Italian side Borussia Dortmund celebrate winning the scudetto.

by Jonathan Harding

People make mistakes. It’s something, as we all know, to be part of life. That phrase is however, nowhere near as clear cut as the reality of the situation. For one thing, mistakes are a highly personal thing and differ from person to person, from situation to situation. Secondly, and most importantly, there are those mistakes that are avoidable. These are not really mistakes, they are errors.

Unfortunately it seems we live in a society whereby exaggeration has become a social weapon. Statistics are often read and then forgotten, only to later be embellished to gain social status or exhibit knowledge (albeit an incorrect form). Who am I to damn this, particularly amongst friends, most of whom will recognise your ability to embellish and either correct or berate you for it. To do this in a position whereby the dispensing of knowledge is ultimately the fulcrum of your requirements is however, hugely problematic.

Media does its best to avoid mistakes and although human error is statistically more likely to occur with use or repetition, there are errors that are both avoidable and inexcusable. The television coverage of the European Football Championships 2012 has, so far, provided the viewing public with far too many of these errors, with last night proving to be the peak (at least I hope) of infuriating production.

As previously stated, sometimes we make mistakes. In football, names can be confused and so can some statistics and more often than not, these errors are recognised by those in question and corrected shortly afterwards. To make errors of such glaring proportions as last night’s “David Villa” instead of “David Silva”  is quite simply, unacceptable. The matter appeared to be subdued by a recognition of the error. Alas, moments later, the same error was made again and the viewing public were left wondering what on earth they were listening to. The fleeting moment of madness appeared to remain an isolated incident and yet, somewhat inevitably, it didn’t. Apparently, Croatian substitute Ivan Perisic won the double with Borussia Dortmund in Italy. Need I say anymore?

Well, yes I think I must. The mispronunciation of foreign names is another completely avoidable error for modern football commentators and pundits. We must not forget, we are not learning the complex nature of dative plural adjectival endings or how extensive the variations between formal and informal language are. Yes there may be a few unnatural glottal stops involved but isn’t conquering that part of the job? Mesut “Ooozle” does not play for Germany, nor does Toni “Crows” but for many, these are the familiar sounds coming from our televisions. There are enough people working within the modern footballing media for commentators and pundits to be told how certain names are pronounced, particularly if they themselves are unsure. Simpler than that is to find footage of the players in question with native commentators and to listen. This is, after all, their job and although they are no longer at school, homework must still be done. Ignorance is not an excuse.

This whole situation is made intrinsically worse, and the fundamental reason ignorance cannot be an excuse, is because being ignorant, in footballing terms, is near impossible in the modern world. We live in an era where information is more accessible than ever. The reason that Twitter goes bananas when errors are made is because there are thousands of people who do actually know the answer because they have done the research. It really couldn’t be easier for modern commentators and pundits to access the required information. Producing a smooth and informative pre- and post-match service does require intelligent and stimulating personalities. Admittedly, this is far harder than gathering information, but the latter will aid the former, even if only by a small margin.

We no longer live in an age where football comes purely from the action on the screen, the article in the paper, or the scenes in the stadium. We can inform ourselves, we can write and discuss our own ideas like never before. We are no longer buoyed by puns, clichés or obvious statements because we are a more informed audience. There are hundreds, if not thousands of talented and knowledgeable writers, producers and commentators in the world and all of them find themselves lamenting the same issue. Those that are capable often don’t get the chance to prove it because they never had three years at Arsenal. The value of a footballing career extends, for those who so wish it, far beyond the weekly pay cheque and there are those who have developed this career professionally and diligently. Unfortunately for them, they are in the minority. Ex-professional or not, I can’t help but think why on earth are those at the top of the pyramid we all effectively aspire to be at or near, not furthering their own performances? How, in fact, are some of them even there? More worryingly, how long will it continue?