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Lampard wary of football following Olympic example

ESPN staff
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Frank Lampard says footballers can learn from London 2012 © Getty Images
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Frank Lampard has warned that football would lose its identity if it followed the Olympic blueprint, but admits his fellow players can learn from London 2012.

With the Premier League season set to begin this weekend in the wake of a hugely successful and popular Olympics, football has come under the spotlight, with the millionaire players in stark contrast to many of the Team GB athletes.

England manager Roy Hodgson admits the Olympics have been a "wake-up call" for footballers and fans alike, and Lampard, who will wear the captain's armband as England take on Italy in Switzerland on Wednesday, has echoed his manager's sentiments.

"I don't know if it's fair or not that football seems to be getting a bit of a kicking," Lampard said. "Sure, we know we have our failures in the sport. But we're not the only ones. The Olympics went especially well. The contestants, the atmosphere, the interaction of different countries together in one place, it was great to see.

"If we can all take a lesson from that, every one of us, then we will have all learned a good lesson. It was great to be there and to sample the sort of happy atmosphere you don't always get at football matches. It was very refreshing."

However, Lampard was quick to point out that what football has been criticised for is what has made the sport unique, claiming that the "tribal" nature of being a football fan was its biggest strength.

"Sure, it's natural to compare football and the Olympics. But they are totally different things, poles apart," he said. "At the Olympics you don't get shouted at by opposition fans. You don't get the hostile atmosphere. People aren't turning up hoping to see you make a mistake. And, remember, all this is happening both on and off the pitch.

"But that's why football is so special. We love it for what it is. If you took that away, it wouldn't be the same. In football, we're all born with our allegiances. It's tribal. It's almost a religion for the people who watch and we take the ups and downs in different ways. The ups are great, the downs are difficult. To a point, that's the beauty of the game."

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