The beautiful game or a beautiful shame?
Football is often described as being ‘the beautiful game’. It can be a graceful game of talent, skill, intelligent tactics, athleticism, and passion that make many people worldwide very emotional about the sport.
On the pitch, it is a team sport of 11 players against 11 players. Off the pitch, it is a very different scenario to what is a very simple game on the playing field. Football is big business, football is global, football is continuous and unrelenting, and football brings out the worst in some people.
To watch some graceful players on the field, you can see the devotion shown to developing their skills and abilities. You can see the hard work put in to developing understanding between team-mates, and learning the partnerships and connections between them. There are some bonds between players that needs no use of language, but the expectation of what the other players is going to do next. It is very impressive to see this and it is enjoyable to see good football played so well. Times like that, it does appear to be a beautiful game.
Beautiful game? Or is it?
Why is it a matter of opinion as to whether football as a whole is considered to be a beautiful game? On the pitch is one thing, but football is much more now than two halves of 45 minutes on some grass with a big net at each end.
The 2016 European Championships in France already has seen episodes of fans clashing with each other and also with police, in comparison to other sets of fans who are enjoying meeting each other and talking about the product on the pitch rather than causing trouble off it. Many countries have got their problems in this area. Unfortunately England are notoriously bad for having a hooliganism problem especially where alcohol consumption is involved. In the reports so far, drunken idiocracy and a hunger for violence have been there, regardless of whatever goading and antagonism occurred.
FIFA, which translates into English as International Federation of Association Football, are the world governing body responsible for the sport across the world. The organisation has had years of financial scandal surround them and those responsible for the upkeep of the reputation of the sport and how their beautiful game is managed across the globe. Change of leadership in the last year may have removed some of the problems, but it will be a long time before FIFA is seen as a fully trusted and honest, robust organisation.
Money, greed and power
There are many issues in the sport that are put down to money, greed and power. The transfer fees for players are astronomical, the attitudes of a number of players is worlds away from those supporters on the terraces cheering their heroes on, the businesses running teams are gambling with bringing in high profile players hoping for a touch of magic often instead of building cohesion and team spirit.
Abuse and insults
While a large number of supporters are quite happy to support their team and to appreciate the spectacle put to them from the pitch, there are another large portion of the crowd who delight in abusing the opposition and their supporters, even if not directly at them but in conversation among their friends. Friendly rivalry is one thing, but abusing and insulting isn’t necessary to enjoy a sporting occasion, surely?
Tabloid racism spreads wider
During an international tournament like Euro 2016, there will be England fans (and no doubt supporters from other countries) who will be referring to opposing countries as all manner of names and racist ethnic slurs.
Some tabloid newspapers in the past have used outdated, very unacceptable names for Germans, French, Italians, Spanish, Irish, and other people from other European countries. All in the name of supposedly drumming of support for the England football team. Not the kind of thing that ingratiates our nation to others when we should be looking to have a celebration of sporting competition instead.
Beautiful game but also a beautiful shame too
Football can be very enjoyable to watch the product on the pitch, it can indeed be a beautiful game to watch. Unfortunately the monumental, beautiful shame of it all is that the surrounding events off the pitch spoils a lot of the hard work that occurs on the turf. Excess alcohol, any amount of violence, corruption, greed and power, along with racism and unfriendly behaviour just should have no place in the sport and that is what turns a lot of people off what could still be a beautiful game.