By Younes Khartit
By Younes Khartit
Morocco World News
Azrou, Morocco, April 27, 2012
Football, or what Americans call “soccer”, remains the world’s most popular sport. As a global pastime, Football enjoys a passionate following amongst avid fans who watch their favorite club and national teams compete in local leagues, regional tournaments and international competitions such as the world cup. Football has generated such loyal following that many are concerned about its preoccupation among today’s younger generation.
In fact, youth are more concerned about football, and many aspire to become football players, that they often pay less attention to education and other vital life matters. Some youth are more concerned about football rivalries than they are about world events. Among the most renowned rivalry is that of FC Barcelona v. Real Madrid.
I will share a personal anecdote to illustrate how I neglected life’s more relevant issues to become a football addict. At first, I watched football just because it was the cool thing to do. To my surprise, I found myself liking the sport and started to admire a certain Spanish team. Every time “my” team triumphed, I felt joy and excitement. Much to my chagrin, however, I realized that I expressed a deep rooted love for a foreign team that had no relation to my country.
Every football derby between Spain’s FC Barcelona and Real Madrid FC summons thousands to Morocco’s cafes, bars and restaurants where fans watch as if they are in a trance. For the business owners, a packed house is of course great news. But by the end of the most watched club derby in the world, fans of the losing team start to break cups, glasses, and even tables. Some hurl their cans at the large screen television sets in many of the venues that televise the match. Others use “their” team’s loss as an excuse to vandalize shops and engage in hooligan behavior.
Other supporters of the two Spanish clubs demonstrate behavior unbecoming of a civilized society. They toss ethics and moral values out the window and resort to expletives and loud shouting to express dismay at “their” team’s performance. Others wave banners with troubling statements. It is quite sad to see students rush to be on time for the match while they find any excuse to arrive late for school. Some observing Muslims will even miss their daily prayer just so that they do not miss the match.
I was once given a special gift by a friend who supported “my” team’s rival. Because the gift contained the logo of my rival team, I tore out the logo and replaced it with “my” team’s emblem. More troubling, I once received a telephone call during a football match. I ignored the call twice but decided to answer the third time.
My niece was looking to make small talk but I quickly dismissed her until after the match was over. I could not believe what I had done! I allowed a football game to take precedence over my own family, and in the process, I hurt the feelings of an innocent child. During that same match, I decided that my prayer had to wait until the final whistle of the game.
Every weekend, 90 minutes of illusion and so-called excitement make us oblivious to the world. Our vocabulary becomes saturated by possessive pronouns: “my” and “our” team, “our” players, “our” coach. Football becomes our opium as we escape life for a moment before returning to our bitter reality.
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