Sunday, 18 March 2012

Muamba Tragedy - Putting Everything into Perspective

There is nothing more devastating that seeing a player fall to the ground, and not get back up. This season has seen some pretty awful injuries, and sustained medical treatment on the pitch, but yesterday, 17th March 2012, was pretty much the most horrific sight the English Premier League has seen in a while.

Fabrice Muamba of Bolton collapsed to the floor seemingly uninjured with no other player around him, and failed to get back up, causing paramedics to rush onto the scene and attempt to resuscitate him at White Hart Lane. This procedure occurred for around ten minutes before he was stretchered off with an oxygen mask, seemingly not breathing. He was taken to the London Chest Hospital in Bethnal Green where he is currently in the Intensive Care Unit undergoing treatment.

I fear for the worst, considering he was not to be seen breathing as he left the pitch, and various statements from 'Muamba is stable', to 'critically ill' within an hour disturb me. I can't help but recall other incidents where i've seen footballers collapse, not get back up again, and they have sadly passed away - i hope this is not the case.

The incident was deeply disturbing and hugely upsetting - both sets of players were visibly distressed, some Bolton team mates crying as they looked down on their friend on the floor, unresponsive.

When a tragedy like this happens, the sounds and sense of the opposing teams rivalry is audibly extinguished, replaced with a soundtrack of sobs, gasps and nervous chatterings. A whole stadium coming together, focused on one thing only, and that's whether the player is going to be all right. Whether the player is from your team or the opposition is rendered obsolete - everybody is wishing for the same thing, supporting the same cause, united in concern.

Despite such a beautiful visual portrayal of unification, it is also deeply saddening that something of this magnitude of travesty has to occur before that happens. It shouldn't take something shockingly and deeply disturbing as this for people to remember the things that are important, and remember that although our passions run high, and we all like a healthy rivalry, it is just a game, and there are more important issues in life.

With this mind, take time to remember what is important - what matters in your life and cherish it. Tell the people who you love the most all the time that you love them, and don't take anything for granted - things can be taken away in a second, life can be snatched away most unfairly, so make every second count.

My thoughts are with Fabrice Muamba's family at this time and i pray for his recovery.

The latest on his condition:
18th March 9.09: Owen Coyle - Muamba is "critically ill. The next 24 hours are going to be absolutely crucial. Its very serious, there's no getting away from that. He's critically ill and God willing he makes it through"

Football players who have died on the pitch:

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Divers Demeaning The Game?

Obviously throughout the history of the game, there has always been divers. But recently, some over excitable, ambitiously aspiring actors take it upon themselves to resort to unbelievable theatrics in the hopes the ref will be fooled into believing their ridiculous ploys and award their defender a yellow card, or more beneficially, a sending off, in the most comical, but unnecessary of displays. In todays game it seems like these incidents are relentless, and guaranteed to occur in  at least one match per week, whereby players take it upon themselves to seek the advantage through foul play, rather than beating their opposition the conventional way.

When watching a game as a neutral, i may be tempted to laugh at such displays, as some invariably do induce a giggle here and there - we have quality footballers resorting to throwing themselves to the floor, wriggling and writhing most dramatically, clutching their supposed injured limb, contorting their faces into pictures of excruciating pain - and then, should the ref be fooled by these hysterics and do the unthinkable in punishing the non-offender, they suddenly jump up, skipping back into position, racing up and down the pitch, the complete picture of health. It may be funny sometimes, it may be completely shocking other times, but what is unanimous, is that these kind of ridiculous displays are ruining the game.

These days refs seem to hardly completely witness any crucial incident - they don't see the activity in the box that warrants their decision for penalty or not, they don't see whether the footballer who has just fell to the floor has a definite cause to do so and whether it was a two-footed off-the-floor tackle aiming for injury, or whether the ball was fairly won and therefore good job, despite another footballer's theatrics. No, they don't seem to be witnessing the incidents Neville and Redknapp discuss post match, adamant that they are looking, that they can see it, but actually no they're not - their view is impaired or they were looking completely the other way. Either way, it is easy to sit on our sofa, scrutinising the game, the footballers being traced every second by numerous cameras, our eyes seeking the action through various lenses that never miss a second. But the ref, well, he only has one set of eyes, that can't be pointed in every direction every second, and so obviously occasionally (more than occasionally) they miss something.

This has apparently been detected, especially by certain footballers, who use this Achilles heal of referees to adopt their theatrics, using the pitch as their stage and letting loose, flailing about on the floor as they are sure that this kind of reaction will warrant a red or a yellow for their marker, and the better for them.

When did the game become about amateur actors donning ludicrous roles, or even worse, a form of despicable cheating, whereby you are trying to punish your fellow footballer instead of beating him the proper way, man to man, in good old sporting competition? I don't know where it all went so wrong - surely spoiling footballers these day with such fame and fortune, adoration and respect has gone to their head, breeding arrogance and audacity, believing that they are royalty because this country treats footballers with awe and worship. Perhaps these days footballers are scared of getting their kit dirty, the gel knocked out of their hair, or actually getting injured, so they feign these attacks, escaping all of the above. I don't know - i don't know why top rate, top flight footballers feel the need to do it. Take for example, and this is by no means an exhaustive list or bias opinion, just the ones that have been in the press recently, but Gareth Bale and Luis Suarez - two of the best players in the Barclays Premier League right now and yet they resort to childish antics of falling over and play acting? Both players in recent weeks have been awared penalities whereby upon close inspection of the incident (via camera angles/discussion and the various snazzy but unnecessary tools the pundits in the studio have for circling things on the screen that are supposed to draw our attention, stopping and rewinding events, playing them in slow mention etc...- pretty sure theyre just little kids with a band new toy) neither player came into contact with the footballer that was punished, and the decision should not have been a penalty. Luckily for their opposition, both mens' teams did not go on to win in their respective games, hence a little bit of justice and fate entering the equation, but fateshould not have to have a factor in the outcome of a game - it should be played properly, good old fashioned footballl, proper ambitious tackles with the intention of getting the ball, and no player leaving his feet even if he has got clipped and less he is genuinely taken to the floor. What happened to motoring on, powering through the opposition, keeping on your feet at all costs and prevailing like a hero in the end? What is football coming to!?

I have included a little montage of funny, but outrageous diving - that should be viewed for entertainment whilst simultaneously condemning the amateur actors:

Monday, 12 March 2012

One Club Wonders

Loyalty – A One Sided Affair.

The undying loyalty of footballing fans has always been a beautiful sight; masses of red sweaty faces chanting for their team and insulting the opposition. Those slightly crazier fans with painted faces and hair their clubs’ colours, who rearrange their life around the weekly two-hour-slot when their team play – this a dying loyalty that only sports fans know. An unquestionable vow we make to one team: to follow them regardless, to believe in victory when the score line reports defeat, and believe the impossible possible when facing a superior team. Obstinate belief: we’re the best, and we’ll sing eternally about it. Before, after, all the way through the match – we sing and stand together, united. What’s happening outside the match is, essentially, irrelevant. In the stadium, on the sofa, in the pub – that’s what’s happening. So why don’t the footballers, those we idolise, the ones that smile at us from posters on the wall – feel the same?

Players become accustomed to the idea of their self-importance, which gives birth to audacity; advertising for bigger clubs to sign them when they’re playing for another. Villa captain Petrov claimed “I’d swap with any Liverpool player because I’m a Liverpool fan.” Whilst it’s loyal to continue supporting the clubs footballers did as a child, it’s ultimately disrespectful to your current club and fans, who don’t deserve to be abandoned.

Footballers are enticed by lucrative endorsement deals and ridiculous salaries. And the club that signed them initially – that believed in them and presented an opportunity? Well, that was just a platform. They come, steal our respect, bask in our admiration, and move on. Leaving us wounded, bereft of our idol -wondering why our precious club wasn’t good enough for them.

The new generation of footballers are models and amateur actors – they’re on TV adverts as much as they’re on the pitch. Prima donnas who crave the spotlight from any direction - the disloyal ones.

In a billion dollar industry it’s unsurprising they only stick around until the next highest bidder. It’s nothing short of a travesty that we may lose one-club-wonders: those who play for clubs they genuinely support, like the golden generation Gerard, Scholes and Giggs. Approaching retirement, they’ll take their loyalty with them. No more welsh wonder tearing down the wings, no ginger ninja entertaining the crowd with his inability to tackle, and no scouse hero, whose free kicks still magically curl into the net.

Giggs’ devotion to United has been remarkably rewarded; he revels in the adoration of thousands and is the most decorated footballer in English history – is this title not worth the loyalty?

This is a world where men are allowed to cry when we lose a cup final, to hug another man in celebration, and not care when players slap each other on the bum after the game. But what they do mind, what is unforgivable, is a disloyal, straying footballer chasing fame and fortune, rather than the ball. But, this is now the world of football.