Football Is Cruel—Sometimes
Indeed, football can often reach the height of bestial cruelty. Just think about for a moment…
Mo Salah, the rightly crown “Egyptian King”, was hoping to bring his impressive fairy tale to a stage where the like of Ronaldo(s), Messi, Zidane, etc. have been navigating; a stage where players like Ronaldinho could beat their arch-rivals, yet get unprecedented standing ovations from the beaten fans. Mo Salah was looking forward to his last game of the season to make it more than perfect; he was looking forward to doing what he always does best: play, score & lead to ultimate victory. Then came the Champions League final. And we all know what happened. And we also know what a nightmarish night it was in Kiev and the hefty clouds it has since then put over his on-time recovery for the World Cup. Yes, football is nasty, cruel, vile and vulgar—sometimes.
But, for Liverpool and their fans, losing Mo Salah was not the end of the nightmare, rather it marked the beginning of a very long and agonizing night. And no one might have felt its gloomy weight more than Karius, the unfortunate and utterly miserable goalkeeper: others could feel miserable for being beaten and for having their dreams of ascending to glory squashed; Karius could not but feel miserable and destitute for the same reasons. But more than what his mates could feel, Karius also felt that he was responsible, in fact, the only one to blame for the loss—what made it even worse is that the watching world agrees. Some people mocked him, some laughed at him, and, of course, some others cried with and for him. Ah, blame Sergio Ramos for what happened that night if you wish, but the matter of fact remains that football is nasty, cruel, vile and vulgar—sometimes.
I could go on and on with many instances where the game has proven again and again its nastiness and cruelty. Yet, one can’t but submit to the fact that “cruelty and nastiness” are exactly part of it, without which football could neither be exciting nor worth discussing: like in war, here too one side has to lose for the other to win; like in war, one side must be disappointed and heartbroken for the other to celebrate. Indeed, as George Orwell tells us, the only difference between the two is that football is war minus gunshots.
The 2018 World Cup is around the corner. But, if you were to ask me, what to expect? My answer would be simple: the same things football has to offer: victories and defeats; exciting celebrations and agonizing cries; joyful laughter and gloomy despairs and disappointments, etc. After all, football is just nasty, cruel, vile and vulgar—sometimes.
All the best to all teams and all fans involved in the tournament!