I wonder if there’s ever been a genuinely unbiased analysis of the qualitative benefits of football. Where the rampant greed, fraud and thievery, plus brainless violent nationalism and wholesale thuggery, is balanced against the ‘bringing together of even the poorest in societies around the world’.
Is there a true net benefit, or do people just scrape what little enjoyment they can, whilst shaking their heads and looking away from the nasty stuff, safe in the knowledge that it’s nothing to do with them? Except, it is entirely to do with them.
Supporting corruption in any way is to also help to perpetuate it. We all know this. If you buy a £600 season ticket you justify the price, whether you’re furious with it or not. Same with £90 shirts, £1.50 promo-branded Pringles or just registering your personal details to do McDonald’s fantasy footfball league for free. Don’t forget, if something is free then you are the commodity that’s being sold on to someone else. For everything else, you’re justifying the licensing and advertising deals, otherwise the companies and agents wouldn’t do it. They make a bomb.
Watching people, from all countries, fighting in France is beyond pathetic. Whether fans or police, it’s the continuation of nationalistic, blinkered, emasculated frustration being played out on the back of six Stellas each, and an underlying redundancy masked by the ‘beautiful game’. So beautiful, in the athleticism and preened grace of the millionaire striker and yet there is no sports fan uglier than a football fan.
Kids love football, yes. It can bring groups of people together, yes. But football doesn’t have a monopoly on generating community spirit, or enabling children to aspire. In fact, the relative, numerical likelihood of the success of a career in football, compared to almost any other career path, would actually make encouraging that in a child actually quite irresponsible. For every Ronaldo and Neymar, there are thousands who fail. It’s only ever in the clubs’ and sponsors’ interest for that pyramid to continue.
What football needs is to be slapped back down from its false and damaging aspirational pedestal. The fraud efforts against FIFA won’t do it, because fans aren’t loyal to FIFA. They only care about what’s theirs, and FIFA isn’t theirs. It’s all about England now and hating the rest of Europe. Then it’ll be about clubs again and hating the rest of England, whilst once again loving the European players who are once again ‘theirs’. And, again, their millionaire lifestyles are somehow projected onto the common fan as their own achievement.
But, they aren’t. Fans aren’t achievers, they’re enablers and, the greatest trick of all has been convincing them that that isn’t true. Convincing them that the deals, the wages, the fees, the stadiums, that it’s all for the club. Your club. So your club, and by association you, can win. You can be a winner. You can succeed, through us. And, if you need to smack someone, or get hit by a bottle, it’ll be worth it. You’ll have done your bit. You’ll have stood up and been counted. It’s bullshit.
Donkeys led by Three Lions.