• When disillusion kicks in

    Born in a slum, worshipped like the savior. But even Maradona’s story is linked to the heaven and hell of the football business. Photo: imago.

    ​​In my family, we watched every international football match together. Every World Cup, every Euro Cup. My parents told me stories about their favorite players. About Maradona or Ronaldo. I was a diehard fan.

    The last game we watched together was the 2010 World Cup final in South Africa: Spain against the Netherlands. No one spoke for the whole match, and no one went to the bathroom. We stared spellbound at the television, until we jumped up and let out the tension when Andrés Iniesta scored in overtime, and crowned Spain the world champions.

    Spain’s tiki-taka football mesmerized the world, but for me, it didn’t last beyond 2010, because of the development of my political and social attitudes, which are contrary to corrupt sports events.

    When I was younger, the only side I had to pick was a football team to support. That was quite easy. Always Spain, second Brazil, third Argentina, and the fourth place for the underdog. As I grew older I learned that Maradona wasn’t quite the saint my parents claimed him to be and that my favorite sport was riddled with criminality.

    Everything seems to revolve around sums of money, no longer around the magical ball. I can only watch a game for a quarter of an hour, until I start thinking how professional football has no connection to my reality. That professional soccer is riddled with fraud and graft, and that ratings, television rights and finances dominate the game, rather than strategy and tactics.

    There was a football that I loved. But scandals seem a part of professional football. I’m nostalgic about the game that made me cheer and jump up with excitement. I miss the rollercoaster of emotions. Professional football no longer holds a candle to that. And the championship in Qatar won’t do so either.

    This article is part of the "The beautiful game turns ugly" edition
    When disillusion kicks in
    Estonia's tragic football dinosaur
    Corruption and silence in Poland
    Number of the week: 10,000
    European double standards in Qatar