2013 April | FREE

Archive the month of April 2013

April 24, 2013

Model Bavaria

The most impressive ‘permanent representation’ to the European Union in Brussels is not the French, British of German one, but that of a region: Bavaria. The beautiful ‘château’ just some meters from the European Parliament has been considered megalomaniac by some observers, but is calmly defended by its inhabitants as an excellent real estate investment and thus good use of taxpayers’ money. My students generally simply love it, just as they appreciate the very nice welcome there, the self-confidence that emanates from it, as well as the excellent coffee and bretzels they usually receive. They are seduced by a country that likes to see itself as Europe’s model region, combining a strongly rooted cultural heritage and identity with world-leading high-tech industry and research: ‘Laptops and Lederhosen’ as they call the fascinating mixture themselves, referring to the infamous folkloric leather trousers.

A stone's throw from the European Parliament: the Bavarian 'Landesvertretung' in rue Wiertz.

These days the Bavarian way of doing things seems to be also becoming the model of economic governance of professional football clubs. All over the last two decades, following the paradigm shifts of the 1990s, Manchester United, Real Madrid and FC Barcelona were considered the epitomes of international marketing and merchandising, the ultimate global football brands. Which they probably still are, but the model for an economically healthy and sustainable management these days is the club that by its very name almost arrogantly claims to represent Bavaria: Bayern Munich.

Here are some quotes from recent months which illustrate the trend:

Sandro Rosell, the president of Barça, has repeatedly admitted that his club ‘needs to become an economic model, which it has been far from being these last years. (…) Without the help of the Qatar foundation, we would have been in deep trouble.’ (…) The model is Bayern Munich. They are managed perfectly.’ (Interview  in L’Equipe Magazine No. 1553, 21 April 2012.)

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

April 14, 2013

Bibiana’s dream of becoming redundant

For many years now, each issue of the German quality weekly DIE ZEIT, has featured a section entitled ‘I have a dream’, in which the paper invites a remarkable and well-known individual to share a dream with its readers. The column, always written in the first person, is accompanied by a high-quality black-and-white portrait of the celebrity concerned with his/her eyes closed. The sincerity and openness of the invitees is astonishing. Somehow the responsible journalists manage to persuade them to let go and not be afraid of sounding ridiculous. It’s no surprise that over the years the column has become a weekly must-read.

Recently ‘I have a dream’ featured Bibiana Steinhaus. The name of this 33-year-old German policewoman may not spontaneous ring a bell with everybody, but it blows a whistle with many followers of women’s football. Bibiana Steinhaus is not only the referee of the last women’s World Cup and Olympic finals in Berlin (2011) and London (2012) respectively, she is also the only woman who regularly leads matches in German professional men’s football, as main referee in the 2nd Bundesliga and lineswoman in the top-tier. And she is doing so with the successful mix of strictness, humour and respect that suits any referee well, male or female.

In the World Cup final 2011.

Ms Steinhaus, whose recent unintentional physical contact with a player from Hertha BSC Berlin (and her cool reaction to it) had a certain career on YouTube, enjoys enormous respect from the players. It actually makes you wish more games, national and international, would be refereed by women. The effects on some misbehaviour could be surprising. Perhaps UEFA should think about a suitable pilote competition for trying this out. As Ms Steinhaus says in her contribution to DIE ZEIT, ‘my dream is that is doesn’t matter any more whether a man or a woman blows the whistle. Or, for that matter, whether a man or a woman is the boss.’

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

April 4, 2013

Can we speak of ‘the feminisation’ of football?

Guest contribution by Carole Ponchon, international events and campaign manager  (http://www.caroleponchon.org).

No one can deny that women are still trying to find their place in the typically masculine domain of a sport like football. In fact, seen from the perspective of ‘hegemonic masculinity’, sport is a social structure that serves to reproduce and rebuild the male dominance by (over)highlighting ‘skills’ such as strength, power or aggression. And football has long been a proud ambassador of these representations… After all, it has always been celebrated as a predominantly working-class male preserve and it was only in early 1971 that UEFA passed a motion (which became an official recommendation in November 1971) in favour of member countries taking control of women’s football.

How many of us would have bet on such an evolution five years ago?

For some die-hard traditionalists, thinking about the ‘feminisation of football’ may actually sound provocative.

Promotion for the recent CL quarter final Lyon vs Malmö.

What do we mean by ‘feminisation’? Oxford Dictionaries define the verb feminise as ‘make (something) more characteristic of or associated with women’, other sources define feminisation as ‘the development of female characteristics in a male’.

Can we apply this to football? To me it seems the term makes sense if we consider two main trends: on the one hand, women investing the predominantly all-male football sphere, on the other hand, society being more interested in women football.

Women’s growing appetite for football

Women have shown a growing appetite for sport and football in the last decade and have become great consumers of sport content and sport activities. For example, in Germany there have been more women than men watching the national team’s games since the UEFA EURO 2008! As for sport in general it is also of interest to point out that even if Loechner (2005) showed that online sports destinations are still frequented more by males (62%) than females (38%), there was, according to Sports Sites Traffic (2009), significantly greater growth in sports website traffic for females (37%) than for males (21%) between 2007 and 2008.

Post by : GUEST in the category : Feminisation, Posts - No comment