Saturday, September 25, 2010

Football like Politics

The Run of Play - the most incredible website on the wonder and terror of football has featured some articles over the last few weeks wherein football has been described as comedy and tragedy among other things.(For all those who share an interest in literature or the English language along with football, the site is a must visit.) That got me thinking on the bus back home this week, as to there must be other things too to which football is similar to. The obvious thing that came to my mind is club football is a lot like business..... till I figured it out in 5 seconds that Club Football IS Business (Later they actually featured a post on football billionaires too - incredibly). And then it suddenly hit me that football is a bit like Indian politics. Here's why: (BTW This post is not written in a Run of Play style. It is more like a Class 12 CBSE Board Exam answer paper style )
1) Powerful few: There are probably as many football clubs in the UK as there are political parties in India. And yet, the likely winners remain a powerful few....... You know which ones I am talking about....
2) Money matters: Money can buy the league, money can buy you cups in football...... In India, money power can win you seats and elections...
3) Hooliganism/ Gunda Raj: Football fans of many clubs indulge (or at least used to indulge) in Hooliganism or unruly, destructive, aggressive and bullying behaviour. Well, in India, so do political party workers and activists at times. 
 4) People switch sides often: Footballers often switch sides, moving from one rival club to another..... More worryingly so do politicians in India, moving from one party/ coallition to the other. For each William Gallas, we have a Kalyan Singh, Mamata or a Mayawati. And side switching (Dal-badal) takes an entirely different dimension if you go to Bihar as this link illustrates.
5) Excessive Media attention: The English or for that matter Italian or Spanish media pays far too much attention on Football in general and more disturbingly, the darker side of the private lives of the footballers. Here in India, there are too many not so nice stories about politicians filling our newspapers as well.
6) Controversies: With high stakes to play for - there is a controversy a day in football. Did the ball cross the line ?, Was the red card given correctly ?, Was it a penalty ? Was the match fixed by having favourable referees ? . Just to name a few footballing controversies. And in the same spirit, Indian politics is filled with controversies as well: Was the election rigged ? Was the CM involved in misappropriation of funds via fabrication of "vast herds of fictitious livestock" for which fodder, medicines and animal husbandry equipment was supposedly procured ? And then there are controversies about KICKBACKS - a term a very appropriate in both football and Indian politics.
7) Leadership of the unpopular: Almost nobody in France wanted Raymond Domenech as their coach of the national team but he remained in the post for over six years. Also almost nobody in India wants Suresh Kalmadi to head the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee. But he has been so for God knows how many years.
8) It's all about bragging rights for the public: So your team wins the league or the party you support wins the election. All you get essentially is bragging rights - to go and brag to your neighbour or office worker about how you won and so on. Cause, let's face it, your team/party winning ain't raising your salary too much is it ?
I could have gone on a bit longer for the similarities don't end here. I am probably missing the most obvious connections The problem is I am a bit of a sucker for both European football and Indian politics. And I am not sure if I love them for all the wrong reasons ??


  1. This article actually planted a thought in my head - all and any powerful thing - football, cricket, movies, books etc. share the same conditions that you mentioned. Isn't it? This could as well have been for any popular sport. At the end of the day it's all the same:)

  2. wanna add point 9.

    The idealists:the exceptions - in the muck and the dirt, there always is that one beacon of hope who do the things the right way, for the love of the game and politics.
    they do things the way it shud be. thus for every wenger and arsenal who wanna play the game the right way and wanna show tht its not all about the money.. there are the commies, for who also its about the pursuit of utopia and fighting for the rights of the under priveleged.. equality for all.

    Cynics will continue to mock both the schools of thought, sayin that they need to grow up and get real; that their ideals are misplaced and have failed in execution. :D

    what say paul??? ( asking with the straightest face possible!!! )

  3. @Suhel - Yes, agree with you - a lot of powerful things are same..... Just that movies for example don't involve hooliganism generally
    @Shabeer - Agree with your point about idealist exceptions.... Not quite with your example about communists though.... The ones I have seen have very little to do with fighting for under-privileged..... they are far more into garnering more and more privileges for themselves.... and my family has been a victim of their attentions.......


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