I would like to tell you a little story about a sport I discovered very recently. It just goes to show that all sport regardless of time and place is beset with problems.
“BribeaBlatter” or “Go Lime” was a sport played by the Aztecs. “Bribeab” is the Aztec word for lime and “Latter” is their word for go, which is where we get the word later from.
The games were the highlight of the Aztec calendar. Thousands of people used to gather together to watch the games. A large and passionate crowd would form and they would shout and cheer for their team. The players, heroes of their day, were incredible sportsmen. Fast, fit and skillful, they were admired throughout the land. The game was very similar to football but with a lime as a ball and it was played on a smaller pitch. Fast and furious and requiring high levels of skill it was hard to keep up with but it was adored by the masses.
Go Lime was an incredible, free-flowing game. Unfortunately however it became frequently mired in controversy as the ‘officials’ of the time got many decisions wrong. Often resulting in contests that finished with an incorrect score line. This had huge knock on effects in the leagues that had been set up by the Aztecs and almost everybody involved with Go Lime thought it belittled the sport. Whilst there were several things suggested to assist the ‘officials’ some even readily available in other sports of the time the chiefs of the sport didn’t want to interfere.
Sadly the noble sport of BribeaBlatter (please excuse the odd placement of the capital letters in that word. My keyboard gets stuck sometimes. It’s Swiss, apparently technology doesn’t get used over there very often. My suspicions of its quality should have been aroused when the man who sold it to me, Sepp I think his name was, knew nothing about keyboards, knew nothing about computing in general and refused payment unless it was cash in a brown envelope) was eventually abandoned and the leagues were disbanded as these errors all to often resulted in savage disagreements that sometimes led to blood shed.
One of the most interesting things that I found out when I discovered the sport was the collective singing at the games. One song in particular struck me. The fans when they became annoyed at the constant errors and unnecessary injustices in the game frequently chanted “BribeaBlatter isanidiot, BribeaBlatter isanidiot!” Isanidiot is a strange word with many meanings. Some etymologists have suggested it means “we want” whilst others say that it means “technology”, incredible really as the Aztecs lived millennia before the advent of the computer. I have translated the chant “BribeaBlatter isanidiot” as “We want Go Lime technology”.
This story is ridiculous, I’ll be the first to admit that, but then so is FIFA and the FA’s procrastination and, until recent, refusal to use technology within the game and bring football in line with, well, basically any other sport in the world. I’m not holding my breath Sepp and sadly I don’t think anyone else is either.
You can follow the author of this article at @peterstickney.