Sportsmanship, respect, emotion and humility at family-friendly Olympic events a breath of fresh air compared to bile, bigotry and tribalism at top-level football
TEAM GB’s predictable penalty shoot-out exit from the men’s football event at the Olympic Games seemed to sneak under the radar as our heroes of track and field rightly hogged the limelight.
The London 2012 Olympic Games has been a real eye-opener for football on a number of levels. One, it shows just what can be achieved when modern sports methods are embraced rather than sneered at.
The revolution in British cycling continued apace with medals won and records broken.
That’s the reward for the continuity that has existed in the sport in the 14 years since lottery funding was introduced.
Lessons have been learned, knowledge banked and expertise tapped into.
It makes a mockery of football on these islands, which only now is recognising its faults and trying to address it.
Even then, in England’s case, having forward thinking at the bottom and Roy Hodgson at the top makes little sense. he atmosphere at the Games has also been one to behold. So far we’ve witnessed truly family-friendly events, stripped of the bile and the bigotry that continues to flow like a dirty river through top-level football.
It was telling that one of the few unsavoury moments of the Games should come in men’s football – the booing of Luis Suarez (below) when he faced Team GB, an act that those responsible could not even suppress for Uruguay’s national anthem.
At the best of times, it should be condemned, in the Premier League it’s accepted, in this context – an event where sportsmanship, humility and respect reigned – it was exposed for what it is: petty, small-time tribalism.
It was all a bit sad
Treally and a moment perhaps when football should have looked itself in the mirror and been disgusted by what it saw.
For those not familiar with athletics, cycling, judo, badminton and the rest, the TV interviews with the sportsmen and women have also been like a breath of fresh air compared to the stale soundbites of football.
Gone is the attitude, the clichéd responses born of media training and the general air of disinterest that seems to plague every footballer interview. In their place came traits too often missing in football-related one to ones – honesty, real emotion and some muchneeded humility.
That’s not to say footballers aren’t capable of all of that.
In fact, one of the quotes of the London 2012 Games so far came from a footballer.
Asked if Britain could beat Brazil if they got past South Korea (which of course they didn’t), Craig Bellamy answered: “That is you English. You look too far ahead. “That is what you lot do. That’s why you struggle. “I watch England fans sometimes and see the way they react and think, ‘Be careful, you could go out in the next game’.
“It is brilliant that football can generate that buzz. But also there is luck.
“Even going into injury-time in our Team GB game the other night, I didn’t think we were through.
“I am Welsh. I don’t think we are going to come second in the tournament or whatever – I just want to try to beat South Korea.” That’s another lesson to be learned right there.
With all this fresh in the mind, can we can we expect anything different from football players, football fans and the football authorities next season?
Simple answer. Can we bollocks.