Football As Religion

Preacher kicking a football in the sunset

WORDS Tel Porter

Friends of mine look at me strangely when I say things like “oh no, I can’t make it to the party this weekend, I’m going to a Sydney FC game.” I can’t understand the strange looks I get when so many other Sunday commitments, such as Church and religious activities, are off limits. I thought long and hard and I began to realise that being a football follower is no less legitimate than being a follower of any religion- in fact the two share many traits.

We, the football faithful, all congregate on a weekend in our places of worship, our cathedrals, built tall and proud as a symbol of our faith. We clothe ourselves in our ceremonial garments. Upon arrival at our cathedral we begin to sing hymns, praising the uniting force that brings us all together, celebrating through song the noble deeds of great saints and singing warnings against the evils that lie in the dark, (the dark being places like Melbourne). For me, as a member of the Sky Blue church, attending weekly services at the Sydney Football cathedral, we venerate a number of saints: St Steve, St Dwight, St Terry and St Alex being the holiest of the Sky Blue saints.

Although the faithful of the football religion often clash with those who believe in a slightly different doctrine (those who worship the Melbourne way are naught but foul and unholy heathens), only one war has ever been fought in the name of football. Who knows just how many countless individuals have died in wars in the names of other ‘legitimate’ religious causes?

In fact, I will go so far as to say that football may well be the world’s true religion. It is practiced all over the world with equal passion and faith and the sign of the faith, the soccer ball, has the power to open many more pathways than any religious symbol or doctrine. Next time a friend of yours is unable to attend a function because they already have plans to go to the football, admire their devout spirit and dedication to their faith. I hope to see you all at a Sky Blue service in the near future. And in saying that, I shall leave you all with a hymn.

Sydney, Sydney, oh Sydney say I. I will stand in Moore Park till the day I die. Take me to the harbour, way down by the sea. Where I will follow Sydney, Sydney FC.