Football today in one of the most important elements in some people’s lives. Football today has grown in every direction and gone almost everywhere around the world. Spanning in different directions and aimed at all audiences, football is truly a world sport. It has even reached the most closed off nation in the world, North Korea, a country that participated in the 2010 WC in South Africa. Football today can, in many ways be considered more than a sport.
The intense passion and joy that fans evoke will watching a game is phenomenal. The sheer amount of costumes, shirts, flags, banners and so on make a football match an unforgettable experience. Most recently, the vuvuzelas in South Africa lifted the atmosphere. I will return to the issue of South Africa later on. Saturday afternoon football in England churns out millions of fans all willing to shout and cheer for the best part of two hours. Whether their team be first or last the stadiums are almost always full to the brim. Fans are rarely affected by the price of tickets and they will continue going. This underlies their passion and support, they will keep going to the games no matter what.
Football has also become a world industry. The profits from the football clubs are not necessarily immense, in many ways they lose a lot of money. However, the amount of money that people use in order to watch football is immense. Ticket prices have soared in recent years and the cost of shirts and other paraphernalia of the club you support will be expensive. The amount of money people devote and fork out every year is huge. The merchandise and marketing could be compared to that of leading brands such as Sony or Microsoft. The amount of money spent on contracts and sales of players generate huge amounts of cash for the clubs. As I said earlier, even though the profits of the clubs are not that substantial, many clubs, such as Manchester United carry huge debts the money flows in and with more clever investments and sales they could be very profitable clubs. The amount of money in football is more than in any other sport and this is one of the reasons that football can be considered as more than a sport.
A second reason would be the media attention devoted to football alone. Many, many blogs, articles, reports stats and more are published daily. This highlights the passion that people carry for this sport. To come to the example of South Africa. A whole nation, and for that matter, the whole continent exploded into joy, not just when the vote results were announced but most importantly during the actual event. Having been to one of the games myself I can safely say that this was like nothing one could ever experience. The life and enthusiasm of the place was absolutely phenomenal. For a country laden with economic and social problems and huge unemployment the atmosphere gave away none of these underlying problems. The WC was an absolute success and the patriotism demonstrated by the African nations was surprising. A situation we are all too unfamiliar with in Europe. How often did you see a English fan supporting Spain, rarely. How often did you see a Dutch fan, or for that matter, any fan supporting the German team, never. The passion and attention the game receives is much to important to consider football merely a sport. It is almost a different world.
The WC in Africa provided an escape for people, which brings me to my final point. To escape the dull, mundane, every day life, people need to escape and find themselves in a world or space where they enjoy themselves in. For the Premier League crowd, the saturday afternoon football is the afternoon off and away from any troubles one might have. For South Africa, it was almost the birth of a new nation. The football in itself, whether it be Arsenal or Wigan, Bolton or Wrexham doesn’t matter. It’s not all about the game anymore. It is about the experience of sitting, watching, shouting, waving, blowing (only applies for WC), drinking and more. We have to come to terms with the fact that today, football is much more than a sport.