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Football for Football's sake

Updated on April 28, 2009

                                      Football for Football’s sake

As many artists may believe, art is born for art, for it has natural beauty inside itself. The same is true of football. Ranked as the most beloved sport in the world ever, football is actually a combination of teamwork, skill, passion, sweat, tears, yelling, laughter, grief, alcohol, etc. However, this passionate sport is gradually being violated in different ways nowadays, say, over-commercialization, which I think, is the most serious problem confronting football fans. Can football remain pure any longer?

Needless to say, it is an inevitable trend that football marries commercialization. Anyway, the football clubs need money to pay for their players, to purchase stars, to gain fame for further development. However, when commercialization is gradually overdone, the future of football begins to seem blurred. What on earth is football a game of players and fans or of merchants and companies? In the old times, what rules the football world are the skill and teamwork of a football club, and people play football for fun. But now, money seems to take charge.

Take the club of Real Madrid for an example. It has become one of the best commercialized clubs ever since the former president Florentino applied the “Galactico recruitment strategy”, in which he invested enormous amount of money to purchase stars like David Beckham, Zinedine Zidane,Luis Figo, etc. This strategy did have a good effect in the first several years. The club gained great fame, attracted quite a number of fans, made a lot of money, and most importantly, wined several championships. But what came after seemed also inevitable: The galactic battleship began to sink. Every one in the team was big star; they all wanted to become the core on the field; they all wanted a high wage. What is more, the coach of Real Madrid no longer had his own will to decide which player should be fielded. He had to listen to the fans, for they love the club just for a certain star, and he should be playing on the field. What a pathetic strategy! In order to make more money, the club had to take all its stars to take part in commercial activities, travel around the world to attend friendly matches, which meant nothing but money. The harmony inside this club didn’t exist anymore, and in the following several years, they got nothing. Real Madrid also burdened heavy debt because of its costly strategy.  

The tragedy of Real Madrid’s Over-commercialization is only a macrocosm in modern football. Businessmen only focus on money, they don’t care about football. What they do sometimes actually harm the essence of football while benefiting themselves. Let’s make a list. 1. They force the players to attend advertising activities and commercial games, totally ignoring the players’ need to relax, which make them too exhausted to present us a perfect performance. 2. They invest too much money in stars, enlarging the gap between stars and normal players while restricting the future development of youth players for they can’t compete with the stars and fail to perform in the field. 3. They destroy the concept of belief, setting up the rule that money comes first. Sometimes the love for a certain team is like patriotism, loyalty is crucial. But in modern football, hardly can we see a player remain loyal to his club for good. As long as another club offers a better contract, he betrays. 4. They cultivate many fake football fans that care totally about the handsome stars instead of the beauty of football itself. They love clubs where they favorite stars play for, so clubs would rather pay money for famous ones than for practical ones. 5. They made the football culture more snobbish than ever. In the past, every team would try their best to contribute to a splendid game, with many goals and fans are glad to see offensive football. However, nowadays, once scoring a goal, the team will think about nothing but to defend to keep the lead till the end. Games are not exciting anymore.

We can’t deny the positive effect commercialization has brought to football, for it did help promote this kind of sport, playing a crucial role on football’s way to becoming to reign the sport world. Yet compared with money, football itself is far more important to real football fans.  

In fact, many people have realized the bad effects of over-commercialization in modern football and are trying positively to change the situation. The new president of UEFA Platini has highlighted eleven values of UEFA, which contains the following words: In everything that we do, football must always be the first and most important element that we take into consideration. Football is a game before being a product, a sport before being a market, a show before being a business. UEFA supports fair play both on and off the pitch. Financial fair play means that clubs operate transparently and responsibly, to protect both sporting competition and the clubs themselves. Financial fair play means clubs not getting into a spiral of debt to compete with their rivals but rather competing with their own means, IE the resources they generate. We can see the willingness of UEFA to change the current situation. Under this irresistible trend, the sad truth is that we normal football fans can’t do much against it, yet we have to pay efforts. In a positive point of view, we are glad to see several clubs are going back to the way of offensive football, say Barcelona and Arsenal; other small clubs are cultivating their own styles; most countries are paying more attention to youth players. Real football fans should just believe, pure football will come back one day, as is mentioned in the beginning, let’s play football for football’s sake.

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