In the recent years it feels like I am becoming an old man, as I look with disdain to the changes on and off the field regarding the game.
Nostalgia is always strong for fans of my age and there is always a tendency from every generation to look at the past in rose-tinted glasses.
I can look through my old magazines from 70s and 80s and there is a common thread in fans and even players of past generation looking back at the good old times.
A common complaint is usually about commercialization ruining the game.
If only these players (if still living) could see the changes of these last years.
As for myself, I do not exactly remember the reference point where I started noticing changes that disturbed me.
For my own amusement, I have tried to make a list. These could be major changes or even minor banal things that somehow rub me the wrong way.
Free Kicks with one player laying down horizontally
If you have seen any matches in the last few years, you have surely noticed this new trend on free kicks. Behind the wall, one of the players lays down across horizontally, to prevent any ground level shots, when the players in the wall automatically jump up.
This is a minor thing, but somehow it looks strange to someone used to the Football of a different era.
|Photo From: https://news.paddypower.com/football-news/2021/05/14/taking-it-lying-down-how-to-find-the-perfect-player-behind-the-wall/|
Players interrupting a winning Manager’s press conference
A new trend from these last years, the tournament winning Manager is giving his press conference and his players barge in and interrupt the press conference and pour champagne on him, etc. I don’t remember when or how this started, but I definitely do not remember such a trend in the past.
Initiation of new players
An initiation ceremony for new signings is that they have to sing a song in front of all the teammates. Maybe this tradition has always existed, I am not sure. However, filming this initiation and releasing on social media is definitly new.
Ruining of the Ballon d’Or
France Football magazine’s Ballon d’Or used to be the pinnacle for individual awards for a player. The winner would be announced the day of the magazine’s release. One of the appealing aspects of the voting was some of the odd selections by certain jurors, which always made it interesting.
This was changed when it was decided in the 90s to have a chosen selection of 50 players that the jurors could only vote for.
The award ceremony become a gala event akin to the Academy Awards and now there are additional awards associated with it: The Young player, Yashin,Award, etc.
|Photo From: France Football, Issue 3837, December 3, 2019|
Messi vs. Cristiano Ronaldo debate
One of the many ridiculous debates of the Social Media age is the comparison between Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Eager fans of each camp, young or old, will post the merits of one and denigrate the ‘shortcomings’ of the other. The truth is that we should be lucky that there are two players of exceptional quality who have marked their Generation.
Most of us lived in the age of Maradona and I barely recall comparisons of Maradona with other contemporaries in such a manner.
Devaluation of Magazines
I am from the generation that grew up with Football magazines. One of the greatest joys as a fan was rushing to newsstands in anticipation of the new issue of your Football magazine. This is an excitement that younger fans will never understand. At times, these magazines were the greatest source of knowledge and information. The internet changed this in the 90s and with the evolution of this medium and social media, magazines became secondary and not as influential as before. Nowadays, most people get their magazines on PDF and that’s not the same thing.
|Photo From: https://www.facebook.com/Soccerretromag|
The Expansion of UCL
I grew up in an era when European Cups were in knock-out format. There was such excitement with the Champions Cup, the Cup Winners Cup and the UEFA Cup.
Because of Economic reasons, the Champions Cup evolved into a Champions League. It grew to such an extent that the Cup Winners Cup was disbanded in 1999 and the UEFA Cup became a meaningless Tournament.
Personally, I felt something was not right during the 1999/00 season. This was the first season of the expanded Champions League with two Group phases and for the first time I felt too many matches were being played and it was getting difficult to follow and keep up like the old days. Alas, it seems like a Super League is on the horizon.
The Ruining of International Football
International Football was a favorite part of the game. We looked for anticipation for lineups, looking for new caps, etc. Friendly matches used to be exciting and fun to watch as much as qualifiers. Back then, you maybe had one match per month or so.
The expansion of the UCL took the shine of International Football. In addition, the increase in number of matches that Nations have to play has made it less interesting. Nowadays, some fans look upon with disdain to ‘International Breaks’, where Nations play up to three-four matches in the space of ten days or so, and look forward to the resumption of League play.
In addition, the creation of meaningless Tournaments like the ‘Nations League’ has further increased the slow death of International Football.
The Ruining of the Euros
The UEFA European Championships were once upon a time a quality Tournament only second in importance to the Word Cup. When the number of participants was increased to 16 for the 1996 Edition, it seemed like a fair balance. However, for the 2016 Edition, the number of participants was increased to 24 teams with predictable drop in quality. The 2020 Edition (played in 2021) was even more chaotic with venues spread across the continent and no actual host.
Team Group Photo in the Dressing Room
This new trend of a Group Team Photo in the Changing Room released in Social Media after an important win. This is a trend that is representative of the Social Media age, somehow you can’t imagine teams doing this in the good old days.
|Photo From: https://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/row-zed/cristiano-ronaldo-dressing-room-photo-10324269|
The Walk of Honor
I could be wrong about this one, but from what I remember, the Walk of Honor, was a tradition in Spain, whereby the opposing Team would lineup and applaud the League Champions as they entered the field. It was a sign of respect and Fair Play. Nowadays, it seems everyone from the kit man on is given a walk of honor in various Nations. I repeat this is a topic I might be wrong about, but I have noticed this trend more and more in the last few years. (Please, no insults if am wrong, just correct me)
Children mascot holding hands with players and players high-fiving before matches
I grew up in an era where the two teams would enter the field and the captains would shake hands at the beginning. Then after the match was over, the players would exchange kits, etc.
I cannot pinpoint when this trend started but I think it was in the 90s. You have the two teams coming on the field with each player holding hands with a child mascot. Then like in a high school game you have the players in a row high-five and embrace one another before the match. It’s just a cheesy ploy from ‘the suits’ to show they believe in Fairplay, etc. Of course, five seconds later the same players are kicking the lumps out of one another.
Teams having a multitude of kits
Until the mid-90s, teams used to have a home kit and an away kit. I would say for up to 70-80% of their matches (please don’t hold me to this percentage), teams would wear their home kit and only in rare cases, the away kit would be worn. For example, a team like Juventus would have worn their away kit, for perhaps a handful of matches in a season. Naturally, all this changed when replica kits became a big business and teams started having three or more kits per season. In some cases, special kits were worn specially for a particular competition. To justify the existence of these kits, teams started wearing their away and special kits on more and more occasions. Needless to say, to maximize profits from sales, the designs had to change, in some cases, from season to season.
|Photo From: World Soccer, April 1994|
Over-exposure of Friendly pre-season matches
For most of my time as a Football fan, pre-season friendlies were meaningless matches not taken seriously. In fact, I don’t even remember if they were covered in print, much less television (exceptions for Unicef charity matches, prestige friendlies, etc).
However, we now live in age where clubs’ Pre-season Tours in USA are dissected by analysts and covered as important events. This is bearing in mind, that the transfer ends by the end of August and many of the players will have moved on from their clubs anyway.
VAR was introduced to correct refereeing errors for the good of the game. Its use has been controversial and has only increased complaints from the public. In some ways, refereeing errors were considered as part of the game and were rare. These errors were sometimes discussion points about the history of the game. Irrespective of its intentions, its disastrous application has made the public reminisce of the pre-VAR days.
Johnny-Come-Lately Football (Soccer) fans
Football (Soccer) is a game that gets in your blood when you’re young. Therefore, most real fans of the game have a disdain for people who magically become Football fans as adults just because the game has become trendy now. Globally, most of these fans ‘become’ massive English Premier League fans (due to its marketing strength) with no knowledge of the history of the game and the clubs.
Hollywood Stars ‘liking’ Soccer
Similar to the complaint above, nothing angers real fans of the game more than watching celebrities jump on the bandwagon and start liking the game, etc. It’s even more annoying when you see Hollywood celebrities who never grew up with the game and have no concept of its history, suddenly, become fans and start wearing the kits and will even go to matches (when on promotional tours in Europe).
I am sure if I think hard enough, I can come up with other examples as well. Some of these examples are minor and really meaningless in the grand scheme of things. They are the result of Social Media trends and will probably run their course.
As a long-term fan I always look to the Football of the past with fondness. One has to accept that there is always an evolution to the game. I imagine, someone else in thirty years will look with Nostalgia with the examples that I cited.