Should International Football Be Axed?

I was interested to hear a lot of negative comments people have made about international football recently and it got me thinking, should we scrap it all together for the good of the game?

Now I know that there would be some FA executive spitting out the froth of his cappuccino if he was to read that statement, but like many people I have been totally disillusioned with international tournaments and friendlies for the last ten years or so. World cups and European championships just do not live up to the hype and even the so called world class players constantly fail to perform at what is regarded as the highest level of football.

I supported England from being a child and enjoyed tournaments like Euro 96 and France 98, but at the start of the year 2000 I totally lost interest mainly because of the fickle so-called fans that follow them. David Beckham was made the scapegoat for England’s failed world cup campaign in 98 and was playing for Manchester United at the time, the team that I support.

I was shocked and appalled at the abuse Beckham that was aimed at him, and just after that fans at England matches at the old Wembley started to jeer and sing degrading and disrespectful chants towards the England players who played club football for United, and that is where I called it a day supporting England. I would choose club over country every time I was asked the question.

I think the England team is supported by people who support championship teams or to be polite, the teams in the Premier League who make up the numbers but will never achieve silverware. Watching England gives a chance for fans of unsuccessful and small clubs the chance to support and cheer players like Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard.

The majority of people I have spoken to support their club team and that’s it, so is this just a problem in England or does it happen in every country? I suspect it is only England that has this problem, we are so obsessed with our club teams that we find it hard to support rival team players. Being a Manchester United fan, I have found it hard to try and get excited about a Gerrard goal for England, but that could just be me being stubborn and arrogant. My passion for club football and United has meant that I no longer care about my international team, some people will obviously not agree with the choice that I made.

The ‘club vs country’ row is something that also proves how devalued international football has become. I suspect that the majority of clubs quite rightly would prefer for their players to rest for a weekend rather than play an international game and risk injury. These clubs pay the player’s wages. International footballers are now also paid to play when representing their country, when I was growing up playing for your country was considered the ultimate accolade but I wonder how many players now are 100% patriotic and honoured to pull on their countries colours?

I personally think international football disrupts our domestic season, am I being selfish saying that? Or am I saying what the majority of people have been thinking for a while now? Let’s face it, the last two world cups have been abysmal. Players playing on the world stage are now often too frightened to perform because the fear of failure due to the nations hopes and dreams being on their shoulders, either way the media will be gathering like vultures ready to crucify you as we love to have a scapegoat when it comes to making up excuses for England’s failures.

Recent autobiography’s by ex-England internationals (and United legends) Gary Neville and Paul Scholes have slammed the England set up and have even claimed that a divide between players is clearly evident. Claims have also been made that players are put under so much pressure that the fear of failure affects the way they usually play for England compared to club level. Give me Champions League football any day of the week, it’s a better standard of football and the world class players all perform in it.

Internationals are an old tradition and I don’t think for one minute that it would ever be considered to scrap it altogether, obviously FIFA and the FA would not want it to happen. Let’s face it, the FA have Wembley to pay for and will attempt to fill that ground at any given chance to pay back the money they owe on it.

I definitely get the strong impression that the majority of United fans that I have spoken to will agree with everything I have said regarding England, we even sing about the fact we have won a world title once more than them to get under the skin of opposing teams supporters! Like many United fans I actually get nervous when our players go away on international duty in fear that they will return with an injury that will affect the team I watch every weekend and support financially.

It’s an interesting debate and the ‘club vs country row’ will continue to make headlines as long as international football is around and our domestic and Champions League competitions get better and more competitive, it does make me wonder if anybody would be bothered if International football was axed? I suspect opinions will be divided on this.

Kevin Ashford @KevinAshford7

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