On and off the field of play, Ajax have long been renowned as innovators who are invariably ahead of the curve. The Dutch club are generally credited with the invention of “total football” during the 1970s, while their home ground employs no end of eco-initiatives that make it one of the most environmentally friendly, sustainable stadiums in the world. Where Ajax go, other clubs often follow and it is to be hoped, in the wake of today’s announcement that fans have been banned from carrying cardboard signs pleading for shirts off players’ backs, every single other football club on the planet will quickly follow suit. .
What began a couple of seasons ago as an innovative, faintly endearing wheeze from a couple of wide-eyed innocents in the crowd, has lately been transformed into a widespread chiselling grift. So saturated has the demand for free “stuff” become, we have reached the point where it is no longer possible to sit beer in hand in front of the TV on a Super Sunday without having to bear witness to it. Dozens of entitled, grasping, young – and sometimes depressingly old – brats sitting close to the advertising hoardings and holding up twee, homemade cardboard rectangles bearing a written request for the soiled shirts from their favorite player’s back.
Ajax have reportedly told their supporters’ association that there is an increasing number of such signs at games, mostly being held by children, and it will no longer be possible for the players to accede to all the demands. They also suggested their players were getting fed up with being badgered and abused if they failed to spot or simply ignored these daubed requests. In order to avoid any potential loopholes that might involve requests for Davy Klaassen’s shorts, strides, socks, shinpads or boots, Ajax pointed out such signs also represent a fire hazard and any variations on the shirt-scrounging theme will be confiscated by stewards.
If, as The Fiver hopes, all clubs follow Ajax’s pioneering lead, Everton fans will at least be able to console themselves with the news that their club has devised a spanking new shirt distribution scheme. In a statement that might as well have been written in Klingon for all the sense we can make of it, the club has announced what looks suspiciously like a kit-related grift of their own. Launched in partnership with – Fiver considers the life choices which have led to us actually having to type these words – the digital wearables platform Fancurve, Everton will soon be releasing officially licensed, club-branded digitally wearable shirts.
“These unique, photo-realistic custom collections – designed and created by Fancurve’s team of highly-skilled 3D fashion designers and using themes from the club’s identity and values as an inspiration – will empower fans to express their unrivaled passion for Everton by wearing them on their avatars in the Metaverse,” explains the blurb, stopping short of shedding light on what the Metaverse is for the benefit of your poor befuddled Fiver.
While we are happy to be corrected by younger readers, our take on the situation is that it’s some sort of magic witch portal through which nerds travel to take refuge from their more mundane reality spent sitting in mum’s spare bedroom, wearing a sweat-stained Minecraft. T-shirt sprinkled with Monster Munch crumbs. And what better way could there be to escape such a tedious reality than in a pristine virtual Everton shirt – one the club will naturally expect fans to pay for with as-yet-unspecified sums of real money.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I was thrilled to bits for the Lionesses… I was quiet on this subject during the tournament because of all the usual nonsense that surrounds anything I have to say. Tell me guys – how many of you both received and sent on the memes? Was it fun? There isn’t a guy who hasn’t or didn’t – yet they still come after me” – Richard Keys congratulates England on their Euro 2022 win by somehow making it about himself.
It’s David Squires on England’s Euro 2022 glory, visions of the future and a letter from equality’s Boris Johnson.
“Was there a joke/pun that I missed with yesterday’s ‘Lionesses Basque in the spotlight’ headline? I read and reread the story and could only conclude it was shoddy journalism. Ah” – Paul Dixon (and others). [Apologies; it was good old-fashioned incompetence – Fiver Ed].
“Re: ‘puce middle-aged faces contorted with spittle-flecked rage’ being absent from Wembley (Monday’s Fiver). I have to fess up as one such face at Wembley on Sunday, rage aimed at the ref for two soft England bookings in under a minute. I was then told to sit down by a hospitality suit. The prawn sandwiches were good though” – Rob Ford.
“It’s all very well finally winning a major international tournament and inspiring new generations of players and fans, but surely the true joy of winning the Euros is finally getting rid of this vastly overrated song” – Noble Francis.
“No more ‘Football’s coming home’? This is England. Football’s going to Do One again any time now. I for one, probably won’t live to see it come home again, and I’ll tell you now, I’m not spending my declining years humming Discomister” – Jon Millard.
“Re: Big Paper’s Premier League previews. Fans of West Ham (such as myself) and Wolves face two weeks of angst each year before we can discover the fate of our teams. Why does this lexicographic bias persist? – Paul Bowles. [Both between seventh and 17th, hope this helps – Fiver Ed].
Send your letters to [email protected] And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Paul Dixon, for rereading the Fiver.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
A new study has shown that seven in 10 Premier League players are sending abusive tweets – at an average rate of 362 a day.
Diogo Jota has penned a new five-year contract with Liverpool, while Joe Gelhardt, Sam Greenwood and Crysencio Summerville have inked similar long-term deals at Leeds.
England are set to play USA! USA!! USA!!! at Wembley on 7 October in a world v European champions showdown. In other news, Mary Earps, Leah Williamson, Keira Walsh and Beth Mead have been named in Uefa’s Euro 2022 team of the tournament.
The France coach, Corinne Diacre, has extended her contract until the 2024 Paris Olympics. “I am happy and proud to continue the adventure,” she said.
Big draw news! The Pope’s O’Rangers will face Monaco or PSV Eindhoven if they beat Belgian outfit Union Saint-Gilloise in the Big Cup playoffs. In Big Vase, Hearts tackle either Linfield or FC Zurich while West Ham will play either Viborg (Denmark) or B36 Torshavn (Faroe Islands) for a place in Big Pot proper.
Hot transfer chat! Newcastle have failed with a £50m bid for Leicester playmaker James Maddison, Chelsea are sniffing around Southampton’s Kyle Walker-Peters, and West Ham’s Arthur Masuaku has joined Besiktas on loan.
And in a development that will surely put an end to refereeing controversy for good, the Premier League could make conversations between referees and the VAR public after games have finished.
STILL WANT MORE?
The men’s football boom of the last 30 years offers a roadmap and warning for the women’s game, reckons Jonathan Liew.
The England captain, Leah Williamson, typifies how her team understands their platform, says Anita Asante.
It’s Manchester day for our Premier League previews: here’s City and here’s United.
“We knew Chloe would be successful” – Joel Mians chats to a childhood friend of England’s Euro 2022 hero.
Moving the Goalposts has a plan to capitalize on England’s Euro 2022 success – here it is in six easy steps.
Get your fill of transfer tittle-tattle in The Rumor Mill.
And if it’s your thing… you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!