I have been watching the World Cup for the past while and become more and more frustrated at the over-paid and over-indulged children who play the game at the top level. I know that the Premier League will argue that it is indeed the top level of the sport as will the Champions League, but despite the continuing erosion of the importance of international football I still believe the World Cup to be the premier competition in World football.
Unfortunately FIFA have allowed the 'beautiful game' to be devalued connstantly by the playground antics of so-called professionals that consistently go unpunished leading our own children to believe that this is the way the game should be played and indeed the way that they should go through life. If our children are allowed to watch sporting superstars, some of their most important role and life models, continuing to act like thugs and get away with it - disrespecting the laws of the game, the officials placed in charge and their fellow players - attempting to cheat to gain an advantage at every hand's turn - feigning injury in order to have a 'colleague' dismissed from the field of play - why are we surprised to see the children's behaviour deteriorating and their respect for authority diminish almost daily.
But more importantly - as I am sure Bill Shankley would have said - it's ruining football.
Rugby has been described as a gurrier's game played by gentlemen (though less so since the arrival of professionalism) and football as a gentleman's game played by gurriers. Certainly the latter is more true now than ever before. Can these guys not see themselves making asses of themselves, the sport, referrees and the viewing public by throwing temselves to the ground feigning injury when the tackler missed by a couple of feet. They watch continuous replays of matches - don't they feel embarrassed in the slightest when the camera proves what a lying, faking cheating wanker they are? I also blame the pundits who think it is reasonable for a forward to drag his foot so that it hits the goalie or the defenders outstretched leg to gain a penalty. I also blame the officials and the interpretation of the laws, Surely there must be intent for a foul to be given. Surely the forward intentionally kicking the goalkeeper is the foul and should be penalised. If referees weren't so afraid of offending players they might more often go with their gut instinct and book the cheating bastard rolling about the penalty area as though he had been reversed into by his WAG's beemer or shot by a sniper in the crowd.
The real question is why has cheating become a way of life for highly paid professional footballers. Why do their own fans not turn on them and demand that they play fairly? Why do their managers not punish them for their on-field indiscretions so that they stop embarrassing us all with their theatrics and their unmitigated cheating and thuggery? The sport may soon become unplayable if a solution is not found. Already the game has become almost non-contact. When there is a tackle the referee seems to assume that the guy who lost, and is naturally writhing about on the floor, was fouled and gives him a free kick. I think the referee should be allowed to give these blokes a good kicking. Stick the boot in. Shout abuse at him. Insult his mother. I know it sounds radical but it might at least give us a good laugh, because there'll be no good football left to watch, merely a series of free kicks advancing a team up the park until they get close enough to attempt a shot from the next free using a ball that refuses to fly true so the goalkeeper can be made to look a prat as often as possible. If it wasn't for the money no child in his right mind would want to play the game. I heard on the radio the other day a group discussing why skills coaching was so essential now that kids no longer kick footballs about in the street endlessly. And why don't they? Because it hurts like f**k if you throw yourself to the ground on tarmac or concrete. Rolling about on the street will get you a kicking from the opposition or even your mates. They know you're faking. Sure you skinned your knee. Big deal. Get up and get on with the game. Act like a man.
Was that last sentence politically incorrect? I don't think it should be. Learning to act like a man was one of the important things football used to teach. Now it's how to act like a gutless, cheating twat.
On a serious note I suggest the introduction of video evidence to be checked by a citing panel after games (like gentlemanly rugby) to deal with incidents where players are suspected of attempting to fool the referee or if they may have got away with cheating. Huge fines and suspensions would soon change their attitude to fair play.