Football / soccer is undoubtful the most popular sport in the modern era, the popularity of football along with stardom and money at stake it much beyond entertainment today. Football is serious business having various stakeholders – players, managers, media, sponsors, sports goods and The Football Association. The game can drive their fans to highest level of craziness for their team and players.
For some countries in the world football means everything and football players those who achieve for their country are worshipped by millions of fans. The craze and expectations from their heroes works both positively and negatively for any player. In the modern era, there is no better example than Lion Messi of Argentina. A player with charismatic personality a total charmer to all segments of society. The fan following of Messi is not just by playing football but also by his behavior and social image. With such complete personality it is expected by fans as well as everyone who is involved in the game that he can never go wrong.
“For me the national team is over” said 29 year old Messi after his team’s defeat by Chile in the Cope America final. This sentence can be read in a larger prospective--wherein pressure mounting on a champion player who has 8 La Liga titles ;4 Champions League and Olympic Gold medal in 2008. The popularity of game in the country weighs so heavy on a player that out of frustration at the peak of his career he decides to quite the game.
Messi by all means is not a player without mental toughness. A mere loss could not affect or impact his personal decision to such an extent, there is more than what meets the eye to his quitting.
The statement of Messi seems a statement by almost all top players of the Argentina team. We read that in Argentina La nacion’s newspaper that even- Aguero, Javier Mascherano and Gonzalo are also contemplating retirement. Even more disturbing is the news as reported in ESPN that Angel di Maria, Lucas Biglia, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Ever Banega could also think of quitting. The whole reporting of news and statement likes “less room for forgiveness” for Messi in his native country has actually pushed the most outstanding star of Argentina who is a leading goal scorer for his country to ‘hang his boots’ for all future games.
Messi by all means is not a player without mental toughness. A mere loss could not affect or impact his personal decision to such an extent, there is more than what meets the eye to his quitting. The organisers of the game should seriously think of mechanizing wherein the star performer playing for his country does not come under so much mental pressure that he had to take this extreme decision.
This episode also raises a question mark on the relationship with the Argentine football association. Diego Maradona, the Argentine legend made a statement before this match “The Team should not bother coming home if they lose. This statement shows that the team went into the match with a lot of pressure to win rather than play fair game of football because it was not only Messi who missed the penalty even Lucas Bigilia also messed up his shot.
It really makes me thing what Messi must have thought just before taking this decision-- could his decision would have been the same if Argentina had won! Since there is a lot of pressure on him to scale unimaginable peaks and to face the stories of him influencing appointment of managers of team and picking up and dropping up players in the team. At 29, being a household name all over the world is it worth taking the pressure or to quit. We will have to wait if Messi seriously continues to hold on to his decision or on public demand comes back to the game. There have been public demonstrations to forgive Messi for his mistake just sort of a call from the Pope.
Messi –God of modern football his retirement can see a drop in revenue for all stakeholders, Football needs Messi more than Messi needs football.
Hemanshu Chaturvedi is a sports guru.