Football is a globally televised sport that unites people around the world. It is sporadic and exhilarating, capable of producing moments of anger, beauty and hostility. It is tempting to say that football changes rational beings and brings outwards the passionate brutality that represents us. Its unpredictability can create a moment of joy, then seething the minute afterwards. It’s widely accessible and practical nature means that its popularity has skyrocketed, the only superficial drawback to the sport being scandals, popularized by the media, and the occasional hooliganism that naturally occurs within the sport.
As football grew in status, so too did the cleverly hidden package of corruption and capitalism that pervades throughout our society. With the sport itself becoming a football being kicked around by investors, corrupt politicians, and the media — the ultimate goal being to make as much profit as possible through the manipulation of the social masses.
In any examples, the corruption of FIFA, the dismissal of ex FIFA committee leader Sepp Blatter, the recent inflation in the football market, and the manipulation of shareholders are fundamental instances of how the public’s perception of the sport itself is distorted to share a cult-like majority collective view that is far from reality.
For the spinsters of the industry – the media, investors, owners, and politicians — football serves as a platform to serve the needs of capitalist systems and their own private profits. Diverting attention away from the oppressive impacts that their actions make, the social issues that are prevalent in the sport and society itself has knock on effects that are reinforced by the propagation of creating a cult like religious group within football through the use of media and marketing. In the sense that the heightened emotions that a fan experiences, during a football game, it creates an ethereal transformation that alters people’s lives. It is this alteration that gets people hooked on the sport, creating a never ending cycle of sports consumerism that benefits those from positions above.
One instigator of this is the media within sports, such as newspapers, journalists, pundits, which provide a basis for heightening the climates of controversy and news, creating a reality that is far distorted from the truth to alter public perceptions. One example of this would be ‘AFTVMedia’. A fan media outlet whose content focuses on the reactions of fans on the outcome of Arsenal games.
Throughout its 5 year tenure, the media channel has received considerable criticism due to the fact that its success was fed off the failure of Arsenal’s ability to challenge the premier league table. Why, then, have the owners of Arsenal and other clubs not take action against media outlets who, either directly or indirectly, undermine those who are associated with the club by creating fabricated stories that are far from the truth? One reason for this is because of the notion that only the primary negative aspects of football are controversy, within and out the pitch, and hooliganism, in disregard of fundamental issues such as FIFA corruption and the poor working and living conditions of those in Brazil (FIFA 2016 world cup) and Qatar (2022 FIFA world cup), benefits both the fans and those in the upper hierarchies within the football world.
For a football fan, learning about the jarring issues concerning football is the least of their priorities due to the fact that watching football is used as an escapism from the harsh realities of the real world. For them, football provides a beautiful sense of simplicity and belonging in the sense that the absence of complications an individual has when watching football creates a sense of comfort due to the accessibility to a platform that is easy to understand. Moreover, the controversies that the media pulls out serves as entertainment for the football fan due to the fact it triggers our tribal nature of competing against rivals, in pursuit of a common goal. In this sense, to seek out the pressing issues of football would be going against the nature of what it is to be a football fan: the sense of escapism that the sport brings.
Secondly, for the elites — corrupt world leaders, politicians, and FIFA officials – they have nothing to lose from the infatuation, enthused by the headlines from the media online and press conferences, that football fans have for the sport. The controversies and headlines that the media conjure up for the majority of the seasons are relatively minor to fundamental issues, such as corruption within FIFA (Qatar bribing senior Fifa official, Julio Grondona, $1m in bribes to receive the vote to host the 2022 world cup). As a result, the capitalist elites can continue to exploit consumers and workers. Those working in Qatar are dying during the process of building the stadiums in preparation for the Qatar 2022 world cup. But atlas, the public become drawn in by the beauty and controversy of football and media.
These illusions that football displays are moral ambiguities that are widespread throughout our lives. Despite being a theatre of creativity, skill and a source of unpredictable escapism that transcends the predictability of the everyday average life, football is rooted in modern capitalistic exploitation and manipulation of the public.