Football isn’t life, life is football!

Arguably, football is the most emphatic and popular game across the globe. However, the preference and type of the game is changed a bit. Riasat Raihan explores the present reality of football on the context of a globalised world.

Liverpool players  running towards the crowd after Dejan Lovren scored a last minute header against Dortmund in Europa League quarter final in Anfield last year.

Liverpool players running towards the crowd after Dejan Lovren scored a last minute header against Dortmund in Europa League quarter final in Anfield last year.

‘Football isn’t a matter of life and death, it’s much more important than that’, quoted by the former Liverpool manager Bill Shankly. What actually Mr Shankly tried to say that, for football lovers, Football is not merely a game. It’s a way of life. As we all know, football is one of the most popular games that has ever been played on green earth. The fact is that football is simply by far the most popular sport on our planet. It bridges divides, brings communities together – and can form bonds which potentially lasts a lifetime. A game of Football can end in tears of sadness or in much joy of happiness. The players who have lifted the FIFA world cup trophy, they described that moment as the greatest moment of their lives. For me I think lifting a FIFA world cup would be the better moment than a wedding day or the birth of a child!  But the thing is, we want to share or know what people around us think about Football!
What I have observed, now a days, especially current generation is more into Club football than International football. This means, today’s football crazy youths are just mad about club football as if it’s their only hope in life. Club football means, the different leagues that happens seasons after seasons. Such as, In England there is Premier League, in Spain their best league is LA LIGA, in Germany they have Bundesliga etc. Leagues of England, Spain, Italy, Germany are considered top four European leagues of the world. Among them, Premier league and La Liga are most famous leagues around the world. We don’t see this type of scenario on our elders. Our elders who are from 70’s 80’s, they are just interested about FIFA world cup. They don’t have any interest on club football. This is the major difference we see between our current generation and our elders when it comes to Football.
There is always a debate between Club football and International Football. If you do a survey, which is more exciting between Club and International football you would find that majority of the respondents has answered Club Football. I had a debate competition on this topic back in school many years ago. I remember being spectacularly surprised by this consistent viewpoint throughout the thread. As a response, I have decided to elaborate this matter to you all why some of them believe that international football is more fun than club football.
First, let’s dive into the definition of ‘international football’ and juxtapose this against ‘club football’. Since there are thousands of clubs in hundreds of different leagues around the world, ‘club football’ has a wide disparity in the concrete results that would need to be earned to fit this definition. For example, for FC Barcelona, club success likely means achieving ‘The Treble’, winning all three major competitions in the same season. However, for Botswana Meat Commission FC, a small club with a stadium that seats less than 20,000 spectators, success may mean finishing mid-table at the end of the season. ‘International football’, on the contrary, has a much more parallel and consistent meaning worldwide. I believe that the absolute floor for ‘international success’ would be qualifying for the World Cup. From this point up, definitions will differ; but the floor for international success is so much more impressive and meaningful than any definition of club success.

 

Manchester united and Liverpool Fc players are engaged in a clash during their highly anticipated match back at Liverpool FC’s home ground Anfield. 2012

Manchester united and Liverpool Fc players are engaged in a clash during their highly anticipated match back at Liverpool FC’s home ground Anfield. 2012

I also believe that there is something romantic and emotional about international success that is less prevalent when considering club success. At the World Cup, every nation is united together for the 11 players representing their country, heritage, and tradition on the global scale for the world to see. In my opinion, the World Cup actually proves that international camaraderie is stronger than the bonds forged with fans of a club side. In England, likely the country that is most critical of its national team, you still see Everton and Manchester United fans embrace their rival Liverpool fans in fervent celebration when Raheem Sterling ‘scored’ his firecracker against Italy in the 2014 World Cup. During the World Cup and during Euros, as well, citizens throw away their derby hostilities and link arms with their fellow countrymen and support their national squad.

To counter, one might argue that as an American, I do not understand the relationship between a club and its hometown, its people, and its heritage. I completely agree with this sentiment. While I am a massive Liverpool fan, my parents didn’t grow up on Merseyside. To be honest, I have never actually been to Liverpool. But still I am a diehard Liverpool FC fan, one of the oldest and greatest football clubs in the world from England, because this football club has touched my heart and soul by its heritage, rich history and most important thing about this club is it unites all the Liverpool fans around the world into one family!
Personally, by considering all the things, I think nowadays national or international football competitions are much more balanced than club football. For example, Champions league or the majority of the leagues, money has ruined club football. A bunch of rich clubs come with a huge bank balance to sign top players. Whereas, others don’t stand a chance despite having a good squad of quality players! A miracle like Greece when they won 2004 euro can’t happen now at any league or Champions league!
Despite having many differences between club and International football, we cannot deny that this game has always something excitement to offer! And if it’s a match between two big rivals or two big teams, then you are here for a show son! It has got a fixed timeline and it is very short which makes viewers actively involved in it all the time and they can get back to their regular activities after that, which we cannot see in other sports. For those who know the game, it is a feast to eyes. The dribbling, passing, heading, free kick, fouls, penalties, offsides, saves, sliding tackles everything has their own beauty in it. It keeps our hearts pumping faster! Moreover, unlike many sports, football does not bias against any type of physique. If you weren’t at least 7 foot tall in basketball or a muscle-bound giant in rugby, you’d be at a massive disadvantage. In football there is a role for any type of physique. World class players in football come in every shape and size, from the miniscule Messi to the rampaging Yaya Toure, covering much of the distribution for adult height and weight. Almost anyone could be really good at football and enjoy it.
Finally, football is a very exciting sport and is so in a number of ways. There is only one break in an official game that does not go into extra time, the action never stops, there are no intrusive TV adverts unlike many sports (for example, cricket and, for a loose definition of ‘sport’, American Football), and it’s a low scoring game. The last point may seem contradictory. Goals are exciting, so shouldn’t a sport where a lot of goals are scored be the most exciting?

 

Riasat Raihan is a student of University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh   

 

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