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Dublin: 16 °C Monday 10 August, 2020

Why Rio Ferdinand's creation of football's answer to the Oscars is a bad idea

If you thought the Premier League’s obsession with self-regard had come to an end, think again.

Rio Ferdinand speaks during a recent press conference.
Rio Ferdinand speaks during a recent press conference.

Collectibles-wise, I confess to a real weakness for uses of the phrase “the Oscars of our industry”. “The Tractor Of the Year Awards are, quite rightly, considered the Oscars of our industry,” one press release assured me. “Often referred to as the Oscars of our industry,” tempted another, “the Window Covering Manufacturers Association has announced the best new products of the year.” “It is a great honour to be recognised at the Veterinary Marketing Association awards,” declared one honoree, “which are the Oscars of our industry.” And my personal favourite: “The Welsh call centre awards are considered the Oscars of our industry.”
For all the absurdity, though, there is something endearing about the above examples, redolent as they are of glad?ragged agricultural vehicle designers having to look gracious as the gong goes to an alternative team of alternative torque specialists. The same cannot be said, alas, for the newest addition to the desperately thin awards ceremonies calendar: the Footies. “Football’s answer to the Oscars”, according to the Sun, which insists: “An awards ceremony for the beautiful game in this country is LONG overdue.”
Do consider that monstrous injustice righted. At the end of this season, the inaugural Footies will take place at what the organisers promise will be “a glamorous central London location”. But what form will this exciting evening take? Well, the event appears tailor?made for all those who look at today’s Premier League and remark that what it could really benefit from is more self-regard, and a greater emphasis on celebrity. “Bringing together football and music,” the blurb promises, “the star-studded event will celebrate the best of what the season had to offer, with live music from headline acts famous for their love of football”.
It was Rio Ferdinand who famously once explained: “The music, the fashion, the TV – it all goes to make up Rio Ferdinand,” so it is no surprise to see the game’s most self-effacing polymath listed as one of the event’s founders. According to Rio: “We want it to become the most unique awards event in the calendar.” The categories have already been decided upon, unfortunately, so it doesn’t look like there’ll be room to add a self-parodic one for “Most Unique”. But there’ll be Player of the Year, Goal of the Year, Free Kick of the Year, Result of the Year, Game of the Year, Manager of the Year, Fan of the Year, Journalist of the Year ? it goes on. James Corden will host, obviously.
“I think the Footies is going to become a date in the diary for many years to come,” Corden honked obligingly. I certainly hope it will prove itself a worthy contender for the Awards Awards, a genuine awards ceremony which honours the best of the awards ceremonies.
Which rather brings us to the central conundrum of the Footies – namely, football’s sense that it requires an awards ceremony. After all, surely there already is – how to avoid this sounding as if one is pointing out something transparently obvious to a child of seven? – something of an in-built award structure to the game as it is set up in this country, and indeed elsewhere. Trophies, titles, championships, points ? Stop me if any of this sounds vaguely familiar, but in professional sport, achievement is recognised by dint of the entire bleeding thing being a competition.
Yet progress has apparently deemed this so insufficient, or old hat, that it can be properly rectified only via recourse to one of the more expensive hotel ballrooms on London’s Park Lane. Still, perhaps in the future toward which this exciting innovation is hastening us, the season could all be decided via a series of knockout award ceremonies, with the final victors forced to play a single exhibition match. Just for old times’ sake.

Premier League clubs leave rainbow laces in a knot

Now the dust has settled on Stonewall’s attempt to get football players to wear rainbow laces to highlight homophobia in the game, can we spot a pattern in the manner in which most Premier League clubs formulated their excuses as to why this really couldn’t happen? They whinged about Paddy Power’s involvement, of course – though the laces were unbranded. But the real offence seems to have been something else entirely.
A Chelsea statement ran: “We fully endorse the principles behind this, but have a number of issues with it in its current form, among them the lack of consultation and commercial aspect.” Or as Tottenham put it: “Whilst the campaign message is positive and one we support, there was unfortunately no prior consultation with ourselves, the Premier League or other clubs.” Fulham echoed: “This campaign was initiated without consultation with clubs or the League.”
There were more like this – in fact, so eerily like this that one might almost suspect there had been centralised assistance in repelling the immensely dangerous threat of some football players wearing different coloured laces in their boots on one weekend. Still, as Manchester United’s cookie cutter response had it: “It’s a positive move that Stonewall are now speaking to the League directly.”
Positive for the League, certainly, with failure to involve them seeming to be the gravest of modern footballing sins, as though numerous high-level meetings were really required before the momentous step of handing out some laces to players could possibly be taken. The effect, oddly, is to cast “lack of consultation” as somehow more offensive than homophobia – so do adjust your Premier League moral compass accordingly.

This article titled “Rio Ferdinand’s Footies football award ceremony is a step too far” was written by Marina Hyde, for

© Guardian News & Media Limited 2014

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