Modern life is rubbish, or why I’ve come to hate football.

I don’t actually think that modern life is rubbish. I actually quite like modern life  indoor plumbing, mp3 players, easily available coffee: all things I love and all thanks to modern life so I can hardly claim to find it rubbish.

But modern football is certainly shite.

I can’t believe that anyone would find this to be a particularly controversial sentiment. Honestly, does anyone really enjoy football anymore? What’s there to enjoy? The accessibility and anonymity of the internet mean that now every idiot with a mobile can say to anyone who dares criticise their club the kinds of things that used to land a person in jail; the media has reduced football down to a “battle” between Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo; and any time a team tries to do anything other let them win, managers (or, in the case of Barcelona and Madrid, the daily sports papers) come out and bitch that the other team was playing “anti-football,” whatever the fuck that means. As if that weren’t enough, if you’re one of the big teams in England or Spain winning your domestic league just isn’t good enough anymore, such is the importance of the Champions League  “ah, sure, Madrid might win La Liga, but they have to be disappointed they didn’t do better in Europe.”

A boring reality that is our game

To top it off, whenever a small team from anywhere manages to put together a run of good results, it’s only a matter of time before that team is stripped of its best players and left for dead, like a Range Rover parked overnight in the Bronx (or Toxteth, if you prefer). Examples of it abound from all over the world  the 2004 Porto team, the Sevilla double-UEFA Cup winning side, virtually every Argentinean side that’s had any measure of success domestically, Eden Hazard’s impending move to… somebody in England; the long, slow death of Valencia. Why is Cesc Fabregas playing for Barcelona? Do Madrid really need Sahin and Altintop? What are Kun Agüero and Edin Dzeko doing in Manchester? Why did Spurs buy Steven Pienaar last year and then park him on the bench?

All over the world you’ve got Chelsea “fans” who don’t know who Glen Hoddle is, let alone what his connection to Chelsea would be. You’ve got Arsenal “fans” who think that Arsenal has played the prettiest, most journo-creaming-his-pants visually pleasing football in England for their entire history. You’ve got Madrid “fans” who can’t speak Spanish and have no idea how to pronounce “Santiago Bernabéu”. You’ve got Barcelona “fans” who don’t even know what Catalan is, let alone what it sounds like. Even Celtic, the club I’ve supported for 15 years (more than half my life, which isn’t bad considering I grew up over 5,000 miles away from Celtic Park), has basically become a corporate flogging machine selling its “unique story,” as Peter Lawell likes to call it.

And, most frustrating of all, you’ve got clubs participating in an economic arms race in the middle of the worst global recession in almost a century. Rangers haven’t paid their taxes since (roughly) before William Wallace was born but they claim to be a special case and so should be let off without punishment. Real Madrid and Barcelona are each 500 trillion euros in debt (or something around that number…) yet continue to buy players at sums that seem like they’re spending Zimbabwean dollars. Clubs like Man City, Chelsea, and PSG are owned by billionaires who made their money thanks in large part to the suffering of others, yet nobody bats an eyelid.

Is this really how we want it all to be? I’m supposed to love this sport? The game itself hasn’t changed much  faster perhaps, and with infinitely more chiselled features  but the culture  surrounding football has grown into something that bears only a passing resemblance to the sport I grew up watching.

I can’t remember when I became interested in football. Certainly before I was 10 years old. I was that kid you sometimes hear about – the strange American who knew more about soccer than the NFL, the one who could spout off weird Italian and Spanish-sounding names. The first sports hero I remember having was Maradona. I had a poster of Alan Shearer playing for Blackburn on my wall when most Americans couldn’t name even one Premier League team. I’ve been a football tragic for almost two decades. I’m not trying to suggest I’m better than those fans who are only just discovering the game. Rather, I’m trying to demonstrate that I’ve always really really really loved football.

And yet, nowadays, I hate it. I still watch it, but I hate football.

By Doug Mulliken @bandaroja

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