I look for the following from football:
(a) A contest played to fair rules between between two sides of equal numbers, competing against each other with a certain level of skill and determination, enjoyable to participate in (as a player, manager, coach or some other capacity) or watch (by fans), with participants duly rewarded, whether in terms of results, recognition or remuneration for their level of skill and ability, and with fans developing and sustaining an affinity for their club and its history. The presentation of the game in the media generates and sustains a wider public interest, but the media doesn’t seek to control the game itself.
(b) The game is played without unnecessary intervention by match officials, who understand the laws of the game and apply it consistently. Match officials intervene only when they have to, and any doubt is exercised in favour of not intervening or making decisions that will affect the outcome of the game, especially in respect of penalties of sendings off. This is a real bugbear for me – see:
(c) Sensible competition structures, administered by sensible administrators, progressive and forward thinking, who understand the game as played on the field and watched by the fans, and its broader socio-economic dimensions. This is an issue that doesn’t receive as much attention as it should.
(d) Playing football on a regular basis, both as a form of social activity, and as an enjoyable form of exercise.
The higher the level at which the game is played, the more important are (a) to (c). Unfortunately, despite the growing wealth and greater stakes at the top levels of football, I find (a) to (c) lacking.
In the circumstances, I am left increasingly with (d).