Wednesday, 11 June 2014

The 'beautiful game'

So... unless you're a hermit, you probably have realised that the football World Cup starts tomorrow.
Apologies here and now to fans of 'the beautiful game', but I'm afraid I'm not a fan. Never have been.

"It's patriotic and uniting" a friend remarked the other day, when I said the only good thing about the World Cup was the number of films that are on the telly at the same time.

In fact, we had quite a ...lively...discussion about it.

"Why," he asked, "don't you support the England football team, when you were completely swallowed up by supporting the UK in the Olympics two years ago?"

I started muttering about too much hype, salaries that would clear some countries debts, players better suited to the Oscars from their performances on the pitch, poor role models, the fact that I don't have a sporty bone in my body and don't really get involved with ANY sports...I think I went on a bit more, but you get my drift.

In the end, we agreed to disagree.

Yesterday, though, I watched the programme David Beckham made about his road trip to Brazil, because Mr Squidge wanted to see it and I was interested to see whether the footy hype would follow Beckham into the jungle. (David Beckham into the Unknown is available on BBC iplayer for a few more days, and worth watching even if you're not a footy fan - even if it's just to see one of the world's most recognisable footballers trying to explain the game to a tribal elder of an isolated Amazonian tribe...)

And that's when I realised; I prefer to 'get behind' the people, not the team. I enjoyed the Olympics because it was individuals striving to be the best they can be at their chosen sport, often succeeding against the odds, often poorly paid (if at all) and doing it for the love of the sport.

I can't help feeling that a lot of the time, particularly with football, it's become more about the humungous salaries, the multi-million pound stadiums, the celebrity status and the glittering wives. Or the almost tribal mentality of 'our team's better than yours and if you don't like it, we'll fight you for it.' There are probably lots of football fans now shouting at their monitors, saying it's not like that at all! What about the genuine supporters? I accept that, and I think the media has a lot to answer for in how I view football...

I admire David Beckham, the man.He comes across as a thoroughly good bloke, who genuinely cares for his wife and family and treasures his friends. And yeah, he's a good footballer too. There's integrity there, an honesty - even when talking about the time he was red carded at a previous world cup match. He appreciated the people who'd set him on his footbally career path and he appeared to learn from his mistakes. And let's not forget everything he's done for charity.

Now, if every footballer on the planet was like that, I'd be a fan. It really would be 'the beautiful game.'

(PS If you logged on earlier and are wondering where the pics have gone...was pointed out that perhaps FIFA/Mr B wouldn't endorse my use. So we're back to text only.)


  1. Replies
    1. Hooray! Comments are back! Thanks for trying it out, Alan x

  2. In contrast to, AP, I didn't think this was a testing post at all, Squidge. lol. I agree with everything you say, with one exception, I'm sure the Beckham film was a delight for his fans but, the very fact that the TV company made a profitable (for them) set of programs on the back of his popularity smacks in the face of hypocrisy to me.

    1. Yep, can see your point Baz... as one reporter wrote, why didn't he just go off and do the trip without telling anyone? But if he had, he wouldn't have shared so much of his - what do I call it? Philosophy of life? - with the wider world. Could argue the same for a lot of 'celebrity' led programmes...not sure where you draw the line on making a profit for the TV company.

  3. I do love the world cup, but put the Olympics way above it, for the same reasons you mention - football has been tainted and tarnished by money, the Olympic movement was as well in the past, but has moved forwards, and for many sports the Os are the pinnacle, often for not much money, as you say!
    Yes, there are some good films on, but they'll have to take a back seat for me it's all about the footie matches! ;-)

    1. There's something NOT so viciously competitive about the Olympics...even though every athlete is striving to do their utmost to win. Enjoy watching your matches, Gordino!