Follow the Money

By Old, John | International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship, October 2008 | Go to article overview

Follow the Money


Old, John, International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship


The editor of this journal knows better than to argue with me about soccer, as I have one irrefutable postion to fall back on: I was there. By 'there' I mean Wembley for the World Cup Final of 1966; more specifically, behind the net where Geoff Hurst scored that goal. So don't talk to me about technology: I know what I saw.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

But the odd thing is that these days I don't give a monkey's about international football. No, that's wrong: I actually dislike it and wish it would go away. Once upon a time I would feel pride if a player from the team I supported were selected for an international, or a sense of personal affront if they were dropped. Now I groan if they get the call-up, and pray that they don't play in case they end up injured or worn out. It's an attitude that was probably best expressed by a Liverpool fan who, when asked "Would you rather Liverpool won the Premier League, or England the World Cup?", answered: "I'd rather Liverpool won a throw-in."

It's fans like us that people like FIFA probably don't like, as they reckon we are helping to make the clubs too powerful, and that we will be the death of the international game. Where's our patriotism?

But this attitude is not unique to soccer, nor to England. No-one could accuse Americans of a lack of patriotism. Yet apart from a four-yearly outburst at the Olympics, and to a lesser extent the Ryder Cup, and despite the huge money that American sports fans are willing to spend, they stubbornly insist on following what to the rest of the world appear to be arcane and minority sports, and don't seem to miss 'international' competition. And cricket fans from the subcontinent are among the most passionate in the world, but the big money is flowing into the IPL, not Test cricket. …

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