Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Reasons not to bother with football...

There are many reasons why, over the past 50 years I have consistently refused to accept the game of football (or "soccer") as "The Beautiful Game", here are a few...

1. This sort of behaviour, especially when watching football in europe, appears to be commonplace, indeed it is a newsworthy event when a european game is completed without a police baton charge.

To put it another way - as an English citizen wishing to visit Rome next Wednesday I would expect, and would receive, a warm welcome, hospitality, a tour of the ancient sights, the freedom to roam at will in the ancient city, the cradle of Roman civilisation, the race that formed so much of our own country and culture, in short I'd love to go.

Alternatively I could clad myself in a Manchester Utd shirt and visit Rome this Wednesday (today) instead and expect to be herded into a group of like minded supporters at the airport, placed on a bus and taken to a holding area where I would be guarded by riot police until it was time to transport me to the ground at which point the full fury of the opposition football supporter would be launched at me and I could expect to spend the next couple of hours sat or stood in a wire-fenced pen while Italians flung bottles of urine at me and three rows of riot police and angry police dogs faced me on the pitch boundary.

I think I'll go next Wednesday instead.

2. This article details the top ten "dives" in football. To the virgin football supporter it may appear that the whole point of the game is for everyone on your side to use their feet and head to kick or nod the ball into a position at the opposite end of the field to where their own goal is located, and then, with great skill and aplomb, to kick or nod the ball past the opposition goalkeeper and, ergo, score what is known as "a goal" - score more of these than your opposition within 90 minutes and you are declared the winner of the contest.

Thats not the point at all.

The whole point of the game as a football player is to run around a lot on the field, first and foremost to impress "the boss", ie your football coach. Your football coach will sit in a small trench at the side of the pitch and make notes on you such as "good workload" and "runs into space" or "creates space" and he'll ignore the fact that you have actually not touched the ball at all during the game.

If by some incredible misfortune you actually find yourself with the ball at your feet then you must fall over in a dramatic style at the earliest opportunity, however there is a great skill in doing this so that it looks as though someone else should get the blame - you should not simply fall over before any of your opposition players run up to kick the ball away from you (the "tackle"), but instead should wait until they arrive and then crumple dramatically to the floor cutching a random part of your anatomy, this action will result in your team being awarded a "free kick" and if you're good enough will result in the opposition player, who was foolish enough to find himself stood three feet away from you, receiving a yellow (I'm watching you) card or even better a red (piss off and don't come back) card from the referee.

A free kick is of course by far the better way of getting the ball near to the opposition goal than actually having to do some work and run it all the way there and if you manage to fall over in what is called the "penalty area" then you will get a free kick directly at the goal with only a goalkeeper to stop you from scoring - this is indeed a praiseworthy event and players who can gain a free kick at goal in the penalty area are lauded by coaches and command huge remunerations.

3. This article from 2005 lists footballs highest remuneration earners, its probably way out of date now, I mean, Beckham on £17,000,000 per year, its laughable, he wouldn't even get out of bed for £17,000,000 a year now.

Its a source of constant amazement that even ordinary football players playing in ordinary football clubs will, as a matter of course and lack of amazement, earn remunerations in excess of £1,000,000 per year, lets remind ourselves here, thats around £20,000 a week for an Average Joe football player in an Average Joe sort of first or second division (or whatever fancy names the leagues have this year) football club, and it doesn't stop there - when our local so-called "football club in crisis" Leeds Utd had to offload several so-called "football stars" several years ago they could only do so on the proviso that they continued to pay part of their wages, presumably because they had been so stupid to promise to pay them to the "star" and the clubs that they moved to simply laughed when they told them what they were earning at Leeds - as Leeds have been relegated to the equivalent of a pub team league for next season the chairman Ken Bates has been gleefully informing the media this week that the wages bill will be reduced by another £1.5million next year as they have reached the end of previous "top up" agreements where they are paying another club to employ their ex-players.

You couldn't make it up.

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