If there’s anything I like more than hearing a good conspiracy theory it’s spreading a good conspiracy theory around. I remember being told that Charlton Heston was secretly gay which is why they called the film Ben-Hur. It was supposed to be called Ben-Him but MGM changed the title, you know, on account of his gayness. All I know is the film is called Ben-Hur, ipso facto he must have been gay. Yup, that’s as conclusive as evidence needs to be for a good conspiracy theory. And with a little Wikipedia edit I can lend it some much needed support too.
You can tell that’s a good conspiracy theory because it leaves a clue staring you right in the face. We all know it’s called Ben-Hur, but no one has thought to ask why. Alternatively, a good conspiracy theory needs to involve a giant corporation getting rich on the sly, which is where the ash cloud lets us down. Sure, it’s hit the air industry hard, but unless you think Eurostar is looking for investment in a massive cross-Atlantic extension to their current operation you’d be hard pressed to find an outright winner. Hence the lack of good ash cloud theories.
Fortunately for us theory-hunters Chelsea play at Liverpool on Sunday in a match that overflows with potential conspiracy. If Chelsea win it’s Liverpool sabotaging Manchester United’s bid to become the greatest team in English history; if Chelsea lose or draw it’s a Northern Alliance: the filthiest of filthy alliances, where both parties hate each other but are forced to work together, kind of like a coalition government. Which way will it go? Who can say? In the meantime let’s take a look at some of our greatest conspiracy theories yet:
1982: West Germany 1 – 0 Austria. Needing a 1- 0 win for both teams to go through, West Germany score within the first ten minutes and the game grinds to a halt. The commentator packs it in, Austria notch up the most consecutive passes by any team in a World Cup and FIFA have to change the rules so that all final group games are played simultaneously. Conspiracy rating: 2. It’s not a conspiracy, it’s just bad tournament planning.
1998: Ronaldo is forced to play the World Cup final. Brazil leave on-form players on the bench because Nike insist their unfit poster boy plays, they subsequently lose 3-0. Conspiracy rating: 8. Cleverly this theory ignores the French home advantage, Zinedine Zidane, and a squad that goes on to dominate European football, in favour of a mysteriously powerful global corporation. That’s the sort of conspiracy I’m talking about!
2004: Denmark 2 – 2 Sweden. With a two-all draw guaranteeing both qualify at Italy’s expense, bookies slash the odds. Sure enough the result is 2 – 2 with only commentator Peter Schmeichel defending the integrity of the players. Conspiracy rating: 5. Who’d have thought that after the debacle of 1982 the clever boys at FIFA could restructure a tournament to suffer exactly the same problem? Still, it did mean Italy got a stuffing, ma che bella!
2006: Spurs food poisoning. With a win at West Ham guaranteeing fourth spot, Spurs get stuck into a meal of slightly out-of-date sushi, oysters (in May!) and someone’s homemade mayo before tummy trouble means they lose 2-1. Conspiracy rating: 9. Mass food poisoning before the most crucial game of the season? Archrivals Arsenal the beneficiaries of the last Champions League place? Millions of pounds at stake? That’s up there with Charlton Heston.
2009: Zlatan Ibrahimovic is in fact the human avatar of a blue Zlatan who lives in suspended animation in some obscure region of the solar system. Currently Blue Zlatan is in a bit of a pickle with some roughneck commander which explains his propensity to fall asleep in the middle of important matches. Boom boom. (Seriously though, he looks like a na’vi, right?)
2010: Maradona has started a secret religion where he is God and Lionel Messi is the anointed one as sworn in by Gabriel “the Baptist” Batistuta. With such divine help Argentina can’t fail to win the World Cup, unless a silver crossed Martin Palermo can sneak into the squad and scupper everything. Conspiracy rating: 10. You wait, you might not know it, but we’re currently in year 0. From here on in it’s Anno Leo and in two thousand years nations will fight wars over which is the definitive top ten goal compilation on youtube.
30AL: Eurostar open their sub-Atlantic tunnel from Shannon to New York. Miraculously they have stumbled over the remains of the lost city of Atlantis along the way, which has provided the solution to global warming. They’ll claim it was all just a happy coincidence that they got the green light in the first place, but I haven’t actually seen any ash cloud… have you?