Over the last few years I have become convinced of three things;
The first, and there can be no doubt about this, is that football in this country has become irredeemably corrupted by corporate greed. We can forget all about our idealistic notions of sporting integrity and ‘fair play’. Football, certainly at the highest level, is no longer a sport but an industry, first and foremost. A ‘business’ which, as a microcosm of our society as a whole, is exclusively driven by that most infectious of diseases, the single-minded and relentless pursuit of profit.
The obscene amounts of money on offer to individual clubs who can play at the highest levels in the Champions League over the last two decades has driven this insatiable desire into a market frenzy and created an elitist oligopoly of large clubs in most of the premier leagues throughout Europe. These clubs have effectively stifled meaningful competition for smaller clubs and sucked the financial lifeblood out of the grassroots of the game. They have also exploited their excessive wealth and unwarranted power to virtually cement their places at the top table.
The custodians of the major clubs will happily utilise their clever and highly-paid lawyers and accountants, well versed in exploiting all the nuances of civil and company law, to arrogate our game’s toothless rules and regulations, while running roughshod over the sporting principles enshrined therein. By applying this unethical corporate model to a sporting institution, they have completely eradicated any concept of sportsmanship from the game. The new ‘one law’ of the game appears to be that “anything is legal as long as you can get away with it”.
This malaise has swept down from the boardroom and onto the park. Such is its malignancy that top ‘professional’ players are prepared to push the rules to their very edge (or further if the referee is not looking or simply ‘weak’) in order to gain an ‘unfair’ advantage over their competitors. Some commentators called this gamesmanship (ironically) but to me it’s cheating, pure and simple and sets a bad example to our young footballers. Diving in the box, excessive time wasting and feigning injury is now endemic across football, at all levels.
The second thing that has become abundantly apparent is just how much the so called football authorities who are responsible for overseeing the game hold us, the fans, in contempt. These people have been exposed as utterly inept and out of their depth in the face of the sociopathic tendencies of the corporate ghouls running our clubs and can appear powerless, if not unwilling, to do anything about it. The truth is that they care little for anything we have to say either individually or collectively. These bodies exist, just like all those other companies, purely to exploit our passion for our game and our team for all that it is worth.
Which leads me to the third and, in my humble opinion, worst thing I have come to realise during this long drawn out affair. It is that we, the general public, have become so conditioned to the asymmetric and inequitable application of justice that we are now most often content to just tut, raise an eyebrow, shake our heads, shrug our shoulders or, at best, fire off a strongly worded email to some other corrupted individual in a suit in an attempt to assuage our guilt at our acceptance of this sorry state of affairs.
It really is a sad indictment of what we have become as a society and an affront to what our forefathers fought and died for.
I suppose that it is far easier for us to believe that the authorities are honest and fair, even in the face of ample evidence to the contrary, because as soon as we acknowledge that the system under which we live is lying and corrupt, we are faced with the stark choice of what we should do about it.
To take action in the face of corruption can potentially bring risk of harm to ourselves and our loved ones while choosing to do nothing means surrendering any notion we might have of ’standing up for our principles’.
Unfortunately, it seems to me that most people don’t have the courage to face that choice. The authorities are well aware of this and will continue to exploit this weakness, treat us like mugs and pay lip service to our genuine concerns.
There is an old saying that “people get the leadership they deserve”. This may be true, however, I would take that further and say that “people deserve the leadership that they are prepared to accept”.
If we, the fans, continue to accept this derogatory treatment we must also acknowledge that we are the ones who are letting them ‘get away with it’. If this is the case, we need to lower our expectations that justice will ever be done or that things will get any better, otherwise we probably deserve more soul-crushing disappointment.
So, like a school bully poking you repeatedly in the chest in the playground, the question is, “what are you going to do about it?”
Humble Pie writing for ScotFans4Change