What might the London Olympics teach football in the UK?

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I watched most of the closing ceremony of the Olympics, aside from my gripes at a few of the acts chosen (not for this blog post) – wow, great and gutted it’s all over – the main, able-bodied event that is – of course the Paralympics (the super human) start soon. After watching the handing over of the Olympic flag to Rio, I feel like there’s a gap in my life, there’s less to talk about – though I don’t struggle so much with that :-)

An Olympic sized hangover

I’ve loved every minute of the games, what an outstanding success for Great Britain. Well done to Team GB, the organisers, the volunteers who’ve grafted so hard, the lucky spectators who got in to support the events and the fans nationwide (and not forgetting the tourists who’ve visited) they’ve grabbed a hold of the event and really taken it to their hearts – did you see the crowds in central London on Sunday for the Men’s Marathon? Stunning. I really never saw all this success coming, if I am honest I was pretty dismissive of it amongst family and friends – and I’m very happy to be eating my words – I’m dead proud for everybody involved.

It’s been special, maybe I’m too wrapped up in it, I just feel that this has been very important for Great Britain to experience, will we ever be the same? I hope not.

Why isn’t football feeling this real anymore?

I’ve always had the same feeling about footie tournaments ending, the Euros and World Cup, especially when I was a kid. In fact, in the run up to tournaments starting I literally felt sick with excitement – in a blink it was followed by that sinking feeling telling me that it’s ended, another 2 year wait ’til the next big one. The thing is, I am more gutted about the Olympics ending than the recent football tournaments. Which surprises me, why is that? It’s simple for me – this Olympics has been a true people’s sporting event. Here’s three examples that spring to mind…

  • Olympic characters – just think of the main man Usain Bolt – all fun, interaction, taking pics with spectators camera’s – you would not really get that at football tournaments, or even Premiership games. I am not sure we have the characters in our game really these days either, people that will laugh and joke, players that are just people who are loving it and are really with the fans, me included if I look myself in the mirror these days.
  • The mutual appreciation – we as spectators celebrate each and every win with the athletes, it’s feels personal somehow, you can see how open most athletes are, their gratitude, appreciation and pride at what they’ve achieved. The crowd feeling it back. Equally the guys that lose out on medals – have you hear how much they repeatedly apologise on live TV to their fans, compatriots and coaches. The level of heart and passion, it’s humbling.
  • The sport is bigger than the athletes – this is it in summary for me – the smiles on so many faces of the athletes and spectators is evidence. There’s a connection.

What might football take from this?

Football has got lost up it’s own arse in so many ways – we get told this a lot as footballers in some shape or form – and compared to the Olympics it’s true. Can we honestly say that football at the Olympics fitted in? I don’t think so, the athletes there were still more detached, somehow. I’d go as far to say that it was a side-show, I really hate admitting this out loud about a game I adore, a game that’s my life.

It’s time football got a bit of humility. Seriously. Our game was always the ultimate peoples game, crossing all boundaries, like the Olympics. Yet it’s not anymore and surely we want to get that back? We need to.

  • Players – we’re not bigger than our game. We’ve worked hard to get where we are and I wouldn’t take that away from any player at the top of their game. And yet, this sport has gifted us so much in terms of wealth as the ‘business of football’ has taken over and injected the cash. The truth is that too many of us (not all) need a reality check, I include myself and have said as much recently, we’re not bigger than the fans. Maybe we can learn something from Usain, Mo and Team GB. Some humility, gratitude and appreciation for the people who ultimately pay us – connect more with the fans somehow.
  • Club (owners) – you’re not in the driving seat, the fans are. The Olympics teaches us this. Modern club owners are capitalising on decades and decades of clubs being a part of a community, you didn’t personally make this happen, you’ve bought into (and buyers continue to do so every year – the extreme with Man U recently raising capital at the NYSE). Bringing your money, enterprise and high-level professionalism to the game is good, no question, and yet it’s time to ask – is it going too far? Clubs bleat about the fans needing to support them, to buy the tickets and more merch, yet so often treat the fans with a level of disdain as though they’re cattle to be hearded. In short they act like big consumer brands. A road to ruin, surely?
  • Associations (the FA, FIFA etc) – please let’s get some of the politics out of the game. It feels as though money is sucked into the higher echelons of management in our sport, employing more and more bureaucrats and pen pushers but with no real return for the sport itself – it feels a bit like the NHS in some sense!
  • Broadcast and press media – time to plug into the fans’ conversation. I direct my frustration at the mediocre channels and press trying so desperately to be involved and lead the conversation and failing, the crap stories and awful negativity – urrggghhh – please stop it. It hurts the game. Yet when it’s done well – wow – take the BBC for the London Olympics – look at the level of quality, it works well when an accessible and open sport meets quality media investment. I’ve been impressed with Gary Lineker too, honest. Embrace the spectators having a voice through social media, this is the new media dynamic, it’s been partially embraced at the Olympics – and it’s heading like a steam-roller into football, whether we like it or not.

What say you – am I talking rubbish or making some sense? Let me know below.

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234 comments
mrw5
mrw5

I agree that the football was a sideshow to the Olympics, especially with mark lawrenson's depressing drone. I was blown away by the Olympics and the commentating etc was top drawer and to be honest I found the Community Shield and start of the new season a bit of an anti climax. As much as we would like the Olympic atmosphere to be adopted by the football world, unfortunately it won't. But here's to the new season..

postieboy
postieboy

A spot on article Joey, well said. I don't think footballers have to change that much. Footballers respecting each other and officials a bit more plus showing a little more humility because of their privileged position in life would go a long way to doing so.

 

As for the football clubs, I'd go as far as saying that they are far more arrogant and money-eyed than the players and they show nothing but disdain for the average fan (which reflects poorly on the players as a consequence). They could learn a lot from Team GB on how to engage with the public.

DawsonFortune
DawsonFortune

Here's a classic example Joey of the difference between the Olympics and football. As you may or may not remember, I'm a Toon fan. Great result today, beat Spurs 2-1 home first game of the season, so absolutley buzzing. But have a think about what happened over the Pardew incident in the second half - he pushed the an official so got sent to the stands. So, that's the first thing - do you remember a single athlete at the Olypmics even daring to lay their hands on officials? As I said previously, the Olympians who do actually dare to do stuff like this, don't just get a trifling punishment, they get serious consequences - they get shunned by the sport and they more often than not lose their chance at a medal in their lifetime. But what will happen to Pardew? He will most likely get a fine or a 3 match touchline ban at worst, that's it. And I'm not even upset as a Toon fan, because I can appreciate that in football, pushing an official because you're angry at a decision is considered a relatively minor offence. You get more punishment for verbal abuse than physical if you uttered a few of the by now famous trigger words - work that one out. Football has no morals anymore, football is in the gutter compared to the Olympic ideal. So like I said, if you want to spark this debate off, then tackle the real issues like this. Nobody cares about footballers not really showing any humility for their megamillion salaries when it comes to glaring differences like this. I still support the Toon because I have to, but I support Mo Farah and Jess Ennis because I want to.

Justinlpennington
Justinlpennington

I'm not your biggest fan in the past Joey. I think your dissection though is spot on, and a very honest appraisal. Your comments earlier this year at the City game and wanting to get someone sent off with you, are prime examples of some of the points you are making. Change comes within. If we have people like you who are capable of identifying what's needed to lead change, then we also need you to embody those changes and lead by example. Your a talent no doubt, and I agree this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to capitalise on a truly fantastic sporting event.... Good luck my friend.....

Alconcalcia
Alconcalcia

The saddest thing about the modern game is,  when I was a kid I could decide on a Saturday morning when I got my pocket money to jump on the train and go and watch my team and still have change for other stuff. Put simply, football was accessible to all. Today it cost around £100 for us as a family of 4 to make that same Saturday morning decision. And, because we support a championship side, it's not as if we're even seeing top players. Indeed, many are journeymen pros with no passion, others are junior players coming up through the ranks, which, whilst great, as soon as they show any flair they are snapped up by a bigger club. Our club, on the other hand, has been priced out of affording huge transfer fees and wages. Jimmy Greaves caught the tube and bus to his first game at Tottenham and there was outrage when the first player was paid more than £25 a week. That takes a typical premiership player just a few minutes to earn now. Money has created a divide and destroyed the game in many ways, certainly as a working class spectacle, which is what it started out as. We still go - years and years of following your team can't be eradicated - but it's not quite the same. The hopes, the dreams, the ambition - all have been thwarted by the financial reality that unless your club is bought as a plaything by a foreign billionaire or two you've got pretty much no hope of anything other than modest success. In short, the playing field just isn't level anymore and survival, not success, is the reality for most clubs. @alconcalcia 

happy_guy23
happy_guy23

You make some good points but actually there's a much simpler way to improve people's perception of footballers - quit.

DawsonFortune
DawsonFortune

 

Your analysis is lightweight Joey. If you really want to address the glaring differences between football and the Olympics, have a chew on some of this:

 

* Pay

 

- In the Olympics even the best off athletes can only afford a modest house while they train 24/7, in football the average player gets a mansion for training half a day

 

- In the Olympics athletes appeal for funds to buy a car to get to training, in football you're lucky if you even have to pay for car tax

 

* Media

 

- In the Olympics you get an honest and emotional interviews with athletes for free, in football you get some trite cliche from a dishonest player/manager as part of a contractual obligation

 

- In the Olympics the media has open access to performance directors and elite athletes and coaches, in football you have to go through the 'press officer'

 

* Finances

 

- In the Olympics if you have a successful brand you can reinvest the dividend that brings, in football it goes into the bottomless pit of wage inflation

 

- In the Olympics if you invest £24m over 4 years you get 12 gold medals, in football it's simply the transfer fee of one elite player for a 4 year contract

 

* Integrity

 

- In the Olympics you take an oath, and people who break it are shunned, whereas in football you get a respect campaign that's forgotten by Christmas

 

- In the Olympics you can get sent home for simply not trying, in football you get at most a yellow card for out and out deception

 

- In the Olympics if you break a minor rule like personal conduct, you get denied a once in a lifetime opportunity, in football, you get fined two weeks wages

 

- In the Olympics if you break a major rule like doping, you get banned for life, in football, you get banned for a season or two

 

- In the Olympics half the athletes were tested for drugs during the games, in football, well, just watch the Panorama programme to see how many footballers are probably doping right now

 

* Passion

 

- In the Olympics most disputes centre on the right to compete, in football its normally down to money

 

P.S. The FA Chief Executive gets paid an annual salary plus bonuses that is about a quarter of an average EPL footballer's wage without - comparing that to the imbalance in the NHS is ludicrous

 

Josh87Davis
Josh87Davis

As always, a great article Joey....

Less than a week since the end of the greatest show on earth ended, the English media have already started wetting themselves over the start of the football season. The Olympics has been long forgotten - after just a week!

The success of our athletes and the morale boost it gave the entire country lives long in my memory. I saw some of the greatest moments in sport during our home games. That 'magic hour' on Super Saturday when we won 3 golds still gives me goosebumps.

 

So anyway..... what can football learn from the Olympics?

It can learn the importance of taking part. The importance of doing your best and being appreciated for doing just that. When it looked like GB were going to struggle for Golds the stupid questions started being asked. The press were already wanting an inquest as to why we wern't winning everything. Sport is about taking part. No matter at what level. Yes, we all want success but, from a young age what has been missing in football for years is that taking part and enjoying yourself is just as important as winning.

 

It can learn about respect & that you dont need to shout abuse at eachother to be competative. The recent Terry Vs Ferdinand trial showed us the most ugly side of football. Reading the transcript of a conversation between 2 massively overpaid footballers that included their best efforts at insulting eachother was, if nothing else, embarrassing! It happens every week, we know this but, to have it thrown at us constantly during that trial was an eye opener. Stark contrast to the behaviour of olympians towards eachother. Usain Bolt stopping an interview so he could observe a fellow athletes national anthem, the sportsmanship of the cyclists who had trained for years but had lost out on their dream medal but still smiled and hugged their competators. Football is now an ugly game, abuse from the stands, from the pitch, from managers, it's everywhere. Michael Owen tweeted recently how he wouldnt take his children to a game. The Olympic stadium was an incredible arena. The crowds cheered, clapped and encouraged everyone in front of them. Would we ever see that in football?

 

Football should learn many, many things from the Olympics.... but it wont. It never learns anything.

Last season, after Fabrice Muamba collapssed at White Hart Lane, there was a short and very refreshing change in the EPL. Nobody dived, nobody rolled around the floor or tried to dupe the ref. How could they after what had just happened to a fellow pro? It was so nice to see. But that lasted all of 1 week. Then the diving and rolling around was back again. Short memories.

 

The message from London 2012 was 'inspire a generation'. Maybe the one thing football needs to learn above anything else is that. Are people inspired by football now? Are kids inspired by their clubs or their favorite players anymore? Or are they just desperate to be like them? Being an inspiration and being an idol are 2 different things.

 

To sum it up best - i grew up wanting to be footballer. I want my 2 boys to grow up to be Olympians.

azmaftab
azmaftab

Hey Joey, great read but if you are serious about the stuff you wrote then you and I will need to change some very old habits. The Olympics had that "feeling" not because it wasn't corporate sponsored or its associations didn't have politics on the contrary the amount of money and politics there was in this Olympics was extraordinary. The only two differences between the two events are the Players and the Fans.Football fans believe it or not are prone to extremities. Riots, racism, abuse, are just some of the things us fans inflict on other fans, and for some inexplicable reason this has become a way to show "support" for our clubs. Being a Manchester United fan it makes me livid when a section at Old Trafford starts singing about the Hillsborough or when a section of Manchester City or Liverpool fans start singing about the Munich air disaster. THIS HAS TO GO. We need to clean up the game and lead through example what it means to SUPPORT a club.Now the players. The players have a huge role in what is wrong with football today. You yourself quoted how it was nice to see Usain and Mo snapping pics with the fans and etc, todays modern footballer has touch with reality. Money unfortunately has spoilt the player-fan relationship. Not because us fans get jealous of your wealth but because as soon as a player signs a hefty contract, he forgets that he is getting that money because of our support and becomes, lets say, "hot headed". If footballers want to be treated like Usain Bolt, then id say you emulate the man and not his achievements.  

sarahlakin
sarahlakin

You are a conundrum sir. please have a look at www.footballscribble.com for the graphic of the match that you are now serving time for. Because you are such a conundrum you may find it amusing enough to have a copy on your wall.

The Troll
The Troll

Hey ya Joey, Richard 12345 claims "You are the epitome of all that is wrong with football......." I think that's a bit harsh myself. While you can be a bit of a plum at times on and off the pitch - aren't we in and out of our work? John Terry is the epitome of all that is wrong with football - FACT. He knows what he said to Anton that day and why he said it. Not only this, he screws his best mates ex-misses..... But what has all this to do with your article? I think you raised some good points although I don't necessarily agree with all your views. The likes of John Terry should look at how professional athletes conduct themselves and then take a hard long look in the mirror at himself. There are common standards and values every individual should adhere to throughout life and most of Team GB's athletes exemplify these. It's not necessarily what football may take from the Olympics, it's what the individuals in football can take from this. Like I said you're no shinning example Joey but you're certainly not the worst individual in the game I love. It's the likes of John Terry who are undoubtedly "the epitome of all that is wrong with football......." Clear out the John Terry's in football and the rest of the "egos" and football will once again touch the hearts of billions throughout the world.

joevv
joevv

you're actually quite a bright chap, barton. you should apply yourself.

joevv
joevv

you're actually quite a bright chap, barton. you should apply yourself.

footy261
footy261

@Joey7Barton I really dont get any of the rubbish people are talking about the olympics its the biggest load of crap I've seen. Don't get me wrong I love the events, swimmers, runners, cyclists but I would never ever have it in london again. Why are people saying it shows the good side of sport and brings the best out of the country cos let me tell what it really is. First of all its a way for the government and upper class to get dodgy back handers that make them richer. They set up the ticket prices so that only rich people can go and enjoy it. Plus have you not noticed that although great britain did well, we only dominate in sports the rich enjoy. Rowing, cycling, triathlon all sports which require significant funding like eton funding the rowing I didn't see them funding any track athletes or swimmers to improve their results hence the reason why except for mo farah and ennis we were completely rubbish. But most importantly apparently the olympics is meant to bring business to the country. Well ask anyone who owns a business in london the place was like a ghost town. they stopped any business going through london the only people that made money as per usual was the upper class. through all the construction that is needed. Take this for example. My dad is a black cab drive they told him not to go on holiday during the olympics because they need him to cope with excess demand. You wanna know what they did they blocked cab drivers from going down olympics lanes and therefore they virtually earnt no money. they took the absolute piss out of all small businesses around london who owners might as well gone on holiday. The black cabbies actually protested in london but guess what the government stopped that from getting in the news. Its the same thing they do with everything. When David Cameron was under pressure for taking money off the rich to allow them get their own policies through. Do you know what they did he caused a petrol scare for no reason to  stop his problems to be taking off the front pages. Now this is a oxford educated guy supposedly a superior person able to lead a country causing a petrol scare mistakenly!! absolutely no way there is a reason behind everything the government do they are to clever to make mistakes like this. Unfortunate thing is that a lady suffered major burns from panicking about the petrol scare and storing petrol in her house. I'd love to see how david cameron has re payed the lady for his stupidness  probably by being able to afford to go on holiday this year.

 

Everyday they take more of the piss. MPs claiming for two houses so on so on. During the riots the police sat back and let the kids destroy hackney and the poor areas around britain. They said they couldn't handle the numbers absolute rubbish. Do you know what the government were doing. They were happy to let the people destroy the shit hole they live in. They were keeping them rioting in hackney making sure they stay away from mayfair or chelsea. The moment these kids would have hit the upper class areas the rubber bullets would have been out quick as flash. It's a joke what they are doing to people.

 

But anyway back to the swindle that is the olympics. What also pisses me off is why they don't merge the paraolympics with the olympics and make the event 4 weeks long or possibly put the paraolympics before the actual olympics. Because you've got these amazing human beings that are making the most out of there challenged lives and all the government do is palm them off with the crappy deflated part which is after the Olympics is finished. For me that is a bloody piss take on these amazing human beings.

 

In terms of football there is nothing wrong with the sport except for one country england. England are so so so wrong in there approach to the game it's unbelievable who the hell are the coaches. Let me say something glen johnson,ashley young,daniel sturridge,Gareth Barry,jermaine defoe,Tomkins and theres loads more wouldn't make it through an academy in spain let alone play for there country they are that bad. Football is a team game, its more about intelligence than athleticism thats why ryan giggs is a better player at 36 than walcott is in his bloody twenties. Spain, italy, portugal and germany understand this. They pick footballers and turn them into athletes in england scouts find athletes and turn them into footballers problem is it never works. Athletic wise sturridge is better than fabregas but who would you rather have. In england the coaches and scouts promote, speed, strength and most importantly to be selfish. Over what football really is. Team game, intelligence, positioning and skill. I can fully guarantee you that english football is getting progressively worse and they will never win anything unless they literally clear out the whole FA every academy coach and bring in people who actually understand the game. It's not about just winning and losing its about understanding why you won and why you lost, then finding and consistency and style on which you play everygame for example barcelona. 

 

We having nothing to learn from the olympics. Usain bolt cannot tell you anything about a team game its a different  mentality. In terms of olympic football I don't like it, whats the point of the world cup. I wanna watch the best vs the best not the average playing each other. the GB team was the same as the england first team but a little less talented. But how was I meant to take the tournament serious. When a bang average player and a worse manager called stuart pearce. Drops David Beckham an icon and role model from the team and puts a footballer who has shagged his brothers wife in the team. Don't get me wrong giggs is a master a genius at football but if stuart pearce wants to talk about bringing the young players through the best role model in the world for a footballer is david beckham and thats a fact.

Steve12345678
Steve12345678

Credit where its due..Ive followed my team all over the place home and away and some far flung pre season trips, but the cost of watching them is just to much for me these days so in order to get my football fix i go to the local Northern Counties league team and you know what? its far more enjoyable knowing my money is going to be spent helping that club survive rather than pay for the corporate rubbish, that accompanies top level footie, and the thing that made the Olympics great from a sporting point of view simply doesn't exist in football - Unpredictability. it was great not knowing anything about these sports and just watching them rather than have in the back of your mind I want my team to win the league but I  KNOW Man Utd will.

Carl Perkins
Carl Perkins

You're talking some sense Joey. Two things though. I'm black so I have issues with your support for your brother, who was involved in a racist murder. However, you handled yourself well at the time it happened. Secondly, I'm a Man Utd supporter and your career path hasn't exactly helped our team, particularly your sending off against Manchester City, that handed them the title last season, or snatched it from our grasp. I sense you are trying to forge a new career as a sports columnist (as your minutes on the pitch are restricted by your propensity to implode) and see nothing here that suggests you wouldn't do as good a job as any other ex-player. Lastly, who cares what you think about the Olympics. Sort out your behaviour on the pitch before you go criticising football clubs. You're one of the many overpaid footballers who behaves like a spoilt kid in a sweet shop, spitting your dummy out at every opportunity. I used to work in the civil service and one of our security guards was an ex-Arsenal and Ireland football player. In his days players got paid basic salaries. No superstardom, no sports cars or mansions. So he had to spend his final years trying to earn a living protecting nobodies like me because he had next to no pension and was not paid enough to be able to save any money for his retirement. So, I find your generation of players repulsive and very uninsightful. You haven't even started living mate.

CCP_MrT
CCP_MrT

Joey I have been one of you biggest detractors, not to your face but in conversation with my football loving friends. To find someone with your talent on the pitch who has lapses in self control is not unique, but the fact that in print you can make so much sense really incongruent (my fav long word!). Here again I find you talking sense. I only hope we see more of this side of you and less of the crazed loon that we have read about and unfortunately too often seen on the pitch!

lukeynewling
lukeynewling

Joey,

 

You made a very salient point a few weeks back, I think it was through twitter, when you said 'do you remember Euro 96, that was the bollocks'. It's funny because it resonated well with me and all of my mates. I was only 8 at the time of that tournament, and until the Olympics (this is where my point crosses paths with your blog), I have not felt that sense of excitement, enjoyment and enthusiasm towards a major sporting event. 

 

What are the similarities? With the exception of the obvious, that England hosted the event, and boy do we organise these things well, England and Team GB performed exceptionally well, and the population as a collective supported our athletes. Success breeds success. It is far easier to cheer for a team that is winning. 

 

Yet what is more, is that we could relate far more to our footballers of '96, and our athletes of '12. Pearce and his pent up, pure, raw emotion, akin to Ben Ainslie stepping off the seas on his penultimate day of sailing accusing the Danish sailor. Their fervent display of emotion was something we could support. Gazza's unbridled joy and his wonder goal against the Scot's similar to Mo's joyous celebration around the Olympic stadium. These are pure emotions that we as fans can relate too.

 

That is what football, and footballers especially, has lost recently. Again, it is only my opinion, but the influx of average foreign or 'non-british' players is the systemic problem. Too many Premier League players do not care as much for their club as the fans who watch them. Show some passion, willingness to give your all and take the bruises that come with it, and football will be a better enriched place again.

 

Keep up the good work, thoroughly enjoy reading your stuff.

 

Luke

 

4EverQPR
4EverQPR

Joey, I agree 100% that football has lost something over the years.  It has taken the Olympics to realise once again what it can and should be all about.  We the football fans are at fault as much as anyone else by handing over our money and our attention to these athletes without any demands other than scoring goals in return. You can pay someone to play for you but you can't pay them to have passion or care about the fans or community they are playing for.  Many (most) of these players in the EPL are bought from foreign lands thousands of miles away. How are we supposed to connect with them other than the fact that we bought them and the next town over didn't?  A connection and passion is what we as fans/community are looking for and what we see in our Olympians!!! By signing a big money EPL contract or simply putting on the England shirt it's as if these players have already received the accolades and admiration that drove them through many years of hard work.   It's too easy to sign that piece of paper and put your headphones on and simply show up.   Now I'm not suggesting the players don't try hard to put in a good perfomance but they aren't trying for the same reasons we the fans are supporting them to try for.   I hope we as fans have seen a better side of sports at these Olympics and will as a result demand more from our clubs, owners, players and Associations.

We as fans have the power to say to owners, stop treating us like a commodity and stop putting a commodity product on the pitch. The community built the club you now own so please make it your #1 priority to position the club to angage with us and give back to the community in as many ways as possible or we don't buy that £80 kit.  I think Tony is doing a great job at QPR in this respect and really hope initiatives like the new training ground ultimately benefit our community and continue.  Ultimately, if the players engaged with the community much more they might find a real passion to play for them but we never see the players in our shops, stores, schools or amateur playing fields anymore.  Why is this? This connection might even show through on the pitch!   Unfortunately I don't forsee the players taking this initiative on their own and it will need to start from the owners.  With the current insane wages should come some responsibilty.  If a player wants to make the big money their contracts should include a heck of lot of community service off the pitch.  Much much more than is currently expected. I'm sure you players think your life is hard enough (not enough free time, etc) and you need rest but....if i were to make the wages a footballer makes I would expect to be putting in a heck of a lot of hours to earn that money.  I'm quite sure most footballers did work very hard to get where they are and can be a very positive impact on the community in a variety of roles.  I would like to think the players would take this initiative on their own (many do a bit currently) but unfortunately I think they need to be forced until it becomes implanted in the DNA to appreciate the fans that pay their salary.  If the fans and community once again connect we may have passion and our beloved game back.

 

 

fatwink
fatwink

I think football in Europe can learn more from the US than the Olympics. Too many 15-16 year olds are being plucked from school, told their the business by their agent/coaches and by the time they get to 20 have nothing left to aim for, We, as a sport are letting you guys,down. 

 In most US major sports, kids from all across the country are'drafted' by a pro team when they turn 18. Even when they are drafted they still have to play 3 solid seasons in the big league before they can even think of asking for a rise. These 3 years are usually spent improving their sport skills along with their life skills, either at college or with tutors. Whilst there are exceptions on both sides of the Atlantic, this does seem to produce a larger crop of well rounded, humble and reasonably well educated young sportsmen.

 I don't want to come across as a snob, clearly most professional footballers in this country are decent blokes, earning a living from doing what they love. But, if you're already making more money than you can possibly spend, before you've even reached 21, you're motivation to improve and maximize your skills to their true potential has to be in question. 

 Also a salary cap would put a stop to clubs like Chelsea and Man City stockpiling talent they barely intend to use, just because they can. Thus meaning players will have to play for a living. Ahem' Michael Owen ...

JohnStirzaker
JohnStirzaker

I fell out of love with the prem and football about 4 years ago then started to go and watch my local team Fleetwood Town and I'm now head over heals with the beautiful game again. If you want to see proper football get yourself to a blue sq game. Proper football. Proper fans. I just hope that league 2 offers up More of the same.

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You're making sense.

GMan007
GMan007

I'm not convinced we all need to learn anything but I imagine some people do.

 

What was clearly on show was a different style of coverage to the London Olympics by BBC commentators and pundits than what we get normally on the BBC for just football.

Lesson - BBC get rid of the majority of their football pundits who pollute minds of general public.

 

An Olympian usually will have trained to peak at specific times. If those participating as individuals are not fit there is nowhere usually for them to hide. In a team sport such as football there are plenty of hiding places.

Lesson - pro footballers (incl pundits) please know your audience and don't try to kid us.

 

An Olympian usually paces himself taking into account his competitors and performs efficiently to do enough. We still saw examples of serious mis-judgement but the winners will have usually given their all.

Lesson - pro footballers always demonstrate your best or at least your committment.

 

An Olympian is still an entertainer. Some accepted they were merely sideshows, recognised the main draws but they demonstrated their minute improvements.

Lesson - that not all pro footballers are equal, individuals limits should not be magnified but their minute improvements should be demonstrated and/or recognised.

 

An Olympian is considered by the media as being an Elite athlete.

Lesson - that pro footballers engage with the media and the public to define why they are Elite athaletes.

 

kbcara
kbcara

What can we learn is the question! Funded (aka paid) based on annual performance.  Removed from TeamGB (aka dropped from club team) for inappropriate behaviour (out of order tweets, backchat to and/or surrounding ref, abuse to opposition or even teammates).  Run 100m with broken leg or play match with steel plate in jaw (aka don't roll around on the floor to get decision - get up and play on unless really truly injured).  Celebrate when you have gold round your neck (aka winning a game does not make you a hero, don't believe the hype until you've completed the job).  Obviously appreciate the support (aka thank those who support you week in, week out).  Know how lucky you are (aka don't moan, when you have the kind of life many would dream of).  Act like professionals - you don't see Olympians out on the pish days before a big game  - they live and breath their 'trade' (can't find the quote but one of our teams were not even allowed to a Rhianna concert months prior to London 2012 - extreme but demonstrative).  Finally, supporter passion came from supporting TeamGB - every on the pitch team should have a minimum number of GB player, this gives kids something to aim for and of course long-term benefits for National squads.  PS I like the idea of salary caps but won't work unless all countries on board.   

DogOfWar82
DogOfWar82

The olympic athletes came accross as being humble, hard working, proud to represent their country, most don't benefit hugely financially from their sport, some are part time and have other jobs they go to before having to do their training.

Overwhelming joy can be seen on the faces of those who have worked hard for 4 years to achieve success, and desperation on the faces of those who don't quite achieve their aspirations. The British public relate to this more.

 

Compare this to the general perception of footballers, that they are paid huge sums of money, and the general fan doesn't get value for their money. There doesn't seem to be the same amount of pride in representing your country, demonstrated by players pulling out with the slightest of injuries, then playing the following league game.

Winning for a footballer can be taken for granted, and if they lose, there's always next week.

I know there are many footballers where this perception doesn't apply, but there are too many where it does!

Wroteforluck
Wroteforluck

Perhaps we should all simply rediscover what it was to be a football fan 30 years ago and more.  Select one weekend a year, switch off your SkySports, media avenues and go down to your local non-league outfit, pay your fiver entry fee and watch a game.  There's that much coverage and analysis now that you could probably find out what shade of brown the Captain's log was on the morning of the game.  Switch it all off for one weekend a year, watch a match for what it is and give a little to the amateur clubs around the country.  Like a flag day almost.  It's probably the closest feeling of community in football, like the feel of the Olympics that you are likely to find. Getting behind players and teams who you wouldn't ordinarily care too much about.  

mcphisto100
mcphisto100

Let's take the "nudging" incident with Victoria Pendleton. That nudge caused VP to leave her lane. Leaving the lane caused her to be disqualified. VP did not a) collapse onto the floor, holding her face, b) gather the rest of her team and go face-to-face with the judges, screaming that the decision be reversed then c) refuse to talk to the press because she was "too upset". She did a) accept the decision, admitting that whilst the judges could have taken the nudge into account, their decision was final, b) tell the press that she was genuinely gutted, not only for herself but for the team who had trained for 4 years for this event. She blamed no-one. This series of events cost her a chance for a gold medal. 4 years of dedicated work for the ultimate prize. Honestly how many footballers would act with the same restraint and integrity under the same circumstances (World Cup).

 

The "simulation" (diving/cheating) must stop. No-one can do this except for the players themselves. You choose to do it. Robbie Savage seems to have cottoned on to the fact that this is ruining the game. Unfortunately not until after he retired from the sport where he spent a large proportion of his time doing what he now condemns. I have no respect for him as a pundit. This is not an issue that needed hindsight.

 

You cannot expect refs to get decisions right when you do nothing but throw red herrings at them. Fix your own behaviour first and take a long hard look at whether the decisions being given against you are of your own making. Stay on your feet unless gravity says otherwise.

 

For each player that shouts in a refs face, book the captain. Not the player, the captain. He's in charge on the field. Do the other players seriously want to be responsible for getting their captain sent off? No? Stop shouting then.

 

Players at the top of their profession deserve to be rewarded accordingly. According to the income of the club and the game itself. No more. Do not blame the fans not turning up as a reason that you cannot afford to spend another couple of million on another unproven name. Cut your cloth... 

 

Do not ask for a pay rise when your team gets relegated.

 

A reason cited for the high wages is that a player's playing career is notoriously short. Well, you have advanced notice of this. How many other professions can plan so far in advance? Lower league players and every athlete at the olympics know that they do not have an income to rely on when they have to stop playing/competing. Most start planning early for a second career. The top players play XBox and light fireworks in their bathroom. Use your non-playing time to get qualifications, help with PE lessons at local schools. Do something pro-active and productive. Say what you want about Beckham and his ability to wear clothes, he has at least invested a lot of his excessive wages back into youth football programs. How many players have offered to pay for a block of tickets and give them to disadvantaged youths who could never get into the game otherwise? Show that you appreciate what you have and put something back.

KyleBushellScriven
KyleBushellScriven

I totally agree with your argument here Joey. Football in the UK (especially the Premier League) could, if it chooses to, learn a lot from the London Olympics. As an avid sports fan, I have grown up looking forward to the London Olympics. One of the main points I agree with is the one you make about the media. My personal opinion towards the media and the way they choose to write about football is a largely negative one; this is mainly regarding the English national side. For example, the media produce extravagant and quite often false stories surrounding the national side leading up to a tournament. For example the John Terry and Anton Ferdinand case. (let's not turn this into a debate about racism) Correct me if i'm wrong but Rio Ferdinand never once stated that he had a problem playing alongside John Terry. The media concocted a story that portrayed Rio at the middle of a bitter war, which finally ended with Rio, (the brother of the accused party) being omitted from the squad whilst the accused, John Terry was chosen to play for his country, now forgive me if i'm wrong but surely that is immoral from both the media and the FA? Finally, the media always make it their goal to portray the English football team as a group of failures. Surely if you're always set up to fail, you'll never succeed? In my opinion, there should be a media black out surrounding the English national side. Let them turn up, play their games and then go home and maybe even praise them once in a while? 

 

The second point I make, and agree with, is the one concerning the FA and FIFA. For too long there has been a black cloud enshrouding both FIFA and the FA. FIFA has been at the centre of numerous corruption allegations and The FA is run by a group of blazers. Anyone that say's Roy Hodgson or any other England manager before him picks the national squad then they are wrong. Coaches are under pressure to include the big names, regardless of what effect it will have on the performance of the team. For example the Paul Scholes saga. Sven was too scared to drop any of the 'Big Name' players, so decided to play Scholes out of position on the left, thus ultimately ending the international career of one of the best players to ever grace this nation! I know this sounds like a 'working class' argument but The FA should be run by 'football' people. People that have played the game, know it inside out. Not Lords and Sirs that have gained there passage with a silver spoon in their mouths. 

 

Finally, as a Sport Business Management student I understand and totally agree with the comment you make about club owners etc. It's a sorry sight to see clubs like Portsmouth just days away from liquidation. A club with such strong local history, at risk of disappearing forever. And for what reason? Greedy owners. The usual story of a millionaire businessman taking over a football team to make easy cash has become all to uncommon. Splashing out on big players to earn short term windfalls ends in long term failure. For example Leeds United who took out exceptionally large loans against the prospect of champions league qualification in order to buy players for large fees and big wages. This all went wrong when leeds missed out on 4th place to Newcastle. By 2007, the team that were once 'the best in the land' were now playing in the 3rd tier of English football for the first time. How was that business plan ever allowed to be put into place? 

 

And a note to leave on, as a Peterborough United fan I've been subjected to my fair share of heart ache and euphoria over the past few years. But I know that those players are out there because they want to be. They aren't playing for the exceptionally large wages, they're there because they love the game and they love the club. They play for the name on the front of the shirt. Not the back. I can safely say after being capture by the spirit of the Olympics, I'm in no way excited for the beginning of the new season, I'd rather see 4 years of hard work come to a conclusion in a showcase of true sporting greatness. 

 

Yours, Kyle Bushell.

 

 

Chrisguk
Chrisguk

Footballers are more seperated so much from reality these days. The flash cars the big houses and designer gear. Those who play the sport are now so different from the normal fan in the terraces. Take yourself for example Mr Barton, you are falling out of love with the game. Ask yourself this, if it wasn't your bread and butter, would you still be playing? The characters in the game are no longer the same. Being pompous and spoiled (Balotelli) makes you a character these days in the game and private lives are sensationalised by the media to sell papers. I cant afford to go abroad right now but you open the papers to find the top pro's in the top resorts around the world. I dont blame footballers for being paid what they do, this is the work of greedy agents (although the Cole's of this world dont help). Football and the lives of our heroes are front page news as are the lives of their families and until they reconnect with those in the terraces I cant see a way back when wages go through the roof while people are made redundant. Its a playbiy world now where even the highest honour of playing for your country is treated with little respect and often even less effort.

Ggersok
Ggersok

Agreed. Football should be about fans not money although money obiously plays its part. No bigotry, racism or violence at the Olympics was there. Take children to an Olympic football game... Yes you can. Take children to a derby... No way.

Pow78
Pow78

Hi joey, I dont just think its the players who have lost touch with reality look at the clubs too. Kit deals signing exclusivity to one retailer for example to monopolise pricing and hurt there own fans with a ten to fifteen pound increase on last years prices. Your true that the sport needs to get back to its fans some how. I Truely believe the only way we will get here is if we can get away from the sport being ran as a business. The athletes in the olympics are mainly amateurs, they are able to connect to the working man as they are the working man in the main. This is wy the nation is so proud of what we have done and achieved. There s nothing better at your own team than seeing a local lad succeed and go on to bigger and better things. In the stadium everyone seems to know the player personally through some obscure link or other but that is about as close to the olypmic feeling football can get.

jioigual2k2
jioigual2k2

I'm a football fan all the way from the Philippines and I agree with you with a lot of your points. The accessibility of the sport has been put into question precisely because of the interference of the entities you've mentioned (owners, clubs, and associations) who are supposed to "protect the sport" but instead, create distance from what it is truly supposed to be, a sport for the players and for the spectators. The Olympic spirit captures the entire winning mentality - I need to win because it will bring honor to my country. The Philippines for instance did not win a single medal this Olympics, but as a nation, we are very proud of the athletes we sent there. They compete for themselves and for their country. Now, if that attitude will translate in professional sports, that would be absolutely fantastic. 

Joey B
Joey B

We have to be careful here people. This article is not an attack on football and what is wrong with it right now. Although, thats maybe a discussion for another day. This blog post was about what football could learn from the London Olympics. I agree with lots of the points made about some of the things wrong with modern day football/footballers but there are also a lot of positive things that the FA/clubs/players do within their individual regions or areas. I get the 'footballers paid to much money argument' I really do. Again, the are counter arguments to a lot of the posts around this topic. But again we have to remember that this debate is about 'What football can learn' and not 'Whats wrong with football' So, once again I ask the Q? What might football learn from the London Olympics? I will try to keep this debate and my engagement in it on a tight leash here...

tompasp
tompasp

your talking sense but not getting to the heart of it.  we need people like you in a position of power to take a stand in some area.  Obviously you have done this with your work for the fans of liverpool getting that petition done, but more can be done.  Obviously us as the fans need to focus our efforts at better treatment of supporters from clubs and have our say heard more.  

Chrisyb3
Chrisyb3

Joey, i agree with this subject in the fact that i was proud of the olympic athletes, whereas over the years i have lost my affection for most footballers. I agree that footballers work damn hard to get where they are but i think the problem lies in the roots of football. I am a football coach and worked with Newcastle United Academy for over 3 years whilst you were there. I met you on a number of occasions. What I mean by the roots of football is the academy systems. When I was at NUFC i found some of the older YTS lads very ignorant and in their own little bubble unwilling to talk to myself and they walked around like they were a class above. Them forgetting that it was coaches like myself that have helped them get there. Throughout their time in the youth system they have been told what to eat, how to behave, how good they are and they have lived in their own little bubble. They do not have what you would call great life skills. I think this translates into the pro game when you say alot of players lack character. I think that younger players dont just need coaching in football but coaching in life also. This brings me to the differences in the olympic athletes. Some of the athletes will not and do not get a great wage from competing at the highest level of their chosen sport which says to me that they do it because they love it and are proud to be part of that. They are not publicized week in week out and they are not made into mini celebrities or famous. They are only publicized when they achieve great things and rightly so. Football is turning young players into money hungry, wanna be celebrities who do not show respect to fans, people etc. I think if things change in academy systems and teach them when they are young, we may start reaping the rewards from that in years to come and actually have 11 players wearing those 3 lions that look hungry to win in every tournament.  I speak my mind and i hope if you get the chance you could give me your time like you did at NUFC where you were always great with me.

mthelwell
mthelwell

Hi Joey,

 

I will not claim to like you but I agree 100% with what you say on this blog.. football is stuck up its own arse and has lost touch with reality. The feeling of pride and togetherness felt by the natiuon during and after the olympics is something that just doesn't exist in football today- the arrogance, high wages and media scripted players of today really have sapped everything that is good for fans out of the game.

 

The Olympics was a great example of what an idealistic football world should be, something which the England Manager Roy Hodgeson was keen to pick up on...

 

However, with all due respect, aren't you the exact type of player and person who has contibuted to the way football currently is? I couldn't imagine Mo Farah pulling a moony to the non- British fans or Usain Bolt blaitently kicking Tyson Gaye??

 

Despite your actions, I do respect your honesty and like the fact that you have made a website so that constuctive debate like this can take place with fans.. Please follow up your opinion with actions this season.

 

Keep up the good work. 

maccadooby
maccadooby

Well done Joey, I don't agree with a lot of your stuff but I agree with every word of this. And refreshing to hear somebody in football to admit they were wrong about some things and face up to their own faults. At the end of these games, which I'm really missing like you, there is a chance to try and change football's attitude - clubs, owners, players and fans. I don't think there is anybody better than you to carry the torch on this, as if anybody could highlight change it's you with what you have said and your history.

 

I'm right behind you on this. If you can show a change in attitude during the coming season I'm sure you will still get plenty of stick from the mindless idiots in the crowd. But keeping the moral high ground, as hard as it would be, could start to spread to other players and hopefully fans very very slowly. Let's start a campaign Joey!

DaveyTimeForChange
DaveyTimeForChange

Great to see this thread generating (mostly) well-informed opinion of what's wrong with the national game.

Now, how to get more exposure?  Maybe Joey you could start a Facebook page where real fans who feel the same can show support by joining in their thousands or hopefully millions.

No doubt the movers & shakers in the football industry won't want it to succeed but it's time the fans got a better deal.

 

Earnie Important
Earnie Important

The salary cap has worked in US sports obviously with a few grumbles and gripes but in terms of the general, spoiled, over-entitlement, often disinterest of players, that's a thing of the past because the whole team in MLS is on a budget and the first 20 players selected are subject to it so if you're you're playing for both your place and wage.

 

The extreme dominance of the top teams is also a thing of the past over there. Their Man Cities and Uniteds, Reals and Barcas simply can't just buy a title anymore. Not only does this open the competition up more, it ensures parity and honesty and last but not least, if you can't pay your foreign superstars extortionate amounts of wages, you're looking to homegrown talent and while the cap is not head-per-head the foreigner can only get a maximum of what anyone else gets. This may lessen the influx of continental talent coming to the Premiere League eventually, but in the meantime, it would produce a lot more home grown first team players. This would bode well for our future international aspirations and also be a much more convincing advert for the English Premiere league.

 

In the same way the Olympics was. A presentation of home grown talent primarily. And the reason the Olympics were so enjoyable for the vast amount of people watching in Great Britain was due to the fact that we did rather well. We won a lot of medals and we were slow-starting to do so. But once  we had won a few, the floodgates opened, the confidence soared the expectations became higher. This is the "Role Model" syndrome. You see your countryman achieve and you can see yourself do it. This could be English football with a savvy Salary Cap introduced. 

 

So patriotism was one of the factors, the local-boy did good is an easy hero for anyone. But the main reason that football has become so detached from its avid faithful supporters is financially. Most of kicked a ball around the streets as young-uns. Most dreamed of that job, and the younger ones, perhaps that lifestyle, but the achievement was the real dream. That's gone now. It's been silenced with money. The relationship between fan and star-player has to. There's no empathy there. There's a few England players face's we quietly revel in seeing after defeat as some sort of resentful consolation. I won't name them, but nobody likes or respects them because of their ego/superstar not-cutting-it persona.

 

Money is the problem. It is the root of all evil, after all. Cap it. Those who protest? Good riddance. They are mercenaries anyway. Like you can't live extravagantly and never work again after retirement on just a quarter of some of these wages. There's plenty of kids out there who take a quarter. I dare say, there's plenty who'd do their dream job for free.

amanojyaku23
amanojyaku23

You mention the example of Usain Bolt as someone who openly interacts with the crowds. In football if a player interacts with the crowd be it through an emotive goal celebration they are punished by the authorities. They are being pushed by those who run the game into being robots.

NealRayner
NealRayner

I stopped watching top level football a few years back (around the time I saw the documentary from a referees perspective when he was being abused by Adams but couldn't do anything about it). So did many of my friends for many of the reasons listed in this article. I've even given up watching England, which just shouldn't be the case.

I was at the Olympics on Super Saturday and had a fantastic time.

These are the things that would possibly bring me back:

 

* Stop shouting at referees like children. Punish those that do in a way that matters enough that the clubs will want to the players to stop it.

* Stop the cheating. Even if not spotted during a match, if there are clear dives and cheating then punishment should come. To the team as well as the player.

* Same with goals. If a bad call that disallowed a goal or allowed a goal that is clearly wrong after the game, do something about it.

* Don't let football dominate the media. The weekend after Le Mans, the radio and print news still led with some prima donna being paid too much to move from one corporate entity  to another.

* Stop shouting at referees like children.

* Get pundits to talk in the right tense. If they are talking about events in a game they should be in the past tense, not the present tense.

* Stop wingey managers from blaming everything but a poor porformance.

* Get rid of that old Seb Blatter bloke that seems to run world football with his head in the sand. Bring in fresh blood.

* Stop shouting at referees like children.

NobleWorld
NobleWorld

Some very good points made in the article and the below comments. Clearly money in football is out of control, but the people complaining about it are the ones contributing to it - by watching it, reading about it and even talking about it.

 

 Football is almost too big, because there are so many people involved. Football as a whole needs to be reminded who pays for it all, ultimately - the fans. The only way to do that is to stay away for one weekend, everyone just not go to a PL game, not watch it on TV, nothing. If enough people do this to have a damaging affect on the clubs, then people will start to take notice of fans beliefs. Unfortunately, this will never happen...

Jones888
Jones888

 @DawsonFortune

 Don't agree with a lot here, when have you ever heard an Olympian appeal for a car? Dawin Chambers, Justin Gatlin competed after they got caught taking drugs? Also do you honestly believe so many footballers take drugs? And the chinesse swimmer didn't get drug tested after the question was asked due to her freakishly good times...

Jim_Clark_94
Jim_Clark_94

 @richards12345 you raise some pretty valid points, has Joey really changed? I think he has, obviously I can't really tell, but I support him. The image that he demonstrates via this website (which is great by the way) and twitter, is of a reformed intelligent, pretty good footballer. Sure I think it's good Joey is attempting to connect with the fans via this webpage but he should be doing more in the neighbourhood, if this is how strongly he believes about this issue. Anyway i'm not sure if that makes sense haha.

AngelGabriel66
AngelGabriel66

 @JohnStirzaker

 Im at Kettering Town Fan - and your right - I only watched one premier league game last year because I just cant relate to it

CraiigCB11
CraiigCB11

@Pow78 All athletes wearing GB kit are professional athletes. Only the Boxing is actually amateur.

DaveyTimeForChange
DaveyTimeForChange

 @Joey B

 Fair enough, this is about what football can learn from the Olympics.  However this implies that the Olympics inspired & moved people in a way which football hasn't done for a long time and so "What can football learn from the Olympics" can also be read as "What did the Olympics do right that football isn't doing?"  A lot of relevant issues have been raised here, many of which are routinely dismissed by the F.A., F.I.F.A., pundits etc. 

I've never supported any of the teams you've played for, however despite your chequered history I see you as a man who has the courage of his convictions and also as a man of action which all too damm rare in football these days.

Joey B
Joey B

 @tompasp i agree but it has to start somewhere. Maybe we can all start this process together?

Joey B
Joey B

 @NealRayner I agree with some of the points. They are attainable in a reasonably short time. Some of the others points, well we might need a magic wand. I think the focus must be on what we can change short term, mid-term and maybe just maybe the game will be much better for it long term. There needs to be some accountability from FA/clubs/players towards the fans IMO. Its gone too far now and unless its addressed and very quickly at that, I feel football runs the risk of alienating the very people that keep the industry strong.

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