Money spawns weird hybrids

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 December, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 December, 1997, 12:00am

THE unholy coupling of television, corporate sponsorship and the greed of football's finest has produced some mutant offspring over the years.

In order to fill air time around which to plug the sponsors' goods more and more football shows are needed.

The medium has a voracious appetite. And even, FIFA, the game's guardians in their Alpine version of Mount Olympus are seduced by the siren call of dosh ? and lots of it.

How else can you explain shows like International Beach Soccer (ESPN) or the Futsal Championships (STAR) some of it live from Singapore? International Beach Football has grey-haired has-beens like Brazil's Junior showing off their tans while plodding around on sand. It's just something to put advertising hoardings around. Modelled, no doubt, on volleyball's beach spin-off, who's to say this veterans' circus won't be up for Olympic consideration soon? The Futsal, sponsored by a beer firm, at least features players who look like they're in their prime. The only thing is, pardon me for asking, but: 'Who are they?' A lot of no-names playing five-a-side is who they are. Yes, the game we all played at school, when the proper pitch wasn't available.

What next? The Tobacco-tastic Three-And-In Championships? A more palatable concoction from the television-sponsorship Frankenstein's laboratory is the Brazil World Tour sponsored by a shoe company. The World Champions' games against Japan and South Africa (ESPN live), should indicate how their preparations are shaping.

Last week's final World Cup play-off (STAR) saw an amazing Iranian comeback in Melbourne. It had enough drama to last a week.

Which is a good job really, especially if you saw the three Premier League matches on offer on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

It really says something when Terry Venables can come out and declare it was the most exhilarating match of his life, although he didn't try to include his many court cases and battles with Alan Sugar.