Football is a game played by two teams consisting of 22 millionaires.
Each team wears a different colour kit. Teams have several choices of kit in order to sell to gullible supporters.
To start the game the ball is placed on the centre spot of the pitch by the referee. The referee wears a neutral colour kit that no one buys. He is not a millionaire, but will eventually write a book that few people read. His job is to walk around avoiding being hit by the ball.
The referee is assisted by two linesmen who run up and down the side line and raise their flag for offside 10 minutes after everyone else has spotted it.
Offside is a rule decided by secret men hidden away with imaginary lines and is known only to them. These men are called VAR, which stands for Very Annoying Referee and it’s their job to interrupt the game for as long as possible.
There is also a fourth official whose job is to get shouted out by both team managers.
Each team has a manager, who can be readily sacked if their team loses.
At a time convenient to television, a player from one side kicks the ball in what is called the kick-off, although this is not a fight, usually.
All the opposing players run around trying to get the ball, unless they are feeling particularly overpaid and entitled.
The players try to kick or head or knock the ball through the goal posts, under the bar and over the goal line into the opposing net with any part of their body, other than their hands and arms, unless VAR is not in use.
Each team has a goalkeeper. They have a individual colour kit, which also no one buys. It’s their job to be blamed when the opposition scores. They are allowed to handle the ball and can take too long to kick the ball if their team is winning.
Players can be penalised for time-wasting, although, surprisingly, this is never a punishment brought against all players on both sides, no matter how dire the game.
Players can receive a caution in the form of a yellow card if they foul a member of the opposite team, by which I mean injure, not defecate on. Although that would get a yellow card, if not a red. There are no brown cards for such events.
A red card means a player is obliged to argue pointlessly with the referee for too long before leaving the field.
Free kicks are issued when a player is fouled or falls and rolls around in agony because another grown man touched their face slightly with his finger.
If the ball leaves the side of the pitch, a throw-in is awarded to the team whose player can best pretend it came off the opposition.
If the ball leaves the end of the pitch, off a player defending that goal, the opposition gets a corner. Not a Müller Fruit Corner. The ball is placed on the corner of the pitch and players in the middle wrestle each other while attempting to look innocent.
If the ball leaves the end of the pitch, off a player attacking that goal, that player is obliged to throw his hands in the air and berate his team mates.
Substitutes are lesser players brought on when a starting player is injured, or when the team is losing. He is brought on to give the impression the manager is worth the huge salary he is pocketing.
A penalty is awarded when an attacker is manhandled in the box. This is not like a cricket box, fortunately. It is a marked out area. The ball is placed on the penalty spot and spectators have to watch through their fingers while the attacker tries to kick the ball past the goalkeeper despite being gurned at.
When a goal is scored, the ball must be replaced on the centre spot while the players on the team that have scored enact stupid celebrations for the crowd and the cameras, milking the moment as though they’ve discovered the meaning of existence or cured cancer.
If a losing team scores late in the second half, the player who scored must fight the opposing goalie for the ball and plant it on the centre spot himself, like he’s single-handedly slain the dragon and has brought its head to present to the villagers.
The game lasts to the commercial break and resumes for a further period, with the teams changing ends to provide the illusion of hope for something different in the second half.
The object of the game is to avoid doing something useful with your time. This applies to players and spectators alike. There are no winners.
By Henry Normal
Main image: Henry Normal playing football in the early 1990s by Richard David