The Beautiful Game

I sent a letter to The Independent newspaper following the defeat of the English football team by Croatia. The defeat meant England would not be playing in Europe with the top European nations. We often refer to football as the beautiful game but money and corporate power has cast its ugly shadow over the game. There is a certain malaise in football – off the football pitch and sometimes on it.

In my letter to The Independent, I pinpointed 10 points about the problem with English football team, often through no fault of their own.

1. There is a perception in the international arena that the England is the 51st state in the American Empire. There is widespread delight in the world of football when England lose.
2. A small section of English football fans a deserved reputation for violence, drunkard and bullying behaviour when they travel overseas to watch England play.
3. The Premiership is the greatest football league in the world. It’s a myth. The four wealthiest clubs dominate the Premiership.- Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool. The rest of the league consists of also rans.
4. The media obsession with the individual has a destructive impact on the sense of the team. It is no wonder that small nations like Croatia play calm, clear and coordinated football and beat England. .
5. We live in a culture of unrealistic negative demands on players, their partners and families.
6. How can a player run onto the pitch with clarity and peace of mind when he is fearful or distressed about what has been written about him or might be written about his personal life in the media?
7. The clubs squeeze as much money as possible out of the army of loyal fans from ticket sales and merchandise. Is it surprising that there is such a reaction – verbal abuse, booing or fans leaving some matches several minutes before they are over?
8. There is a naive idea that the players should be able to take the pressure. The evidence shows they cannot. The negative forces are too intense for their young shoulders.
9. We do not have a team of great players. The Croatian coach was spot on. “Wake up,” he said. Our individual players are subjected to expectations that weigh down on the shoulders of these young guys doing their best for the country.
10. The corporate world, the media, Football Association, football clubs and football fans have a lot of soul searching to do.

PS. The newspaper did not publish my letter.