History | FREE - Part 2

Archive for the category : History

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

March 15, 2013

Oblivion, remembrance, commemoration

Guest contribution by Markwart Herzog, director of the the Schwabenakademie Irsee in Southern Germany, and editor of a recent book on memorial culture in football (1), which he has kindly accepted to present in this blogpost.
(contact: markwart.herzog [a] schwabenakademie.de)

‘Sport organises the here and now, it plans for the future and – one is tempted to add with a certain resignation – it forgets its own past.’ This is the regretful statement formulated by German sports historian Hans Joachim Teichler in a book chapter in 2012.

German sports history has produced only very few scholarly contributions whose understanding of collective memory is not limited to a mere political analysis – mainly in the context of the formulation of political injustice under the two German dictatorships – but also includes themes and issues of cultural history, such as for instance the important field of a rich and diverse sepulchral culture in football.

In the UK, to the contrary, several scientific studies have recently been published; among them contributions by Anne Eyre, Liam Foster, Neville Gabie, Gary Osmond, Murray Phillips, Maureen Smith, John Williams, Jason Wood, Kate Woodthorpe, and in particular the work of Mike Huggins (University of Cumbria), who is well-known as the author of several studies in the field of cultural history particularly rich in source material. Huggins moreover explored the commercialisation of the funerary culture in British sport during the nineteenth century. We also owe much to Dave Russell (Leeds Metropolitan University) for his study which contains rich material regarding the culture of memory in British football of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century.

Post by : GUEST in the category : History, Identities, Memory, Posts - No Comment

March 11, 2013

« Our story will become legend » : history & memory at Paris Saint-Germain

By Pymouss44 (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsLast week, one of this year’s star players at Paris Saint-Germain, Zlatan Ibrahimović expressed his surprise that he & his team received booing from the audience at the Parc des Princes at half-time. Mr Ibrahimović’s comments were along the lines of ‘this is odd, because before this year, the audience had nothing’.

Mr Ibrahimović’s surprise is itself a surprise. PSG was top of the League & Nancy was bottom. PSG was playing at home, in front of its supporters. It is fair to say that the crowd could be expected to feel, and perhaps express, some disappointment in view of such a mediocre result at half-time. (However, PSG went on to win the game, as expected, stayed on top, & the crowd seemed more pleased by the end result)
Mr Ibrahimović’s psychology might partly explain his comments. He is a very talented player, & thinks very highly of his own talent, too, as evidenced in his ‘autobiography’ _I am Zlatan_ (written by David Lagercrantz) & in numerous interviews. Conversely, he often seems to underestimate the talent of other players.

Post by : Dàvid RANC in the category : Competitions, History, Identities, Memory - No Comment

March 8, 2013

Memory, collective memory and football today

Guest contribution by Geoff Hare (Newcastle University, retired, now living in Edinburgh – geoff.hare[à]ncl.ac.uk). Geoff is the author of Football in France. A Cultural History (2003) and France and the 1998 World Cup (1998, co-authored with Hugh Dauncey).

When Professor Wolfram Pyta spoke to me in Besançon about the FREE conference on collective memory and European football to be held in Stuttgart, I immediately thought of the first European Cup Final I had seen, live on TV in full, in 1960. Real Madrid had beaten Eintracht Frankfurt by 7 goals to 3, a remarkable score by current standards. In my own memory it was a remarkable match and had an important effect in Britain at the time. Was this a false memory in view of the subsequent, and indeed still current status of Real as one of the great clubs of European football? I decided to investigate further before replying to the call for papers.

I was about to move to Edinburgh and the match had been played in nearby Glasgow, I soon re-discovered. I had forgotten that. I headed for the National Library of Scotland. The librarian dealing with my request for newspapers of the 1960s recalled his father telling him, as part of Scottish football’s folk memory, about the exceptional match he had seen at Hampden long before, far better than the football of the 1980s that the son had been brought up on.

Post by : FREE-TEAM in the category : Competitions, History, Memory - No Comment

January 29, 2013

The birth of the Panenka

Guest contribution by Didier Braun, the living memory of France’s great sports daily L’Equipe. Didier is the author of the daily column La lucarne’ and, more recently, of the wonderful book Mon armoire à maillots (‘My Cupboard full with Football Jerseys’), which will be worth a blog post in its own right. During Euro 2012 he wrote a memory piece about each of the 16 participating teams. The article below, published in the 12 June issue, was one of them. It echoes Borja García’s ‘deconstruction’ blogpost of April, completing it in a nice way.

1976, BELGRADE. – Like all legends, the legend of football is often written and embellished long after the facts. Today, the ‘panenka’ is part of the legendary narrative of the European Championship.

What is it? It is this cheeky, impertinent way of shooting a penalty whose finest technical description was given by Jean-Philippe Réthacker in France Football, on the day after a Euro 1980 qualifier between Czechoslovakia and France (2-0, on 4 April 1979), where Antonín Panenka fooled Dominique Dropsy this way that consists in

‘darting very quickly towards the ball, letting people expect a strong shot, stopping brutally when transferring weight onto the back foot, hooking the ball with a spoon-like shot, and using a sort of lob, whose slow, swirling trajectory completely fools the opposite goalkeeper’.

In this article, Réthacker was not referring to a ‘panenka’, but to a ‘dead leave’, an old stock phrase formerly used to illustrate the free kicks of Brasilian Didi and, further back in time, the French international player of Austrian descent, Henri Hiltl.

Belgrade, 20 June 1976. Sepp Maier has not forgotten.

It is in this way that Panenka, in the Belgrade final of the 1976 European Championship gave Czechoslovakia the title against the great team of the Federal Republic of Germany, master of the world since 1974 and holder of the European title since 1972. This was the first time that a major international victory was won on penalty shoot-outs (2-2, 5-3 on shootouts). Panenka was also the last player to take a shot. The great Sepp Maier has not forgotten.

But very few people talked about this novel technique on the spot. This was 1976, not 2012, when any prank is looped on TV, echoed by millions of clicks on the web, copied, pasted, tweeted, ‘youTubed’.

Post by : GUEST in the category : Competitions, History, Memory, Posts, Public Sphere - No Comment

January 21, 2013

Thirty years of hurt

Second part of our French-German blogpost trilogy on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Elysée Treaty.

On 8 July 2012, the French evening news commemorated two major events in the nation’s recent history.

First it reported on the meeting of François Hollande and Angela Merkel in Reims Cathedral, 50 years after de Gaulle and Adenauer whose solemn celebration of reconciliation paved the way for the Elysée Treaty signed half a year later. Would they have spoken about it if the two governments had not decided to highlight the anniversary of an event that – unlike the milestone Treaty itself – is hardly remembered?

An entire special issue on one single match from 30 years ago.

Then it looked back with nostalgia at another French-German lieu de mémoire, probably much more present in the memory of its viewers: the ‘Night of Sevilla’ of 8 July 1982, when Platini’s wonderful team lost a truly memorable semi-final in the first ever penalty shoot-out at a World Cup.This match, which Platini does not get tired of describing as the greatest experience of his entire career, deserves to be remembered for several reasons.

First, for the sheer class of the game and the players. You’d expect that watching it today, after three decades, seven World Cups, the introduction of the Champions League and several seasons of Spanish delight, everything would seem slow, disorderly and hopelessly outpaced. Wrong. Even from today’s perspective, this is brilliant football (full match here, highlights here).

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

January 20, 2013

A friendly

Part one of a Franco-German blogpost trilogy on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Elysée Treaty.

On 6 February, France will receive Germany for a friendly at the Stade de France. The match was fixed by the two federations – no doubt gently nudged by their respective governments – on the first available date following the 50th anniversary of the Elysée Treaty signed by Charles de Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer on 22 January 1963.

True enough, the Treaty is a remarkable piece of visionary reconciliation, establishing a unique partnership that even has turned into something like friendship carried not only by governments but by large parts of civil society. Organising a ‘friendly’ seems to be a rather appropriate semantic choice.

Colombes, March 1931 - The first France-Germany.

Except that friendlies in international football between neighbouring countries are never really friendlies, are they? How could they be? In the fans’ and media’s memory, a century-old rivalry is always in the background. In the players’ mind, facing another European top-team is an opportunity to earn or justify one’s place in the team for the important World Cup qualifiers to come. For the coaches, it’s most of all an occasion to test tactical schemes and rotate in the team.

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

January 15, 2013

Does anybody remember the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup?

Guest contribution by Rainer Kalb, long-standing football journalist who has moved and mediated between France and Germany for over 30 years. Rainer, who is a hopelessly nostalgic Mönchengladbach supporter, was the German jury member of the Ballon d’or between 1980 and 2008.

Today even football experts need to think hard when confronted with the term ‘Inter-Cities Fair Cup’. How many of them would know that the first game of this first truly pan-European club competition was actually played several months before the opening fixture of the European Champions Clubs’ Cup? On June 4th, 1955 a local selection of the City of Basel lost 0-5 against a similar selection from London, while the first match of what became quickly known as the ‘European Cup’ – a 3-3 draw between Sporting Lisbon and Partizan Belgrade – only took place on September 4th that same year.

In early 1955, following the invitation of Ernst Thommen, who as vice-president of the Swiss Football Association had just successfully organised the 1954 World Cup, the leaders of twelve international cities known for their international trade or industrial fairs met in Basel. Their idea was to take benefit from the growing attractiveness and media echo of football to polish the image of their respective cities. From today’s perspective, knowing how long it finally took before advertisement and sponsoring fully entered the world of clubs and competitions, their idea might well be considered visionary.

London vs Frankfurt 1955 (courtesy www.flickr.com/ photos/footysphere/)

UEFA turned a cold shoulder on this competition, which was exclusively restricted to cities holding such fairs and which, in its early years, replaced club teams by representative city teams. For instance, the London team that beat Frankfurt in the first edition was composed by players from seven different clubs.

Among the founding members of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup were London, Birmingham, Barcelona, Milano, Lausanne, Basel, Leipzig, Zagreb, Frankfurt, Cologne and Vienna (with the latter two finally withdrawing just before the launch).

Like the European Champions Clubs Cup the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup benefitted tremendously from the development of jet aircrafts and the equipment of stadia with modern floodlights, making evening games in mid-week possible. It had, however, a structural flaw: the business representatives had insisted on a scheduling of the matches that was simultaneous to the respective trade fairs. For this reason the first competition, despite only ten competing teams, lingered on for three years! When Barcelona, with a 6-0 against London following a 2-2 draw in London, won the first trophy on the 1st of May 1958, Real Madrid were already on their way to their third consecutive Champions Cup win (29 May 1958, 3-2 after extra-time against AC Milan).

Post by : GUEST in the category : History, Memory, Posts - No Comment

January 3, 2013

Whose memory?

One thousand pages on the fundamental elements of Europeanness. One thousand pages on concepts and events, pieces of art and objects of consumption, on all these things that made Europe into what it is today. One thousand pages, three volumes, more than 120 entries by authors from over 15 countries, and not a single word on sport (or pop music, or cinema, for that matter). How can it be that this remarkable collective endeavour of conceptualising and bringing together European Lieux de mémoire (1) suffers from such a large blind spot when it comes to mass culture?

So many pages...

In the third volume, this is particularly bewildering. Under the heading ‘Europe and the world’, this part of the series wishes explicitly to analyse how European influence has been received and acculturated by the world before being ‘re-imported to Europe in a different form’. Of course, colonialism, economic globalisation, racism, emigration etc. play an important role here, but what about football, the Beatles or the French film pioneers? Are these not relevant as cultural exports? Have they nothing to say about what it means to be European today?

Post by : Albrecht Sonntag in the category : History, Identities, Memory, Posts - No Comment

December 27, 2012

Christmas 1914: did the Brits and the Germans really play football?

Michael Foreman's children's novel

It’s one of the most endearing stories of World War I: the short Christmas truce in 1914, a pause in the fighting where British and German soldiers are said to have left their trenches spontaneously on Christmas day, smoked some cigarettes together in the no-man’s land, suddenly produced a ball and engaged in an unorganised football match, with over 30 on each side and no one keeping score. The story has been turned into a very nice animated short film named ‘War Games’ (Dave Unwin, 2001, 29 min., based on the 1989 children’s novel by Michael Foreman) and it played a key role in the 2005 major French movie ‘Joyeux Noël’ by Christian Carion (see trailer here).

Post by : Albrecht Sonntag in the category : History, Memory, Posts - 1 comment

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