Football is all about passion, inspiration and entertainment. It’s a two-way relationship between the fans and the players, but what could it mean for this unique link if UEFA was to introduce a multi-country format for the 2020 European Championships?
By Rob Boulton
Football clubs only exist due to the loyal supporters who make huge sacrifices and invest a lifetime of devotion travelling all over the world maxing out credit cards to follow the clubs they love.
The fortunes being paid for TV rights to cover the major leagues in world football highlight just what a boom time this is for the sport. However Sky, ESPN and all the other major broadcasters would soon remove their cash if a crucial goal was scored and their 150 cameras in the stadium concentrated on people sat eating nacho’s and drinking coffee barely even aware a major moment in the game had occurred.
You see when you truly love a football team you dream of the ball hitting the back of the net, and in that one moment all your nerves, hopes and gut wrenching anxiety are forgotten as you lose complete control of your emotions and scream, jump and basically frenzy about (normally all over the poor soul unlucky enough to be seated next to you). This raw, unscripted reaction is exactly what the TV companies love as it captures passions no other sport can come near to being displayed by thousands. Now even in super slow-motion to add even more drama to the pictures being beamed around the world.
In spite of the best efforts of the authorities and those who run world football, enough die-hard supporters still get into games to keep that passion alive, and, whilst I’d never condone any of the behaviour seen at Manchester City on Sunday, it did warm my heart slightly that people who cared that much for their football team had made it into the stadium ahead of Roy Keane’s now infamous “prawn sandwich brigade”. Attacking players and throwing coins just because your team have been beaten in the last-minute is pathetic, but in that moment watching their bitterest rivals celebrating right in front of them a few thugs lost all control – but you only lose control if you’re hurting so much you don’t know what else to do to show your frustration.
Every team has supporters like this, and whilst the Daily Mail may try to tell you they’re the scum of society, they’re simply people who are utterly devoted to their football side and that devotion can at times make them behave in a way they never would in any other situation in their lives. The England national team has always attracted vociferous, passionate and dedicated supporters. Whilst the vast majority are there purely for the football and to enjoy themselves, a tiny minority feel it is their right to smash-up whatever town they find themselves in and unleash terror on the local people – or normally rival nation’s supporters who are equally lacking in brain cells to believe that violence is the answer to all of life’s social dilemma’s.
Perhaps it is the cost and concern at managing these kind of people that has made UEFA experiment with the idea of spreading the 2020 European Championships across the whole of Europe, as it certainly isn’t being done with the travelling football supporter in mind. You can understand the premise, spread the excitement of a major tournament to as many cities as possible to maximise the impact (and most importantly revenues). Whilst at the same time keeping all the major European football nations happy as they all get a share of the pie in terms of TV revenue and match day income.
If ever an idea shouted “We don’t want working class people at this event” it would have to be this as you’d have to be willing to spend astronomical amounts of money to jump on and off planes and book into hotels charging ten times their normal rates if you wanted to be part of the travelling circus this will undoubtedly become. Thinking about it from UEFA’s point of view, it would almost nullify any chance of hooliganism as there would be no time to physically move enough people to cause major trouble – and the costs mentioned before mean even the hooligans might think this is one event not worth their unwanted involvement.
This would then leave stadiums occupied mainly by the host nation’s supporters, allowing even more tickets to be freed up for UEFA’s evil “football family” of commercial partners who want seats on the half way line for their vast cash sponsorship deals. The ultimate scenario would be sanitised stadia bereft of enough people who genuinely care, so whilst UEFA might arm people with flags and gimmicks to visualise passion and create an atmosphere, we all know manufactured passion will never come close to replicating the true, tribal love only a genuine football supporter can provide.
This may be a glimpse into the future of major football events. UEFA have already made their showpiece club finals such as the Champions League so extortionately expensive that only the wealthy or lucky few will ever get to actually witness the pinnacle of their team’s achievement in person. So this is the exact same thing happening with international football and by throwing in the travel chaos on top of the extortionate ticket prices they’re ensuring only the kind of people they really want to be there will be able to be there.
Is it a good or bad idea to play such a major international tournament over so many countries? Tweet us @talkingbaws or comment below.