I’m normally not the hard on crime kind of guy. In fact I think that the whole idea of revenge is totally overrated. I must admit however that the match fixing, both the allegations and the proved instances, makes me angry – very angry.
As a huge cycling fan I’m used to cheating in the shape of doping. I think that two years of suspension for a doped rider is an acceptable punishment. The worst part of doping cases as far as I’m concerned isn’t the actual cheating as much as the destruction of the narrative when you don’t know who’s winning and who’s losing until months after the event has come to a conclusion.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m very much against doping in cycling, but I don’t find it hard to understand why a lot of riders are tempted to cross the moral line and enhance their chance of winning. Professional cyclists work hard, much harder than most footballers and to a much lower wage, to be able to make a living of their sport. Doping is to a lot of the dopers just another kind of sacrifice, that doesn’t make their work any easier, but makes the chances of good results better. It’s wrong to cheat your opponents and to let people down, but one should remember that a lot of people are also let down if you don’t reach the results you and your team are striving for.
Footballers who lose a game on purpose are in my eyes much worse than doped cyclists. While cyclists dope to enhance the story of their career and the chances of personal glory, match fixers rig games to make some extra money by going against the profound soul of the game. Cyclists, and dopers in all other sports, dope to win, while match fixers cheat to lose. I don’t know if the difference means anything to you, but I know that I feel much more disgusted by the latter.
When you score an own goal on purpose you let your team down so much that it doesn’t even need description. All the dreams of your team mates, the staff, the fans are shattered by your pitiful, filthy behavior. Instead of aiming, via doping, for a little more success than you deserve, you piss on the very point of the sport, which is to win. The whole narrative has been turned around and nobody knows what to think about any game any longer.
When people lose on purpose they don’t strive for honor, they strive for money made up of the broken hearts of thousands of people who trusted in them. But one thing is the obvious deceit of innocent people, another is that the whole principle of the sport lies wasted in your rotten wake. If the results are rigged, what is then left of football? The drama, the skills, the sweat, the tears, the joy – little does it matter if it doesn’t matter.
What makes real sports better than film is that no one knows the outcome. If we know that there are people out there that know the result of the game we’re watching, then football isn’t any different than a movie or a sitcom with a director and a script author. Football isn’t pro wrestling or a display of Harlem Globetrotters, or at least it shouldn’t be. There’s several reasons that I prefer sports to fiction, and the uncertainty of the outcome, for all involved, is one of the most important.
I’m not advocating lifetime bans for every player who has degraded himself to match fixer, forgiveness should also reign here, after a suitable penalty. I do however want to make clear that if there’s one sickness in calcio that needs to be cured now, it’s match fixing. Our sport is in danger because some people, be they players, presidents, or referees let douchbaggery and lack of morals prevail.
Have a great Euro 2012!
Photo by lalunablanca