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The “Beautiful Game” is Turning Ugly

Posted by stefanole on 2009/05/12

Chelsea vs. Barcelona: Beauty and the Beast
Europe’s best, and best paid, stars turn in a less than professional performance in the Champion’s League semi-final.

The “Beautiful Game” is Turning Ugly
How bad is your sport becoming when match officials require police escort to leave the stadium after the game? Why is it that highly paid “professional” players turn into screaming, tantrum-throwing, spoilt kids when decisions go against them?

In last week’s Chelsea Vs Barcelona European Champions League semi-final, we saw the ugly side to some of our so-called best, and better paid, players, despite clear guidelines from Europe’s governing body, UEFA, aimed at stopping exactly the kind of behaviour we saw last week.

The sights of Chelsea’s German international player, Michael Ballak manhandling match official Tom Henning Ovrebo and racing after him screaming at him, and Chelsea’s forward player Didier Drogba being booked AFTER the match for continuous harangueing of the referee and even facing a live camera to continue his abuse, show our national sport in utter absurdity.

Have the spiraling wages of players turned them into spolit prima-donas? With the best players being paid sums in excess of £100,000 per WEEK, tax-free, you have to wonder where it’s all going to end. Just how does a match official, who’s yearly salary is a fraction of the top players’ WEEKLY wage, hope to control a match properly? Even with measures set in place just this year to combat the now regular “mobbing” and verbal abuse of match officials by players disagreeing with decisions, we still see, in a globally televised event, the game turn into a farce with the match official in this instance requiring a police escort to leave the stadium after the game.

Not that he’s under threat from the players, but as a result of what is seen on the pitch it’s the FANS who provide the post-match threat to officials. His home address and telephone number were quickly broadcast on the internet and a Facebook page set up with the title “Kill Tom Henning Ovrebo”. The person responsible for this sick act said they were “dedicated to the hunt for and brutal murdering of” the referee. Another fan wrote: “I hope someone shoots him dead”. Incidentally this incident mirrors another several years ago, also between Chelsea and Barcelona, where the then referee Anders Frisk was subjected to a hate campaign after the match which resulted in him moving out of his home and eventually quitting refereeing.

Soccer seems to stand alone where outright and blatant disrespect and abuse of match officlas is now an almost accepted part of the game. So where does the blame lie for the degradation of what used to be called “The Beautiful Game” and how do we get rid of this sickening behaviour? Do we need a salary cap? Do we need team managers and club officials to be more pro-active in stamping out this kind of behaviour? Do football’s governing bodies need to start handing out long bans to players?

One thing is for sure; this has got steadily worse as salaries for players have shot up to crazy levels. Is this linked? To pay for these astonishing new levels of salaries, Joe Public is being charged higher and higher entrance fees to watch matches. Are embittered fans, now having to pay higher and higher costs per week to follow their team, taking it out on match officials?

Soccer is now “The Ugly Game”. Beauty has become the Beast.

11 May 2009 by Jim Brown

*Spelling and grammar errors have been copied from the original.


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