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Published on July 4th, 2011 | by Yellow Magpie

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The Worldwide Decline Of Football Part One

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On the Earth’s skin a slender slip of metal skims across. It’s glinting surface shining, briefly lit by the ever fading Sun. It is a shape that is getting more frequent as unyielding progress necessitates. A bigger version will cause more problems.

You can read part two and part three of Yellow Magpie’s Worldwide Decline Of Football here..

Today football, or soccer as it is known in some countries, is at a crossroads. By far the world’s most popular sport and an annual multi-billion euro player in the world of entertainment, it has found itself in a quagmire all of its own accord. This decline has been occurring for more than several years now – the slippage is at least a decade old, if not more.

At the centre are multiple factors, each one over-lapping, and the sum total contributing to a culture of self-entitlement, over-inflated egos, deeply embedded corruption and unsavoury matches.

Hooliganism

The word hooligan doesn’t properly convey the type of vicious, thuggish and violent behaviour that is a plague upon football. No other sport has ‘fans’ that sometimes put months of planning into violently injuring, maiming and hospitalising other rival fans.

It is 26 years to since Liverpool ‘supporters’ caused the deaths of 39 Italians and injured a further 600 after rioting at Heysel Stadium in Belgium.

Despite the fact that over two decades have past since this tragedy, this aspect of football is sadly still alive and every year manifests itself in some shape or another. There seems little incentive for footballing authorities to deal with the issues involved.

That culture of football pervades in a world which has turned a blind eye to the huge cracks in the make up of its support base. From the ground up – the organisation is plagued on almost every level. It is human nature, instilled deep in our makeup to copy one another. What distinguishes us from our ape cousins is our ability to mimic the behaviours of one another. This has given us tremendous advantages when it comes to learning.

However, it also means that role models are of paramount importance. Much more than other animals, we base our actions on what we see others doing and how we are expected to behave. These human traits have been factually demonstrated in the Stanford Prison experiment in 1971 and in the Bystander Effect. It seems that we lose our individuality in group situations to the point where we act as a collective.

If football is to right itself – it will have to offer better moral guidance and take a higher stand when it comes to violence and football hooliganism because its current format is simply not working.

Lack Of Respect

The chief core ethos that any successful society should have underpinning it is one of respect. Respect for oneself and for others. Not to adhere to this deviates from our humanity, it leaves us stranded as a base version of our greater self.

Football deviates from a culture of respect in many ways. Fundamentally, the two forces that are most corrupting in football are solipsism and self-aggrandisement. These permeate every part of the game but we shall briefly touch on the most obvious infractions.

One of the most instantly recognisable sights in football is players hurling foul abuse at the law enforcers of the game, the referees. There are few sports that would tolerate constant invective being flung by louts in a professional sporting environment. Yet, this happens on a frequent basis, in virtually every match.

How does one combat this problem? Some people maintain that the managers of football teams should instill discipline and good behaviour into their team. This is perhaps rather naive thinking as there is little or no incentive for them to do so and so the status quo remains. A far better approach would be to financially penalise and suspend any players who engage in these unwanted activities. Doing so would incentivise managers to instill better player conduct as it would be in the team’s interest to do so.

The role of the manager should be especially scrutinised. It is hard to ignore press conferences in which the performances of referees are publicly lambasted often without justification. Condoning the bad behaviour of players should also be outlawed and proper, and severe sanctions should be imposed. What other professional sport would undermine its own authority in such a manner?

The Diving Dilemma

There is a widespread misconception, perhaps a product of lazy thinking, that players who engage in diving are weak or cowardly. This couldn’t be further from the truth and you could be guaranteed that if such a player was hit off the field they would not go down so easily. Diving has become so endemic with football that it is hard to separate the stereotype from the reality. The incentive to dive is far greater than the punishment that might ensue from being discovered that it is almost in the player’s interest to engage in this activity.

The ability to obtain free kicks in dangerous areas as well as the chance to get your opponent booked, and limit his effectiveness, is what drives player to simulate being fouled. Remove the advantages and heavily penalise those who engage in it, retrospectively if needs be, and diving would vanish almost overnight.

You can read part two and part three of Yellow Magpie’s Worldwide Decline Of Football here..


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