This sentence often used by organized supporters’ groups around the world to criticize modern football and it’s growing commercialization is now more valid than ever.
Like most of our social activities, football had to stop mid march due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the Belgian football federation was the first one in Europe to recommend an immediate early ending of the season and the French Ligue 1 as the first of the five major European leagues recently announced the same, other professional leagues are still fighting to end the season behind closed doors before the summer at all costs.
Officials claim that the money that clubs are supposed to receive from TV broadcasters for the last games is vital for the survival of most of them.
While the resumption of professional football is highly questionable from a sanitarian and social point of view, it shows how modern football nowadays lives in a completely different reality far away from the ordinary people that eventually support the system.
Professional football leagues have become dependable from national and international TV marketing, clubs plan their budgets with money they haven’t received yet and while they spend billions in transfer fees and salaries, they don’t seem to build up any kind of reserves. And while millions of European workers are being sent into short time working schemes by their companies due to the crisis, many football players refuse to renounce on big parts of their salary. On top, clubs are asking their supporters not to seek refunds for their unused tickets.
Football should stop completely until fans are allowed back into the stadiums. No one enjoys watching a game being played in an empty stadium. Football is for the fans and for the people, especially for those in the stadiums.
If professional football can’t survive without games behind closed doors for a few months, there seems to be something wrong with the system. Maybe this crisis can be seen as an opportunity to overthink the direction that football has taken over the last two decades.
Salary caps can be a way forward to more sustainability while lower ticket prices could avoid a further alienation of fans from football.
For now, we will patiently wait to be allowed back in the stadiums and then enjoy the feeling on the stand with friends and some beers even more.