Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The fascination of football (soccer)

The GAA may have its problems, but at least, as Kevin Myers reminded us this week, we don't have to loathe ourselves for our interest in Gaelic games. Boggers, culchies, whatever we may be, we don't feel sordid or seamy because of our fascination with the GAA. 
Kevin Myers"I despise the entire modern obsession with soccer, with its flash, overpaid, oafish stars, and their brainless shopaholic molls; and, worst of all, their cretinous tribes of supporters. And that's the real measure of the power of soccer in modern culture. Even the unwilling are drawn to take sides. We cannot resist experiencing powerful feelings over contests in which we logically should have no emotional or intellectual interest." 
What struck me is how Myers' opinion of modern football resonates with Michel Platini's. Remember him? Socks rolled down to his ankles, shirt untucked, almost ambling about the pitch--the antithesis of today's athletic, brylcreem-sponsored, diamond-studded footballers. 
Platini's irreverent style on the pitch has now been transformed, as President of UEFA, into displeasure for what he considers the perversion of football. There's something wrong, he says, with modern football's relationship with money and he wants to change that. Platini knows that football will not survive if it continues with its commercial indulgence and extravagance at the expense of the grassroots. Platini wants to salvage "the game" and "let the fascination of sport prevail over the fascination for money". 
There's not much razzle dazzle in GAA. There's no fraud. Nobody feels compelled to watch it. And the GAA is all the better for it.

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