A Goal for God!
by Nick Bishop
Though not a Liverpool fan, I was amazed at the sheer determination of the Liverpool players, when they overcame the challenge of Barcelona in the Champions League Semi Final. At Anfield, the Liverpool players knew they had to play for their lives if they were to reach the European Championship final, in Madrid. In the previous match (1st leg) in Barcelona, Liverpool was soundly beaten, by the likes of Messi and Suarez.
Liverpool had quite a mountain to climb when Barcelona visited Anfield, and especially up against the likes of the best player in the world, Lionel Messi. Liverpool was without two of their key players, Mohammed Salah and Roberto Firminho. Nevertheless, on the night, Liverpool made Barcelona seem ordinary, thanks to goals from Devok Origi and Wijnaldum. Though not technically brilliant players, these two players were in the right place at the right time and ensured Liverpool’s success. Another Liverpool player worth mentioning is Brazilian goalkeeper, Alison Becker. Thanks to his efforts, Barcelona failed to get back into the game and ensured Liverpool made their place in the final where they will face fellow English club, Tottenham. Luis Suarez (himself an ex-Liverpool player) looked at Lionel Messi in disbelief, as Liverpool broke Spanish hearts that night.
Football can seem like a religion, with die-hard fans singing the praises of their teams. Sadly, many footballers today are treated like gods and idols and worshipped by fans and media alike. Players like George Best, Bobby Moore and even David Beckham, were the forerunners of today’s celebrity footballers. As Christians, and as football fans, we need to be careful, we do not get sucked into this deception.
Many find the money that is involved in sport, but especially football, immoral, and sport and betting go hand in hand. When you consider the money that betting companies are making off gamblers, especially those who can ill afford to gamble, there is a definitely a darker side to the commercial game these days.
According to the ‘Global Salaries Survey’, the average Premiership footballer earns, £50,817 per week. When you consider, the amount of money paid for top football stars in transfers, it beggars belief! The football industry today rivals only the movie or the music industry, in its annual turnover, of billions, worldwide. Premiership footballers get paid way more than their counterparts in the Bundesliga (Germany), Ligue 1 (France) or Serie A (Italy).
In the Premiership itself, Man Utd’s wage for players is £5.41 million, Chelsea £4.451 million, Arsenal is £4.037 million, Liverpool is £3.649 million and Tottenham is £3.154 million. Times have changed since Stanley Matthew’s day, but can it be right that soccer stars earn such a good living from football?
Football today is awash with money and unfortunately, where there is money, there is corruption and criminality.
Some argue and perhaps rightly so, shouldn’t police officers, members of the armed forces, NHS workers, fire crew etc, be better paid? When you consider, the risks they take on behalf of us all? Yet, footballers get paid astronomical amounts of money for kicking literally, a bag of wind around? Some would say, ‘what a topsy turvy world we live in!’
Christians can be found, like anywhere else, in football too. Whether it be the humble groundsmen, the backroom staff, refs, linesmen, or indeed the players. Alison Becker (mentioned) the Brazilian goalkeeper for Liverpool, is one such Christian, and you will find many others, be they players or other professions, in the Premiership. Check out the excellent book, ‘Cross The Line’, by SPCK. Here, Christian footballers, talk, candidly about God, faith and their love of football.
Many footballers do give to charities, as do clubs. For example, Blackpool FC is supporting a local venture at Mereside Primary School, to help the local community.
So, while football, has some negative connotations, it also has some positive ones.
Finally, then as Christians, by all means, cheer your team on, but be careful to avoid the materialistic pitfalls and idolatry, as discussed in this article.
Finally, here are some Biblical verses for Christian footballers and fans alike:
1 Corinthians 12:26 “If one member suffers, all suffer together, if one member is honoured, all rejoice together”.
Philippians 2:3 – 4 “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit but in humility and count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others”.
2 Timothy 2:5 “An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules”.
Titus 2:6 “Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled”.
Proverbs 25:27 “It is not good to eat much honey, nor is it glorious to seek one’s own glory. A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls”.
God bless you xxx.
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