2013 October | FREE

Archive the month of October 2013

October 27, 2013


Just back from the FREE conference in Vienna. And still inspired by the keynote speech given by Cornell Sandvoss and our subsequent exchange.

‘Liquid life and solid support’ – a very catchy title, which sums up in two adjectives what football may represent in our times of late modernity. Football clubs as anchors of solidity in increasingly liquid biographies, where everything – career paths, territorial belongings, even family bonds – can be put into question at any moment.

The Corinthians of the regretted Socrates even have an anchor in their crest.

Football is just one those possible anchors. You can have other “objects of transition” that you (desperately) cling to, or “ordinary passions”, as Christian Bromberger calls them. But football happens to be a very prominent one.

Perhaps precisely because of the highly polysemic character of clubs as objects of fandom. Haven’t they become – at least the biggest of them – almost empty shells into which an individual can read or interpret almost any meaning he/she wishes or needs?

There is something very artificial, illusory, sad in these projections of meaning. But for many individuals, an artificial anchor to which you can string particularist, or even essentialist, narratives is better than none. As long as football, in its different forms, is capable of helping you feel different from others, at least a little bit “special” in whatever way, decline in the breadth and intensity of fandom and supportership is little likely.

Cornell Sandvoss produced the expected good laughs among his (excellent) audience when he quoted some football fans saying that if they were in a situation where they would have to choose between their partner or their football club, well, sure, that would be regrettable, but they would no doubt have to opt for the club.

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

October 17, 2013

They made the (Spanish) people happy

Spain, the winners of Euro 2012, by Football.ua (CC-BY-SA-3.0)

Believe it or not, there are people in Spain who criticise, and quite severely, our national football team. ‘It is just plain boring to watch them play, I fall asleep’, say some. ‘Del Bosque has no idea at all, he inherited a team from Luis Aragonés and he is just a lucky guy’, say others. ‘They only play their friends, it is always Xavi, Casillas and Iniesta even if they are limping’, can also be read in the social networks. Invariably, more often than not, there is a common denominator amongst these severe critics: They are young. Too young, I may add. Young enough not to remember a time when Spain was ‘the constant underachiever’, as I read many times on the BBC website for a long time.

At the risk of sounding like my late grand father, there are many now in Spain who simply did not have to suffer going out on penalties in Mexico 86. Or the simple and plain ridiculous performance in our own World Cup in 1982. Not even the referees could help Spain out of our misery. There are of course more recent examples, such as losing to South Korea in 2002 or to France in 2006. Not least watching Zubizarreta to score an own goal against Nigeria in France 1998, where Spain did not make it through the group stages.

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

October 14, 2013


Mesut Özil has style, and there’s plenty of evidence on youtube for that.

In print or online: the 'Ö' seems here to stay.

But Mesut Özil also has influence on the style of others. The Guardian to start with: for decades the British quality newspaper had stipulated in its well-known ‘House Style Guide’ that capital letters should have no accents. But Özil’s arrival at Arsenal triggered change in many ways, and the two dots have made their appearance on the capital ‘O’. It’s uncertain yet what the German midfielder might actually bring to Arsenal in the long run, but he has already enriched the Guardian’s alphabet. Would they have changed it for, say, a new Turkish prime minister or President? Chances are they wouldn’t. Such people do not appear half as often in print as an Arsenal midfielder.

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

October 4, 2013

What happens when money does not buy (enough) titles?

Cristiano Ronaldo and Arda Turan

Cristiano Ronaldo and Arda Turán. (C) LauraHale [CC-BY-SA-3.0

In the last year the football order in the Spanish capital, Madrid, has been turned upside down. For the first time in years Atlético de Madrid has defeated twice in a row Real Madrid at the Bernabéu stadium. And one of the victories was on the Spanish Cup (Copa del Rey) final, where the ‘Colchoneros’ of Atlético came from one goal behind to lift the trophy with an emphatic 2-1 win over their city rivals. Not only that, but Atlético is winning titles whilst Real Madrid is licking its wounds and witnessing how their arch-rival FC Barcelona are crowned as European champions three times. Admittedly, Real Madrid under Jose Mourinho have won a League, a Cup and a Spanish Super Cup. But it all seems too little for a club that has broken twice in less than five year the record of the most expensive football transfer with Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.

The arrival of former player Diego Pablo Simeone to Atlético de Madrid has given a new sense of pride to the team, the club and the fans. ‘We play finals to win’, stated recently the Argentinian manager. A very different mental setting for a club that used to be known for its predisposition to bad luck and to shoot itself on the foot. Atléticos are now winners, whilst the supporters of Real Madrid seem to be left with no clear direction. Some in Madrid blame the club’s chairman, Florentino Pérez. Others, specially the sport press, blame José Mourinho, despite his success in stopping Pep Guardiola’s Barça and restoring Real Madrid to winning ways. There are even those who accuse the players, and specially the club and national team’s captain Iker Casillas, one of the heroes of the 2010 World Cup final with his vital saves over Arjen Robben.

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