David Hannant: I think I might be starting to hate football

Mario Vrancic - what's not to like? Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Mario Vrancic - what's not to like? Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

I think I might actually hate football. There, I said it.

Obviously, not really. I am a chap who is known for making slightly odd choices from time to time, but taking on a bi-weekly column about football would number among my most odd if I actually did hate it.

However, these past few weeks without it have perhaps exposed me to far more of the things I do genuinely hate about it.

In the interest of balance, I’ll point out some of the reasons I like it first - otherwise this column would probably be dreary enough to send you all flocking into dark rooms, drawing the curtains and listening to nothing but I Know It’s Over by The Smiths on a loop for several hours on end.

I love watching a free flowing move end with a brilliant goal. I love seeing somebody hammer a thunderbolt into the top corner.

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I love the feeling of community you get out of sharing a love of the game with somebody.

I love being able to strike up a meaningful conversation with just about anybody from the moment you learn they also love it.

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I love the adrenaline you get when a stadium roars off its feet when your team scores.

I love Mario Vrancic, in general.

Footballers are well paid, no doubt ... but right now they are in the firing line Picture: Paul Che

Footballers are well paid, no doubt ... but right now they are in the firing line Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

There are just so, so many things I love about football, I don’t really need to list any more - anybody else who loves the beautiful game will already know why, because they feel the same.

However, in its absence and particularly in the past few weeks, I have been reminded about so many more of the awful things that exist in the game - things that have truly come to light amid the talks of bringing back the game.

I should start off by pointing out that none of these things is the fault of those who actually play the game – quite the opposite. It’s more those who regulate it that have got my goat.

Obviously, football players are, in many ways, lucky.

They get to do the thing they love to do the most for a living and, in many cases, earn millions upon millions to do it.

However, this doesn’t stop them from still being human beings, with families, with children and with loved ones, many of whom they might be unable to see.

But in these past few weeks I have seen and read many things that suggest that those in charge of their profession do not seem to see them in that way.

Sure, they are paid handsomely, but they should be treated like any other person, or employee.

Their immediate futures are being formulated – very publicly – by people who clearly could not give a toss about them.

If Project Restart goes ahead as planned, players will be asked to go out onto a field with 21 other men, most of whom will be spitting, sweating and god knows what else, within close proximity of them, in little over a month.

After they have finished doing this, will they be able to go to see their mum for a meal? No, because that would be unsafe.

It just doesn’t add up.

And this is one of the main things that is making me start to hate football - the fact it becomes clear that those running the game see players as commodities, not as human beings.

It is often claimed footballers are put on pedestals, but if this is putting them on pedestals, they are damned wobbly ones.

Then there’s all the talk of doing everything but null and void the season - while also harping on about ‘sporting merit’ and ‘sporting integrity’.

For me, the only way there is any integrity is if all 38 fixtures are played under identical conditions – controllable ones anyway.

I honestly believe it is better to write off the season than bring in empty, neutral stadiums now.

In my last column, I made it known how much I hate the idea of behind closed doors, but a whole campaign of it would at least be better than bringing it in 70pc through. At least then the playing field is level.

And, for the record, I would feel this way regardless of whether City were 20th, 10th or first (that said, I would crown Liverpool, they clearly aren’t being caught).

Which brings me onto the other thing I realise I hate about football – the constant bickering, which is almost always completely riddled with double standards.

I’m so sick of seeing fans of certain clubs trying to vilify others for their opinions. Debate is great, debate is healthy, but when it just turns into name-calling and shaming is it really a debate any more? Only in football, and maybe politics, does debate degenerate into dirt-slinging so quickly. Whether it’s questioning motives, shameless self interest peddling or just vitriol, when it comes to football, it doesn’t take long to get ugly.

So no, I don’t really hate football, but there is plenty to hate about its world right now.

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