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Football and its hypocrisy

Sir Alex Ferguson protesting Nani’s red card

With the recently concluded and much debated match between Real Madrid and Manchester United hogging all the headlines and discussions in the internet, one can’t help but wonder about the football world’s hypocrisy. The match was, without a shadow of a doubt, affected by the referee’s decision. What has since followed has been enormous criticism by the fans and media (particularly) towards the referee (which is understandable) and Sir Alex Ferguson claiming to find it hard to keep faith.

Rewind a few months, Sir Alex Ferguson was very unapologetic about the controversial refereeing decisions that helped Manchester United to a victory over Chelsea, saying that they deserved their good luck as most decisions went against them and it was nice to have a change. It’s hard not see the irony of the situation.

The fact of the matter is that this sudden memory loss does not apply just to Manchester United or Ferguson alone. Almost all the managers and fans have shown the ability to find it easy to forget or look the other way when things go their way, but to act out when it doesn’t.

The refereeing blunders are nothing new in football and the wronged party always makes an understandably big deal of the error and blames the referee, while the other team just prefers to keep the issue as silent as possible and get on with their jobs. This is precisely why the post match interview with Jose Mourinho was met with much surprise as he claimed that the better side lost. But with Mourinho, we can never really be sure why he said that and if there is some grand plan behind it (successor to Ferguson?). The fact is that as long as it doesn’t hurt their team, managers and fans tend to take the high road. How often have we seen a manager claiming to have not seen a foul in the box or a handball by his team while being able to see quite clearly the same in the opposition box despite the fact that he arguably had the same view for both incidents?

The same can be said about transfers. Take the case of Luka Modric, Fernando Torres or Samir Nasri. Beloved at their former club, their stock has since plummeted and have been labelled “mercenary”, “gold digger” and such unflattering names due to their decision to move in search of trophies, which has proven successful as in case of the latter two.

The outrage over disloyalty and turning their back on the club that made them household names makes you wonder how many of the fans claimed the same when their clubs forced players out to balance their books or were (apparently) deemed not good enough. There were not many tears of sadness when the likes of Adam Johnson (Manchester City) or Florent Malouda (forced to train with Chelsea youth team) were all considered surplus to requirement and expendable by their clubs despite them being influential for their teams performance previously. The simple fact of the matter is that the clubs and fans will only talk of loyalty when it suits them.

Even the managers, who steadfastly hold on to their players claiming their loyalty must be to the club, are seen, at the same time, wooing another club’s players to join their ranks. The best example of this might be the extended saga of Fabregas’ transfer to Barcelona, a player who was signed by Wenger as a promising young midfielder form Barcelona itself. Wenger’s steadfast refusal to sell him, despite the club’s interest to sign him and player’s interest in the move back home, led to an amusing saga that lasted well over a year.

Arsenal Press Conference

Arsene Wenger and Cesc Fabregas

The same can be said about Andre Villas-Boas who was desperately trying to sign Luka Modric when at Chelsea and yet tried his best to prevent him from leaving the club – claiming he was a Spurs player and that they had the right to hold on to him – just a year later when he took over at Tottenham Hotspur and Real Madrid came calling for the man.

Perhaps the best example of football’s hypocrisy can be seen among the fans. They can be seen cheering and booing their own club at alarming regularity. The Emirates stadium has been echoing with boos of frustration for over a year and Stamford Bridge for a few months (at the manager, which is arguably misplaced); though the situation is very different at the two clubs, with the former having failed to win a trophy for a number of years, which turned the fans against the manager, and the latter having a despised manager at the helm playing poor football. In case of Chelsea, the boos should be directed equally to the owner, rather than the manager. But who would dare oppose Abramovich, the man who ushered in the all conquering Roman-era to the club?

This hypocrisy in football is not a new phenomenon. The managers, players, fans and media all have this condition. Whether it be signings or results, the past is often kept under the covers when it suits them, only to be dug up when the going gets tough.

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