For all of you that tweet, you may have noticed over the past couple of days, I’ve been noticeably absent. The World Cup is on, and the majority of people who I follow will tweet about nothing other than bluddy football for the rest of the tournament. I can’t face reading around these tweets to get to the meaningful and interesting, so I’m taking myself off Twitter. I apologise, retrospectively, and also in advance, but I am hiding under a rock for the next month.
This is entirely my problem, not anyone else’s, but I feel I ought to at least try and explain myself. There are several reasons why I struggle with finding any redeeming feature in football:
One of the biggest is money. On the radio there was a segment about how football clubs can’t afford to pay tax bills, but their players are driving around in luxury cars. One Premiership footballer’s annual pay packet, could fund 100s, if not 1000s of nurses. South Africa is proud it has built or renovated all the stadiums and corresponding infrastructure for the tournament: but whole townships of people are still starving, living in one room shacks, moved out of the way from tourists. What difference could the money spent to host this month-long tournament have made if it was invested in the country?
Another reason is the blanket news coverage in papers and on TV. The papers would have a football headline on the back pages every day of the year, no matter what else happened. Ashes won? World record broken? Olympics? Forget it, if Wayne Rooney sneezed, that was more important than anything else that happened in the sporting world. 9 times out of 10 it leads the sport headlines on TV too in the UK, even if it is the ‘closed season’.
The hatred it inspires in ‘fans’ also is beyond me. In my early twenties, I found myself at lots of football matches, bored out of my skull, while boyfriend at the time was having a great time. I could drive, he couldn’t, so I came in handy I guess. Home supporters are ushered in one entrance to the ground, Away supporters in at another. In Cardiff, to visit the Millennium Stadium for a match, you even get separate motorway (freeway) exits! The whole city is cut in half by 1000s of policemen, who frankly have better things to do, linked arm in arm to stop one teams supporters coming into contact with the other.
The first time I went to a rugby match at Twickenham, I was on a coach being driven right up to the ground. Supporters from both teams were mingling and walking happily up to the ground, together. I had a full on panic attack on the coach, absolutely in hysterics, because I was convinced we were going to be in a fight, or similar, or worse. The only thing I had to compare it to was the riot I was stuck in the middle of, at a football match, when some Away supporters thought it would be funny to climb into the Home stand. When Hubs and I go to the Aussie Rules Football over here, it is the same as going to a rugby match. The crowd mingle; chat happily and there is no trouble. So why can’t people going to watch football behave like that?
Having stood on the sidelines and watched my friend’s son in diddy tournaments and seen the youngsters hack down other players; or roll around on the floor in pain, to hop up and take the free kick when it has been awarded; because they see world class players, week in, week out, doing the same thing and not getting penalised; there is, to me, far more wrong with the sport than there is right with it.
Taken individually the above reasons don’t amount to much. Added altogether, for me, it’s huge. And I could go on too, but I think for the sake of my sanity I stop now. You will never convince me it is a good thing. So for the next month, I will retreat back under my rock and stay there.