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26th Jul 2019

Seven things that belong in football’s Room 101

Football is great, but it can also be terrible due to these seven things that should be banished to the depths of hell for eternity.

Reuben Pinder

Removing these things would improve football infinitely

I love football, but I also quite viciously dislike many things about it. Aside from the obvious issues of corruption, racism, sexism and financial injustice that pervades the game across the globe, there are numerous trivial yet awful things about the sport we all love.

Here’s a selection that I want to see banished to Room 101.

Fluorescent football jerseys

Designing football kits is difficult. Those given the annual task of having to reinvent the same shirt are often given little scope for creativity, but fluorescent kits are an example of shirt design at its laziest. What colour are they? They’re not green, they’re not yellow. They’re hi-vis. This colour should be reserved for construction workers and raves only.

Running tracks in stadiums

Much was made of West Ham’s move to the Olympic Stadium, now known as the London Stadium, in 2016 and with good reason. While the club have tried to bridge the vast gap between the stands and the pitch with some artificial green turf and more staggered seating, the stadium’s structure is still an inescapable obstacle when it comes to enjoying the game. Admittedly, having to watch West Ham also plays a part.

Running tracks are more of a problem outside the UK – Hertha Berlin, Roma, Lazio, Napoli, and even Paris Saint-Germain all play at stadiums with an athletics track or just a huge, unnecessary gap between the stands and the pitch. And that’s excluding the countless national stadiums around the world ruined by them.

It takes away from the atmosphere and viewing experience if you need binoculars to watch a football match. Juventus had the right idea when they ditched the Stadio delle Alpi for their glitzy new Allianz Stadium which, despite having 26,000 fewer seats, attracts more fans and generates a better atmosphere.

Yellow cards for taking your shirt off when celebrating

Believe it or not, but this rule was first introduced in 2004 after Diego Forlan took his shirt off when celebrating one of his rare Manchester United goals and then struggled to get it back on. I would argue that was a slight overreaction. That you receive the same sanction for removing your jersey in a moment of joy as you do for a dive or a cynical foul is quite frankly ludicrous. It’s time for the killjoys who govern the game to see sense and bin this rule.

Adults with homemade signs

What has to go through a grown adult’s mind for them to decide that yes, writing ‘we’ve got 29 problems with Morata’ on a piece of cardboard left over from their latest Amazon order of Brain Force Plus is a good idea? I don’t know, but I do know that these signs should be set on fire and thrown into Room 101.

The concept of the ‘classy gesture’

Before you go an Alan Brazil shade of red in a furious rage and tell me I’m everything wrong with the sport, allow me thirty seconds of your time to explain.

Respect is good, respect is nice. But the footballing world is too obsessed with showing copious amounts of it at every available opportunity.

Taunting your opponents is seen as disrespectful and therefore unacceptable, when it’s actually really, really funny and makes the game much more entertaining.

Kicking the ball out of play while an opponent is down injured before the referee has instructed you to do so is seen as the ultimate form of classy gesture and always garners a round of applause, when it’s actually incredible frustrating and reduces your team’s chances of scoring. If it’s not a head injury or obviously serious, leave them there until the referee decides they need assistance. Whatever happened to the advice we were all given as children: play to the whistle?

Muted celebrations are also on this mini list of unnecessary displays of respect in football. “Oooh, I’m not going to celebrate. Look at me.” Pathetic.

Rogue squad numbers

It’s not big or clever for a striker to wear the number three jersey – looking at you, Asamoah Gyan. Nor is it big or clever for an outfield player to wear the number one (Jonathan De Guzman, Edgar Davids). Get creative by all means, wear 39 if you really have to, but wearing defenders’ numbers as a striker or vice versa is, in my eyes, sacrilege.

Pre-season ‘tournaments’

While I understand the reasoning behind these ‘tournaments’ – promoting the club to a global audience, building fitness, etc – the attempt to make these glorified cardio workouts competitive is a facade that literally everybody sees through.

You can’t dress up a series of matches in sweltering conditions as a proper tournament when both managers make eleven changes at half-time. Spare fans the song and dance about the prestige of the Premier League Asia Trophy and call it what it is: a kickabout absolutely dripping in marketing.