Listening to the BBC Radio Five Live commentary last Sunday of the match between Manchester United and Leeds United, I was taken aback by a statement that the commentator made at the onset of the program. I’m paraphrasing, but the commentator said that in the interests of simplicity, whenever he mentioned “United” in the commentary, he would mean Manchester United, not Leeds United.
While I realize and understand that if you said “United” to ten soccer fans and asked them which team you were talking about, nine of the ten would answer “Manchester United, of course” while some smart arse would mention “Scunthorpe United, up the Iron!”
But to me, I find it a bit condescending and demeaning to a team that is snubbed. If you’re a Leeds United or Newcastle United supporter, aren’t they “United” to you? And why should a Leeds or Newcastle supporter concede the title of “United” to Manchester? Sure, the Red Devils are one of the biggest and most popular teams in the world, but each team deserves the right to be called by their chosen name. To me, how hard is it for a radio commentator to add a three syllable word (Manchester) or a one syllable word (Leeds) before the word “United.”
Maybe it’s because I’m a Swansea City supporter, but it bothers me when I see a headline that screams “Veron Reveals City Snub.” If I didn’t already know that Veron was rumored to be interested in a transfer to Manchester City, I may have guessed the story was about Birmingham City, Man City, Stoke City or several other clubs. Yes, most soccer diehards will recognize that this is an article about Manchester City, but how difficult is it for Sky Sports (and other media organizations) to make it vividly clear?
If you’re a Manchester United or Manchester City supporter, or are lucky enough to support a team that is a one word name such as Arsenal or Everton, this whole City vs United thing may not bother you. But for the neutral soccer fan or for the team that can’t be called United or City for fear of confusing the general public, it’s quite annoying.
Photo credit: Toksuede