Day 188 – Football is ruined

Football. It’s ruined.

For me, at least. It could be that other people are still enjoying football, but if they enjoyed football a few years ago, I simply can’t see why they would still be enjoying football now.

Because it’s ruined.

Not all the reasons behind this ruination are football’s fault, but equally, some of them certainly are, and football would do well do look at the stuff it can control and then control it better. Especially since the causes of football’s ruination are cumulative and so removing some of those causes would make things a bit better.

Let’s run through a few of the things which have ruined football. And while doing so, let’s also remember that this is a sport that I – like many others – have loved for several (or more) decades. It pains me to see it this way and it pains me to write this post. (I’m quite sure it pains you to read it too, but that’s nothing to do with football.)

The crowds are gone. And football without crowds is crap. Whether it’s 33,000 at Beautiful Downtown Bramall Lane or 120 up at Sandygate, it’s amazing the difference that having supporters at games makes. The novelty (if there ever was any) of hearing the players and managers shouting expletives at one another has well and truly worn off. And the fake FIFA20 noises were briefly amusing but are now very annoying. And haven’t improved in their accuracy.

This one isn’t changing any time soon. March 2021 before they even risk trying again, I’m told.

The commentators‘ desperate efforts to keep the audience engaged in games which are very dull because the standard is poor or because it’s 5-0 with 2 minutes remaining are becoming ever more irritating. Yes, they need us to hang around so that we can boost the figures for viewing their adverts, but phrases like “there’s still time for a miracle comeback” should only really be used on Easter Saturday outside a cave in Jerusalem, and are plainly completely inaccurate when Fulham need to score 4 goals in 25 seconds to scrape a draw.
Or 4 goals in any length of time, to be honest.

And the co-commentators are getting worse as well. Thankfully, it seems that David Pleat is only dug up from his vault and briefly semi-reanimated when everyone else is busy or infected these days, but hey, step forward Jim Beglin stating the bleeding obvious with gems like:

Yeah, well Arsenal will be hoping to keep a clean sheet this evening.

and (on Arsenal’s goalkeeper):

Yeah, well I think he’ll be glad he was in that position because it came straight at him.

No shit, Sherlock. Thanks, Einstein.
I’m so glad that they’re paying you the big bucks for insight like that. Honestly, I would pay almost as much never to hear your irritating, talent-free, Irish/Scouse voice polluting the air in my living room ever again, you lousy, utterly clueless goon.

And I’m clearly not alone. Because how many other co-commentators have their own Facebook group like this?

No. I didn’t set that up. It’s real.

Then there are the changes to the handball rule. Utterly ridiculous. I don’t want to get technical here (and so I won’t), but the rules are crap and they’re being applied poorly.

Even  with helpful synopses like this:

and this:

… it just all seems like randomised, inconsistent guesswork from the referees.

And while we’re on the subject of refereeing, even those who hate VAR have (to some degree, at least) welcomed the new guidelines instructing referees to use pitchside monitors during games this season. It’s just that they don’t seem to be using them very much, or very consistently. It’s massively frustrating, especially when everyone except them can see that they’ve got a big decision wrong and the technology is there to put it right and… isn’t used.

There could be a lighter, happier side to try to balance out all these ills, but as discussed earlier, that’s not there right now either. And yes, of course that just makes the whole thing even more miserable.

It all adds up and now it’s got to the point where my FOMO at not watching games has been easily overcome with my desire to just go to bed. I haven’t watched a single minute of this last weekend’s Premier League football and I haven’t missed it at all.

Big wow? Yes, big wow.

You need to understand just how scary that is for a guy that will watch literally every minute of every live game he can, no matter how arbitrary or pointless those matches may seem to be.

There is a hole in my life where football-based enjoyment used to be and it’s making me very sad.

Football is ruined and needs to be unruined as soon as possible. Will someone please sort it out?

Sorry seems to be the easiest word…

Wow. Much drama from last night’s play-offs for the final *counts* six berths in the World Cup here next year. As if the entire Sudanese army turning out for the “Match of Hate” between Egypt and Algeria wasn’t enough (and according to reports, it actually wasn’t enough) we then had more drama in the dramatic France v Republic of Ireland match in gay Paris.

In case you’ve been in a hole somewhere listening to explosions in Sea Point, this is the extra-time goal that drew the match and won the tie for Les Bleus, sealing their place in the World Cup draw at the CTICC in Cape Town neeext Friday:


But *gasp* was that *gasp* handball by French Striker Thierry Henry? Well, yes it was.

Now, I wasn’t going to blog this. It’s been done to death already by angry Irishmen, angry Englishmen and everyone in between. Although actually, there’s mainly only sea between, but someone might have written from a boat or something. You can do that these days. But anyway, I wasn’t going to blog this – that is, until I saw Henry’s side of things:

Thierry Henry and Richard Dunne lay prone in the penalty area where just a few minutes earlier, a travesty of justice had thieved an Irish team their fleeting chances of glorious triumph.
Dunne knew he had cheated. Henry tried to explain. Words did not need to be spoken. But they were. “I handled it,” the French captain confided. His admission was superfluous. “I didn’t mean it,” Henry continued.

Dunne takes up the tale of woe:
“He told us we deserved to win. How is that supposed to make me feel? It makes me feel worse. He’s admitted he cheated. We should have won the game. He just said ‘that’s it’.
“He just said he handled it, he didn’t mean it. Looking at it, it’s quite obvious he did mean it. It’s there for everyone to see and they’re not going to change it now.”

Loving the first sentence from the entirely factual and wholly unbiased Irish Independent there.
Of course, the reaction of Thierry Henry after the goal shows just how terrible he felt about the whole thing as he ran off to celebrate with his French pals in a big heap on the right wing.

And then this on twitter:


“im not the referee… but if i hurt some one im sorry”? “if”? Seriaas?

I wonder if he thinks that makes everything ok? (It doesn’t.)
Probably best to keep your mouth shut and your hands off the keyboard next time you cheat, Thierry.

The Irish do deserve that game to be replayed, because there was so much at stake last night. The Irish won’t get the game to be replayed, because there was so much at stake last night. From the moment FIFA announced the seeded draw for the European play-offs, it was clear what their motives were. Big clubs mean big viewing figures mean big money. Simple as. And while things have played (controversially) right into their hands, they’re happy and act like nothing ever happened –  in fact, their report on the game omits any mention of Henry’s left mitt.

So what sanction should Henry face? After all, he’s openly admitted that he cheated. And the implications of that naughty handball were huge.
Here’s my idea: ban him for three games. But not just three arbitrary warm-up friendlies against Lithuania, Iceland and Hungary. Ban him for France’s next three competitive games. Which now just happen to be in South Africa next June. Some sort of justice? Perhaps.

As for those that think that this sort of thing “doesn’t matter”, you just don’t understand.
I feel sorry for you.

UPDATE: Liam Brady: “For the integrity of the game, something has to be done.”

UPDATE 2: FAI lodge official complaint, and request/demand a replay.

There is precedent for the invalidation of such results. In 2005, the Bureau of the Fifa World Cup organising committee reached a decision to invalidate the result of a World Cup qualification match between Uzbekistan and Bahrain on the basis of a ‘technical error by the referee of the match.