Sepp Blatter mostly puts his foot in his mouth when he speaks. There is no doubt the FIFA President has been highly controversial on many matters concerning the beautiful game. From racism to female footballers and bribes, the figurehead of the world’s most popular sport has been nothing short of a huge embarrassment.
However, despite his very impressive resume of controversy, there is one positive thing Blatter has referred to often and we saw it in abundance this week. The “Football Family.” And my how the “Football Family” has come together following the shocking collapse of Bolton Wanderers star Fabrice Muamba at White Hart Lane against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.
As the paramedics tried desperately to revive Muamba following a heart-attack during the game, players from both teams, fans in the stadium and viewers from around the globe stood and watched helplessly. The distress was clearly visible on every player’s face and the reaction from the fans in the stadium told a very bleak story.
Since then, players and fans have banded together in prayer and support of Muamba’s recovery. Bolton and Tottenham fans immediately united in stadium by chanting Muamba’s name as he lay lifeless on the pitch. And from Real Madrid, to Chelsea, Barcelona and beyond, many popular footballers wore t-shirts in honour of Muamba. Thierry Henry flew from New York to London to visit his old Arsenal teammate and there are many other players who have done their part the way they can.
In a season where we have seen racist behaviour from players, fans rioting in Egypt and Greece and the governing body of football be accused of bribery, the story of Fabrice Muamba is a sobering reminder that life is fragile and football is just a game. Dead for 78 minutes, I don’t think there are many who thought Muamba would make it. But his incredible recovery is just one of the beautiful threads to what started off as a horrific story. How much has the positive energy from the global “Football Family” helped? Probably quite a bit.
This isn’t about Sepp Blatter and this isn’t a pat on the back for him. However, his notion of a “Football Family” really does exist. We all witnessed it this week and Muamba I’m sure is forever grateful to the heroic paramedics who saved his life and to the players and fans from around the world who prayed for him.