RIP Football: Death of the Beautiful Game
This article has been on my head since the World Cup finished in the rainbow nation about 6 months ago. I just had a feeling that football would never be the same again. The beautiful game saw so many upsets, scandals and scary occurrences that blew my mind. Football died in 2010!
Before the ardent supporters of the game crucify me; let me intimate you with some of the highlights of 2010. The soccer World Cup is easily the most prestigious competition in the World, arguably bigger than even the Olympics. Every 4 years, die-hard soccer fans look out for the spectacular competition in summer. South Africa showcased its stride in infrastructure development but the catch is in the manner of upsets and bizarre events that surrounded the competition.
Let me start with the Nigerian team.
A number of records were set or almost set. We had 2 players who contributed new words to the dictionary. A certain blockhead named Sanni Keita who successfully destroyed Nigeria’s chances of progressing to the 2nd round of the first World Cup played on African soil. The new word Keita means to single-handedly destroy the hope of a nation and can also stand for stupid and imbecile. He also ensured that Greece recorded their first ever win in the World Cup. The other record setter is Yakubu. One commentator said that it was harder to miss that goal than score it. Mr. Ayegbeni flashed his trademark nonchallant smile after missing a chance that could have been converted by my 20 months old daughter. The other funny aspect of it all was that Nigeria could have qualified from that group despite going into the final game on 0 point.
I am sure you are grumbling and thinking that the above is no near bizarre and an indication that football is dead. You are right. The real absurdity started with a certain Octopus named Paul. The guy started his nonsense when he made correct predictions of most matches played at the European competition. But it went on another level in 2010 when he correctly predicted all the matches played by Germany and the final match between Spain and Holland.
I bet people thought it was funny but that spelled a lot of doom for the game if we think about it very well. Imagine the billionaires in the World like a certain Russian man and others like him who own clubs in England buying Paul. That would have removed the adrenaline produced at the highest level when the top leagues in the World are in session. If not for Arsenal FC in England; Paul would still be living and predicting league games in the World today. Thankfully, he was asked when Arsenal was going to win the Champions league. The resultant thought process in answering such a JAMB question killed this creature. If he didn’t die from that exercise; he would have died sooner or later as a result of the Nigerian political scene. Some politicians were already contemplating killing him before he predicts who would become Nigeria’s president in 2011. I have a feeling that another animal is being prepared to take over from Paul; such is the indignity that the beautiful game has been subjected to.
As if the obscenity would end with that drama. We witnessed the most bloody and tensed final in the history of the World Cup with the referee losing count of the cards he distributed. But the drama in 2010 was not about to end on the field of play. FIFA has always dragged along an air of corruption but they were finally exposed with Mr. Amos Adamu in the forefront. An Ogbomoso man who started claiming Northern ancestry just to rise in the football administration sphere in Nigeria; he has never been a man of integrity but FIFA continued allowing him to be in their midst. I guess he would have continued his dance of shame if the bribery allegation was not exposed. This was a killer for the game because now we know that it is a possibility that some matches were won with bribes paid to FIFA officials who in turn used their powers to sway decisions for their preferred teams.
And when we eventually got to find out the hosts of the 2018 and 2022 games; my suspicion of the death of the game came out stronger than ever. Let’s even give it to Russia based on their glorious past as a football power house in the days of the Soviet Union but QATAR! Gosh, that hurts. In fact, the World cup calendar will most likely be changed because of this anomaly. The traditional June time table might be changed to January to avoid the searing heat of the oil rich country. I am happy for Qatar but I am sad for the beautiful game. Do the people even love football? A country that will most likely never qualify on their own for the World Cup is now going to host the showpiece of World Football. Well, that gives countries like Swaziland, Lesotho etc a chance to play in the World Cup. Just sell your Oil well, ensure you don’t waste the money on corrupt leaders and other frivolities, make sure to blackmail bigger and traditional football nations like England and voila – you will host the World Cup.
As football died disgracefully in 2010; the insult continued with the announcement of the FIFA World player of the year award. In a World Cup year, it is a no-brainer that performance during the competition goes a long way to crown the winner. But in the run of the anomalies that was the trademark of 2010; the tides changed yet again. Messi no doubt is a fine footballer. A passionate and dedicated player who knows his onions but his World Cup performance didn’t quite meet up. I expected a Spanish footballer to win this award and then Messi could win it again in 2011 based on his club performance.
Finally, the joke is now on us. This last point eventually nailed the coffin on Football. A body called the International Federation of Football History and Statistics has just named Arsenal Coach – Arsene Wenger as the coach of the decade. I hope you can figure out the humor in that.
As for me, I won’t take the game with any iota of seriousness again. It is time to watch when no other serious thing is going on. RIP Football! We will surely miss you.