Am I Falling Out Of Love With Football

My initial plan was to entitle this piece ‘Why I’m Falling Out Of Love With Football’, but then I changed my mind. I can’t say for certain that I am. The vast majority of the accounts that I follow on social media are Liverpool-based, for example. The Reds play Leeds United tonight and I’ll be watching, just as I’ve watched all of the matches that we’ve played so far this season. Yet I can’t pretend that I won’t be as invested in it as I would’ve been in years past. There is a chance that that is because we aren’t playing very well. I’d be lying if I said that that wasn’t a factor. It feels as if there is nothing to play for in the remainder of the campaign, such is the extent to which we’ve completely and utterly fallen off a cliff. In truth, though, I don’t think it is because of that. As the campaign has progressed, I’ve never really developed the same sort of feelings that I have in years gone by. I didn’t get ‘derby belly’ when we played Everton, nor did I feel much sense of nervousness when we went up against Real Madrid in the Champions League last 16 match.

I haven’t had any real motivation to feel much of anything during the season, truth be told. I had put it down to how rubbish we’ve been, but the more I think about it, the less I think it explains everything. The sad truth is that football is changing beyond any real recognition and I’m no longer certain it is for me. As sports-washing nations take over clubs up and down the country, it means that it has become even more of an arms race than it has been before. At the time of writing, Newcastle United look likely to finish in the top four thanks to the fact that they have been bought by a murderous, oppressive regime. Rather than campaign against it, plenty of Liverpool fans would like that to happen to us. Manchester United supporters are hoping that their club gets bought by Qatar’s Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani. The Premier League have said that human rights will matter when it comes to future owners, but it’s clear that’s not really true when you consider that they’ve said that Al Thani is a ‘private citizen’. It’s all just so very depressing.

Paris & Tragedy Chanting

I wasn’t in Paris. I had tried to get tickets, like so many other supporters, but I’d failed. I did, however, know plenty of people that were there. I know that, for them, this has been an extremely difficult season. They were unenthused about the football from the moment the campaign started and I’ve felt their pain. I don’t think anyone that has been following football will have been all that surprised by UEFA’s immediate attempts to blame Liverpool supporters for what happened, nor the decision by the French authorities to stick to that excuse. In reality, no one will be shocked by the fact that opposition supporters jumped straight onto the bandwagon, thanks to decades of ‘Liverpool bad’ being the narrative that so many people follow. In spite of the fact that there was plenty of video footage and countless journalists in amongst the supporters that were being left outside the ground and put in a deadly situation, not even the official, independent report will change the minds of people who prefer ‘banter’ over reality. It was, once again, the fault of the authorities.

As if that wasn’t upsetting enough, it feels as though the desire to engage in ‘tragedy chanting’ has gone up a notch this season. Singing ‘The S*n was right, you’re murderers’ isn’t subtle. Chanting that Liverpool fans are ‘always the victims’ and that it’s ‘never your fault’ is more subtle, but thanks to the words ‘always’ and ‘never’ appearing in it, it cannot claim to not be about the Hillsborough Disaster. Those that say ‘it’s actually about Heysel’ aren’t doing any better. I’ve never heard any Liverpool supporter sing about Munich, but I’m sure there are some that do. It’s all just so awful that it really is putting me off feeling engaged with football matches now. Whether it’s ‘just kids’ or ‘a minority’, and I don’t think either thing is true, that doesn’t make it any better in terms of why it happens. When a supporter swears and a microphone picks it up, Sky Sports, BT Sport and any other broadcaster is quick to apologise. When the majority of supporters sing songs about tragedies, nothing is done. It isn’t ok and it needs to change.

Being Cheated Out Of Titles

At the time of writing, there has been nothing proven against Manchester City. Yet at the same time, Pep Guardiola’s team has 115 charges levelled against it around financial improprieties. Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool missed out on two titles to City by a single point, including last season. If the charges are proven to be accurate then we will have been cheated out of both of them, to say nothing of the title that we came so close to winning in 2013-2014. There is only so long that you can take part in a rigged game before starting to feel like it just isn’t worth it. As long as sports-washing clubs are in the English sport, it will not feel like a fair fight. That the alternative in the eyes of some people is for Liverpool to be taken over by a nation state makes things more depressing, not less. Having to explain why the Reds having American owners isn’t the same as being owned by a country that oppresses LGBTQ+ people isn’t what I’m in it for, if I’m honest. I do not believe that ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em’ is the right approach in this instance.

As City chase down Arsenal and look set to win yet another title, football prepares to simply shrug its collective shoulders and say ‘and what?’ It means nothing to most people because everyone suspects that City have been up to no good ever since the takeover. Is Guardiola a fantastic coach? Few would be able to disagree with that notion. At the same time, everything he’s achieved in Manchester has an asterisk against it in the eyes of most football fans. If the charges are proven, it doesn’t give the Reds their title celebrations back. If they are dismissed, most will just assume that it’s because City had the better lawyers. That is the position that the Premier League has put the sport in and it makes it very difficult to act as if everything is fine when it feels as though it’s anything but. I’ll watch us play Leeds tonight, but I’ll also know that the result, whichever way it goes, won’t mean very much. If we win, great, but we’re not getting top four. If we lose, that’s annoying, but we’re not getting relegated. It’s all become meaningless, which isn’t a fun place to be.

One Response
  1. April 17, 2023

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