Sunday, 17 June 2012

Euro 2012 - The tournament that money cannot buy

Euro 2012 has been growing on me. I hate the adverts with fake fans waving flags, corporate sponsors pretending to like football, The facepaints, the Mexican Waves - and Ireland’s footballers’ (but not the fans’) performances have been disappointing. On the whole, however, it has been pretty good so far. But there is one thing I have particularly enjoyed – the fact that no-one can buy this tournament.

If you have read my previous blog, you will be aware of my depressed state about the state and future of football. Clubs who got rich by winning the lottery, instead of long-term hard work and careful management won the big prizes. Cardiff have had to change their shirt colours because their new Malaysian owners think red is a lucky colour and the Chinese prefer dragons to bluebirds.

The thing I really like about the Euros is that no-one can buy the cup. Money is irrelevant in this competition. Players play for teams not because they are paid a fortune, but because it is their country; teams are bound together not by a billionaire’s money but by national origin; fans support the team not because they are successful but because that’s their country.

International football these days is of a lower standard than club football. Teams like Barcelona, Real Madrid Bayern Munich etc. have more time together, and can be assembled from any part of the world. If you don’t have a good left back you go out and buy one. If there isn’t a good English left back, then tough, you have to make do with what you have. As a result, club football has overtaken international football as the pinnacle of the game. To be honest I have always favoured club before country. But I just wonder if the tide will turn. As more and more of club football gets dominated by the lottery of billionaires buying toys to play with, maybe international football will be the only place left where football retains a bit of purity, the only place where money does not win.

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