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Football - is the perception of the sport changing among the critics for the better?

Football – through the eyes of a non-fan

Football for some is a religion, heck that’s an understatement – it’s a way of life. Football means the world to its loyalties, the ultimate ‘test of skills’ but for others like me – it’s a sport spanning 90 minutes where the penultimate ‘goal’ is to make sure that the opposition doesn’t get ahead of you, in terms of the goal tally – that’s all football means to me – not a football fan. I don’t even consider it as the ‘toughest battle of skills’, for I think boxing and wrestling demand much more in terms of pure skill.

I can’t stand watching it for 90 minutes because it gives me a sense of boredom. But then, that’s just me. Others, in fact can’t get ‘enough’ of it in the 90 minutes.

Even for someone like me, I know that in the EPL (widely followed in India) – few teams for decades have dominated the League. Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal – these are football giants whose name you always hear from football fans but what about small clubs? The clubs which fail to capitalize on premier leagues like EPL, have a next to nothing ‘fan following’ and are yet, persisting with this sport – such is the case with football. Teams are many, quality and fame is shared among just a few. 

Football fails to equalize teams, it makes ‘some’ the greatest and some continue to be ‘mediocre’ for years. Is Fifa to be held responsible for it? And how actually will these small clubs, get the finances to expand themselves? Can a football club started 10 years ago have the same capital value as Manchester United? Surely not.

Team sport? What happened to the days when sportsmen used to rate their team higher than their ‘franchises’ or clubs? For the critics of cricket out there, who regard ‘T20′ as a degrading form of cricket, what’s so different about football! I know Messi – the Barcelona player, not the ‘World cup winner’ for Argentina because Messi hasn’t been able to take his ‘national team’ to the glory of winning a World Cup and call me his worst critic, I expect a player like Messi to be first of his country and then of his franchise. Maradona was never known for the franchise for whom he played, I know Maradona – the player who was responsible for the ‘hand of god’  and the player who won the World Cup for Argentina.

That’s for the critics- what are the positives? When you write articles on one aspect of a sport, it’s almost unfair if you forget the history and reach of that sport. Football isn’t my favorite sport but can I ignore it? Surely not. Is it famous? Definitely.

I’m merely giving an opinion on the sport, of course football doesn’t need to be certified by me and as long as I’m giving my opinion, let me be genuine and raise the positive aspects of the game.

I’m a cricket freak who follows cricket from international level to domestic level and if a cricket critic asked me why I like the sport – I’d have no substantial answer, that’s how plain and simple my argument here is – football may not be my favorite, but it’s a way of life for the followers of this sport.

The Premier League, the La-liga, the FA Cup – these mean the world to football freaks throughout the world. They can bunk schools/colleges, miss office, cancel a date (sure that happens) and at the end of it, spend a whole night in front of the team – cheering for their team and that’s why sports and football for that matter mean a great deal to it’s loyalties.

With the World cup fever going around, I must admit that even a non-follower of this sport cannot miss the hype around the ‘biggest stage’ of this game. More so, because this is where all the ‘star’ franchisee players will play for their country, something that is so essential to every sport and to some extend, missing from football.

According to a report published in the Times of India, in 2010 during the last Fifa World Cup, the football following in India has greatly increased. As compared to the Asia Cup of 2010, which concluded a few months prior to the Fifa world cup, TOI reports that the TRP of the Asia Cup was 2.7 per cent and on the other hand for the Fifa World Cup, the TRP was 3 per cent, the percentage may just be a tad over that of Asia cup but it says a lot about the growing popularity of this sport amongst it’s fans in India (which isn’t ranked well by FIFA yet) and yet, the excitement that the Indian football fans have for the game speaks greatly for the sport.

Comparing the TRP of tennis and football in India - Wimbledon finals of 2010 could only manage to grab an almost ‘negligible’ TRP of 0.02-0.09%, whereas the Fifa World Cup of 2010 consistently grabbed the TRP of around 3.00%.

The ‘life changing’ case of Rajib Roy, why Football ‘must be considered’ in its true sense -  son of a sex-worker, with big dreams filled in his eyes, with the passion for football thriving in his body – Rajib Roy has got the opportunity to train with the Manchester United.

“When my coach told me that I had been selected by Manchester United, it was like a father’s recognition” – Rajib Roy

Such are the inspiring stories of young footballers in India of which Rajib Roy is the most ‘befitting example’, for whom football can be a ‘life changing’ sport. One cannot simply hate this sport, sure one can not be a great fond of it (like me) but the emotional connect of football fans with this sport has to be respected and I respect football as a sport for this sole reason and stories like the case of Rajib Roy.

Thanks to football – the sport, for providing opportunities to youngsters like Rajib Roy – who don’t have money but have the ‘gift’ of football.

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