Why our game is not #thebeautifulgame

by Carlos Alberto Diego

For me the spin doctors who came up with #thebeautifulgame campaign for the FFA have got it all wrong.

Sure our game is wonderful, enthralling, tough, uncompromising, riveting, exhilarating, fair, unfair and sometimes unscrupulous.

It is breathtaking, sad, boastful, honest, compelling, mostly on the side good but sometimes evil. It is definitely all these things and much more but for me it is not ‘beautiful’.

What compels me to watch football is not  a mythical aesthetic of what the game should be but instead those raw moments that touch me as a lover of sport.

It’s the dour contest of a nil-all draw, the human frailty of a ball playing centre half, the cocksureness of a high priced recruit, an FFA Cup parking the bus win against all odds, the public shame of a failed drug test and exultant adulation of the next Harry Kewell.

These moments for me are football epiphanies or in pub league terms my #GeeILoveThisGame moments.

I don’t look for these moments and there is no way some highly paid marketing spin doctor is going to tell me what these moments are. They just emanate, capture all my senses in a milli-second and give me ‘gooseys’ all over.

#GeeILoveThisGame moments remind me that humans play this game, not ballet dancers.

They show that the game is a reflection of the personality and values of the protagonists who are playing at any point in time.

Take for example football formations. Having many superstar ‘prongs’ in your line up, some may say is beautiful, but it’s the hapless ‘prong’ who misses the unmissable chance or the unheralded ‘prong’ who scores the match winner with a toe poke that stretches every fibre in his body, which moves me most.

I don’t see beauty in these moments I just see inconsolable heartbreak and blissful triumph.

These are feelings that many of us can grasp and have experienced in life. We can relate to the imperfection and the battle to want to one day come out on top.

For me when someone refers to football as #thebeautifulgame I can only conjure images of the all conquering Brazil 1970 World Cup winning team, the royal whiteness of a Real Madrid shirt on the back of the wonderful Alfredo Di Stefano and the soft hands and warm touch of Chelsea physio, Eva Caneiro.

I don’t see beauty in Kevin Muscat’s Victory or Poppa’s Wanderers. A-League goal king Besart Berisha is a great player but his play is hardly gorgeous. The best footballer in the league Thomas Broich for me is a rock star but the way he works his magic, at best , can be described as ruggedly handsome.  

Australian football is not beautiful, pretty, a good sort or a sight for sore eyes.

There is no ‘beautiful’ Australian Pele, Socrates or Zico playing in the A-League. The way our teams play football does not resemble the beauty of a Mozart symphony, a Picasso masterpiece or Charlize Theron in Sweet November. So let’s not pretend like it does.

I love Australian football because of the journey it is on to earn respect, credibility and recognition. I live for those authentic moments in our game that move me to jump up and kiss an unshaved and unwashed Diego brother, marvelling at what I just witnessed.

I also feel for the A-League battler who has scored an own goal or let his team down for losing his head and getting a red card.

I say forget the manufactured slogans and disingenuous marketing stunts – Australian football is not beautiful but #GeeILoveThisGame.


Copyright Four Diegos Media 1993