As the Euros heat up, I explore why football means so much to so many.
It goes without saying that football isn’t for everyone. Just like not everyone can watch back to back episodes of Keeping up with the Kardashians. But whether you’re a fan of football or not, you cannot deny the strange power it has to bring so many people together despite every kind of difference. So much so that it has become an integral part of our lives.
Football’s ability to make people feel the rawest emotions is incredible. It is a sport that has crept into our lives and has established a whole new culture. This culture is one of the key reasons why the sport means so much to people. It has created not only communities for anyone who is interested but also offers a family like unit for those who may not have had one before. It is this sense of belonging that makes football such an important sport.
Is football intrinsically political?
Of course I cannot deny football’s misogynistic, racist and exclusive history. However, as time has progressed real change has happened in football. It has now become a spokesperson for human rights, equality and even a critic for Coca Cola after Ronaldo’s recent press conference. This has been evident at the Euros this year. Players have taken the knee and football clubs throughout Germany have protested the UEFA’s rejection of Munich’s appeal to light up their stadium with rainbow lights in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community. Arenas across the country displayed the lights to show their condemnation of discrimination. The huge power and influence of football means that it can be more than just a game for people across the world. It has the power to make effective change if it is applied correctly. The UEFA’s decision highlights the deep rooted societal problems that we continue to see throughout our lives. Germany’s reaction shows how football has the capacity and influence to put people in the spotlight and hold them accountable.
Soccer stadiums in Germany lit up with #Pride colors in protest after UEFA blocked a Munich stadium from displaying them at Germany’s game against Hungary.
Fans took Pride flags to the match and one ran across the pitch to protest Hungary’s law banning most LGBTQ+ content. pic.twitter.com/evXdlwDHjF
— AJ+ (@ajplus) June 24, 2021
The game can be enjoyed by anyone…
The simplicity of football means that anyone can play. Of course some will be better than others, but if you can kick a ball, you’re all good. This has led to so many getting involved with teams throughout their lives, whether that is at a high level or just for fun. It offers people a way to exercise, which is a crucial way to maintain a good physical and mental health. It is also the perfect place to meet new people. However socially awkward you may be, football works as the perfect ice breaker. I played football from the age of 10 to 18, and scarily, 5 years later, I am still friends with my teammates.
I have had football in my life ever since my dad sat me in front of my first Liverpool game. Since then we have watched most games together, whether that be in person or through constant messaging back and forth. It has been the best way to keep in touch, especially during this pandemic where we haven’t been able to see each other as much. And I can’t deny that it serves as a comfort to know that someone else is as miserable as I am when Liverpool lose.
So whether you love it or hate it or simply don’t care, it is undeniable that football has created a powerhouse with the ability to evoke change, bring people together and provide us with incredible and memorable moments.