Dismissing it as a 'substitute for war', Orwell argued that the ideal of sport, not just football in particular, being a 'coming together of nations' was a nonsense.
"... as soon as the question of prestige arises, as soon as you feel that you and some larger unit will be disgraced if you lose, the most savage combative instincts are aroused. Anyone who has played even in a school football match knows this. At the international level sport is frankly mimic warfare."
He would also have noted how the Nazis in Germany exploited their hosting of the 1936 Olympics for their own political benefit and probably had a nasty taste in his mouth as to how simple exercise could be used as a tool to promote a hideous ideology.
As he would write in "All Art Is Propaganda", Orwell likened the 'heroic sportsman' to other symbolic figures put on a pedestal which he felt did not deserve to be their. Citing world heavyweight champion, Jack Dempsey, he wrote:
“People worship power in the form in which they are able to understand it. A twelve-year-old boy worships Jack Dempsey. An adolescent in a Glasgow slum worships Al Capone. An aspiring pupil at a business college worships Lord Nuffield. A New Statesman reader worships Stalin. There is a difference in intellectual maturity, but none in moral outlook.”
For those under the naive illusion that football hooliganism was a phenomenon that suddenly materialised in the early 1970s, they may well be shocked that such aggression had been carried out on the terraces decades before.
As Orwell commented in the essay, "The Sporting Spirit":
"The first big football match that was played in Spain about fifteen years ago led to an uncontrollable riot. As soon as strong feelings of rivalry are aroused, the notion of playing the game according to the rules always vanishes. People want to see one side on top and the other side humiliated, and they forget that victory gained through cheating or through the intervention of the crowd is meaningless. Even when the spectators don't intervene physically they try to influence the game by cheering their own side and 'rattling' opposing players with boos and insults. Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence: in other words it is war minus the shooting."
What probably irked him about sport was the way it which it would cross paths with politics. The 1936 Olympics have already been mentioned but there are other examples too.
Italian dictator, Benito Mussolini, exerting his influence in the 1934 World Cup - a personal audience with the referee the night before the final - to ensure that Italy would win the event it was hosting, being a case in point.
Another would be four years later. The same Italian side donning black shirts (the uniform of Italy's fascists) in a game against France, not to forget the giving of the fascist salute during Italy's national anthem.
There was also England's footballers acquiescing to political pressure to give the same salute when playing a match in Nazi Germany with Ireland doing the same when the Germans visited Dublin for a fixture.
In the world of boxing, all manner of political interference was undertaken to ensure that American heavyweight, and first black fighter to win a world title, Jack Johnson, would never get a shot of regaining the crown that he would lose under dubious circumstances.
And even in cricket, a political feud between the British Empire's cousins of England and Australia over the infamous 'Bodyline' series where aggressive bowling tactics from the touring Englishmen saw a number of Australian players hurt and all diplomatic ties nearly cut over the employment of what the Australians called 'unsportsmanlike behaviour'.
George Orwell died in 1950 and when you look at what's gone on with football - and the wider world of sport - one must concede that it has hurtled with great speed into proving him correct as being used by unscrupulous political figures as a means to substitute the old method of boosting national prestige, war itself.
If what he witnessed in his lifetime vis-à-vis sport appalled him, you wonder what he might have made of how the evolution of it being firmly entrenched within the political sphere?
Tit-for-tat Olympic boycotts from the respective blocs on either side of the Cold War, mixed race cricketer Basil D'Oliveira being banned from entry into South Africa ahead of the England cricket team's tour there which in turn led to the 30-year isolation of South Africa from the international sporting arena, Arab terrorists taking Israeli athletes hostage in the 1972 Olympics in Munich - which in turn saw all the athletes killed, lest we forget El Salvador and Honduras went to actual war itself following the conclusion of qualifying football match - won by the former - for the 1970 World Cup.
Nationalistic pride, Orwell felt, had taken a grip of sport and convinced the masses that the nation's self-esteem depended on whether or not they could score more goals than another country, win more medals than other or hit more runs than an opposing nation.
As he would write in "The Sporting Spirit":
"There cannot be much doubt that the whole thing is bound up with the rise of nationalism — that is, with the lunatic modern habit of identifying oneself with large power units and seeing everything in terms of competitive prestige. I do not, of course, suggest that sport is one of the main causes of international rivalry; big-scale sport is itself, I think, merely another effect of the causes that have produced nationalism. Still, you do make things worse by sending forth a team of eleven men, labelled as national champions, to do battle against some rival team, and allowing it to be felt on all sides that whichever nation is defeated will 'lose face'."
In 1973, a military coup saw the democratically-elected President of Chile, Salvador Allende, overthrown and replaced by a fascist dictatorship under General Augosto Pinochet.
Chile's football team were due to face the USSR in a play-off to see who would qualify for the 1974 World Cup to be held in West Germany.
The tie was a two-legged affair and following a goalless draw in Moscow, the world awaited the return match in Santiago.
However, the Soviets - admittedly with an appalling human rights record themselves - got wind of where the Chileans intended to play the game.
The National Stadium which was currently being used as a concentration camp where innocents declared to be 'leftist traitors' by Pinochet's dictatorship were rounded up, tortured and even killed.
There was a no-show from the Soviets whose protests to Fifa about playing this match at the scene of such brutal atrocities fell on deaf ears and you had the farcical one-minute match which Chile kicked off against nobody, scored a goal which led to the game being abandoned because the USSR were not there to restart the game.
Chile were awarded a walkover towards World Cup qualification but the political interference did not end with a Soviet no-show.
One of Chile's best players, Carlos Caszely, was a well-known supporter of the overthrown Allende government and had voiced his opposition to the Pinochet regime.
It was rumoured that he would plan to make an individual protest against what was going on in his country in front of a live TV audience of millions during a World Cup match.
That never happened because prior to the Chile squad flying out to West Germany, Caszely's mother was taken away by police and only returned home after being tortured.
The message to the player was clear. Don't do or say anything or you will be next.
Not far from Buenos Aires' River Plate Stadium (where the final itself would be played) was the Naval Mechanics School which like Chile's National Stadium, served as a concentration camp where random people - deemed by the regime to be left-wing activists - were subjected to torture and, as in Santiago, even killed.
All of this took place yards away from where Argentina would contest (and win) the final itself (http://espn.go.com/espn/feature/story/_/id/11036214/while-world-watched-world-cup-brings-back-memories-argentina-dirty-war).
The above examples are when sport under the control of governmental politics can be taken to the extreme.
Even fully-fledged democracies such as Britain are not immune from using sport to whip up nationalistic fervour by spreading the word amongst the masses that what takes part on the pitch is akin to the sphere of war itself.
Heaven knows what Orwell would have thought of this front page from the Daily Mirror newspaper on the morning of England's European Football Championship semi-final against Germany at London's Wembley Stadium:
Clearly invoking that conflict which saw the death of millions, then Mirror editor Piers Morgan took it upon himself to declare this game of football to be the Battle of the Bulge Mk II.
In the editorial column itself, Morgan would pen the following diatribe:
"Last night the Daily Mirror’s ambassador in Berlin handed the German Government a final note stating that unless […] they were prepared at once to withdraw their football team from Wembley a state of soccer war would exist between us. We desired a peaceful and honourable settlement but the German manager Herr Vogts would not have it. Having over-run defenceless Russia, the Czech Republic and Croatia, he has evidently made up his mind to attack England..."
There has been some good achieved with this union between politics and sport. The sporting boycott of Apartheid South Africa, mentioned earlier in this article, did play a contributory role in forcing that nation to abandon that oppressive system of government to one that would be democratically accountable to all of its citizens - regardless of the colour of their skin.
Tommie Smith and John Carlos' black power salutes at the 1968 Olympics highlighted racism in the United States to an audience of millions.
Mohammed Ali's refusal to answer the USA military draft for the Vietnam War played a part in showing and encouraging opposition to that conflict. Who can forget his line of "No Viet Cong ever called me n****r"?
Yet for the most part, those in political power - however legal their means were of acquiring it - use sport as a pawn to suit their own ends. Usually to bring in vast amounts of money and prestige - whatever the price.
China used the Olympics in 2008 as a glorified window-dressing exercise in order to improve their worldwide image while at the same time imprisoning dissenters against the Communist government without trial.
Vladimir Putin did the same with the Winter Olympics last year and will do so again with the 2018 football World Cup.
The world will watch and marvel at the greatest football tournament three years from now, while at the same time forget about Putin's armed meddling in Ukraine, the persecution of gays and lesbians in Russia and the murders - many unsolved, assuming they are even investigated - of journalists in that country who happened to be asking 'too many questions'.
Not to forget the oil-rich Arabian state of Qatar who bribed their way to winning the right to host the 2022 World Cup and are currently working migrant labourers to death in order to get the fancy new stadiums to host the games built on time.
Football, and indeed many variations of sport, can be enjoyed and many people know that it's not a 'substitute for war' and will cheer and boo knowing that come full-time, what has happened on the pitch will not affect their lives in the grand scheme of things compared to health, employment and education.
However, we would do well to be constantly vigilant against those who seek to exploit our favoured sporting pastime.
As Orwell wrote of 'The Proles' in his critically-acclaimed novel "1984", which was set in a dictatorship:
"...football, beer, and above all, gambling filled up the horizon of their minds. To keep them in control was not difficult…"