I can remember Chris Sutton playing football quite clearly.
With Scottish blood and a family lineage with the Kerr clan at its core, keeping tabs on the Scottish game has been a constant past time. Now, as a sports writer and football journalist, that background serves me well, especially in light of the recent comments made by the BT Sport commentator.
Even with my tent pegged thousands of kilometres from my Scottish roots in Sydney, Australia, the 45 year-old Englishman had me well and truly intrigued after his comments concerning Celtic’s attacking midfielder Tom Rogic.
Rogic is a vital member of the Socceroos, the name given to the Australian National football team. After four successive appearances in the FIFA World Cup and a host of players plying their trade at clubs all around the world, Sutton would surely know that well, despite the fact that the league on which he commentates has failed to produce talent capable of advancing to the finals since 1998.
Moreover, Australia’s regional compatriots, South Korea, Japan, Saudi Arabia and Iran must surely have impressed him enough to garner respect for Asian football; potentially, one of the fastest growing markets in the world game.
On the contrary. With an ‘old firm’ derby looming next week and Tom Rogic’s role in Celtic’s plans no doubt important, Sutton has called into question the relevance of the Asian Cup tournament.
Bluntly, he labelled the Asian Cup as ‘Mickey Mouse football’. Whilst the famous rodent might reflect the entertainment style that most appropriately suits Sutton’s intellect, the comment is offensive and juvenile.
The 26 year-old Australian has been requested to be on a plane in time to meet with the Socceroo squad on the 27th of December, in order to prepare for the tournament proper that begins on the 6th of January. Apparently, Sutton feels that there is little point and derby demands should precede any nationalistic concerns.
Considering the ridiculously two sided nature of Scottish football, in which Glasgow Rangers and Celtic have won 103 of 121 first division titles, it might be fair to suggest that another derby means far less than a tournament where the best teams in Asia battle it out in something more than a two horse race.
That line of thinking appears well beyond Sutton and whilst being entitled to an ill-informed opinion, his allusion to Asian Cup football as ‘Mickey Mouse’ in nature is an insult to the country and the region.
The kicker in his commentary was a rather stereotypical insult where Sutton suggested that Australians should ‘Stick to your prawns and BBQ’s’. Rather than assemble a squad early in preparation for what is a hotly contested and world class tournament, Sutton appears to suggest that Australians worry about something far more important; seafood and alcohol.
The irony in the former Celtic strikers’ comments is astonishing, with Australian captain Mark Milligan, Jamie Maclaren and Rogic all playing well in Scotland; not forgetting the injured Daniel Arzani, whom Celtic snapped up as quick as a flash before his season ending injury.
I’m sure Chris Sutton will not be watching the Asian Cup; it will be far too Disney for him. Perhaps he has missed the play of Son Heung-Min and Omar Abdulrahman over the last few years? Did Keisuke Honda, Mat Ryan, Aaron Mooy and Tim Cahill escape his field of vision and lead to his rather infantile comments?
I’ll send you a tweet Chris and maybe we can Skype and watch some of the matches together in what promises to be an outstanding tournament. Otherwise, it might be best to keep your Walt Disney references to yourself and let Asia enjoy its biggest football tournament.
PS- I bet Rangers or Celtic win the title this season and Scotland will probably miss World Cup qualification for Qatar. Is that too Mickey Mouse for you?