Sunday, 21 October 2012

Modern Football: What is ruining our beautiful game?

It's been a long and strange couple of months in the world of football. It's mid October, and my team, Sheffield United, are somehow still going strong on an unbeaten run. Well, I say strong...

But sadly, it isn't unbeaten runs, wonder goals (Did he mean it? He definitely meant it!) or unexpected results that have had us all talking recently. Over the past year, football seems to have taken a really negative turn. Of course, there are still moments that make the hairs on the back of our neck stand on end and remind us just why we love the game so much; the greatest example of course being Sergio Aguero's 90th minute winner for Manchester City which handed them the Premier League title back in May. But at the moment, the negatives of football seem to massively outweigh the positives, and people seem to be slowly but surely falling out of love with the beautiful game.

The incident on everyone's lips at the moment is of course the vile attack on Sheffield Wednesday's Chris Kirkland during Friday evening's match against Leeds United. As most of you know, I really, really dislike Sheffield Wednesday. However, I dislike thuggery and violence much, much more than any silly old rivalry. To think that in the 21st century, a fan could find their way onto the pitch and physically abuse a player who has done absolutely nothing wrong is baffling and disgusting. What makes me really sad is seeing a minority of fellow fans blaming police, stewards and other staff for what happened. Of course, crowd control is important for goal celebrations etc, but why should the Hillsborough staff be blamed for what this person did? It's not their fault that this idiot doesn't have any sign of a brain cell knocking around his skull. But sadly, this wasn't the end. Both sets of fans (although it has to be said again that it was a small minority) then went on to sing what can only be described as despicable chants about some truly awful things which have had devastating affects on people's lives. I think my Dad said it best when he said "Some footy fans just can't seem to have a laugh like we used to. It's personal and it's nasty, I can't imagine what must be going through their heads to think it's ok to sing something like that." What also seems ridiculous is that this game was on a Friday evening. Putting fans and players in danger for the sake of Sky Sports coverage is wrong and should not be allowed to happen.

So, this incident reflects the idiocy of a minority of football fans. However, other recent events have shown that unfortunately, some of the people who are very high up in football and also some players themselves are just as bad as these fans. Let's take yesterday for example. Rio Ferdinand refused to wear a 'Kick It Out' campaign t-shirt on the pitch at Old Trafford pre-match, and Sir Alex Ferguson told the press that he was 'embarrassed' and that Ferdinand 'would be dealt with'. Now, I've seen a few different opinions on this, but I think that most of us can understand why Ferdinand acted this way. If the FA had found a fan guilty of racially abusing Rio's brother Anton, that fan would have been banned from every football stadium across the country for the rest of his or her's life. So why should it be any different for John Terry, just because he is on the pitch rather than off it? The fact is, his 4 game ban, fine and reputation probably won't affect is life in anyway at all. The near quarter of a million pound fine is hardly a dint in his back pocket, four games out of forty is hardly a dint in Chelsea's Premier League campaign, and as for his reputation, well I think we all know that that was pretty much in tatters anyway. As for the incident that happened with Danny Rose and the Serbian fans earlier in the week, well I don't even know where to begin with that one.

If the FA don't come down on these players and fans like a tonne of bricks, how are these massive, massive issues ever going to be resolved? At the moment, it doesn't look like they ever will be, and that is what will from now on tarnish the beautiful game as something that is in fact rather ugly.