We may know football as the beautiful game, but there’s a lot of things that are ugly about it.
While it's very close to perfect, there are some things hampering it.
So let's, for a moment, not talk about what's right with the world game—but what's wrong with football.
So here are the 10 biggest headaches in world football.
The price to actually go and watch a football match is extortionate. If you want to go see an Arsenal home game you’d have to get a second mortgage.
And it’s not just the Premier League, the price for a season ticket at Championship Hull City is more expensive than three top flight teams.
The trouble is, people are willing to pay it, so football clubs are willing to rinse their fans for as much as they can. If you finally make a stand and decide not to go to that Manchester United or Chelsea game, for every one of you there are 20 people who are willing to pay the entrance fee, so what’s the point in clubs paying any attention?
This may be an issue exclusive to English football and other select leagues with the average ticket prices for Italian, German and French leagues nearly half the price of games in the UK.
I suppose you could always stay in and watch the matches on the TV. But, oh wait, to pay for the TV subscription to watch a football match is about the same price of going to watch one live game a month.
Which brings us to television. One of the biggest headaches in football is how much control television companies have over the game.
When the football authorities pay more attention to what suits TV companies than the wants of the millions who actually attend matches every week, something is wrong.
Putting Southampton v Sunderland as a 12:45 kick off is all well and good, but when you take into consideration the traveling Sunderland fans, who have nearly a six-hour journey which would mean they would have to set off at 06:15 if they want to get there 30 minutes before the game starts, it isn’t the most convenient.
The leagues should think about the fans, before moving kick off times to suit TV.
Like in life, there is always someone worse off than yourself. There are few people outside your fanbase that have sympathy for your complaints about your club.
Arsenal fans may complain about it coming up to eight years without a trophy, but try being a Newcastle United fan who haven’t won a trophy in 44 years.
Newcastle United fan? Try being a Portsmouth fan, who aren’t even in the Premier League and are facing going out of business.
Portsmouth fan? Try being a Darlington fan, who actually went out of business and had to start again.
And on, and on, until you get to Joey Barton’s PR consultant, who no one is more worse off than.
Referees are only human. All humans make mistakes.
But all humans need the right to explain why they made a mistake.
This slide is dedicated to two headaches really; fans who claim the referee is biased and a cheat simply because a referee has not given every decision to his team, as well as referees not being allowed to give interviews.
In fact, there are some fans who will claim the referee is biased and a cheat unless they actually are biased and cheat towards the team they’re supporting.
Referees make mistakes. Sometimes they have bad days at the office.
But this ridiculous name-calling and “what was he playing at”s would be cleared up if, after the game, the referee did a post-match interview. Maybe even a while after the game so the ref has chance to look over replays.
Plus, players are getting better at diving, on the field of play it’s getting harder to spot. If the referee could watch the incident again then go on telly and hold his hands up and say “yeah, I was duped”. I think we would all feel a lot better.
There is absolutely no deterrent to stop diving.
This may be a generalization but most diving comes from attacking players, who don’t put in as many challenges in as defensive minded players.
So picture this, you’re a striker, it’s 0-0 with 10 minutes to go, you haven’t picked up a yellow card today.
In fact it’s February and you’ve only picked up one yellow card all season. So if you got a yellow card now, you would be nowhere near a suspension.
You’re running into the box, you don’t have many options open and you haven’t got a clear shot of goal. A defender is just about to put a tackle in.
In a situation like this, it’s actually more sensible to dive—because the deterrent of being caught, one yellow card and no further action, is absolutely no deterrent at all.
But the reward of getting your team a penalty and maybe even the three points completely outweighs that tiny risk.
The game has got to the point where it's tantamount to encouraging diving.
If football authorities are that determined to stop diving, a panel could meet after the game (like they do for red car appeals or dubious own goals), judge whether a player has dived or not then, if it’s adjudged he has, give him a ban.
This would take the pressure of the referee to get the decision right and actually provide a course of action that would make players think again about diving.
Roberto Di Matteo sacked after just six months at Chelsea—in which time he won the Champions League.
Henning Berg sacked after 57 days at Blackburn Rovers.
Sir Alex Ferguson, still Manchester United manager after 26 years, winning 37 trophies for the club – despite nearly being sacked in 1990.
Long story short, managers aren’t given enough time.
The short-termism that is endemic in the culture of football mean a legacy of success will never be achieved if a manager can’t even be given the chance to get it wrong for a year before finding out how to get it right.
How UEFA have the cheek to still call it the “Champions League” is beyond me. Firstly, teams who finish fourth in some leagues can qualify not just "Champions." Secondly, it’s more of a group stage followed by a knockout round than a "league."
The Champions League should be contested by the continent's elite; the winners of each league in Europe and the winner of last year’s Champions League competition.
And no one else. That is what the Europa League is for.
Finishing third in the Portuguese league is not the same as winning La Liga.
Sixteen teams was just the right number for the Euros. We discovered this in 1996 and nothing has been wrong with the European Championships since.
But UEFA think increasing the tournament to 24 teams will improve the competition.
Yeah, nothing will draw in the big bucks like having Northern Ireland and Andorra qualifying.
OK, maybe not nobody. But not enough. Not just fans, but players too.
Representing your country should be the pinnacle of any footballer’s career, not just an added chore.
The culture of world football has seen the importance being placed on club football over international. When a country plays football, a nation should unite and cheer the team on.
And, if your national team wins, the whole country should feel good. Not just a town or city or a part of a town or city like in club football.
We should all desire national holidays and everyone dancing in the street when our country lifts the World Cup or the Copa America or the European Championship (even if it is too big).
OK, maybe not nobody. But not enough. Not just fans, but players too.
Big clubs should play strong teams in domestic cup games. For all, but possibly two or three of the teams in a country, it is the only chance of lifting a trophy that season.
And when big clubs don’t play their first choice team and bring in the youth players, they should be dying to impress and treat it as a showcase for them to get in the first team.
We’ve seen this in the FA Cup, take Arsenal v Blackburn Rovers last weekend for example—the players in the Arsenal squad who are not automatic starters week-in, week-out should have turned Blackburn over, this was their big chance to prove they are ready for the Arsenal starting XI. But they looked like they were struggling to care.
Or with Brighton Hove Albion v Newcastle United earlier this year—that young Newcastle side should have had something to prove and not be getting soundly beaten by a top half Championship outfit.
And don’t even get me started on having semi finals at Wembley...