Qatar World Cup ultimate proof that football does not love us back

Greed, cost and questionable sponsors all add to sense of football’s disdain for fans

Do you ever catch yourself falling out of love? Or the joy fading daily from you bit by bit? It’s a tricky thing to do, to end a relationship you’ve been in for, quite frankly, your whole life.

Football and I have had a great run of it. Multiple years of outlandish bragging as a Barcelona fan and multiple more years of misery as an Irish fan. The soaring highs when women’s football plays out an insane thriller, the crushing lows when watching a 0-0 game featuring Burnley, who refused to be relegated in men’s football, adding misery to my life with every fleeting defensive performance.

Football has given me Lionel Messi, Ronaldinho, Marta, Becky Sauerbrunn, Christen Press, Robert Lewandowski, Amber Barrett, Shane Long and countless other idols. Football has given me great days out, as a Cork City fan winning the league after so many years, Cork City women’s winning the domestic cup, Barcelona trouncing Celtic making that Ryanair flight home so much easier with my brother.

Football has been an experience, a joy to behold, an emotional rollercoaster that will never have enough words to summarise.


But, given the state of the world and men’s football, I have finally found myself falling out of love. I don’t rush Saturday morning breakfast with my nieces and nephew to catch whatever game is on BT. I no longer scorn friends who make plans that clash with Super Sundays. Life, and football, have just become monotonous.

I know that the soulless, hollow product available to football fans at the touch of a button (and the payment of a monthly ransom fee) is now entirely unrecognisable to years gone by. It’s not the players or the managers at fault. It’s the other shareholders who have sucked every possible emotion out of it in the name of capitalism.

Add to that the soulless drivel being passed as a World Cup in Qatar. Ironically, Sky recently threw out a documentary about Italia ‘90 and how much it changed football and the world for the better. Fans were on a high, life was good, and politically things were looking up. Maybe that’s the issue now. With so much doom and gloom going on in the world, it’s nearly impossible to justify football as a release, as those at the bottom of the ladder – players and fans – suffer from the political decisions made without consultation.

Italia ‘90 was seen as the beginning of the good times. Fans were hyped up, media outlets were open to new ideas, and Italy brought a World Cup that included music, art, theatre, drama and culture, and a feast of football.

Likewise for South Africa 2010. While it also had issues with a country being crippled financially by hosting a World Cup, South Africa brought culture, flair, freedom and global harmony . . . and, of course, Waka Waka by Shakira.

Now, the World Cup is marred with human rights abuses, stories about fans not being safe, bribes, terror and modern-day slavery. Football and its governing body became a world of no consequences.

Gianni Infantino, the current president of Fifa, is same guy who doesn’t want the players bringing political statements to Qatar. The political statement, in this instance, is a rainbow flag supporting members of the LGBTQ community who are either arrested or killed for being their authentic selves in Qatar.

The final nail in the doom and gloom coffin came with an ITV report that suggested women, along with members of the LGBTQ communities, might have to use safe houses after the football association in Wales conceded it couldn’t guarantee fan safety in Qatar. Bad enough trying to rekindle your love with the sport, but knowing it’ll never love you back is a kick in the gut.

The only upside and bright light for the future of football is the fact the women’s game remains untouched by grubby hands. The petrodollars aren’t there and it’s a safer space for minority fans to exist. The players are all decent role models; purity and honesty is still in the game. VAR can’t be blamed, there’s very little diving or feigning injuries, teams can always spring a surprise, and it’s actually a huge moment.

Football, for now, I don’t love you. The obsession with capitalism, the infiltration of greedy characters, and the addiction to changing the beautiful game are tearing you apart. It won’t end because of this article, but while the World Cup hopes to swallow viewers with drama and hype, this fan will be sitting and sulking, wondering where the world went so wrong.