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Archive the month of August 2013

August 24, 2013

Saturday, half past three

The title of Nils Havemann’s book on the half-century of professional football in Germany since its official launch in August 1963 is an allusion to the standard kick-off time of the Bundesliga. It is well chosen, as it suggests an anchor of continuity in a history of social and cultural change. The continuity is both real and imagined. Today, only five of the nine matches are still scheduled on ‘Saturday, half past three’, but with all the disruptures in the football calendar due to media pressure, it is actually almost miraculous that this kick-off time still means anything and is immediately understood by the book’s target public: readers in their forties, fifties and sixties who want to have a better understanding not only of how football became what it is in Germany today, but also how the Federal Republic itself became what it is.

And they will be well served: Nils Havemann delivers on his promise of demonstrating to what extent football, with its many dimensions, provides a particularly rich field of investigation that allows shedding new light on processes of economic, social and cultural change in a society. His patient and meticulous exploitation of over thirty different archives succeeds in presenting the Bundesliga as a representative microcosm of post-war Western Germany. Most of all it offers, beyond the lofty theoretical definitions, a wonderfully human illustration of the day-to-day functioning and the ordinary practices of what used to be called ‘Rhineland capitalism’ or ‘German social market economy’.

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

August 24, 2013

50 years of Bundesliga

Fifty years ago, on 24 August 1963 the Bundesliga was kicked off. It put an end to an obsolete system consisting of five regional leagues whose eight best teams then qualified for a final tournament leading to the championship final. It also introduced professionalism officially in Germany, although there had of course been a lot of money around in football since the 1920s.

Gelsenkirchen, Glückauf-Kampfbahn, 24 August 1963: Schalke 04 vs. VfB Stuttgart 2-0

Compared to other national leagues, the Bundesliga was a real latecomer, born over thirty years after the leagues in Spain (1928), Italy (1929) and France (1932), not to mention England, where professional football has had its national league since 1888. But this late birth is probably the best thing that could happen to her (please note that the Bundesliga is female in German, like her Spanish, Italian and French big sisters): the fact that there has never been a ‘Reichsliga’, that there are no pictures of Nazi dignitaries handing over the ‘salad bowl’ trophy (introduced in 1949) to the winning teams, that her name is so evidently linked to the ‘Bundes-Republik’ probably explains much of her immense popular success.

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

August 16, 2013

VfB : new season / old logo !

A funny coincidence: while David was musing in his recent post on the rather incoherent metamorphosis of the PSG logo, VfB Stuttgart was forced by its own supporters to move back to the club’s traditional logo before management ‘modernised’ it in 1994. At the General Assembly held on 22 July an overwhelming 79,9% of the 2,600 members present voted in favour of the motion ‘Pro Altes VfB Wappen’ submitted by the supporters club ‘Schwabensturm’. The celebration chants after the announcement of the vote are not only a touching example of the joys of grassroots democracy – after three years of active campaigning – but also an irrefutable vindication of David’s theory of the essential conservativeness of football supporters.

So what was the excitement all about? The differences between the traditional crest and the one that was used since 1994 are not really striking. The marketing people who had decided to replace the foundation year 1893 with the city’s name Stuttgart, to (kind of) modernise the old typo  and (sort of) simplify the three deer antlers that stood for the (then) Kingdom of Württemberg, had justified their move by the necessity to improve the lisibility of the crest abroad. Their talk of targeting the ‘Asian market’ was of course ridiculous rhetoric – as if the VfB had the vocation to compete with Manchester and Barcelona (or PSG, for that matter) for fans in Thailand, Singapore (or Qatar, for that matter)…

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

August 9, 2013

PSG : new season / new logo

Nearly two years after Paris Saint-Germain was bought by the Qatar Investment Authority, the new management unveiled the new  logo of the club, to be used from the beginning of the 2013-4 season. We shall not enter the debate on why the new design may be accused of looking slightly clumsy. We are not going to ponder whether the Eiffel Tower is looked on from further down below than it used to be. We are not going to comment on the perplexing use of the character (a modified version of ITC Blair ?): on the shapes of the letters that have been transformed to fit in the logo & on the curves that no longer run smoothly (look at the R in PARIS: if you tried to drive into that bend, you would most likely end up crashing outside of the road). Neither are we going to say that the accompanying text «Rêvons plus Grand » is even more puzzling, what with the modified A & V lacking the optical correction needed at the junction between the vertical and diagonal. We are not going to say that the fading of the blue on the new logo looks slightly uncertain. In short, we are not going to make an aesthetic analysis of the logo.

Post by : Dàvid RANC in the category : Identities - No comment