Early Doors

Why do we hate football?

Early Doors

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Early Doors wouldn't normally recommend looking at the comments section of any story on this website, but one article yesterday summed up the public's feeling towards footballers.

It was the amazing tale of Warrington Wolves rugby league player Paul Wood, who ruptured a testicle in Saturday's Grand Final.

Wood then played the rest of the match (almost the entire second half) and fulfilled his media commitments before telling anybody about the injury.

Only then did he go to hospital where he underwent surgery to remove the testicle.

Pretty inspiring - and wince-inducing - stuff. A scan of Wood's hilariously matter-of-fact Twitter timeline is well worth it.

Of course, this is the internet. So rather than praise Wood's borderline-masochistic bravery, users took to the comments section to slag off footballers.

Here's a selection of contributions from the very first thread (and these are the more family-friendly ones)

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Let's ignore the logical flaws so huge you can see them from space, and marvel at the bile directed at a sport not even mentioned in the article.

ED's favourite bit is where a commenter called Rhys gets 25 thumbs down for daring to point out that Blackburn Rovers's Scott Dann suffered the self-same injury in a match last season.

Dann also played on - but Rhys's remark does fit the narrative, so let's get the clown off our forum!

However depressing it is that a story of sporting courage so quickly descends into pettiness, at least the desire to refer everything back to football confirms that our national game is in no danger of losing its status (even during the Olympics, British success was used as a stick with which to beat footballers).

Don't get ED wrong - there is plenty wrong with football. Greed, vanity and childishness pervade most areas of the game, as they do most sports.

Rugby Union has had its share of moments. The last few seasons have brought us the Bath drugs scandal, the laughable Bloodgate incident and the recent infernal wrangling over European TV money. Earlier this year county cricketer Mervyn Westfield was jailed for match-fixing.

(Note: this is not an invitation to slag off rugby and cricket - just a reminder that every sport has its share of demons.)

And yet the mud sticks to football. Why? Because we want it to.

Take the leading storylines from yesterday's Premier League games:

Liverpool v Stoke - Suarez gets stamped on, Suarez dives, everyone angry.
Tottenham v Aston Villa - Brad Friedel = Bambi. AVB = The guy who shot Bambi.
Newcastle v Man Utd - RVP clocks Yohan Cabaye / goal-line technology whinge #3,758

Notice any actual football? Thought not.

Yesterday also saw Barcelona and Real Madrid draw 2-2 in El Clasico - a game that has seen more than its share of violence, diving, cheating, acrimony and pigs' heads over the years.

So how did the Spain's fiercely partisan sporting press cover that one? With scant regard for the actual match and demented focus on peripheral controversies, ED guesses?

Well, no.

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Marca - From another planet - Messi and CR7 show why they are the best in the world
AS - Memorable! - Madrid and Barca give everything
Sport - Great game! - Emotion and goals in a Clasico that ends in a draw

Even the most one-eyed coverage, from Catalan daily El Mundo Deportivo, focuses squarely on the match, merely claiming that Barcelona deserved to win.

Such positivity does not appear to sell on these shores, where we have to puff ourselves up by scorning a small group of flawed individuals.

Who is responsible for this corrosive atmosphere?

Certainly members of the public who hypocritically declare themselves fed up with football while lapping up the latest John Terry scandal.

The media, of course, who prostitute their journalistic duty in favour of sensationalism and cheap thrills.

And the players, managers, agents and hangers-on whose frequently atrocious behaviour provokes such contempt also deserve a whack with a big stick.

This blog would be lying if it said it didn't often enjoy the cycle of recimination. Schadenfreude is a powerful emotion, and it can be immensely fun to point and laugh.

But behind the vicious pantomime there is still a brilliant sport. It might do to remember that every now and again.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: AVB on Tottenham's upcoming game against Chelsea: "It is obviously going to be a difficult game but we are showing a good level of competence. When you play an unbeaten leader, you can use that as motivation towards the game for us." Er... what?

FOREIGN VIEW: Last night's Clasico was billed as a Ballon d'Or showdown, and with two goals apiece Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo remain too close to call.

Jose Mourinho had a typically amusing take - declaring the award should be outlawed before, in the next breath, saying he wanted Ronaldo to win it.

"I don't want to have to think about the Ballon d'Or, choosing who is the best in the world should be banned," he said.

"They are two players from another planet.

"I would like one of my players to get the prize, one who was champion in the best league in the world."

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