I am a football fan and for this I make no apology. Football helped me immensly at a tough time in my adolecense as it gave me something to immerse myself in when I needed to escape from problems I was experiencing at home. Football has the power to galvanise and lift the spirit. Academic researchers have labelled it as a “new religion” for the passionate hold it has over the masses. It also brings people of all backgrounds together whether as players, spectators, or just commentators. In its purest form it can still be the beautiful game the great Pele once called it.
Unfortunately I feel that the excess of the FA Premier League as a marketing product has now put football at odds with normal society. What else can one make of the transfer fees and player wages we are seeing. The greed of the “middle man” agent who earns millions for making a phone call, privately briefing the media and then faxing some documents.
The powerful football lobbyists will tell you that football puts billions back into the economy. I am sure it does. This is not my argument. The money being paid for the commodity called a “football player” is obscene and the wages they are being paid are ultimately coming from the kids that wear the shirts, multi coloured boots and pester their parents to subscribe to Sky sports. One in four of our children are living in poverty and the recession and austerity politics that has followed it are making life intolerable for the lowest wage earners and families living on state benefits in the football hotbeds of the inner cities.
Football’s “suits” who for many years have idolised Andy Grey and Richard Key’s, will argue that football also puts back into local communities. In some cases this is true. Clubs like Charlton do fantastic work in and around their local area in Greenwich, South East London. The big clubs operate similar schemes as well. The “schemes” all ultimately revolve around kids kiking a ball though and where there is a kid kicking a ball there is a talent scout looking for the games next big meal ticket.
Am I being cynical? Perhaps I am but then I do not think I am being anymore cynical than Roman Abromovich was yesterday in the way he threw money around like confetti when people in our inner cities are struggling to feed their families.
It is not just football of course that has lost its moral compass. The banking industry has never had one!
There has to be a better way of distributing wealth as this country is far from financially bankrupt. Morally? Well thats another question.
Sorry for the rant – I will be ready to chastise myself when the new blue messiah scores his first hat trick and I find myself punching the air in celebration along with the rest of the Chelsea congregation!