Thursday, 3 June 2010

When the shirt hits the fan

There's always been a tang of homoeroticism to the celebration of football successes. The crying, cartwheels and somersaults are one thing, but when players lie down on top of each other, or race around the pitch with their colleagues legs wrapped around their waist, it can set tongues wagging.

When questioned, players are keen to stress that it's simply the excitement of the moment, and the kisses don't mean a thing. This then sends a signal to the fans that they can emulate their heroes' behaviour. That's why the view from the stands is often much like the view from your average mardi gras float.

With the World Cup now just days away, the merchandising machine is in full swing, with every competing country rolling out all manner of branded tat to ensure that the fans at home can feel like they're part of the experience.

This year's award for most innovative product comes from the Netherlands, where the fans are being encouraged to go the whole hog when it comes to celebrating the big moments. With the players' faces printed upside down on the inside, these bright orange shirts enable Dutch footy fans to really get caught up in the moment.

Although it's a great idea, it's worth exercising a little caution. After all, the fans don't always have the same sculpted abs and perky pecs as the players they're following.

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