme exercise in egotism - the questions that must be asked are where will it all end and who decides what event should be commemorated or not?

The most recent round of matches in La Liga did not feature a match-wide minute’s silence, for once.

However, the previous seven days before the weekend saw a terrible earthquake in the Chinese region of Qinghai where up to 2000 people are reported to have been killed.

Does the Spanish League consider that event less tragic than the passing away of a sports writer? Or someone's granny? Are the Chinese less important somehow?

Of course not. But that’s the dangerous and admittedly unreasonable conclusion that could be drawn unless these silences are largely done away with, silences that are normally ended prematurely by shouts from the bored, barmy or blasted-on-beer in the crowd, anyway.

Wednesday’s death of Juan Antonio Samaranch is likely to see yet other memorial moment around Spain’s football’s grounds - a decision that will be controversial to say the least considering the Spaniard’s links to the Francoist regime and his well-rewarded 21-years fronting the IOC, an organisation described by Dominic Lawson in The Sunday Times as “a state-sanctioned racket for the extortion of vast funds from captive pools of taxpayers.”

Those who chose to interrupt that period of reflection - and there will be - will no doubt be condemned as crass and disrespectful. But don’t they have the right to respond to what is nothing more than enforced mourning?

Instead of another politically-motivated - and politically-charged - ritual, this weekend, LLL would like to see a group of players standing arm-in-arm around the centre circle, looking solemnly at the grass with the creaky sounds of the cello solo being cranked up, one more time.

LLL would like to see a minute’s silence for the minute’s silence.