Living in England, you inevitably get asked which football (soccer) team you follow.
Answer politely; “Well none really, I’m not that into football” and you’ll get eyebrows raised in surprise.
Answer truthfully; “I fucken hate soccer, it’s morally bankrupt, rips off those who worship it and is full of rediculously overpaid work-shy prima-donnas” and people will treat you like a martian.
What’s intriguing though, is no one can really argue with you. They’re all well known facts that get buried deep down in the british psyche.
So it was fascinating reading what the England football coach, italian Fabio Capello, had to say about Rugby vs football in an interview with the Times. It turns out he was the General Manager of the Milan rugby club 20 years ago, and that he signed motormouth Campo for the team.
“I had four years around rugby and there is a lot to admire,” he said. “You would go into the dressing-room and see the players having stitches, bleeding from wounds. No problem, they would go back out to play. Tough men.” He does not want to make unfavourable comparisons with pampered footballers. Some would say he does not need to.
Then there is the commendable team spirit in a sport that, he says, may not naturally breed camaraderie. “You have the backs, who might touch the ball three or four times in a half, then the forwards, who are involved every second, being physical, making sacrifices. To take these different roles and then gel them together, this is fantastic,” Capello said.
Most of all, as a strong disciplinarian, he loves the respect for officials. “In rugby they have more power than any sport, but this is so important because one offside and one penalty kick can change everything,” he said. “The captain can speak to the referee and I like that, the communication.
Compare this with the interview with Harry Redknapp, who from what I gather is one of the most experienced premier league football coaches going. He’s recently taken over the football club Tottenham, who he says are a pack of over paid pansies.
“It’s not only the foreigners. A lot of the English kids, they’ve got agents telling them how brilliant they are. The agents haven’t got a clue about football, but I’ve found it at this club – I’ve never had it before – where they ring up the chairman and say, ‘My player’s not happy because the manager hasn’t picked him or because the manager has had a go at him.’
“Who gives a s*** what the agent thinks. If they’ve got a problem, why not let the player come to me? I’ve got to rely on that same player to make decisions on the pitch. Is he going to ask the agent, ‘Shall I pass or shall I shoot?’ Their agents are running their lives, some of them.”
Why’s English football so fucken soft? Well you could dedicate a blog to that one alone, but here’s a clue. Even in what’s certainly a recession and some say the beginnings of a possible ‘d-word’, Sky sport (UK Fox), have just increased their bid for the English Premiership TV rights to £1.8 BILLION (AUS$4 billion) over 3 years, up from the £1.3 billion it’s been paying now.
That fortune, plus the billions they rip out of the fans and stockmarket or idiotic owners, eventually ends up in the pockets of these teenage players and their agents.
In short, too much money in the wrong hands. Luckily for rugby it’s hard to see it ever becoming so ‘successful’.