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IS THERE A SOLUTION TO HOMOPHOBIA IN FOOTBALL


A match-fixing scandal that swallowed a minor league Australian club and cast it into a world of intercontinental betting intrigue shocked World Football last week. Match-fixing expert Declan Hill exaggeratedly explained how international betting syndicates can influence almost any match, anywhere in the world, as accusations were made against members of Victoria's Southern Stars team.


The UK's fans may take solace in the fact that such events can only take place in remote locations, hidden from the eyes of the world's media. But this past weekend saw the manifestation of one of the more subdued effects that gambling is having on football.


The Rainbow Lace initiative calls for professional athletes to support their gay teammates by donning rainbow-colored bootlaces. Even though prominent teams agreed with the sentiment, the majority of them decided not to participate in the campaign. Their issue was that betting company Paddy Power was a sponsor of the drive, which was organized by the gay rights organization Stonewall.


It was mentioned that there were issues with how transgendered people were portrayed in the betting company's advertisements. Those who believed that commercial and cultural messages shouldn't coexist disagreed. The argument was made that Stonewall ought to have dealt with the clubs and the football league directly rather than through their contentious sponsor.


However, Norwich City FC's response might have been the most revealing. The Canaries were concerned, according to The Guardian, that taking part would jeopardize the club's business partnership with Paddy Power rival Sbobet.


The incident demonstrates that gambling has an impact on football results in addition to match-fixing. Televised sports are just like any media drama, as evidenced by the failure of the Rainbow Lace project. The individuals and narratives that supporters see are chosen through commercial sponsorship, in this case betting.


Football is a results-driven industry, as is frequently stated. That's untrue. It's a story business. The enigma, a strange narrative device, is what gives it pleasure.


Don't ask fans or commentators; instead, read French theorist Roland Barthes if you want to know why people enjoy the game. The middle of the story, the lengthy, blissful period of suspense, where we wonder how things will turn out and enjoy speculating about the possibilities, is the best part of the story, according to Barthes. He referred to this as the enigma.


Football is the same way. Most of us cheer for teams that are perpetual losers. All of our enjoyment comes from our own ritualistic enigmas; in the days leading up to the weekend, we read newspapers and message boards voraciously, watch TV, and listen to the radio in search of hints as to why things might be different this week. at the very least seeking an explanation as to why they won't be.


For not doing enough, some fans accuse the FA. However, the Rainbow Lace scandal makes it seem as though the game's governing body's opinion is unimportant. The story raises a much more alarming point: the commercial ties that make the Premier League a spectacle that is admired around the world severely restrict its ability to embrace diversity.


It was widely believed that supporters of anti-homophobia campaigns were not prepared for change for a very long time. They are, as we now know. The fact that clubs today are unwilling to wager using the financial clout of betting companies is at least a portion of the issue. That trend will be challenging to reverse, you can bet.


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