2012 August | FREE

Archive the month of August 2012

August 31, 2012

Football supporters are self-referential & adore polytonal music

A striking feature of football supporters, especially the ones that call themselves Ultras, is that they end up being more interested in themselves as supporters, even as a group of supporters. One of the main reasons why supporters do become supporters is to be like other supporters. They are their own vector of identification & their own reference. In a word, they are self-referential.

While doing some research on Paris Saint-Germain for my book, I stumbled upon this incredible painstakingly compiled video by a Paris Saint-Germain supporter.


[youtube iH3aSXSTlmY]

My first reaction was to be startled by the stated origins of the supporters’ songs. I had heard them all in the stadium, & but for Bella Ciao (apparently an Italian partisan song from World War II, performed here by the Modena City Ramblers), I knew all the sources they claim to imitate. Obviously, while in the stadium, I recognised a few, including Go West (incidentally, a song by Village People, later covered by the Pet Shop Boys) or (Allez venez) Milord. Despite the dissimilarities, I even suspected the crowds singing ‘Paname, Paname’ were clumsily trying to sing Padam Padam, made famous by Edith Piaf too.

Post by : Dàvid RANC in the category : Identities, Memory, Posts, Public Sphere - No comment

August 24, 2012

Season’s Greetings

End of August. Time to update one of my all-time favourite football cartoons. If I remember correctly, it dates from 1992, but it never seems to become obsolete. You just have to update the text of the first three panels of the strip with what you see in the television news, and you can be sure that the fourth one is as valid as ever. (Of course you can feel FREE to replace ‘Bundesliga’ by ‘PremierLeague’, ‘Süper Lig’, ‘Primera División’, ‘Ligue 1′, ‘Extraklasa’, ‘Superligaen’ or whatever else you fancy). The cartoon will work in all European languages, and it would do so even without any words. In the continuous flow of unpleasant news, the start of the new season is always a most welcome interruption, and a moment full of fresh promises.

Cartoon by Egon Kaiser, EZ, 1992

‘Season’ is a curious word to describe the rhythm of the championships. Very appropriately, football has borrowed its time frame from the world of the theatre: each season is both a drama in itself and a long sequence of individual dramas, with their unity of time, place and action, with heroes and villains, intrigues and narratives, story twists and surprises. The season has a more or less solemn opening, one or several climaxes, regular cliff-hangers, and, inevitably, a dénouement at the end. And the World Cup or continental championships may easily be compared to international summer festivals such as Edinburgh or Avignon, where legendary performances  are remembered, new trends are spotted, and stars are born.

Post by : FREE-TEAM in the category : Posts, Public Sphere - No comment

August 23, 2012

On Leonardo, Paris Saint-Germain, L’Équipe de France & moral panics

Interesting quote in L’Équipe today from Leonardo – in his heyday one of Brazil’s great players & currently sporting director at French Ligue 1 club Paris Saint-Germain.

« La gestion de l’équipe de France est difficile parce qu’ici on a l’impression que tous les autres sports sont sains et que le foot est malade. Pourquoi ? La sélection souffre de ça. Jérémy Ménez, qu’est-ce qu’il a fait ? Nasri, qu’est-ce qu’il a ? M’vila ? Il y a une ambiance injuste autour de cette équipe. »

‘Managing the French team is difficult because it feels here that all the other sports are healthy and that football is ill. Why? The national team suffers from this. Jérémy Ménez, what has he done? Nasri, what does he have? M’vila? There is an unfair atmosphere surrounding this team.’

Leonardo seems to agree with my analysis, developed in a previous post, that the media fury surrounding the French team could be summed up in four words sentence: Much Ado about Nothing. There is no need to repeat that these football players have been sanctioned for acts that happen more or less all the time in clubs and national teams.

Post by : Dàvid RANC in the category : Posts, Public Sphere - No comment

August 17, 2012

Too nice to be credible?

As millions of fans came together to witness the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship (EURO 2012), about thirty people from five continents gathered in the little city of Frankfurt (Oder), close to the Polish border, to study and discuss “The Culture of Football: Passion, Power, Politics” in the framework of the Viadrina Summer University 2012.

The diversity of the group, which comprised graduate and doctoral students, as well as sports journalists, generated lively and wide-ranging discussions: Can party patriotism in football be seen as positive nationalism? Or do the negative aspects of nationalism always overshadow potential benefits? And if football reinforces national identities, is it possible to escape and adopt a team detached from one’s own nationality?

With lecturers from different disciplines and representatives from supporters’ organizations, we were able to focus on a spectrum of football-related issues, like nationalism, gender, globalisation, commercialisation, and media. Furthermore, visits to UEFA fan zones in Poznań and Warsaw gave us the chance to observe football fandom in practice.

In the UEFA fan zone in Poznań the commercialisation of today’s football was striking. By entering the fan zone, its restrictions on what to drink and see had to be accepted. Buying a beer or food meant first buying a credit card from the official sponsor, while being bombarded by advertisements.

Post by : Nina Szogs in the category : Identities, Posts, Public Sphere - No comment

August 13, 2012

Sport, football and the Great War

The Besançon conference on the origin of European football is coming soon and I will be very happy to welcome the FREE team in Franche-Comté. Last June, I already organised a – smaller – event, still in the East of France, in a town which remains famous in European history : Verdun.

The poster of the Verdun conference

After being the place where the treaty dividing Charlemagne’s Empire was signed in 843, the city and its surroundings are sadly known for having been the theatre of the dreadful battle between French and German troops in 1916.

The theme of the conference was  “Sport and the Great War”, with papers on air war as a sport, champions at war, sport and press during the conflict, sport in the British and US armies or the consequences of war on German football. The 1914-1918  was indeed a period in which sport, to paraphrase Clausewitz, was another way to wage war.

Association football was certainly the sport who benifited most from the war. It was used as the main sport entertainment in British, French, German and Italian armies. Thus soccer certainly spread among parts of the population who ignored it before the war and became during the roaring twenties the sport of the urban European masses.

Post by : Dietschy in the category : History, Memory, Posts - 1 comment

August 4, 2012

Complicated communities

Guest contribution by Anthony May, who is currently in his final year as PhD student at Kingston University (UK) and whose research examines cultural nationalism in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Football is vitally important to the culture of both Scotland and Northern Ireland, and rituals and traditions associated with football have become an integral part of the identities expressed by communities in each territory.

Football has become a key site for the development of alternative hegemonies that challenge the official ideology of the United Kingdom. A majority of football supporters in both Scotland and Northern Ireland do not think of themselves as British. Those football fans who do identify as British in Scotland (primarily supporters of Glasgow Rangers) have reported that they feel like outcasts. Supporters of Glasgow Celtic, a club traditionally associated with Scotland’s Irish community, continue to express an Irish, rather than a Scottish or British identity. Support for the Scottish national team tends to come from outside the ‘Old Firm’.

James McClean, a Northern Irish Catholic who has chosen to play for the Republic of Ireland for cultural reasons.

One might expect the Loyalist community of Northern Ireland to report British identities, but a high level of the support for the Northern Ireland football team is actually drawn from this community! Northern Ireland national team games provide an opportunity for the expression of a specifically Northern Irish identity; vocal opposition to official state policies is a key part of the rituals seen at Northern Ireland matches. Inversely, members of the predominantly Catholic Nationalist community tend to support the Republic of Ireland as the Northern Ireland team is seen as a repository of Loyalist identity. Nationalists remain culturally and politically opposed to their Loyalist counterparts.

Post by : GUEST in the category : Identities, Posts, Public Sphere - 2 comments