I am a lifelong soccer fan.
I grew up reading the back pages religiously, scouring football magazines for the latest transfer rumors or young stars, and compiling fantasy teams of my favorite players. I bought the video games and the jerseys and, once on holiday, a magical ticket to a Premier League game.
I am a soccer fan, but in recent years have become increasingly disillusioned with the game.
The game itself is still beautiful.
There is nothing to my eyes more perfect in its execution than Lionel Messi dribbling or a Charlie Adam corner. Nothing more exhilarating than a Wayne Rooney volley or a Cristiano Ronaldo free kick, defying both physics and gravity as it dips and bends towards the back of the net.
However, I have lost patience with the parameters within which the game operates. The most romantic of games—the beautiful game—is being poisoned before my very eyes. There are too many flaws inherent in soccer. Obvious flaws which every fan can recognize; flaws which have obvious solutions.
The game depends on fans like you and me to survive, and our respect should be earned.
Here are the five changes soccer needs to make before it wins my respect back.