The Beautiful Game is dead.
Killed by cheats, commercialism and greed.
The World Cup tournament should be disbanded. What’s the point of it anymore? It exists merely to line the coffers of FIFA. It’s all about official merchandising, licensing agreements and corporate hospitality. It’s all about prosecuting a bunch of women who turn up to watch Holland wearing orange mini-dresses. It’s all about homogenised branding around the pitch perimeter.
The World Cup is outdated, in the same way world war (hopefully) is. Hardly a single professional footballer on show in South Africa this last month exhibited anything resembling a trace of national pride. The exceptions were the players of Germany and Argentina.
The worst examples were the petulant prima donnas of England and France. I am appalled that no-one from the England team – whether a player or the coach – has apologised to the country for its embarrassing failure. Appalled, but not surprised. I didn’t really expect a squad of pampered millionaires to wear their hearts on their sleeves, to put their country and the hopes of millions of fans before thoughts of which high-powered supercar they were going to order that week.
Even worse were the French. They didn’t just phone in their performances, they did it though their agents. And, in the case of that spoiled, selfish twat Nicolas Anelka, demanded a pay rise at the same time. You can be sure that Nic didn’t spare a thought for the thousands of little kids playing out their dreams on Parisian council estates wearing shirts with his name on the back.
Likewise his national manager, Raymond Domenech, who didn’t even have the grace to shake the hand of his counterpart in his team’s final game.
South Africa has surely been the most insipid football tournament ever held
But I’m not here to name and shame the guilty. The whole of football is to blame. FIFA’s rampant greed for TV revenue sees fixture lists become more congested every season. While two matches a week is not too much of a demand on the bodies of highly conditioned athletes, it definitely has consequences on their not so finely conditioned brains.
Further down the money chain, the most ordinary of journeymen footballers can now pocket tens of thousands of pounds a week. This not only permits them to buy ridiculously big watches, it also gives them an inflated sense of their own importance. They all live in Armani-branded bubbles. They date celebrities. They don’t have to queue or wait for anything. They never need to travel on public transport. They don’t need to worry about direct debits to pay their gas bills.
Some of these players carry this attitude on to the pitch with them. The result is the Beautiful Game is now riddled with Ugly Cheats, who crumble to the floor and roll around in mock agony if an opponent so much as looks at them the wrong way. Robben, Drogba, Ramos, you are a disgrace.
So why not shelve the World Cup for a decade or so? Let’s be honest, the players wouldn’t miss it – they’ve got better things to do with their summers, such as hone their texting skills or buy themselves designer babies – and I believe few fans would. I haven’t got the statistics to hand – I’m typing this with one eye on the relentlessly dull final being played out on the TV in front of me – but South Africa has surely been the most insipid football tournament ever held.
Most fans prefer the weekly intrigue and undisputed excitement of their domestic leagues anyway.
The final whistle has just blown; referee Howard Webb is surrounded by whining, sour-faced, finger-jabbing Dutch players. A fitting epitaph for the ugliest and most boring of sporting events.