By Patrick Brogan
This week has been an interesting one in terms of football punishment. Neil Taylor received a two-game ban for a horror tackle on Seamus Coleman which saw the Irish captain stretchered off and miss the rest of the season. Sergio Ramos was given a one-game ban for a two-foot lunge on Lionel Messi in ‘el classico’. Compare that to Neymar’s additional two-match ban for sarcastically applauding a referee– on top of a one-match for two yellows– and Joey Barton’s 18-month ban for illegal betting.
I’m not suggesting for a second that any of these players go unpunished. However, it is very clear where the people running the game’s loyalty lies; with power and money. Barton betting brings the game into some disrepute, but is it worse than Taylor’s almost career-ending foul in Dublin? Consider football’s association with betting. It’s hard to watch a game of football without betting ads. Sky Sports is bombarded with them. Betting is very much wrapped up in male culture. Watch the match in the local, few sneaky bets, this what it means to be a man. Fuck that. “Football, beer, and above all gambling, filled up the horizon of their minds. To keep them in control was not difficult.”
As Orwell pointed out, gambling is a big part of football culture, wrapped up in machismo. As one of its main sponsors, their interests must be protected. It’s a shame they don’t take the same view on footballers, the people that actually play the game. Coleman out injured. Messi. Black of eye and bloody of mouth. Where is their protection?
The authorities are only concerned with money and not the players. Oh, the irony. And power. Referees do have a difficult job, that’s true. However, if you believe a sarcastic clap is worse than a two-footed tackle or a bigger threat to the integrity of football, your head needs an examination. Betting ruins lives and reckless tackling ruins careers. Allowing this to continue will mark the death of football. Wanna bet on it?
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