Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Club Football vs International Football

This is as biased an article as you’re likely to get, I'm warning you in advance. Being Lebanese, where we have no national team to pride ourselves upon, means we always choose the second alternative as a National team to support. In my case, it has always been Nigeria & England (though with time, that is changing, as International Football is boring me - I'll explain). But nobody can tell me they enjoy watching France vs Albania more than they enjoy watching the clubs they support playing. I’ve got to say that club Football has always, and will always, be my preference and here's why:

Reason one: The standard of Football

It had been widely remarked in the past that International Football was the pinnacle of a player’s career, it was always regarded as the highest level of Football to play at. Not anymore. By comparing the latter stages of the Champions League where superstars at huge clubs like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Chelsea, AC Milan and so on are all facing each other over several games (and every year), to the latter stages of any International tournaments where the best players of smaller Footballing nations like Ivory Coast, South Korea and Paraguay are playing, the difference in the matches' quality is quite evident. Within a club we are getting the best players from around the world (including the best players of each of those nations in the International tournaments), whereas within a National team we are getting the best players only from a single country (which aren't that numerous, to be fair). I would say the roles have reversed and playing in the Champions League is now the pinnacle of a players’ career.
Reason two: The understanding of the players
The players at clubs train with one another every single day. They build bonds with one another on and off the pitch and are able to develop a better understanding with each other. This enhances the way the teams play. Whereas at National teams, the players meet only during the International break (which is 5 or 6 times a year) and are always being pitched alongside new team-mates regularly and so on. It makes the entire teams playing style look a bit off, which in turn makes the whole match experience a bit dull. It’s very difficult to find teams during the qualifying phases of a tournament looking good. However, during the tournaments, when the players are stuck with one another day in and day out, we start seeing teams looking better. But even then, the difference shows. For more evidence, we just need to look at the current World Champions, Spain, with 7 of their starting 11 playing for Barcelona and how, regardless of the stage, they are still winning, as more than half the team are already familiar with one another. The same could be said about the entertaining Dutch squads in the past in which most of the squad were from Ajax.

Reason three: The club rivalries

This is the one I don’t understand and which is driving me away from supporting England during International tournaments. I’ve found it strange, and a bit hypocritical, to support a team that contains a majority of players that are hated for almost 9 months every year, but to then find myself supporting them for a month or for a day. I’ve been a victim of that, but the more I love the club I support, the more I care less about the country. Put it this way. Imagine yourself cheating on your wife with a hooker, that you pretend to love for one night and for that little summer holiday you’re having away from your family. Not that I know what that’s like, but that's the best example I could come up with. "Loving" the player for a month or a day, but then hating him for 9 months again. If I despise a club’s players throughout the year, I find no reason why I should support them at any other point.

Reason four: The supporters during International tournaments

Can someone tell me why on earth during international Football tournaments, some people who don't watch Football at all during the whole year, suddenly have the balls to show up and start preaching to us, the ones who watch Football daily, about what a team should or should not do? Or about how good or bad a player is? Where are these fools during the entire season when we, the loyal football fans, are sitting, watching and supporting our clubs? This annoys me so much, because not only do I feel like slapping them in the face most of the time because of the nonsense that comes out of their mouths, but especially because there is absolutely nothing we can do about them. They're just there...always. The media puts the whole thing in everyone's face like it's some sort of reality show and before you know it, our mothers and aunts are dicussing about why Spain won the World Cup. You don't find this with club Football.

I obviously enjoy knowing that there's live football to watch during summers, as it fills up the void felt by the end of a regular season. Getting all excited about watching more games and enjoying the whole atmosphere that surrounds the various cities we live in, but only to a certain extent. Nothing beats the weekly feeling of watching the club you support play. Win, lose, or draw, when your club is playing you're in front of the screen or at the stadium and you feel an emotional attachement that I find much stronger than with International Football, unless you're from the country you support. But even then, I've known many English fans that have booed Frank Lampard at games, or French fans that have booed Patrice Evra at games, but how many club fans do you know boo their own players at games? Not many I'd imagine. I hate the International week.


  1. I partly agree/disagree with Reason1, I completely agree with Reason2, I disagree somewhat with Reason3 and completely disagree with Reason4.

    The very top club-football got a higher standard than international football. It is better to play in Champions League than just for your country, but winning the world cup beats winning Champions League any day, I even would say winning The Euro is greater than winning Champions League.

    Playing together every day would generally make you better calibrated in a particular style, you would know your team-mates better. But this can make international football interesting as well, suddenly football-culture becomes that much more important, suddenly having strong cores of players become important. Like you said, often several players in an international setup comes from the same club-setup.

    Club rivalries can be great, but international rivalries can be greater. Reason 3 and 4 is just flat out much stronger overall in international football. It is your country, it's not money or personal gain. It's a national identity, your birthgiven people, your natural blood and culture. Your ways, your language, your cities and your farmland. Like you said, when the world cup comes around even the lazy supporters become agitated. If Messi wins with Barcelona he is adored for his dazzling skill. If Messi wins with Argentine he would be a God in his home-country for the rest of his life.

  2. club football sucks.There is no point in supporting a team that doesnt represent anything.WHO cares if man u wins or barca or arsenel

  3. International football is much better than club football,would you rather win the champions league or the world cup if you were a player?

  4. Club football matches do indeed have a higher quality of play, much much higher oftentimes, but hey they are paid millions to do it every year for a private club.

    But nothing matches the national euphoria surrounding meaningful international matches such as the World Cup, which creates its own entertainment. It would be even better if my country was actually good at football, but a blind man can see the emotion involved, the stakes, an entire freaking country getting behind one team for 90 minutes. Club football can't replicate that, not even close.

  5. Sometimes the best and worst times of your life can coincide. It is a talent of the soul to discover the joy in pain—-thinking of moments you long for, and knowing you’ll never have them again. The beautiful ghosts of our past haunt us, and yet we still can’t decide if the pain they caused us out weighs the tender moments when they touched our soul. This is the irony of love.

  6. Club Football all the way. Enough nationalism already.