Money grabbing, ill behaved and arrogant, words familiar to the stereotyping of football and those involved, so what all is wrong with the sport?
It's a love affair for many, no matter how bad our teams fall, let us down or simply push us to the edge of emotional breakdown through nerve racking finishes, we love football. But the problems of "modern football" are failing fans' now, with examples rife throughout the Premier League and in the big leagues across the world.
Football isn't a passion for the majority of professionals. Yes there will be the minority who do play for the shear fact they have worked hard for it, want it. However let's not be delusional, anyone who is earning over £30,000 a week must surely be slyly feeling the wad of the wallet and enjoying it.
There are a number of interlinking factors that are proving problematic for football in general. Thinking about it, there are three M's that are ruining football, slowly eroding it beyond recognition from thirty years ago; The Media, The Money and The Minority. Though there are other factors are also ruining our great game, these are the fundamental things that are wrong with football.
Of course, there is a necessity for the news of football to be circulated via newspapers and the internet and broadcast on television but these prove problematic very often. Stirring up rumours to sell papers is not what we want, we want reliable and trustworthy news, no matter how grim the truth is. The negativity of many football stories reported is detrimental to the sport. An example of this was when Ryan Giggs had his superinjunction revoked, it was front page news on every tabloid. However, how many of you knew that Gareth Barry handed over the keys to his holiday villa for a sick kids charity to use when he isn't using it? A sign that footballers' don't all believe they are superior.
You probably won't recall a (fabricated) story in the Sunday Mirror, a tabloid, going back to July of this year, when they broke the story of Crisitano Ronaldo reportedly demanding £400,000 per week - £20.8 million per annum not including bonuses and sponsorship, to join Manchester City. Along with this, Ronaldo apparently wanted the number seven shirt and the captains armband at City. Reporting this is damaging to the already obscured, hurt image of football and sends out the wrong message to many whom may be glad not to be associated with such an imperfect, greedy sport that was once - considered a beautiful game.
The media are the reason "Deadline Day" is what it is - a frantic Christmas shopping like rush with overhyped products being sold at inflated prices.
Sky interlinks with the money and media, as they offer £30 million per year to the Premier League clubs (or so I'm led to believe, please let me know if that is innaccurate) which is a massive amount for many PL clubs, and a drop in the ocean to some others. Sky's dominance of the sports coverage market has left many people in limbo, with people like myself and our family unwilling to commit to a Sky package and leaving us with little option than to watch Match of the Day, take out a BT Vision contract or take on the huge financial burden of going to the game. I'm not criticising Sky for this, what they offer is perfectly adequate for many people - however the stranglehold of the market is frustrating.
If you wish to use the excuse that clubs need to use this money (Sky money) to attract top players' then the clubs shouldn't be signing the players' because they only want to come because of the money, not because of the club.
In conclusion, the media have overused their duty to deliver us with reliable news and coverage by a) to an extent, misleading us and feeding us predominantly negative stories and b) used their power to dominate the market, in particular, Sky.
There was once a time where money didn't rule football - seems a distance truth now though. The influx of money rich foreigners - intent on making money and deriving a sense of prestige from owning a club in what is labelled the "Best League in the World" is destroying this title.
The main debate with money in football is why do footballers of all people get this stupid amount of money? If the club can afford it then that is fine, but what if it is unsustainable? What if Sheik Mansour got bored of Manchester City? All of these questions are unanswered and will be answered within the future.
It is a dark period for the Premier League, and football in general as players' moving clubs will rarely opt for the ones who have a great history and are pushing for trophies but will, instead declare they "like the project that is happening" at a club powered by a multi billion pound owner and pocket far more money whilst having no passion for the game.
Money is also the catalyst for a number of different problems in football. It leads to inequalities - in numerous ways; only the financially well off can afford the best players', but also, these clubs can take advantage of others position as they can use their financial muscle to tempt away young stars' from lower league club's for their own benefit. Of course, this puts the lower league club in a good position, but at a cost of a promising young player.
Money is the main stumbling block at which football's reputation falls. "Ridiculous" exclaims the working class when we find out that Yaya Toure earns over £220,000 per week, and it is disgusting. Yes, I accept footballers have worked hard to get to where they are, but so have doctors, surgeons and nurses - and then there is the arguement that the pay of these two differing workloads should be reversed. Of course, in a World of morality and justice, this would be the case - but even then, nobody should be really paid that when there is such poverty in the World. Unfortunately though, this is not the case. Football is an entertainment business, the players' generate the business and it's revenue, therefore the players' get a large chunk of this money.
"Stick them on a plane to Afghanistan to fight and see whether that makes them greatful enough to be in the privileged position that they are in." A more publishable version of my father's view of money-grabbing, ill-behaved footballers'.
But when will the patronising sums of money stop flowing? When will the game become unrecoverable, and completely dissolved in the poison that is money? As more people become richer, millionarires become billionaires and look for investments like football clubs, it seems that, despite however unsustainable the money, the forseeable future will see football endure yet more money seeking players'.
The Minority often shapes what many think of a group, and footballers are no different. The actions of a minority, blown up by the media and read by millions gives people the wrong impression of footballers. Everyone is talking about the recent ill-discipline of a certain Carlos Tevez - can't say I've ever heard of him being in the middle of controversy before.. * enter sarcastic laugh here*. There was a mist of uncertainty amongst last Tuesday night in Munich, but it's difficult not to side with Roberto Mancini, of course, Tevez doesn't know much English but "you're going on the pitch" should be well within his ability to understand. He sums up everything that is wrong with modern football - as mentioned by Graeme Souness (quote also in my last article).
“He is one bad apple. He’s a disgrace to football. He epitomises what most people think is wrong with modern football. It is totally unacceptable. He’s a football player and is paid to play. He is refusing to help his team-mates. It is all about him, him, him.”
Yet it extends to more than just Tevez, stories of players like Mario Balotelli prancing about and causing controvery and the swearing into the camera by Wayne Rooney following media scrutiny of the Merseysider don't help either. It is the sad state of football that these young men have so much money and options that they can ruin careers through stupid decisions because they haven't been taught to be greatful and understanding of how fortunate they are and become the prey of the particular media (paparazzi) who wish to exploit this uneducated aspect of the footballers' life.
And it's not just the players'. The minority of senior members' at FIFA are spoiling the sport for their own convenience, with corruption rife and the "democratic dictator" Sepp Blatter at the helm handing out lifetime bans to possible challengers of his fortress of a throne. The game is a mess, it has been made a mess through these critical aspects, which are all necessities but have been abused.
The Minority of fans in football also give me the impression that many fans' are anti-social hooligans that want to cause trouble at games, when in fact it is a very small percentage of the overall fan group but as usual, the press will report it in its entirety; not the fact that millions of fans across Britain have behaved impeccably well, but that a few thousand have went on the rampage in a Millwall - Leeds game or a derby of that notoriously troublesome stature.
What does football lack?
Without listing the endless possibilities to answer this question, the main and most poignant problems with the game are visible every day, at every level in football. These problems highlight how far behind football his in comparison to other sports'.
Visible on a Sunday morning at pub team level, or a Saturday afternoon at Premier League level, this is an extremely problematic issue that is leaving the men in the middle - the referees' - reluctant to do their job under the constant, barbaric abuse of spectators', players and coaches alike. Many campaigns have tried and failed to address this but it is a losing battle. But why is it like this? Why is it uniquely football that suffers this torrent of unwelcome behaviour? Look at rugby, a more grounded and respectable sport. When a referee in rugby makes a decision, he tells the players involved why and they understand, they don't do that foreign plea of putting their arms up to their face wth index finger and thumb together begging for forgiveness unlike the majority of players in the Premier League (Deco was one I most definitely remember did it when he was here.) They just have a brains to get on with it instead of wasting time. But this isn't all just about referees', the lack of respect between some groups of fans' is worrying. The tendency to ignore somebody in the street if they are in a rival team colours, it's just a game for Christ sake! I refer to rugby once again as the photo under this sub-topic highlights the friendliness in the game with fans. They know that it's just a game, that it will be a good day out and they won't have any worries with violence.
A Solid, Reliable Core
Know this man? No, It's not Sir Trevor McDonald. This is Lamine Diack, President of the International Association of Athletics Federations since 1999. This is a man that football needs, we need somebody at the top prepared to come down hard on players and clubs in the wrong, not the tippy tappy approach that FIFA take.
The IAAF have very strict guidlines in the sport of athletics, this has given the sport's Governing body a very good reputation, we need to follow in this guy's footsteps if we are to recover football's ailing reputation.
Firstly, by having a FIFA Spring, to eradicate another dictator from power he has held for far too long. Then restoring some clarity and transparency at the Governing body through a democratic vote - with candidates who have been thoroughly vetted.
Yes, the wild debate continues, when will Blatter see sense? When will he realise how useless those two "extra officials" at either end of the pitch actually are? That technology is the solution? It might disrupt the fluency of the game for about a minute in a game of ninety, but I'm sure that if it prevents half the managers on Match of the Day giving us an earful of polite expeletives during their post match interview and also stops the papers using the back page headline "SHAMBLES" when referring to a goal that should have been. For all the inconvenience of a few minutes during an hour and a half, it will provide clarity and make many fans sleep easy rather than steaming with fury because they should have had a goal. Give each team two appeals for the use of a video replay and make one of those useless 'statues' at the end of the pitch the video referee, it's just too simple...