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France are scheduled to beat Croatia in the World Cup final on Sunday, which is nice. But ...is football dead?

5 years ago
I've spent the last several weeks watching various World Cup football matches, at the same time as enjoying the tennis at Eastbourne and now Wimbledon. And I came to a realization of why I could NEVER become a football fan: football is dead. Its players and supporters seem to have equal disdain for it. It's not a serious sport any more. Scoring goals has become more important than actually doing so within the rules.

The likes of Ramos and Neymar are extreme examples of what football has become, but those two players are not any kind of anomaly; they're just two prime examples of what the sport nowadays genuinely is about: ignore the rules, and invest all your effort into tricking the referee into awarding you a penalty which your team doesn't actually deserve, and win at all costs, ...even though you're actually killing the sport itself.

I was discussing this matter earlier today with a student of mine who is a big basketball fan. He tells me that in basketball there are three judges who take notes about fouls they see occurring; once a player is guilty of committing five fouls in a match, the judges instruct the referee to take that player out of the game. As simple as that: if you don't play by the rules, then you lose your right to play at all. That, right there, is a serious sport, i.e., one which reveres its rules, reveres itself. Any sport which forgets, disregards or fails to enforce its own rules is not a serious sport. It's not any kind of sport at all: it's just a contest of who-is-the-best-cheater.

Tennis, similarly, is a serious sport: it cares about its rules, cares about itself. It might, very occasionally, take 6 hours 35 minutes (SIX HOURS AND THIRTY-FIVE MINUTES of intense, point-scoring action: just imagine that!) for a match to end with one side ending up victorious (as happened earlier today in the thrilling, nail-biting Anderson-Isner encounter), but all throughout every match the rules are followed as if they mattered - because, folks, in any sport worthy of the name, the rules are the ONLY thing which does matter: without rules, you don't have a sport.

And as far as I can tell, football's rules simply don't matter to football players or supporters. It is not a serious sport. It's dead.

Don't you reckon?
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