Is bureaucratic football destroying the beautiful game?

Bureaucratic football? (Getty Images)

I have come across a new term: bureaucratic football. My concerns about this new term started growing after a beer with some friends recently. Since then I have been shocked to find its widespread use. It seems like everywhere I go, every time I listen to a football discussion or watch a football roundtable, people are talking about bureaucratic football or players being played in bureaucratic function. If this is what it’s like in Brazil, what does this say about the beautiful game? What does this say about the world we live in? What does that say about this blog? Is it all a big farce? Hiding the dark truths that lie within Brazilian football… Am I become paranoid?

Whilst sipping my cold (and imported) beer, I was told that even the great World Cup winning Big Phil Scolari is playing talented players in bureaucratic functions at Palmeiras. I am told that there are brilliant players out there who never make it because they don’t have a good agent or they are not bureaucratic enough. Does bureaucracy stifle creativity? Are creative players being killed? Is bureaucratic football necessary to win trophies? Is society becoming bureaucratic? What is bureaucratic football anyway?

One way of looking at it is the following: perhaps Brazil is our last bastion of hope for non-bureaucratic football. And that is why the term is used so much here. Perhaps the Brazilians have invented this term because they are the only ones who have identified this problem? Does bureaucratic football exist in other countries?

A counter theory is that the bureaucratic football problem is compounded in Brazil because the best young players (the non-bureaucratic ones by nature) leave Brazil at an early age to play in Europe and it’s only the boring ones who are left behind to battle it out in the national leagues.

About what about European football – is that bureaucratic? Do they combine bureaucratic football with talent to produce a winning formula? Do Jose Mourinho teams play bureaucratic football? Is a little bureaucracy a good thing? Does anybody prefer that to say, Barcelona? And what about Manchester United? Quick, direct and effective. Is that bureaucratic? What is the truth? Does anybody have an opinion? Comments welcome.

7 thoughts on “Is bureaucratic football destroying the beautiful game?

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  3. I don’t see bureaucracy in soccer. In my view, a player can’t be only skillful. If a player is good physically and is efficient in decision-making, in addition to his technical skills, he will be able to breakthrough solid defense schemes (such as Neymar and Ganso use to do).

    I think the term “bureaucratic football” has come out due to the evolution of tactics and physical development of players. As a consequence, the talented but weak and mentally poor players haven’t been able to impose their talent over the strong and tactical, non-skillful though, players.

    Therefore, I believe that the relevance of qualities to a player (in any position) now is more widely spread among physical, mental and technical skills. Much different than in the past, when technical skill could be enough for a player to be successful in the field.

  4. When you don’t have a lot of good players it’s easier to play just to destroy your rival’s plays and in one or two good moves that you work on the weekly training sessions try to score. The point is to avoid losing matches… maybe you don’t win a trophy but players and coach will have a better working condition and less pressure and sometimes you can have good results.

    Also it’s not a Brazilian problem only… world cup was quite boring last year.

    For me what’s really missing is the passion for the game and for the teams.

    About young players leaving Brazil… you should consider some other ones doing crazy stuff to get back or stay here like Neymar and Luis Fabiano. Why moving to a foreign country with crappy weather, different food and language… far away from friends and family if you can stay here and make a lot of $$$ and have a decent structure? this is slowly changing the scenario in my POV…

  5. Thanks for the comments guys.
    So Gil, you are saying that a player needs to be a good decision maker, good physically as well as being skillfull. And that football has evolved and that simply being skillfull is not enough.. I fully agree and its natural because football is becoming more professional. But do you think this is taking away from the spectacle? Is football becoming more boring because of it? Are there as many skillfull players as before or because football is more competitive and quick, players need to be even more skillfull to be recognised?
    Denis, agree that the WC was dissapointing last year and so its not just restricted to Brazil. But even Brazil, always one of the most skillfull teams, had a boring/agressive and bureaucratic coach. What does that tell us…? Would you agree that football is becoming more bureaucratic then?
    And to you both, what about the Champions League and Barcelona? And why did Spain play a less attractive and more ‘bureaucratic’ kind of football than say Barcelona and win. They were more boring than say, Germany or Argentina in that tournament? Why was that when many of their player play for Barcelona?

  6. Well, Arsenal are certainly not bureaucratic and we haven’t won a trophy since 2005. So pragmatism is important, evidenced by Mourinho – a romantic approach only goes so far in today’s football world. Not sure if bureaucracy is the right word, but a pragmatic approach certainly can involve bureaucratic factors.

  7. BEN!!!
    Great example. As an Arsenal fan, I guess you would prefer some more pragmatic, less attractive football in exchange for a few more trohpies. Bring back Patrick Vieira and Tony Adams….
    I would say, in the context, pragmatic is a generally good thing whereas bureaucratic is generally, not. I guess we can say that Mourinho teams are boring, effective, pragmatic but not bureaucratic. Not the best for the neutral but a skill to be admired nonetheless.

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