Football (Or Soccer if You Are American): Why Has the Beautiful Game Turned So Ugly?

We only need to look at the events over the last 18 months or so to question why are the football authorities such as FIFA and UEFA not doing enough to crack down on this violence?

Remember the golden years of the 90's; Gazza scoring the wonder goal in Euro 96 and celebrating with the dentist chair water squirting, Cantona returning from his ban in 1997- winning Man Utd the double after his infamous kung-fu kick; the Invincibles of Arsenal who went unbeaten for the whole season; and 99 was capped of the glory years of English football when Man United won the treble. Go back to the George Best winning the European cup for Man United, 10 years after the Munich disaster. However, what do we have now? We have racism, homophobia and young men earning millions in front of fans paying thousands of pounds to watch these primadonnas. Then, the dreaded agents/foreign owners demanding extortionate amounts of money as well as the England football team who have a lack of depth to call upon and a crazy FIFA president who cannot relinquish power and a so-called fair play rule which has no hope of succeeding. Football is never "coming home" and is on cause for self-destruction!

Arguably, the 70's and 80's were worse for violence, racism and Hillsborough. True, however, the dark days have returned where fans are risking their lives to watch a game. Yes just a "GAME"! Football is no longer a game, arguably a multi-billion pounds industry and at worst somewhere mindless idiots can vent their anger and hatred without fear of prosecution. Even Sunday morning football referees are abused by players/spectators.

In the last 18 months FIFA/UEFA have not cracked down on this behaviour: in South America riot police need to attend every game and are attacked from fans; but UK fans are "hooligans". In the Ukraine, an English fan was stabbed, others attacked for supporting their team. Travel to Kiev any other time and there would be no trouble if you were English. We have also seen the racism in Italy and Serbia increase, as well as homophobia in general.

What have UEFA/FIFA done? The answer is: nothing...Serbia fined and to play a couple of games without fans. From Mr Blatter or Platini, there has been no comment about the situation in South America, Italy and Spain. Also, Qatar has been awarded the 2022 where homosexuality is still illegal and the facilities are unbearable for fans and players. The choice of Qatar is still questionable.

Then, the transfer window which means that players (employees of companies) can only move from one club within a 2 month period in the summer and a 1 month period in January. No other EU business can do this so how can football get away with this? Yes, if an employee moves to a rival company in "normal" life then they get put on gardening leave; so why not in football? We could return to the traditional open transfer market (incidentally a legal requirement within the EU) and when a club transfers a player then they can negotiate how much gardening leave is required. UEFA can still stop the player from participating in certain cup competitions, but it should be a free market for the movement of employees.

The transfer window helps to increase the value of players, so that agents can make money and both clubs and players can demand extortionate fees/wages. Economics dictate that reducing the demand of supply (i.e. players) and increasing demand (by clubs and fans) then the only result is an increase in price.

Then we have the "fair-play rule" to ensure clubs don't spend over their means. The word "fair" seems a bit ironic for Platini's baby; how can smaller clubs compete with larger clubs if their spending has to match their income. Also how does this work with clubs like Chelsea, Real Madrid, Barcelona, PSG and Man City? These clubs have multi-billionaire owners and could easily find a way round this. However, smaller clubs will have trouble with the rule due to lack of income. Also consider clubs like Everton, who settle the books according to the rule but lose the best players. Has anyone noticed that PSG and Monaco have not been criticised by Platini for spending millions and not obeying the rule? How can smaller clubs obey the fair-play rule and get into the Premier League without taking a risk? It doesn't always work and we have seen what has happened to Portsmouth and Leeds United, but the rule cannot be controlled properly. UEFA needs to rethink this rule.

Finally, we have the Premier League who appear to control English football and ignore the FA, but treat fans as money making machines. Why have two providers of Premier League football for television? The original idea was that not all Premier League teams were pay-per-view (i.e. some Premier League games on terrestrial TV). However, now customers must pay for both Sky Sports and BT Sports if they wish to watch every televised Premier League game. This is fundamentally wrong as the customers need access to either Sky TV or cable TV to subscribe to either package. However, in Spain or the Middle East all games are televised on one channel. Why must the Premier League be so greedy and now we have to pay twice to watch all the games? If one has cable or Sky then one can subscribe to Sky, so why not allow Sky to broadcast 90% of the games and then allow terrestrial channels to broadcast the other 10% at no fee to the viewer? So why has the Premier League kept this two provider rule in place?

In conclusion, football is a rotten apple; the people who run the game are only out to make money and do not care about the general public who just want to watch the beautiful game. We have an increase in violence, racism and homophobia, but neither UEFA nor FIFA choose to take serious action. Instead they continue to act corruptly and ignore countries that allow racism, violence and homophobia to thrive, while they continuously criticise UK football and its supporters. Who created football?

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