Please stop force feeding me elitism!!!!

4 04 2013

I’ve noticed that there are three reasons why most people love football –  1) They think football is “The Beautiful Game.” (© Clive Tyldesley) 2) They think football is “The People’s Game.” (© Andy Townsend) 3) They love the way Gazprom lights up football. The greatest of the reasons is the last one.

You’d like to think that most people would love football for the flowing moves or the heroism of skillful individuals but people love the footy because of the elitism. People simply couldn’t care that football as we know it was created by big business for Italia ’90, they too busy adoring the kind of sparkle that likes of Gazprom bring to the party.

For example nearly two weeks ago England beat San Marino 8-0 yet the people weren’t happy, they were very angry. Journalists, people paid to make stories out of nothing, were very angry and pundits , people paid to state the blindingly obvious in the most irritating fashion possible, were dead angry as well.

Everyone was united by a single sentiment; “Maybe it’s time we had pre-qualifiers or suffink, ’cause big defeats for “these countries” aren’t doing nuffink for nobody”. “Hear, hear!!” said the world, how dare “these countries” these abominations, besmirch civilisation with their temerity to play international football!! Part-time players playing international football, the very idea!!!!

In the 24 hours after the disgusting travesty of a “contest”. The media told us that “there had been calls” for the creation of two divisions in world football as if this was yet another thing that social media had decided would definitely happen.  Yeah, we have to do away with egalitarianism for gets in the way of feeling angry for nebulous and indefinable reasons.

Then I thought about it all, maybe the moaning gets had a point, I mean when did you hear about “these countries” making it to the last four of a major tournament? What’s the point in them existing? All “these countries” do is impede the best countries in some unspecified way, all they do is stop us having properly exciting football tournaments. Well they do, don’t they? Don’t they? I needed to do a bit of research………………..

……………………………….According to my research 23 different countries have reached the last four of the world cup and 17 have reached the last four of the European championships. This doesn’t tell us much as naturally “these countries” aren’t on either list. Obviously “These countries” aren’t part of the  77 that have qualified for the world cup, or the 28 that have qualified for the European championships either. Naturally “these countries” are part of another two groups – the 22 UEFA members that haven’t qualified for the world cup and the 25 that haven’t qualified for the European championships. The moaning gets are right, “these countries” don’t serve no purpose.

I must state my findings only cover the entire history of both tournaments. As a lot of “these countries” have only been members of UEFA since about 1994 I decided to use 1994 as some kind of watershed.

Since 1994 9 countries have qualified for the last four of the European championship and 13 have qualified for the last four of the world cup, of those countries 6  (Germany, France, Holland, Turkey, Italy and Portugal) have qualified for both. In other words success is concentrated around the bigger countries, which obviously means that “these countries” haven’t altered football since 1994. The moaning gets are right!

On the other hand, if “these countries” have existed since 1994 but football is only “turning bad” in 2013 ‘these countries” aren’t really the problem are they? Therefore why do we need to get rid of them?

As soon as some countries become “worthier” than others you’re on a slippery slope, and not just in football!! Where does the Darwinism stop? Do we limit participation to countries that have qualified in the past, or the big countries that everybody says has a chance. Should we have divisions like the Davis Cup?

The moaning of the moaning gets is pointless; there’s already a method of depriving the undeserving countries of chance of getting embarrassed in major tournaments; qualifying matches. I don’t see why the media created the fuss about this issue in the first place, they always tell us the opposite. Even though there are more of “these countries” than ever before they always say that the present thing they’ve been covering has been the best / biggest World Cup / European Championship / glorious friendly ever. Anyway, would the moaning gets rather beat San Marino 8-0 in a “pointless” match or draw 0-0 with Montenegro?

Elistism infects every pore of European football so club football isn’t immune. Elitism is such an accepted part of the football landscape that the europa league is described as if it’s hemlock and alternatives are couched in terms of devaluing competitions, and by extension clubs.

For example take an edition of Four Four Two from a couple of months ago. In an article one or two (maybe three of four) of their trained journalists claimed “certain people”AKA “morons” wanted a “purist’s European Cup”.

The article detailed the outcome of this fictional “purist’s European Cup” with all the haughty disdain they could muster. e.g; “Lionel Messi – who didn’t get a game in the purists’ European Cup”. Yeah bollocks if it was “fairer”. (They obviously mislaid the fact that if had the champions league never been formulated we wouldn’t miss seeing players like Messi and Ronaldo on a school night because we wouldn’t be used to seeing them on a school night).

In order to underline the point with a massive red marker they transposed a traditional European Cup on to their stupidity. They may have abandoned the group stages for seeded draws for a straight knock out tournament, but they let their stupidity dictate things; somehow XXX XXX XXXXXX reached the final (where they lost 43-0 to Real Madrid) by beating clubs that they wouldn’t normally get near in real life.

The trouble with elitism is that it’s very seductive and you begin to defer slightly too much. UEFA, TV companies, the rest of the media and advertisers have told us to expect the glorious heights of entertainment and glamour so we expect the glorious heights of entertainment and glamour without a second thought, and woe betide them if we don”t get our entertainment and glamour. FourFourTwo may love this Champions League format so much but do they also love the inflated cost of tickets, or the self-serving attitude of everybody concerned?

The article overlooks the idea that the old European Cup was a decent little competition on its own merits, with more than it’s fair share of decent matches. Some of these matches even stand comparison with today; For Barcelona’s stylish dominance of Man United in 2009 I give you Milan’s stylish destruction for Steaua in 1989, for Barca’s recent fantastic comeback I give you Hamburg’s 1980 comeback against Real Madrid. For final boredom Bayern’s 2001 triumph compares very favourably with 1988’s PSV Eindhoven.

The European Cup was not only just as good / bad / indifferent as the champions league in terms of creating spectacle, it was also fairer and more competitive than the champions league. Here are some stats to back this up;

In the history of the European Cup (1956-2013) 123 clubs have reached the quarter final stage.

If we add a watershed of 1992 (The creation of the champions league) we can see a difference. Up to and including 1992 107 clubs reached the last 8 of the European Cup, which means that only 16 new clubs have qualified for the last 8 in last twenty years. To put this another way;

  • Before 1992 there was an average of 2.97 new clubs per year.
  • After 1992 there’s been an average of a new club every 2.625 years.

The overall stats point towards a measure of equality;

  • In the EUROPEAN CUP / CHAMPIONS LEAGUE (1956 – 2013) 123 clubs from 30 countries qualified for the QF
  • In the UEFA CUP / EUROPA LEAGUE (1970-2013) 157 clubs from 28 countries qualified for the QF.
  • In the CUP WINNERS’ CUP (1960-’99) 170 clubs from 26 countries qualified for the QF.

Other stats reinforce the idea of A developing elitism in the European Cup / champions league;

  • Between 1956 and 2013 123 clubs representing 30 countries qualified for the QF.
  • Between 1992 and 2013 33 clubs representing 12 countries qualified for the QF.

By comparing the champions league and UEFA Cup / europa league since 1992 we can see how elitism has taken hold;

  • CHAMPIONS LEAGUE had 33 clubs from 12 countries
  • UEFA CUP /EUROPA LEAGUE had 76 clubs from 19 countries.

Is this the kind of football world  that should be cherished and defender?

One last point, maybe we shouldn’t take the outpouring of journalists too seriously, the poor lambs seem to be affected by whims sometimes. The link at the top of the post  leads to an article written by a journalist called Iain Macintosh. In that article Macca offers a clinical yet hard-nosed case for the permanent relegation of “these countries“;

“…It’s all very well rushing to the defence of San Marino and imploring the ‘arrogant’ European nations to show some respect, but it’s hard to respect a hapless retreat, especially when it’s repeated almost every single time they play football. No-one is winning, no-one is benefitting and this nonsense serves no-one. It’s time it was brought to an end.”

A couple of hours later Paul Sturrock was sacked as Southend’s manager and Macca was very upset on twitter;

“Sturrock has Parkinson’s, he’s unlikely to get another crack at this. And they sack him now? Not at the end of the season? Disgraceful.”

Funny how emotion is fine in one area but not in others. Football is too important to be left to journalists acting on petty prejudice.

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2 responses

9 02 2014
Data is just a row of numbers man. | XXXXXXXXX Jet Set

[…] and all that. I mean who am I to judge? I’m not above writing data-related blog posts (Here, here and here ). Football’s a broad church and we all do our own thing when it comes to the […]

24 05 2013
I’ve had enough of monotony!!! | Llandudno Jet Set

[…] I couldn’t help agreeing with the article as I’ve often had similar thoughts in the past, more than  a couple of times. […]

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