Things EVERYBODY hates about modern football
Now, FFT doesn't want to go all Yer Da' on things – we'd much prefer to celebrate the game than go all Against Modern Football on you.
But we're not robots. Who can't help but quietly seethe – or not so, if most living rooms are to be heard – about the trivial issues that litter matches and post-match drawl? Robots, we say.
Recently we asked the question on Twitter about what annoys you most about modern football... and we listened. Below are many of your (more reasonable) answers, plus dozens more that Team FFT have chucked in for good measure.
Finish second? Lost a final? Must be a bottler, the new reductive term for anyone good not quite good enough. Slack-jawed schadenfreude with a superiority complex, it’s about as mature and intelligent as saying “cowardy custard”.
Managed social media accounts
Neutered comment. Vanilla advertising. Homogenised bonhomie. Carefully cultivated commercial capitalisation. Sanitised parings from the pristine fingernails of the privileged. The communicational equivalent of chlorinated chicken.
Scoring goals is the fundamental point of football; it shouldn’t need the blue pill of organised fun. If your team’s scored you should be too busily engaged in orgasmic ecstasy to join in with the chanting equivalent of line-dancing to a post-ironic reclaimed 70s circle-jerk.
People filming themselves at games
There’s a reason the seats point toward the pitch. You’re not the star of the show here, no matter how many inspirational slogans you’ve painted on your kitchen wall. And if in years to come you can’t remember that you went to match: maybe it was rubbish.
Tabloid 'stories' that aren't fucking stories
In the old days, there were entertaining fabrications. Now, we just get the boring bits of the internet regurgitated into “content”. The other night, one outlet ran “Here’s what Liverpool fans are saying about Philippe Coutinho’s goal” – while the Reds were still playing Bayern Munich.
Justice Taylor suggested a £6 ceiling should suffice. Fat chance. “Progress” allowed us to be squeezed like lemons till the pips squeak. Be careful, football: finance is finite, and our entertainment options have never been broader.
Not so much kicking a cripple as haranguing a happy idiot, but come on. A scarf is the physical carrier of the tribal emblem under which we march into figurative battle. It shouldn’t have the other lot’s badge on it. Even if it’s a final.
Players feigning injury
The footballing equivalent of blue-badge abusers, these mardy gets roll about until they either con the ref or waste enough time. Some might suggest convicted feigners should be inflicted with an equal injury. We just suggest they grow up.
George Orwell wrote that “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.” Imagine how he’d feel about the emptiness engendered by the modern curse of the clicktease.
Oi! I’ve paid good money here, mate! Even when it’s your own team doing it, you should be racked by twin fears: one, the death of joy; two, the chance they might lose it and the opposition will score a goal applauded in heaven.
Inaccuracy of stoppage time
Time is money. In most games the ball’s out of play for somewhere between 30 and 45 minutes; don’t deprive us of our last knockings, the final sip of the drink, the concluding mouthful of ice cream. Extend our fun. And count all the substitutions, dammit.
Lack of appetite for safe standing
For tragic reasons a generation has grown up without knowing the joy of (safe) terracing. The atmosphere. The conversations. The flexibility. The connection to a tradition. We can do this. We should do this. Pop down the pyramid, try it, and live a little. Stretch your legs.
Away kits being worn for contractual reasons
Back in the day, West Ham’s change kit might go unseen for most of the season. Now we get carefully choreographed release schedules and a “first chance to see”. It’s nonsense, and it’s designed to bilk us. Our club, our badge, our colours.
A 'respect' campaign that doesn't work
We want passion in football, but passion doesn’t have to be a spittled-flecked oral assault on a referee for giving the other team a decision which you know was right anyway. We’re with Half Man Half Biscuit: “Wouldn’t it be fun if they gave the ref a gun?”
Clubs stockpiling young players
Talent-farming will always happen but there’s something particularly sad about the hopes of youngsters being cultivated then cropped for purely financial gain. It’s capitalism gone mad, and our children are the victims.
The EFL Trophy in its current guise
Some of the ideas and intentions were good, but their ham-fisted application and tin-eared explanation have led to a widespread revolt through the fans’ greatest underused strength: withdrawal of support.
UEFA’s fines for racism
Many things are hyperbolised as offensive. Racism actually is offensive, and so is UEFA’s half-arsed wrist-slapping for some of the vilest filth ruining our game. The money’s there. Confiscate it and give it to suitable charities.
Not using VAR properly
TV couldn’t wait to introduce it. Now it’s the gift that keeps giving. Badly applied, poorly explained and ill-defined, it’s threatening to ruin the single greatest thing that gets us all watching: the post-goal moment of ecstasy.
“He’s finished it really well.” Thanks mate, we can see that. Tell us what we don’t know. No really, tell us what only you, who played at the highest level, can bring to the conversation which is more perceptive than the fat-arsed bloke at the end of the bar.
Kick-off times with no regards for away fans
We’ve all done the cross-country trip which starts before dawn or ends in the small hours. But the recent explosion of such occurrences has no excuse. Well, maybe one: TV money. Because you haven’t had enough of that, have you?
It’s hard to be a hero when you’re a walking ad-hoarding, every square inch of your upper body plastered with logos. Rwanda’s president paid £30m for his country’s name to grace the bulging biceps of the Arsenal squad.
Disregarding xG because you don't understand it
It’s not a perfect metric, neither wholly qualitative nor quantitative. But most of those who deride it do so because they don’t understand it and don’t like change. Anger comes from fear: in this case, it’s that the world is passing you by, Graeme.
Most, if not all, post-match interviews with players
These used to be dull because players were knackered, untalkative and not particularly illuminating. Now they’re almost always dull because players are untalkative, not particularly illuminating and have been media-trained to say nothing. Forget it.
Punditry has-beens still blocking new talent's path
This isn’t ageism, but meritocracy. There are Proper Football Men who are now stealing a living at the expense of people who are more interesting and intelligent, not to mention less bitter and outdated. Rejuvenation is required.
'Looking for a foul' being acceptable
The deliberately trailed leg is football’s equivalent of the ambulance chaser, the spam email, the scammer who robs your granny or the vampire at the window. Being invited in by the unwary is not a justification for shithousery. Stop endorsing it.
A 48-team World Cup, even if it hasn't happened yet
When heads were last counted, FIFA has 211 member countries. If almost a quarter of them qualify, it’s less an elite competition and more a bloated beanfeast. And that’s before we get into the maths of three-team groups: does nobody remember the Disgrace Of Gijon?
Indecipherable shirt sponsors
SportPesa. Laba360. Dafabet. FXPro. ManBetX. aap3. 12BET. 138.com. Fun88. M88. 188BET. 818.com. 888sport. One of those is made up. Whatever happened to good old-fashioned sponsors like Nobo and Broxap?
Players whose careers consist of endless loans
Boo the clubs for stockpiling kids, but at some point players have to get off the pot. Todd Kane has been at Chelsea since under-8 level. He’s never appeared for the first team but has had eight different loan clubs. He’s 25. It’s time, Todd.
Undisclosed transfer fees
Spoilsports. Don’t give us excuses about invasion of privacy, avoidance of tax, evasion of pressure. We want to know our entertainers’ pricetag, because we the fans paid for them, whether by tickets, TV deals or your endless merchandising opportunities. Your spend might be net; ours is gross.
Hot takes. Selective memories. Unacknowledged U-turns. Confirmation bias. Unfettered bias. Social-media recycling. Misleading headlines. Controversy-stoking. Fatuous space-filling. Not only can journalism be better than this, it must.
Scoreboard sponsorship of corners, throw-ins etc
“Goal! Make sure you ‘score’ with Lynx Africa!” “This corner was brought to you by Alf’s Garage - right around the corner!” “This water break is sponsored by AquaFleecer – like a tap, but more expensive!” “Our pitch-invasion partner is Rentokil!”
Daft sponsorship deals
Manchester United have official partners for digital transformation, global lubricant and fuel retail, coffee, hotel loyalty, mattress and pillows, logistics, music, spirits, wine, tyres, medical systems, electrical styling, denim, ‘vision’ and paint. They have a paint partner.