2012 May | FREE

Archive the month of May 2012

May 18, 2012

Coronation Day

Watched by approximately 180 million viewers, the (Men’s) Champions League final on Satuday will be once again the annual sports event most watched across the continent and worldwide. It is ‘coronation day’ for the new European football monarch and it seems therefore perfectly appropriate that the ‘anointment’, as each Champions League evening for the last twenty years, will be introduced by a ‘Coronation Anthem’, one of the four that George Frederick Handel wrote in 1727 for King George II.

Handel’s music, adapted in 1992 by the English composer Tony Britten for the creation of the Champions League, has become one of the best-known ‘jingles’ in the history of European television. Musical tastes are of course different, and no one is forced to find aesthetic pleasure in this travesty of a baroque masterpiece for commercial purposes. But one has to admire the genius of T.E.A.M., the Swiss marketing firm that developed the commercial concept of the Champions League at the beginning of the 90’s. By imposing such a ‘supra-national’ anthem on all participants (clubs, broadcasters and, indirectly, spectators), they managed to transfer the ‘sacred’ dimension inherent in nationalism and national symbolry to a profane commercial object and thus increase even further its already remarkable economic potential.

One may presume that Handel’s music was chosen for its intrinsic qualities and its capacity of instant evocation of solemn celebration and sacred ceremony. But Handel is actually an appropriate choice in more than one perspective. His career path is truly European and resembles, in a funny way, the trajectory a 21st-century football player. Born and trained in Germany, he went to Italy at age 21 in order to acquire a new dimension and measure himself with the best (Alessandro and Domenico Scarlatti, mainly), before definitely ‘signing’ in London at age 26, bringing a new, ‘Italian’ style to a national opera scene in decline.

Post by : Albrecht Sonntag in the category : History, Memory, Posts - No comment

May 14, 2012

A Europe Day Exhibition

Went to a local secondary school on ‘Europe Day’. (For those who live in places where the Schuman Declaration is not likely to be the object of commemoration, it might be useful to recall that Europe Day is the 9th of May). A friend had invited me to the inauguration of an exhibition entitled ‘Le sport et l’Europe’ (no translation needed, I presume).

The exhibition was made up by the works of four classes from four different schools who had worked on different sport-projects over the last months. A large variety of posters traced back the history of the Olympic Games, presented different national or regional sports, or highlighted social issues such as sport as a means to fight racism and support disabled persons. Among some 3D exhibits two nice scale models compared the stadiums of London 2012 and Berlin 1936.

Post by : Albrecht Sonntag in the category : Feminisation, Posts, Public Sphere - No comment

May 12, 2012

Masters of deconstruction

We feel more ‘at home’ with other people when we do not have to explain to them why certain events were important or unique; when we know that they remember the same cartoons and jokes, and have experienced historical events in a way similar to how we did. This is why education – and not only school education, but also learning through popular culture – plays a crucial role in creating a common identity and providing a sense of belonging.What we did not discuss too much at our first meeting in Angers is that for most of its history football has been a ‘male thing’. It brings excitement, it unites and divides people, but is it not merely the half of us Europeans who really appreciate the beauty of the game? Does knowing nothing about Panenka’s revolutionary penalty kick make nonbelievers less European than English or Polish hooligans? Is football a real European heritage or is it only a male European heritage? Maybe there is more than one way of understanding football and talking about it.

Post by : Gosia Kowalska in the category : Feminisation, Posts, Public Sphere - No comment

May 10, 2012

Europe is red and white

On Wednesday a sea of red and white descended on the Romanian capital, Bucharest. Almost 20,000 Wally look-alike jerseys on the shoulders of the travelling fans of Atlético de Madrid and Athletic Bilbao, the two clubs contending the UEFA Europa League final. On the pitch the Colombian killer, Radamel Falcao, dominated the game inflicting a severe defeat on the young Basque lions. On the stands, a party with no incidents by the supporters of two of the most special football clubs in the Iberian peninsula.

Post by : Borja García in the category : Competitions, Posts - No comment

May 9, 2012

Election and recollection

Has the newly elected French president read Özgehan Senyuva’s blog post on how football memories build links across generations within a family? At least this is what two very interesting interviews from the last two weeks of the election campaign suggest. In both of them François Hollande not only gave insight into his sport policy programme but also into his own personal sporting experiences and memories.

The first one, on Radio France,  is an almost ‚classical‘ account of football socialisation within a family. Speaking about his childhood in Rouen, Hollande describes how he was taken to the local ground of FC Rouen – a one-time French champion in 1945 that played in the first division all through the sixties but has now been shuttling between third and fourth division for the last decade – first by his grandfather, before becoming a regular supporter with his father. His dream, he says, when playing for the junior teams was  to become the first team’s centre forward one day. Needless to say that this ambition was not compatible with higher education at HEC, Sciences Po and ENA. Well, he’s a different kind of centre forward now, facing staunch defenders of a different kind and flagging the red colour of FC Rouen’s jersey for a another type of team…

Post by : Albrecht Sonntag in the category : Memory, Posts, Public Sphere - No comment

May 3, 2012

Are football supporters any different from Madonna fans?

Madonna at Berlin Film Festival.

The american singer Madonna - (c) Siebbi - CC A 3.0

Over the last few years a debate has emerged on the importance of involving supporters in football governance structures. Some examples of that discourse could be the creation of Supporters Direct by the British Government, the unequivocal case made by the Independent European Sport Review of 2006, UEFA’s support of fans networks or the creation of the clubs’ supporters liaison officers as part of UEFA’s licensing system. Most people seem to accept that fans have a right to have a say on how their clubs and their game are governed. But, come to think of it: why? Back in 2008 over a very amicable chat I challenged the representatives of the supporters attending the European Sports Forum in Biarritz: why should supporters have a say on football if, for example, Madonna fans are not involved in how she runs her career? It may seem trivial, but serious academics are well advised never to take anything for granted, aren’t they?

Post by : Borja García in the category : Governance, Identities, Posts - No comment

May 2, 2012

Inter-Generation gap in Football: Me and My Father

Why do we support a team?

The question is the crux of the matter for many who research football fandom. Why are we attached to one team, and how come we are emotionally affected by its results? The answer may be easier to find for national teams, due to ethnic, linguistic and cultural factors. But what about the clubs? Why do men or women wearing a certain colour become ‘ours’ and the rest ‘the others’?

Post by : Özgehan Şenyuva in the category : Identities, Memory, Posts - 1 comment