On the day that FIFA Congress elected Sepp Blatter for a fifth term as President of that questionable organisation, something more uplifting was happening in Manchester where fan owned FC United of Manchester were playing their inaugural match at their new Broadhurst Stadium.
If you were new to football you’d be forgiven for thinking that it was rife with corruption and malpractice, with those involved focused purely on what was in it for them and less about what was right for the so called beautiful game. But dig deeper and you will find the real soul of football, a heart so full of spirit that it belies the money grabbing approach of those in control of the sport.
FC United of Manchester’s story is not new news, but it is heartening to know that there is hope for football, hope that springs up when people put football at the heart of their decision making processes and not financial return, when communities come together for the benefit of all and not for the benefit of the wealthy few.
Tomorrow is the FA Cup final, where all those in the media aghast at the financial greed of those running our game, will once again trot out the financial benefits of winning this illustrious competition. It’s always the same: the £120m Championship play-offs, the £5.4bn Premiership TV deal, the value of parachute payments, the weekly wage packet of the Premiership stars – all focused on by certain duplicitous media who give not two hoots for the sport itself. Money is first, everything else is nowhere.
But up and down the country there are thousands of community clubs run not for the financial gains available, but for the pride of maintaining a piece of history in the town or the village, a continuation that matters so that future generations will get the chance to experience what football should be all about.
So if you’re angry about the machinations of FIFA and wish to do something about it might I suggest two immediate courses of action? First, boycott those products that fund this bloated organisation and second, find out which is your local club, go and visit that club, offer your services to help run the club, get others to become involved. Follow the example of FC United of Manchester, turn your back on the greed and focus on the need. After all, it’s at that end of the spectrum where you will find the real pot of gold.