2012 October | FREE

Archive the month of October 2012

October 31, 2012

Conference in Le Mans : Zidane au Miroir du sport

I recently attended a conference organised by the Université du Maine in Le Mans : « Au Miroir du Sport – Spectacle sportif, médias et émotions collectives ». Interestingly, the conference departed slightly from the usual format of research conferences. Instead of being a mix & match of various papers loosely connected (or not) to a central theme, the organisers from (Philippe Tétart, Omar Zanna, Yvan Gastaut) decided to ask for contributions to a specific research project, which outline they had drawn together. As a result, the communications were much more focussed & all were relevant to other presenters.

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

October 22, 2012

Victories & cheats (Armstrong, Juventus, Marseilles)

After a few weeks of media speculation, l’Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) has relented & decided to uphold the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA)’s decision to suspend Lance Armstrong for life & to deprive him of all his results since 1998, which includes all of his 7 Tour de France victories.

This is a momentous event in the history of sport. The Tour is arguably the world’s third or fourth most important sporting event, in terms of spectators, behind the Olympics, the football (FIFA) World Cup & on a par with the football (UEFA) Euro, all of which are four-yearly events.


Some (& this includes  the management of the Tour de France which, ironically, have no say on the matter) say that Armstrong’s victories should not be reattributed. This would not be a first. In 1993, Olympique de Marseille was stripped of its Division 1 title in France (but not of its Champions League title) & relegated because of a corruption scandal. Yet, Paris Saint-Germain, which finished second, was not handed the title. Same happened in 2006 when Juventus lost its 2005 crown for the same reason. The title (unlike the 2006 title) was not reattributed.

Although well-intentioned, this sort of decision raises more issues than it solves. For example, OM supporters regularly call for the 1993 title to be re-attributed to OM. This would, of course, be very incoherent since OM were clearly convicted of cheating.

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

October 9, 2012

Double allegiance, secondary attachment or ambush marketing?

On this page, Madrid’s sport newspaper Marça reveals that Iker Casillas, goalkeeper for the Spanish national team for over a decade showed up today at his team’s training camp wearing a tee-shirt prominently featuring a French Flag, the name France & an extremely large Adidas logo. This is certainly an odd thing to do when you are going to face France in a few days, in a competitive game for the qualification to the World Cup in Brasil in 2014.

One is only left to conjecture what this could be about: it is unlikely that Iker Casillas will come out of the closest as an ardent supporter of France instead of Spain, & no matter what he later says ot justify this act, it is also rather unlikely that the second team he roots for, after Spain, is France. Why would this come out now when Casillas has already played France or French clubs a number of time in the past & he has never said anything like that, afaik.

Once Casillas has joined the training camp, he will most certainly have to wear Spanish team clothing all the time he is in public, since this is usually in the contract that national teams sign with their equipment suppliers. The arrival to the training camp is more or less the only time Casillas is allowed to wear something different. Knowing that Adidas lost (to Nike) the contract to supply sporting equipment to France’s national team in 2010, it is tempting to see this as a way for Adidas to remind a very large audience (the media films, records and photographs the arrival of players to the national team training camp; & this odd move by Casillas will gather a huge lot of media attention) of their historic association with the French team, at the time when they were successful!

Most likely, but this cannot be proven, Casillas, who seems to be personally sponsored by Adidas, is doing a diluted form of ambush marketing (capitalising on media attention around an event without having a formal contract with the event) for Adidas.

Let us see how this develops, if it does.

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

October 5, 2012

Europe: centre & periphery

A few lines in L’Équipe today mentioned that FC Anzhi Makhachkala (ФК “Анжи” Махачкала) which is in Chechnya & plays in the Russian football league yesterday became the furthest away club to provide a player (Lassana Diarra) to the French national team. There would be a few PhDs to write about the club itself, its links with the regime(s) in both Grozny & Moscow, so we might have to leave that point aside for the moment, unfortunately.

On a far lighter note, it is interesting to note that, if L’Équipe is to be believed (& most probably, it is), apart from 5 players who came from Algeria (then a colony part of the French territory) all other French internationals played in Europe when they were called for their national team. Obviously, players mostly came from the Big-4: England, Spain, Germany & Italy. Interestingly, & probably due to cultural as well as geographical proximity, five came from Belgium (including of course Papin with FC Bruges, Six with Cercle Bruges but also Bras, Maryan & Herbet), & one from (Genghini) from Servette in Switzerland. More recently, Nicolas Anelka, Christian Karembeu, Djibril Cissé & Jean-Alain Boumsong were all called from more unlikely places : respectively Fenerbahce (Turkey), Olympiakos & Panathinaïkos (Greece) & Rangers (Glasgow, Scotland).
The picture just sketched here very briefly, shows that despite an undoubted internationalisation of the game, the centre, when it comes to football, firmly remains in Europe. A few European stars moved to Brasil last summer (including Clarence Seedorf who now plays for Botafogo) & David Trezeguet is playing in Argentina (Atlético River Plate). Some players like Thierry Henry enter semi-retirement when moving to the USA. But these players are exceptions &, as far as I know, none of them has, in the recent past, continued to wear their national jersey competitively (not even at the Olympics, as the case of Beckham illustrates). More importantly, most African & South-American nations have their star players in Europe. Examples are, of course, too numerous to mention. Furthermore, the centre seems to be limited to a few countries (4 or 5), which are all in Western-Europe.

This is a pretty exceptional situation. In terms of popular culture, Europe is often seen as lagging behind the US. A closer examination may show that, as the Olympics closing ceremony painfully showed when it comes to pop music, the UK have produced their share of high-sellers, & a few culturally influential bands (The Smiths or Joy Division, for example). However, the UK remains isolated in that respect: the fleeting success of Europop / Eurodance, the ‘French Touch’ or Swedish band remains on a much smaller scale altogether. Equally, Italian & French movies have contributed greatly to the development of a shared cinema culture throughout the world; but the US dominate ‘cinophilie’ head & shoulders.
It was therefore very good to have a panel on sport (including papers on cycling, football, male underwear &c.) at EUPOP12 (the Inaugural Conference of the European Popular Culture Association). The FREE project looks forward to being present at the second conference in 2013, hopefully with a whole panel on football (please get in touch if you are interested).

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