Lets get something straight - I don't actually hate football as a game, I just detest the culture that surrounds it. So let me begin.
As a young lad growing up in the Cotswolds in the late eighties/early nineties there was only one team to support - Manchester United. This was purely because it was my step-fathers choice of team and a few years before they actually started winning anything. We even both owned a matching a shell suit!
I remember Lee Martin scoring the winner in the 1990 cup final and England losing on penalties the following summer in the World Cup. I remember seeing Gazza and Bobby Robson shed a tear like it was yesterday. Like most people who remember the tournament I still get flashbacks of Roger Milla and Schillaci every time I hear Nessun Dorma. It's a little bit like looking back at an old relationship with rose tinted specs thinking players cared more and football was pure but in truth, hooligans were never far away. This was only 5 years after the Heysel disaster which, at the time, I was too young to remember.
So does football receive an unfair reputation. I see lots of people comparing football to rugby and rightly so although rugby is by in no way perfect. It just has football to make it look better all the time! Of course all football fans are not moronic vandals like not all rugby fans are saints, but there is a big brush and everyone gets tarred with it. RESPECT - In rugby the players call the referee "sir".. In football the players swear at them and even push them. The crowd call him a wa*%ker frequently throughout the 90 minutes. FANS - The fans in rugby all sit together and have fun together. An environment in which the whole family can enjoy. If this was the case in football there would be a fight every match. Anyone who wishes to argue this case please ask yourselves why this doesn't happen. Football fans (again not all of them) seem angry. All their chants and things they shout out are like a lot of frustration coming out. It also slightly worries me that 50 year old men are singing songs about teenage boys and wearing their names on their back! PLAYERS - Deception seems to be the norm in football. Feigning a foul or an injury to gain advantage of some sorts is accepted. A dive or pretending to be hurt to get a fellow professional sent off is just an everyday occurrence. Harry Kane got congratulated for not rolling around in agony when being kunf-fu chopped in a friendly against Portugal. To be able to pick out a single case is quite shocking. If in rugby players were rolling around in pretense each time they got a knock a game would last over 3 hours! Yes there are fights in rugby. Real fights. Not some shirt pulling, shoving and spitting. The only footballer (in my lifetime) I believed would have actually gone through with a threat was Roy Keane - all the others pretending to fight is like watching wrestling. Sadly football players are put on a pedestal. It's as if they're unattainable and their lives are what every male in the country once dreamed of. They are, whether we like it or loathe it, roles models of a high proportion of young children. We have generation after generation thinking this is normal behavior.
Of course the media are out to report any kind of trouble in France but if there wasn't any trouble they wouldn't have anything to report. The only way to stop it happening is to stop nations such as Russia, England and any others whose so called fans cause trouble competing in these tournaments. Don't let them try an qualify for the next world cup. Something that the sponsors would never let happen but the authorities really should push for. I ended up watching the game last night not caring if the team actually won, lost or drew as the occasion had already been marred by the events in the days leading up to it. How sad is that for a sport loving English man? Whatever the FA are doing to crack down on hooliganism is obviously not working. It is out of control and an embarrassment to our country.
Ramblings from The Cotswolds Gentleman.