Inside track (MSN)

British football can learn from other Olympic sports

By Mike Robinson 05/08/2012 15:41

Mo Farah and Daniel Sturridge - PAYou may be forgiven for not realising that Team GB's men's football team went out of the Olympics on an all-too-familliar premature penalty shootout, thanks to success in the Olympic Stadium last night.

With Team GB picking up medal after medal at the Olympics, seemingly finding success a matter of course rather than a matter of over-achievement, is it not time for those outside football to take a central role in changing its culture and attitudes?

Nearly a decade ago British athletics was in the doldrums, with just one silver and two bronzes the entire medal haul from the 2003 World Championships in Paris.

Tough guy Charles Van Commenee eventually became national head coach and his uncompromising attitude towards his charges (he once called Kelly Sotherton a “wimp” after she won Olympic bronze) has banished the culture of failure in the sport and certainly played a part in Saturday night’s glories.

Britain’s footballers, by contrast, have failed at tournament after tournament, with England, incredibly, being the only one of the home nations to have qualified for a major tournament since 1998.

England are regularly lampooned for their lack of success, having not featured in any of the last twenty-three world or European finals. There certainly seems to be a culture of failure in the game at international level, with the 1990 World Cup and 1996 European Championship’s semi-final appearances celebrated as achievements.

There is also the possibility that British footballers don’t sacrifice enough to win.  When racing to mend a broken metatarsal in time for the 2006 World Cup Wayne Rooney was widely praised for sleeping in an oxygen tent to speed his recovery.

Contrast that with world triathlon champion Alastair Brownlee who sleeps in one most nights and Paula Radcliffe often used this equipment as a matter of course too. 

While nobody wants to see our top sportsmen struggling financially, the reward for mediocrity in football surely takes some of the drive to succeed out of our players

For them this level of commitment is the rule rather than the exception. It’s all well and good running your heart out on the big night, but not preparing adequately in the years and months leading up to it is surely just as negligent as a half-hearted effort while performing.

It’s been argued through the ages that money is the root of all evil. After three months of reasonable Premier League performances a young footballer usually agrees a contract that secures his entire future.

While nobody wants to see our top sportsmen struggling financially, the reward for mediocrity in football surely takes some of the drive to succeed out of our players. 

British number two tennis player Jamie Ward earns around fifty thousand a year, ask yourself what Britain’s second best footballer earns.

Britain’s youth development in football is considered poor even within the sport and a national centre for England will finally be opened in Burton this year.

There is a national sports centre in cycling, opened in 1994, and this has become a gold medal factory in Manchester. Hopefully Burton will help make up the shortfall in English footballing talent developed, because it is noticeable in all our national teams that we are very good at producing footballers who run around, but often lack even the most basic technique.

Football is funded through television money, sale of merchandising and tickets and it’s about time it started giving value for money, because if it was funded by lottery money we wouldn’t have any full-time footballers in this country any more. 

At the moment this nation is having a summer romance with an array of sports, but come the winter we’re likely to get back to the home comforts of our domestic football season.

It's time football stopped taking us for granted and started pulling its weight

05/08/2012 17:43
Footballers are paid far too much money regardless of whether they deliver or not.  I think we need to start bringing in a performance payment system - the better they perform, either individually or as a team, the better wage they get at the end of the month.  They are also revered far too much, when on the whole their behaviour  on and off the pitch is absolutely nothing to be proud of.  There seems to be a culture within football that just because they are a footballer, that makes them someone special.  Wrong - respect is earned, not a given, and I wish the FA would begin to come down hard on the over paid, prima donnas.  Nothing will change until they are forced to actually perform for their money.   In a way, I am glad that the GB team is out of the Olympics.  A number of them (we know who they are) brought disgrace upon us for being completely unpatriotic.  They were in the GB team and should be proud to represent their nation.  If that was the way they felt, then frankly they should never have agreed to represent us in the first place.
It should be amateurs who represent us in the olympics because these overpaid, overhyped, overrated cretins aint worth the light of day!!
05/08/2012 17:49
Totally agree with all the comments our footballers are overpaid prima donas and i have been a football fan all of my life.The real athletes in team GB get up at all hours throughtout the year and train for 10 to 15 hours a day.Not like our pampered footballers who train for about 4-5 hours a day and play at most two 90 minute matches a week.Come on the rest of Team GB go for more medals and dominate the sports personality of the year in december.

we spend so much money on football and they fail all the time, they make so much money they dont care if they win or fail, they have no passion, I did not think that the olympics was for pro's .....

05/08/2012 18:38

Our over paid & under fit footballers could make a great start by upping their fitness. how often do we see a "professional" footballer coming off the pitch after 60-70 minutes claiming to be exhausted? compare this with tennis players who often play for three hours or more. Indeed, today, Andy Murray has already played for over 2 hours to gain his Gold Medal (and he was prepared for 3 hours plus) and will later play another final (admitedly at a slower pace). The Ladies Marathon requires over 2 hours of punishing running followed by a sprint - and guess what? Most of these superb athletes earn absolutely zilch. They run and compete to total exhaustion for pride, for their country, for their family & friends. They often train 7 days a week getting up at 4 or 5am so that they can do so before going on to work or school after which many go training again. Even those who do get paid rarely earn as much in a year as the average premiership player gets in a week.

I could never suggest bringing back the £20 pw minimum wage (or it's up to date equivalent) but just think what those old players of yesteryear actually put up with - a heavy leather ball which became heavier & heavier if it was raining (brain damage did sometimes follow), no substitutes (Billy Wright played every minute that he could stand for his 105 England caps), no "squad" system so the best players played every game no matter how close together, heavy leather boots with leather studs, no sprinkler systems to soften the ground. The list goes on & on so yes it is about time that our pampered overpaid footballers actually started earning their comfortable life styles

05/08/2012 19:04

The only way that the footballers would start pulling their weight is if their pay levels were cut by 90%, too much money, little commitment to anything except themselves and money.

If you went back 30 years it was regarded as an HONOUR to play for your country, now it's an inconvenience for the player and the club!

05/08/2012 18:24
The Olympics have been amazing & our athletes have been inspiring. In their interviews they have been articulate, modest & unassuming, full of praise for their families, supporters & fans. Such a refreshing change from footballers, who are just overpaid, underperforming divas. The sooner someone realises it is far from the "glorious game", the better
05/08/2012 17:36
Love football but have 2 say I agree with this........... :(
05/08/2012 17:48
As a long time football fan, I totally agree that something must change, and to start should be to lower the wages and introduce the bonus for winning.
05/08/2012 18:19
I was there last night in Cardiff and what a shambles.  It was painfully slow and the british players were a total embarrassment. 

They didn't seem to be playing in the same place.  They seem to have no pride in their country..  The Korean team played with passion,  do our British team realise that that word is in the english language. 

05/08/2012 21:00

British professional footballers have, for too long, believed in their adulation from a crowd of wannabees. Far too highly paid, they are not in the same league as our Olympic athletes whose punishing training year in year out deserves the highest praise for real hard work and endeavour.

Football has become all about money and a misguided 'facebook oriented' public have allowed these so called icons to rise to unbelievable levels in popularity and just look at the frequent court cases they are involved in for their bad behaviour both on and off the field.

Their performance internationally, from the country that invented the game, is lack-lustre and it's time the FA took the game by the throat and whipped it into shape with tough penalties for those not performing well and any bad behaviour on or off the field should see the individual threatened with dismissal from the game if further offences are committed..

05/08/2012 18:03
It is no longer a sport but a business, players get paid despite their performances which would not be accepted in any other workplace.These clubs should all have wage caps of £30k per week and only if they reach the aggreed targets of the club they get a bankers bonus at the end of the season, and non performing players can be dismissed why should a club spend vast ammounts to sign a player yet he can leave earlier if gets better offer?????????   the prem league risk loosing revenue through the supporters via ticket sales and merchandise as it is getting moreand more out of touch with the average family 
Football should be excluded from the Olympics primarily becasue it is no longer a sport but a business. Replace it with Rugby 7s. Team GB put in 45 minutes of entertaining football (the first half against UAE) in 390 minutes of trying. Who else thought the biggest Prima Donna in the team was bound to miss his penalty? I believe the literal translation of Prima Donna is Leading Lady, uncannily apt for most professional footballers.

A very good well presented analogy of Football in Britain today!

Overpaid underachievers!

05/08/2012 17:56

This article is perfect, I've been thinking exactly the same, and have had this exact discussion with both the solar panal salesman and the Sky repairman who both visted my house today while I was watching the Olympics.


The Olympians have been inspiring, succesful, winners. The ultimate sportsmen and women.


Contrast this with what we see of English/British football. I've been an avid football player/follower/fan all my life, I like the Olympics, but was not that bothered about them. These Olympics have shown everything in a new perspective. These Olympics make up for never winning a World Cup since 1966.


With the corruptness, lazyness, overfunding football receives, and lack of any effort and taking it all for granted by our modern day footballers, I've been wanting to support another sport, but did not know what options I had.


It's quite inconceivable, but my 2 young boys may not actually be raised as football fans.

Football has given me so much throughout my life, it gave me fitness, fun, strength, friends, part of a community etc. But I am now disillusioned with it.

05/08/2012 20:54

Paying footballers massive amounts to buy every flash car they see is a total waste of funds......why do some' players' need 3 or 4 cars ?  they buy them because WE pay silly money to watch them pretend they are worth it....rather we shud use the cash to fly to Spain and watch 'Barca' it wud cost us less and we would get value for our money



05/08/2012 17:47

 i watched the foot ball last night  and iff that was their best effort they want to pack in playing , they looked as iff they had no idea what to do and to top it all no passion ive never seen such a boring game our local side would have played better than that bunch of no hopers

05/08/2012 18:49
I don't think football belongs in the olympics,                                                                                     We have the world cup every four years so all the over paid divas can do what they like there and leave the true athletes and sportsmen and women to do a good job for GB without all the ****.Just out of interest i still think beckham should of been in the squad (serves you right Stuart pierce.
football is on a deathroll, the crocodiles have it in their jaws. I give it 5 yrs and football will be defunct as a spectator sport. People have had enough of players inflated wages and overpriced entrance fees.
05/08/2012 20:27

Haven't we all had enough of the overpaid and underperforming proffessional footballers? They are a discrace and shouldn't be representing our country. They should all be ashamed.

We will only get back to the days of being proud of playing for team or country when thier wages are severly cut and then only those who really care for the game will want to play.


Cut their wages by half and if that puts some clubs out of business then so be it but on the whole and long term this will make the game healthy again.

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