7 Things World Football Would Be Better Off Without
Despite being the most popular sport in the world, heralded as the "beautiful game," there are many aspects about Football which tarnish the game's appeal to the world.
In recent years, we've seen incidents that have never truly occurred before, or at least been reported, and while some issues in the game have been ironed out successfully, such as doping, problems like racism and match-fixing appear to be on the rise.
What can we do as the public to stop this from ruining the best game in the world?
Well, the short answer is try to control our behavior where we can. But ultimately, it's down to world football's governing bodies, FIFA and each country's football association, to attempt to control the issues currently affecting football.
But we at Bleacher Report feel it's a necessity to point out where World Football is going wrong, with the hope that maybe, just maybe, FIFA president Sepp Blatter reads them. As hopeful as it may be, let us know if you agree with us, because in order to change football, we'll need all the help we can get.
There's a general consensus in the world of football that racism is the biggest problem in the game right now, and I'd have to say I agree.
In just over 18 months, there were no less than five major incidents of which were racism-related and resulted in fines, bans and divided public opinion. But what the suits in the game perhaps do not realize is what effect this is having at a grassroots level.
Just as we saw with the Wayne Rooney swearing incident, the kids in the game start to copy their so-called "idols." If they copy them by swearing at referees and other players, what's to stop them uttering racial epithets?
The most intriguing, yet not the most obvious case of racism was when Liverpool striker Luis Suarez, who was accused of racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra in a Premier League game, claimed it was natural to utter the word "negrito," meaning a colored person, in his native country Uruguay. (The Telegraph)
This instantly alerted me to the fact that children grow up with this perception and spread it around the game. Surely that can't be good?
The John Terry affair was also a public incident, but where the courts got the decision right in justice terms, the FA were not right to charge Terry.
Unlike the Suarez case, on this occasion there was no suggestion that Terry used racially abusive words towards QPR defender Anton Ferdinand. And despite the court finding him not guilty, the FA charged him for using the words anyway. (The Guardian)
I believe the only way to solve the problem is to follow the example of AC Milan midfielder Kevin Prince Boateng, who walked off the pitch when he was racially abused by fans of the club Pro Patria (see the video above).
This is a way of showing that football players will not tolerate that kind of abuse, and the authorities allowing it to happen also shows their willingness to eradicate it from the game.
Racism needs to stop, otherwise football could cease to exist in the future.
Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images
The sheer capacity of the "Calciopoli" scandal in Italy hit the nation, and world football, hard. But there's no denying that even despite the measures taken to ensure a repeat never occurred, match-fixing is still evident in football today.
Only recently, FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke described match-fixing as a "disease" (CNN), with UEFA president Michel Platini in agreement, and even going as far as saying it's a worse situation than racism currently.
Back in 2006, Italy's most successful club, Juventus, were stripped of their 2005 and 2006 titles for match-fixing with lower positioned clubs so that they could win the title, and were subsequently relegated to Serie B. (Read our article on the scandal here)
Although the club kept many of its key players, their reputation was hurt, as football showed that it would not allow people to ruin its credibility.
However, because money is such a huge part of the game nowadays, people can bet on anything from how many corners are in a game to who will receive the first booking. But sometimes it's not money which is the problem.
One could argue that Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho's alleged "instructions" given to Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos to get themselves sent off could be regarded as match-fixing. In any event, it's a possibility that when the fans pay money to see an entertaining game of football, what they could really be watching is an organised game. (The Daily Mail)
The bottom line is that organised play is for wrestling, not football.
Dan Istitene/Getty Images
This isn't so much of an issue in Western Europe, but if you head over to the other side of Europe to a country such as Serbia, you may find a slight problem.
The fans are passionate in those quarters, especially when the Belgrade derby is being played. The rivalry isn't just football-related; the political matters and fierce rivalry have evolved from the breakdown of the Soviet Union back in 1991.
The fans who fight each other before, during and after their match are simply crazy in my opinion. Football is a game; enjoy it by watching it, not assaulting members of the opposition.
You'll also find violence occurring frequently in countries such as Turkey, most notably in the case of the Leeds United fan who was stabbed to death back in 2000, when Leeds traveled to Galatasaray for a Champions League match.
We can all appreciate friendly rivalry during games, but when it becomes violence, that's where we must draw the line and starting dishing out punishments.
Christopher Lee/Getty Images
Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez claims he doesn't hear or take notice of when the fans boo him at Stamford Bridge, but the reality is that fans must stop booing their own team if they want to win matches. (The Times)
The situation at the West London club is simply astonishing; Chelsea placed Spanish coach Benitez in charge of the team until the summer but find themselves struggling in all competitions, adding to the discontent the fans already shared over the appointment of the former Liverpool manager.
Newcastle and Aston Villa fans have also begun to boo their team after some shoddy performances, but criticism as opposed to encouragement is sometimes not the answer, and in this case, it's affecting the team's confidence.
However, do they realize that by booing the team, they are not actually supporting them? Do they realize that in a sense, it's their fault the team aren't performing? The players need motivation from the fans during tough times to get the results, and it's a known fact because we've seen it happen before.
I can never understand why a fan would shell out the best part of £50 for a ticket to go to a match and boo their own team. It's not the atmosphere I appreciate when I go to a football match, and it signals the beginning of something very negative for world football.
I want to hear cheering and songs when I go to a football match, not booing. It ruins the spirit of the game, but unfortunately, the only way we can stop it is by getting behind the team.
Players vs. Fans/Ballboys
Michael Steele/Getty Images
This is a recent incident which was all too bizarre.
Somehow, Belgian international Eden Hazard found himself embroiled in a row with a young ball boy in Chelsea's League Cup Semifinal exit at Swansea.
Hazard attempted to collect the ball from a Swansea ball boy, who was admittedly holding onto the ball for far too long. The 22-year-old's frustrations got the better of him, and as a result, attempted to kick the ball from underneath the boy, who clutched his ribs after Hazard allegedly made contact with him.
The incident quickly got out of hand and harshly, referee Chris Foy showed Hazard a red card. Many point out that the whole situation could have been avoided if Hazard kept his cool, but then the ball boy should have done his job properly, giving the ball back to the winger.
It's not the first time, however, that a player has been involved in an altercation with a fan/member of staff.
Manchester United striker Eric Cantona was banned and fined for kicking a fan after an exchange of words between the two, while Rio Ferdinand was reported to have kicked a female steward after an angry row in the tunnel after a Premier League match. (The Daily Mail)
All of these incidents could have been dodged by the fans acting sensibly and the players behaving in a professional manner. It doesn't happen too often but Hazard could find himself in hot water if something like this happens again, and for such a fine player, it tarnishes his reputation.
Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Mino Raiola. A perfect example of a man who is simply trying to do his job and thus, make money for himself and his client.
His client happens to be controversial striker Mario Balotelli, who has been linked with a move away from his club Manchester City (The Guardian) and is likely to return to his homeland at AC Milan, with a £30 million transfer mooted.
However, the role of agent in brokering the deal is such that the agent can take a cut of the overall fee of up to 20 percent, meaning in this case, Raiola would take home a cool £6 million. How can this be allowed?
Some agents are also known to badly advise their clients, such as when Wayne Rooney slapped in a transfer request in an attempt to secure more money.
He claims his agent at the time, Paul Stretford, advised him he could earn £250,000 per week at a different club, instead of advising him that his decision to leave Manchester United could lead to a fan backlash. (The Telegraph)
There are, of course, football agents who seek the best deal for their client, most notably Pini Zahavi or Jorge Mendes. Both are FIFA licensed agents, and both have many clients on their books.
Agents are useful for some deals, but do we really need them in the game?
Harold Cunningham/Getty Images
Corruption, baffling decisions on World Cup bids and distinct lack of action on the game's issues. Do we actually need FIFA anymore?
Some political experts would point out that because FIFA is an elected organisation, it's also democratic. However, the majority of football fans would agree that it's certainly not.
The likes of Jack Warner and Mohammed Bin Hammam have been banned for their corrupt activities while in their roles at FIFA, but even the president, Sepp Blatter, is said to have deals done in a corrupt fashion. (The Guardian)
With clubs so organised these days, and money pouring in from television deals, questions need to be asked about whether the clubs actually require the services of UEFA and FIFA.
If their rulings are not legitimate and credible, with the 2022 World Cup decision a prime example of suspicious activity, how can we trust these people to ensure foul play is kept out of the game when they are guilty themselves?
FIFA need to realize that the clubs can operate without them, but it cannot operate without the clubs.
Your move, Sepp.