Thursday, March 23, 2017

Another First For Alaró

Alaró. What do we know of it? It has a castle. It was the first place in Mallorca to get electricity. The citizens not so long ago took part in a referendum to allow women to be part of the cossiers folk dance troupe. Its first woman mayor took office in 2015. It will have the Balearics first black mayor - Guillem Balboa - later this year. A municipality of firsts, it generally, one might suggest, has a fairly genteel image, as in being free of any associated vulgarities as opposed to being populated by the gentry (save some maybe).

Alaró is therefore not a Magalluf. It would be impossible for it be anyway, given that it doesn't have a coast. Instead, it nestles quietly by the Tramuntana, which cliché demands that it should do. Villages overlooked by mountains are required to nestle. That's all they do.

Unfortunately for Alaró, this carefully carved-out reputation has been shattered. It has joined the ranks of Magalluf (of which one must say, of course, that this is pre-transformation Magalluf). It has attained a new first. It is the first village nestling in the Tramuntana foothills to grab the attention of The Sun and The Daily Mail, except when either of these may have published a travel article describing the pleasures of Mallorcan foothill nestling. The genteel, free of vulgarities image has been destroyed by scenes reminiscent of most nights in Magalluf (sorry, pre-transfomation Magalluf).

The Sun usefully informed its readers of the "shocking moment" that a mass brawl broke out between parents at a kids' football match. Mums screamed "in horror" and scrambled "to protect children from fighting dads". Goodness me, Alaró, what have you done? There's Biel Barceló going on about non-beach tourism, lauding the alternatives of cultural, heritage and nature tourism, facilitating the arrival of inland holiday rentals, and what happens? A village symbolic of all this alternative tourism has threatened the promotional drive by engaging in a re-enactment of Punta Ballena. One thing's for sure. If Alaró signs up to the sports tourism niche as a means of tackling seasonality, it'll carefully sidestep any mention of football.

This is of course greatly exaggerated, as was perhaps a headline in the local press which referred to a scandal with global repercussion. This repercussion will mostly have involved avid social network users having a good laugh. Which isn't to condone what happened, just that values are what they have become. Moreover, it's not as if it is unheard of for parents to get out of hand at kids' football matches. The difference in this instance is that parents behaving badly has gone viral.

The immediate victims of the "mass brawl" (what actually constitutes a mass?) were the Alaró boys. The team has been withdrawn. There again, the boys aren't entirely victims. Certain players face expulsion from the team, such as one seen kicking a man who was on the ground. It might be noted that the whole incident kicked off when an Alaró player chased a Collerense youngster and kicked him. Alaró had already had a player sent off as well as their trainer. The referee had apparently asked for the police to be called fifteen minutes before the brawl broke out. He sensed that there was an inflamed atmosphere.

As a consequence of what took place the public prosecutor is involved, as is the Guardia Civil, the national government's delegation to the Balearics as well as the Balearic Islands Football Federation's Anti-Violence Commission. Fines of up to 10,000 euros could be handed out. There is the threat of possible custodial sentences. And all because of a football match involving 12 and 13 year olds in the Regional Second Division, Group E.

The government and the Council of Mallorca both rushed to condemn Sunday's events. "Values" to be acquired through sport are important, said Biel Barceló in his vice-presidential guise. The Council was at pains to explain that it has a whole project aimed at inculcating these values through sport and at holding workshops to try and prevent violence.

Values, and good ones, are there to be attained, but there are other values being pursued - monetary, fame and celebrity. When the likes of Talk Sport, rather than indulging in shouting, stop and have sensible discussions about football, a subject that comes up is the behaviour of parents. When did they start behaving badly? Around the time when big bucks for junior players loomed. Allied to this are the values displayed on football pitches. Jamie Vardy has been praised in some quarters for having been cute enough in ensuring Samir Nasri was sent off. There are so many other examples.

As a local journalist has written, none of the kids last Sunday will become Messi. But such are the distorted values, that is the parental ambition. Poor Alaró. What had it done to deserve its global repercussion?

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