2014 June | FREE

Archive the month of June 2014

June 30, 2014

Football: It’s Time to Check the Privilege!

Part 1 by Alexandra Schwell

Football’s Dark Side: Corruption, Homophobia, Violence and Racism in the Beautiful Game” – this is the title of a new book written by Ellis Cashmore and Jamie Cleland. The authors contend that “Football may yet be the last major sport to boast that it harbours no prejudices”. However, they say, it “stands to reason that in a sport played by about 200,000 professionals, only a few have declared themselves to be gay”. Hence they conclude: “It can be reasonably assumed that football is a prohibitive environment for gay people”.

To be clear, Cashmore and Cleland are not accusing football of being an extraordinary homophobic, racist, or violent sport when compared to other sports, such as boxing. If we share the view that the social forces and power that create the distribution of economic, cultural, and social capital, and thus opportunities within society, come to the fore and are negotiated in football, then we should take a look at how this wider society links to the activity around and on the football pitch.

Let us take a random, but rather recent, example: In November 2013 a teacher in Baden-Württemberg, Germany launched an online petition and attempted to obtain enough signatures to oppose the ministry of education’s 2015 state curriculum. The new and highly contested curriculum includes a controversial section, which requires that the schools are expected to advance their pupils’ understanding of “gender diversity” across all disciplines.

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

June 26, 2014

The World Cup 2014 in Brazil: better organised than the Olympics in London 2012?

Yesterday, I was quoted in a number of French newspapers as saying that the World Cup 2014 has been, so far, better organised than the London Olympics 2012. It is my duty to report that this does not in any way whatsoever misrepresent my views.
I stand by what I said.

Post by : Dàvid RANC in the category : Posts - 36 comments

June 23, 2014

Thank you, guys

Fifteen years ago I had the privilege of living one of those adventures that remain with you for life. Back then I was quite far away from the academic world, working as a reporter in a Spanish sports newspaper. One day may boss decided, who knows why, that I was the best person to travel to Nigeria to cover the 1999 FIFA Youth World Cup. Little I knew then that I was going to have the opportunity to report on the first major triumph of a group of players which, defeated, bowed out of the 2014 World Cup yesterday after cruising to a meaningless 3-0 win over Australia. Certainly, I would have never thought when writing up a report on the final 4-0 crushing of Japan in a humid evening in Lagos, that some of the names in my text would feature eleven years later in other journalists’ reports of a World Cup final. It is perhaps because of this personal link that I cannot help to feel for this group of players who, as I argued in a post in this blog, made so many of us happy.

Brazil 2014 is certainly the end of a glorious generation of Spanish footballers that came to dominate the game in a fashion I could never have imagined. Not even when I first met Xavi, Iker Casillas or Carlos Marchena in the Spanish hotel in Calabar, a small city neat the Niger River, where Spain played two group-stage games of the 1999 Youth World Cup. The story of that month-long competition was one of coming out of age for a group of players and quite a privilege for me. Given the informality of the tournament, players and journalists shared hotels and many of the difficult moments in Nigeria. We were even able to forge some friendships that were maintained over time. It is also perhaps because of that more personal element that I have really struggled to see Xavi suffering because of his lack of fitness and his patellar tendons over the last couple of seasons. It has also been difficult to see the state of Casillas in the World Cup. The great captain who took us to heaven was a caricature of what he used to be.

Be that as it may, in this very sad and disappointing moment I can only have a word of gratitude for those who made this possible. It is of course necessary to start with Luis Aragonés, the scorer of Atlético de Madrid infamous goal in the 1974 European Cup final. Luis was a particular character, but he needs to be credited with giving a complete turnaround to the way Spain used to play and to feel on a pitch. He relayed of course on a bright group of players, later evolved by Vicente del Bosque to the work of art of Puyol’s header over Germany in South Africa, Casillas save on Robben or the team demolition of Italy in Kiev in Euro 2012.

This Brazil World Cup was perhaps one too many for some players. It is the moment to evolve the team, but it is not the moment to throw an idea of playing football in the bin. Some would say that Brazil changed and it does not play the attacking football of the Pele years. True. But it would be a real pity not to try to persevere in the idea of Luis Aragonés and Del Bosque that made many of us dream. In the meantime, in the moment to hand in our trophy of world champions, it is also the moment to say thanks. Thank you, guys. It was a very enjoyable journey.

Post by : Borja García in the category : Governance, History, Memory - No comment

June 22, 2014

Lost in France

This blog is on World Cup holiday, lost in France (still the world’s number one tourist destination).

It's never too late to learn French, is it?

Unfortunately, the French insist on speaking, writing and reading their own language. Which is why the blog has turned into “une chronique quotidienne de la Coupe du monde” on the website of Le Monde, the great French daily. For those who are willing and capable of reading French, here are the links to the first week’s columns:


A bientôt !

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

June 5, 2014

For the people or against the people?

A post from pre-World Cup Rio by Gosia Kowalska.

Football club colours on the beach in Rio.

Not surprisingly, football is omnipresent in Rio de Janeiro. On the countless football pitches in Flamengo Park in front of the hotel where I stayed during the ‘2nd International Conference on Mega-events and the City‘, referees’ whistles are heard almost 24 hours a day – even at 3 am when the waiters finish their work and gather to play a match before sunrise. As in so many places in the world, cariocas get together to watch football in cafes, and kids wear shirts with the names of their, and their fathers’, favourite players, but club colours are also seen on the beach where the flags of Botafogo and Fluminese proudly flutter over the neighbouring kiosks with agua de coco and caipirinha.

The World Cup, however, seems to belong to a very different sphere. It has to do with pacification of favelas and displacement, as well as with citizens’ protests against the wealth distribution and arrogance of FIFA and the country’s elites. Each time I asked my hosts about the World Cup and the Olympic Games, they hardly ever talked football;  they would rather discuss the power of the Rede Globo and the possible future of the new potential born within Brazilian society in the mass protests before the upcoming mega-events. Therefore, one pays less attention to advertisements and construction sites than to the constant noise of helicopters patrolling the supposedly uneasy favelas. Even those visitors who are determined not to leave southern Rio must pass through the not-so-glamorous districts of the city when taking a shuttle to the international airport . A short glimpse into their streets is enough to give one a sense of the flipside of the development and splendor of Ciudad Maravillosa.

Rio and its ‘two footballs’ are symptomatic of the global tensions between the rich and the poor. Both the World Cup and the Games stimulated discussion on the future shape of Brazilian capitalism and democracy, but they can also be analysed dialectically, as mirroring the widening gap between the leisure world of the affluent and the basic needs and rights of those who cannot afford it. Is the World Cup going to be a big football fiesta or rather a chance to show the world that the city, as the organisers of the conference claimed, is ‘already at war’? Probably both, and this schizophrenic image of a locality is not confined to Brazilian cities.

‘Democracy is the government of the people, by the people, for the people’, according to Abraham Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg address. He did not know that at the very same time, in November 1863, on the other side of the Atlantic, some guys were busy drafting the rules of a new ball game in the Freemasons’ Tavern in London. One and a half century later, football and democracy meet at the world’s most important mega-event in Brazil. For the people or against the people?

Post by : FREE-TEAM in the category : Posts - 1 comment