Mark van Bommel, the footballer, retires. Finally.


Peculiarly, Van Bommel played for all three – Barca, Bayern and Milan. The Dutchman, however, never featured when those clubs were showcasing spectacular, era-defining football. He was instead the awkward alternative they reluctantly turned to during more desperate, cynical moments. He’s the antithesis of proactive football.

Excellent article on van Bommel and what he brought to the sport; a must read.

I for one am not sorry to see him go. I usually don’t follow club football, but do regularly follow the big tournaments. Among all the stars that I remember from the last few tournaments, van Bommel is the only one I remember for all the wrong reasons.

Dutch football can be very beautiful, but not when van Bommel is on the field. He made football in general, and Dutch football in particular, dirty and cheap.

Whatever other talent he brought to the field was overshadowed by this facet, and I think football is more elegant without him.

Football (soccer) players help clean cricket stadium

This happened in Indore, which will host the 4th ODI between India and West Indies in a few days:

But to beautify the stadium for the game, the Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association has roped in a local A division football team that is made up of 5-7 state level players.
Such is the state of affairs that the footabllers are paid a petty Rs. 2.75 for every seat they clean in a stadium that can hold a 26,000 capacity crowd.

No, don’t tell me it’s about being a poor country with not enough money. It’s not about having the money. It’s about how we use the money that we already have [1,2]. I know, this isn’t a national club, but a local division team. But even they should have better sources of funds than “Rs. 2.75 per seat cleaned”.

Of course, no one watches football (soccer) in India as they watch cricket (edit: and of late, even the soccer craze has been hijacked to an extent by European and Latin American football, which is far superior in quality), but don’t blame cricket for the ailments of other sports either. Cricket is popular—and commercially successful—because we’re actually pretty good at it. We’re terrible at football; we’re terrible at hockey (this account of India’s Olympic successes stops at Moscow 1980—we’ve only recently begun to rediscover ourselves in the midst of a major overall in hockey administration); of course no one wants to watch their teams while they suck at their sport!

If one remembers, India was extremely interested in Tennis for a few years recently when we had players to be proud of—Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, followed by Sania Mirza, Rohan Bopanna, Prakash Amritraj. They were—or promised to be—good, and India flocked to their support. They haven’t been doing anything exceptional for the past few years, and once again, interest in tennis has waned in India. (edit: India even loves football, but how many prefer the Indian kind? How many would instead spend sleepless nights watching the EPL, for example?)

It takes great administration, and foresight, and grit, and patience, to invest in a sport in a country and develop it to a point where it becomes successful enough and commercially viable enough to sustain itself. We don’t lack the talent; we’re a big enough nation, with interests varied enough, to engage in a number of sports (heck, we even have a national rugby team!). But we need the right people to administer the sports—and think more of their charge than of their own pockets.

As we’ve already seen in politics, public service, and even daily life, we’re too corrupt for our own good [1, 2, 3]. The same applies for sport administration—which, of course, is done by the government, and its politicians. (Cricket administration is equally corrupt—they’ve just managed to be rich enough that they can function despite the corruption.)

And at the end, the people who suffer are those who have to perform manual labour, at the cost of their chosen profession, to buy supplies. Pathetic.


… am I working on a Game Day?! (It’s the Virginia Tech Vs. Georgia Tech College Football game today, right here at Lane Stadium!)

Wish I had tickets (sigh)!