The Not So Beautiful Game

Some time ago I wrote an article just prior to the start of the world cup. In it I gave a reasonably strong opinion of what I thought was wrong with the game in so much as the financial going`s on. Needless to say the article was rejected by the publisher as being bad for business. This was hard to swallow admittedly and would eventually lead to a parting of companies.

There have been many sunsets since and the points I had tried to get across in the article, although maybe not as well as I had intended, still have me not 100 percent convinced that the way the current game is developing is the right way.

With the start of the new domestic season underway I have found myself looking back over the comings and goings of the game. As usual I had been up for watching a few games here and there and following the progress of the underdogs as they attempt to beat the odds and stay in the premiership. I like underdogs, goes with my nature. And as the season is progressing the usual patterns to my attention span for the game are playing out its usual roles of being non existent because I always have this inkling that all is not what it seems.

There have been numerous scandals within the game for quite a number of years. A lot of it always seems to revolve around players actions off the field with infidelity being the prime suspect. The reason for this from my perspective has always been the excessively high wages the players receive at such young ages and the fact that in all honesty I just see them as overgrown kids still thinking with the same mentality that they had when kicking a ball around the playground. Football is everything and education, common sense and being a role model doesn’t seem to run high on their agenda. It’s more about fashion, fancy car and house and some easy lay on their arm whose willing to jump into bed with them whenever they want it.

These are all issues that are forever being played out within the premiership on a regular basis. Allegations of extra marital affairs and even rape have hit the headlines. But it wasn’t until watching a program the other night that I saw another issue surface that is deeply disturbing.

Channel 4′s Dispatches ran a program about the cover ups of drug use within the game. On the surface it didn’t really show much that I wasn’t expecting, that players being so full of themselves with wallets stuffed with excess cash have been using recreational drugs. But what was disturbing was the way the FA seemed to be going about covering the whole issue up when a player was caught. The whole testing procedure was substandard to say the least when compared to how Olympic athletes are tested. Not only that but the FA seemed to duly justify their testing procedures when some players were going a number of years without ever been tested.

Talk about letting the players have their cake and eat it.

This does not show in a good light to the paying public or send out the right messages to the young kids coming up through the ranks with dreams and aspirations of being the next world superstar. It also shows that money is the driving key behind the whole thing. It can only show this when you have a player who was caught taking a drug, given a 2-3 month ban and his absence was said to be because of injury. Ludicrous. The only explanation for this in my eyes would have been the loss of player shirt revenue that the club would have lost if it had all come out. If this is the case then the deep rooted reason behind such a flimsy policy on drug testing and drug penalties can only be damage limitation to the players, clubs and FA’s coffers.

Cash is king and dam everything else.

With the continued interest and cash injections into clubs from wealthy businessmen and companies from across the globe I can only see it getting worse. It would seem that football for the twenty first century is the new Hollywood of the old twentieth century were the powers that be did everything possible to show a good clean wholesome image when underneath it was as dirty as any sewer running under our feet. It does now leave me with a feeling that all the points I raised in the original article are still the crux of footballs problems and always will be.

Steven A Barlow, Co founder and founder of Spartan Runners “because we don’t just run” © 2011

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