Has British Football Changed Since The Olympics
It was the great British summer of sport. The London 2012 Olympic games not only took over our televisions screens but our culture and daily lives for one special summer. Branded as “Inspiring A Generation” the games brought out the best qualities amongst Britons. Everyone was happier and more friendly. In day-to-day life it was even claimed by some that people actually spoke to each other on the Tube. Yes, you heard right. For one glorious summer we were actually a community. The Paralympics too took hold of our hearts. The truly inspiring and emotional stories coupled with true determination and success of all our athletes made people look at things differently. Perceptions of elite sports people were being challenged by a new bread of moral, hardworking, unglamorous and grateful sports men and women. Suddenly, our national sport of Football was under great pressure. When you compare the overpaid, unsporting and often immoral actions of Premier League footballers with these athletes there was no comparison. It was hoped by many, especially the media that the conduct of our Olympic athletes would rub off on our footballers. So what’s changed since the Olympics?
The short answer is NOTHING.
It’s now December, we’re well into the season and there has been scandal after scandal. First lets visit diving. When we saw Suarez do it again this season we weren’t exactly surprised. His reputation for this kind of thing is bigger than his pay cheque. Yet, we had some hope. We could always play the usual “oh well, he’s a foreigner that’s just how they play” card. Then the Welsh wizard Gareth bale took a dive. One of the most skilful British players is certainly not embracing the Olympic spirit based on this evidence. But he wasn’t alone. Everton stalwart Phil Neville took a dive and Man Utd’s Danny Welbeck got in on the act too. Of course, before I am accused of being biased here as an Arsenal fan, there was this dive by Cazorla just last weekend. But my point, ultimately, is that ideals that the Olympians hold so dear of friendship, excellence and respect are not being embraced by our leading footballers.
Recently we’ve also had to deal with the problem of racism creeping back into our game. We had the much covered Suarez issue with Evra, which never seemed to go away last year. And now carrying on from last season and escalating further we have the John Terry racism row, which was followed by players refusing to wear anti racism t shirts and threatening a breakaway players union for black footballers. Now everyone knows John Terry’s reputation but apart from the 2 obvious massive scandals in recent years there has been a long list of poor conduct by the former England skipper. In the last couple of weeks we have even seen a referee accused of racism, which later turned out to be untrue. The most worrying aspect about all this is the scale, particularly when you consider the issues our players have with racism abroad already. London 2012 saw our country welcome a vast amount of foreign countries and different cultures and I cannot remember a single major story about racism at the Olympics.
Then there is footballers conduct off the pitch. And of course this is where the stupid comments on Twitter rear their ugly head. England’s best ever left back, Ashley Cole, who is rarely out of the media limelight for his conduct, was caught up in yet another scandal. This time for swearing at the FA on Twitter over the John Terry racism scandal. Cole’s idiotic and rash behaviour is certainly not new to football fans. But his behaviour would appear to have worn off on his Chelsea and England protégé Ryan Bertrand who had an angry rant at the press on Twitter. I could go on for a while listing all the idiotic and controversial tweets from leading footballers recently, but there is one idiotic act I want to highlight in particular. That being the conduct of West Brom’s Liam Ridgewell who posted a picture off himself appearing to use £20 notes as toilet paper. Now I don’t want to go into a rant here because there is plenty of material out there already about the conduct of footballers. All I would say is do you think you are likely to see our Olympic heroes like Mo Farah or Jessica Ennis do these kind of things.
Let me pause here for a moment and emphasise that the problem is not just our footballers but all those with responsibilities in football. Case and point here is the situation with Duncan Jenkins. For those of you not on the Twitterosphere, he was a comical football journalism twitter account. He deliberately misspelt things and made ridiculous comments for a mass audience on Twitter. At times he jokingly predicted football transfers of the club he supported, Liverpool. A large run of coincidence meant that he actually predicted a few transfers correctly. This lead an executive at Liverpool to believe he had a mole inside the club. To deal with this situation, he confronted the person behind Jenkins and threatened him. Read the story here.
What’s the point in highlighting all the gross misconduct of our footballers you may ask? Well I believe our national game needs to change. When you compare our top footballers to our leading athletes there is no comparison. Of course this piece isn’t going to change anything but I do believe this change can happen from the bottom up. If we demand better from our footballers we may get it. If we stop our kids diving in sunday league, our friends waving imaginary cards and genuinely just show respect to our opponents we can change the game we love so much.
- Racism in sport: Kicking out the Y-word | Editorial (guardian.co.uk)
- Sepp Blatter exclusive: No, racism cannot be stopped with a handshake … sport must help educate (standard.co.uk)
- Report claims Games have inspired Britain (morningstaronline.co.uk)
Posted on December 16, 2012, in Football and tagged 2012 Summer Olympics, Diving, Duncan Jenkins, Gareth Bale, John Terry, Olympic Games, Phil Neville, Racism, Suarez, Twitter. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.