I am a football fan, there I’ve said it.
Even with FIFA currently doing their best to make football a dirty word I am falling more in love with the game then ever, but for the right reasons.
I am a fan of football, I have my local team Cardiff City whom I have supported since I was 6 years old, but as I’ve grown older I have been exposed to more and more football (one of the very few positives of the modern era of televised football). As a result I have been fortunate enough to watch teams from all over the world in their respective leagues and enjoy their own brand of football.
This is where it gets a little geeky. I love every single aspect of football as a game, the tactics, the stories, the shots and the blocks as well as the differing styles and approaches every team, even every player employs. And as much as my beloved Cardiff City will always be my team, the team I will follow through thick and thin as I always have done, I have found myself growing fond of other teams too.
During my search for something more from the game after being disappointed at the lack of passion and commitment from sections of the British game I looked to Europe, where I fell in love with Borussia Dortmund.
I can see a lot in the club and their fans that I saw and still see in flashes from my own Cardiff City. You may scoff but it’s true. The passion from the fans, the passionate manager (we have had a few), the team and their tactics are all what made me fall in love with Cardiff, BVB have all of those elements but with far greater quality and reach.
This new found exposure started with friends I worked with, both have an interest in football that rival mine (surprisingly) and as our conversations drifted towards European football my one pal and I both displayed a fondness for Dortmund, for the very same reasons, they epitomise what football should be about, good entertaining football for the fans and supported by the fans, with actual loyalty from players, I was hooked.
It’s so very interesting to see how the basics of football stay the same, but each nation interprets them slightly differently. Take Dortmund for example, fast attacking high energy entertaining football, much like Cardiff try and aspire to play back in Wales (maybe not so much recently but it has happened, albeit with far less quality, respectfully) but when my attention was turned to the West by another workmate I found something quite similar but also very different.
To the USA and the MLS, which is a young league in comparison to the traditional leagues of mainland Europe but it still looks to those stalwarts of the game for inspiration, and lets face it their superstar player.
But that is where I want to address something, it is a common misconception that the MLS is just a retirement home for ageing football stars from Europe and the UK, and I will agree that the league has attracted players of that mould over time, most recently Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard from the Premier League, but upon closer inspection most MLS teams have a vast pool of home grown USA talent in their squads as well.
Watching Orlando City SC for example, a new expansion team in the MLS who just so happen to have former FIFA World Player of the Year Kaka among their ranks. Now I know what you are thinking, same old Americans glamorising football and getting the wrong end of the stick by throwing money at the game, but I’ll have you know that the rest of his team mates are largely USA players, some of whom played in the last world cup and took the likes of Belgium the distance, surprising many.
Which is why I think it all boils down to football, being played for what it is, a game to be enjoyed. MLS team endeavour to play progressing attacking football, moving the ball quickly and using the width of the pitch to expand play and get crosses into the box as much as possible. It makes for entertaining viewing for me and I urge you folks to give it a chance, you will be pleasantly surprised.
More recently I have been keeping an eye on the Women’s game too. Women’s football really doesn’t get the exposure it deserves and is most definitely played with tons of attitude and is as entertaining as the mens game for me.
While further funding and attention is needed as always at least some progress has been made, for the first time that I can remember this coming Women’s World Cup in Canada will be broadcast live in its entirety on the BBC, while this is fantastic I feel it is about damn time.
Domestic teams in the National Womens’ Soccer League in the US, such as Seattle Reign have fantastic ambassadors for the game and many UK clubs have women’s teams as part of their club structure. Go give them some support and enjoy another dose of the beautiful game that is football.
Every match I have seen from all of the sources above (Cardiff City, Borussia Dortmund, Orlando City SC & Seattle Reign) have given me hope that in some small way, if you watch football for the right reasons you will find that despite the business end of the game being shrouded in accusations of corruption and claims that too much money in the game will always end badly, in my opinion, as a game football is still very much alive and kicking.
I guess it comes down to why we all watch the sport, I watch it because it fascinates, entertains, enthrals and excites me, and as long as I still feel that way I will keep loving football.