Football and religion: There are plenty of similarities

With Christmas shopping still in the minds of many of our friends and family, many a West Ham catalogue has been passed around for gift ideas.

With Christmas shopping still in the minds of many of our friends and family, many a West Ham catalogue has been passed around for gift ideas.

With many items both in glossy paper and online to choose from, it’s not just the impressive start to the season that should excite us Hammers . However, one thing I saw for sale raised a slightly uneasy feeling in my bones. I wasn’t offended but just thought the humour emblazoned on one t-shirt was close to the knuckle. ‘Football is my religion, Upton Park is my church’ is the slogan and I’m not 100pc sure why I thought it a bit ‘dodgy.’

Those feelings aside it made me think about links between football and religion. Now I appreciate this is a delicate subject but it’s not meant to be disrepectful in any manner. It’s more showing similarities. Looking around major towns and cities across Europe you will see many churches and cathedrals. The bigger the town or city, then generally the bigger place of worship and more of them.

Obviously this dates back to medieval times and therefore days before regulated and organised sporting events and hundreds of years before football on various TV channels. Compare that to nowadays, the biggest buildings in the country are stadiums. More and more are being built around the country as places for people to gather . It’s interesting to contemplate whether or not in 500 years if the bigger, more impressive or ‘important’ stadia are still standing as places of national interest.

Whilst discussing this very subject on the train journey to the Chelsea game, my mate not only agreed but also added to it. As mentioned previously, these buildings are huge enclosures in which great numbers of people would gather whilst sharing the same ideals and interests. Take that one step further, and all the people at some point, for the home side at very least, will be singing the same songs together.

Whereas not as polite as a hymn perhaps, going to West Ham, you know that you’ll be singing Bubbles at some point during the day. Compared to people frequenting church and knowing they’ll also be singing the same songs as a whole, and the comparison isn’t quite as ridiculous. With church and Christianity taking a less prominent role in a busier more media-interested society, even marriage services are being taken from inside the four walls of a church, with some couples getting married at football grounds around the country.

Of all the things I don’t feel a football ground should be used for marriage is one. Not that I’m saying my opinion is right but some things are better left distant from football! Though I realise this piece may provoke reaction, I in no way mean to and in no way am I stating that football is more important than religion. Organised church meetings and services have passed the test of time. Football, admittedly has developed and grown into a monster, with the money thrown at it in recent years.

For those who want to wear the aforementioned t-shirt, at no point will I be offended, I appreciate the joke. And the fact my di Canio shirt in 99/2000 had ‘God 10’ on the back shows that I’m partial to tongue in cheek humour.

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