Saturday, 4 December 2010

Football For All

The other day I watched a film called Invictus, a lovely movie depicting how Nelson Mandela, in his quest to build a new nation, recognises the ability of sport (in this case, rugby) to touch every heart, regardless of circumstance or ability.
As an England fan I watched the build up for the announcement of the 2018 FIFA World Cup with anticipation but it seemed far removed from those ideals of sport. Instead it seemed much more about the marketing of a huge money-making machine that is now international football, all decided in an opaquely secret manner by only 22 men as several countries vie for the honour of holding the finals.
It seemed of no use to a planet where 925 million people still do not have enough to eat, let alone a chance to play a sport. International football should not about turning the very gifted few into millionaires, it should be about teaching values of fair play, promoting healthy exercise as fun and providing cheap, easily accessible sporting entertainment to a global audience. It should be a league that represents every country and every person on this planet in the ideal that football is for all.
Of course, as an England fan, I was disappointed we did not win the bid. I was also horrified at how much had been spent on it. When we have a global recession with poverty steadily rising worldwide, this is how the we spend our money?
It occurred to me that international football has a monopoly. With no competition, it can demand what it likes, brand new stadiums, shiny logos, marketing tie-ins, pretty much whatever it wants. And so we have seen, pre-recession the growth and growth of a multi-million pound industry with no competition to hold it in check. What we need is not more world-class stadiums and expensive tickets and t-shirts, but another world league, a little healthy competition in international football.
So, to soothe my disappointment in state of the beautiful game, I thought about what that league would be:

The Football For All Global League (FFA)

This would consist of three equal global divisions:
Men's FFA
Women's FFA
Under 16's FFA (or youngsta's)

Then, every three years, with men's, women's and youngsta's teams in an international competition, everyone from every country can have a dream. Every country can compete as well, all they need to do is put together a team. Because, as everyone knows, all you need to play football is a ball, jumpers for goalposts and a lion in your heart.