Advertisements
Home

The Case of the 2018 Copa Libertadores Final: A Great Example of the Colonialism of Globalism

Leave a comment

Boca_Juniors_River_Plate_philips_getty_ringer.0.jpg

All Those Who Call Themselves “Fans” Should Be Worried About the Decision to Move the Copa Libertadores Final to Spain As it is Proof that Globalism Just Represents a New Form of Colonialism. Image Courtesy Of: https://www.theringer.com/soccer/2018/11/28/18115215/boca-juniors-river-plate-copa-libertadores-postponement-violence

 

The 9 December 2018 Copa Libertadores final should never have been played outside of Argentina. It was, as Argentina’s 1978 World Cup winning coach Luis Cesar Menotti said, “an aberration”. Even though almost a month has passed since the Copa Libertadores final was moved from South America to Europe, the ridiculous nature of this odd event endures, especially as it comes in the midst of the current struggle between nationalism and globalism which is slowly developing all over the world.

 

Screen Shot 2018-12-10 at 3.40.54 AM.png

The Caption Shows Just How Much the LameStream Media Distorts the Reporting About Football Fans. The Picture Hardly Shows “Chaos”. Image Courtesy of: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-6426427/Boca-Juniors-v-River-Plate-rivalry-explained-Copa-Libertadores-final-ruined-violence.html

 

Indeed, the idea of moving the cup final was a typical globalist ploy: It aimed to earn more money for a small minority at the expense of the enjoyment of a large majority. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that although Spanish police had to organize the biggest security operation for a football match in the nation’s history, “the security costs were countered by a considerable windfall for the city, which local government officials put at an estimated minimum 55 million euros”. And yet, while Spain was busy making money off of the event, it was justified by Western media in the terms of the proverbial “White Man’s Burden” since the Argentinians were—according to the lamestream media—too “emotional”, “violent”, and—ultimately—“uncivilized” to host the cup final themselves.

 

One of the biggest culprits perpetuating this kind of orientalist discourse was the progressive news outlet The Washington Post, who boldly wrote that “The Madrid final capped one of the most embarrassing chapters in South American soccer, which saw its leaders unable to stage the historic match on the continent. The second leg had to be played in the Spanish capital after it was marred by fan violence in Buenos Aires two weeks ago . . . “. In a similar vein, The Guardian’s David Rieff extended the criticism of Argentine football to a wholesale criticism of Argentine society by writing that “The problem is that for all the greatness of its individual players, Argentinian football has increasingly become a metaphor for everything that is dysfunctional about Argentina”.

 

Going even further, Jonathan Wilson (also, unsurprisingly, of The Guardian) wrote a piece with the odd headline “How Argentinian football had the chance to prove it had changed – and blew it”. Wilson’s piece seems to suggest that violence is “in the DNA” of Argentina’s football, and the president of CONMEBOL [the governing body of South American football] Alejandro Dominguez is quoted as rhetorically asking “how do we not lose our DNA?” when faced with the question of how to reduce stadium violence. Of course, Mr. Wilson already indirectly claims that violence is inextricably linked to Argentinian football by saying—in the preceding paragraph—“It is easy to be seduced by the colour, the passion. The problem is that in Argentina, that tends to come with violence. The reasons are manifold and extend far beyond football”. In short, the reasons that are “manifold” and which “extend far beyond football” are those which, for Mr. Wilson, are primordial elements of Argentinian football. In a sociology classroom Mr. Wilson would be laughed at for being an essentialist—the racist and orientalist thinking which underpin Mr. Wilson’s writing are all too apparent, yet—unfortunately—the globalist media seem to turn a blind eye to the kind of journalism which cheaply feeds on outdated stereotypes when it serves their narrative; in this case, the narrative is one which supports Europe (and the wider global north) profiting from a South American club competition (set in the global south).

 

It is clear that the globalist media do not appreciate the irrationality of true fandom. Byron Stuardo Alquijay, a River Plate fan from Guatemala, told the Daily Mail that  “River Plate for me is my life, my passion. I had to sell my car to come here. I might buy another car in the future but this match will never be repeated”. Unfortunately for Mr. Alquijay, he sold his car for nothing because the match did not actually take place in Argentina. And the fact that the globalist media support the relocation of a match of this magnitude goes very far in showing just how little they actually care about the “average” football fan: the irrational, passionate, and emotional football fan.

 

97e0b55786220bc24a0b0e4d24dc61c25dde8e10.jpeg

The Irrational, Passionate, and Emotional Football Fan. Image Courtesy Of: https://www.smh.com.au/sport/soccer/pain-for-boca-and-gain-for-river-plate-in-spain-20181210-p50l8k.html

 

Brian Phillips of theringer.com did a good job of summing up the absurdity. Just before the new venue (in Madrid) was announced, Mr. Phillips wrote “If Boca’s and River’s most hardcore fans can’t attend the game, it will probably go by without a replay of Saturday’s mayhem. That will keep the players safe, at least. But taking humans out of the equation is not really a lasting substitute for trying to understand human nature”. Indeed, eliminating human beings is a very poor response to the “problem” at hand.

 

It is clear that globalization and the commodification of football has gone too far; not only is it seeking to take football away from those who make it what it is (the fans), it is also seeking to justify this theft through racist discourse which feeds on orientalist discourses of the “emotional” and “irrational” non-Westerner. Perhaps the ultimate irony of it all—even more ironic seeing as how it comes from the “tolerant” lamestream media in the West (Reuters pointed it out)—is that “a competition named in honour of the liberators of south America was […] played in the home of their former rulers”. Football fans everywhere should be ashamed at the kind of wrangling that led to Argentina’s premier football fixture being moved from Buenos Aires to Madrid. If you wouldn’t be ok with the Manchester derby being played in Japan, the Istanbul derby being played in Sao Paulo, or–**gasp**–the Spanish El Clasico being played in Doha, then I would think you shouldn’t be ok with what happened to the Copa Libertadores Final. In the new year, be sure to stand up for your country and, of course, your local team. It is, after all, one small way to resist the neo-colonialism of globalism.

Advertisements

Using Karl Marx to Reach an Understanding of the Relationship between Labor and Industrial Football

3 Comments

Author’s Note: Parts of this post were written as an assignment for a graduate seminar in Classical Sociological Theory.

 On 14 September 2016 the Sporting Director of German side Borussia Monchengladbach, Max Eberl, did something football fans everywhere can be proud of. He—if only for a moment—stood up to the rat-race routine of modern life and all of its rationalizing influence that forces humans all over the world to make work the focal point of modern life, as if that I why we are on this earth. After the Manchester City-Borussia Monchengladbach Champions League tie got postponed and pushed forward one day later due to a deluge in Manchester, Mr. Eberl took action. Recognizing that many ‘Gladbach’ fans would stay to support their side through thick and thin, he left a note for the 1500 away fans on their seats excusing them for missing the work they may miss the next day due to attending the re-arranged match.

57d98887bea3a_604316094

Borussia Monchengladbach’s Fans Are Passionate to Say the Least. Image Courtesy Of: http://www.dailystar.co.uk/sport/football/545608/Borussia-Monchengladbach-letter-sack-Man-City-game

The note reads:

Unfortunately, your employee (name) cannot appear at work on this Thursday as he is in Manchester to fulfil the important duty to support (Monchengladbach).

We thank you being his boss for accepting his apology to stay away for one day.

We regret whatever inconvenience this may have for your company, but, at the same time, hope for your understanding.

With kind regards from Manchester, Max Eberl.

Gladbach-Letter-1024x768.jpg

Mr. Ebrl’s Note. Image Courtesy Of: http://www.101greatgoals.com/news/gladbach-leave-awesome-letter-seats-away-fans-man-city-tonight-picture/

Personally, I believe this is one of the warmest developments in world football I have seen in the last few years. The fact that it happened in the UEFA Champions League—the “rich man’s club” of world football, so to speak—makes it all the more interesting, especially seeing as how the competition has consistently worked to favor the rich clubs. Mr. Eberl’s human request to employers shows just how much of a hold the economic system we live in has on us; it also shows us how—even in the age of industrial football—there are still a few unique individuals left in world football.

We can relate the concepts of labor and industrial football to one another by using some of Karl Marx’s writing as a guide. Marx explains in “Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844” that:

In estranging from man (1) nature, and (2) himself, his own active functions, his life activity, estranged labour estranges the species from man. It changes for him the life of the species into a means of individual life. First it estranges the life of the species and individual life, and secondly it makes individual life in its abstract form the purpose of the life of the species, likewise in its abstract and estranged form (Marx and Engels 1975, 90).

This focus on the individual (through the importance of labor as it becomes the sole purpose of the species) meant that workers are becoming alienated, or estranged, from themselves and one another. When the sport of football first became popular in England in the late 1800s and early 1900s, it was mainly as a form of leisure for the working classes. Sport also gave the working classes a sense of community; the teams workers played for or supported offered a new kind of collective identity that was able to bring people together.

As sport has become commercialized, many fans have objected to a system where the fans are viewed not as individuals but as “consumers”; the fan has become “estranged”, to use Marx’s term, from the experience of being a spectator. Fans are expected to hand over increasing amounts of money to watch their teams’ games, spending more and more of what they have earned (through production) at their jobs in order to view what had once been relatively inexpensive. Since soccer is such a popular sport all over the world, pay-TV channels have sprung up in most of the industrial world that televise live games. This, of course, requires a subscription in addition to a normal cable (or similar product) subscription; the game itself is never free. Even if one wants to watch a televised match outside of the home, they would have to go to a restaurant or bar which will also charge money in exchange for offering the game.

This commodification of the game also reflects the “race to the bottom” aspects of capitalism that Marx touches on in “Wage-Labour and Capital”. As the mode of production and means of production continually are transformed and revolutionized, the relative value of the worker decreases and profits increase. In order to keep up, capitalists are engaged in a system of competition with one another. The system of “industrial football” is no different. As teams commodify the fan experience more and more, they are able to make more and more money which translates to higher rates of success on the field. The building of newer, more comfortable, and more modern stadia means that higher prices can be charged for tickets, which in turn pushes out the lower classes and brings in the middle and upper classes; changing the demographic of fans means attracting more affluent fans at the expense of less affluent fans. These more affluent fans, in turn, have more disposable income to spend on concessions and gear in the stadium and may be more likely to pay for the ability to watch games at home that they cannot see in person. And teams that increase their revenue in this manner can afford to buy better players, which makes them more successful on the field, retaining the current fans and attracting newer fans.

This is one reason why I believe that, over the last fifteen to twenty years of European soccer, the most successful teams have come from the main industrialized countries of Western Europe. Teams from regions like Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, and Scandinavia—which have retained a more amateur spirit and not “modernized” the economy of the game to the extent that those in Western Europe have—tend to not be as successful. Being located somewhat on the sidelines of the “game” of capitalist development in sport has put teams from these areas at a disadvantage compared to those from the centers of Western and Central Europe.

In light of this short discussion I believe that Borussia Monchengladbach—and Mr. Ebrl particularly—should be commended for offering spectators another side of Industrial football. The fan is not just a source of income, spending their hard earned money on their team. Rather, they are human beings who are trying to find some sort of an escape from their work in the stadium. They should not be punished for having interests outside of work, and we can only hope that other teams can start recognizing that their fans are individual people, not just pocketbooks to be exploited.

What the Confederate Flag Really Means To Some Football Fans

2 Comments

On June 22 2015 Adam Taylor of the Washington Post wrote an article entitled “Why do Italian soccer fans and other foreigners fly the Confederate flag?”. In it the author ties the furious debate over the Confederate flag’s role in American society to the wider world by using a topic I am very close too—international soccer. The Confederate flag is, indeed, a complicated issue; to some it represents “a source of Southern pride and heritage, as well as a remembrance of Confederate soldiers who died in battle” while to others it is “a divisive and violent emblem of the Ku Klux Klan and white supremacist groups.” So is it history or is it hate?

Mr. Taylor’s article seems to lean towards the latter and a Canadian high school student who labeled the flag as “racist” is quoted. Why a Canadian is quoted in a piece about US Politics I do not know. When explaining the Confederate flag’s presence in European football stadia Mr. Taylor also notes that:

 

“[M]any can’t claim ignorance when it comes to the flag’s connotations of racism and slavery. In fact, it’s likely that for a few Napoli soccer fans – in particular the hardcore “ultras” often at the center of match-day violence – it is just another reason to fly the flag of the Confederacy. Racist and anti-Semitic chants are alarmingly common all across Europe, and fans from clubs like Spain’s Real Madrid and France’s Olympique de Marseille have also been spotted flying the flag.”

 

Unfortunately this matter deserved more than a passing paragraph labeling the flag’s usage by soccer fans as just racism and hatred given that the article’s title is directly about soccer. Such a simple and superficial look at the subject only serves to mask real cultural and political issues that go beyond American (or European) racism which are being overlooked by many media outlets including—in this case—the Washington Post.

The author would have been better served doing research into the subject in the vein of what he writes in the context of Napoli, a football team from southern Italy:

 

“In southern Italy, for example, it appears some see a historical parallel at work, pointing toward their own absorption into the Kingdom of Italy in 1861 and the perceived economic and political problems since then.

In ‘Nations Divided,’ a 2002 book by historian Don Harrison Doyle, the author recalls the explanation given to him by an Italian colleague for the southern Italian embrace of Confederate symbols. ‘We too are a defeated people,’ an unnamed professor of American literature in Naples told Doyle. “Once we were a rich and independent country, and then they came from the North and conquered us and took our wealth and power away to Rome.”

 

This is closer to the truth. While it is true that some right wing fans of European football teams—particularly in eastern Europe where there are many instances of anti-Semitism and racist chants in stadiums—fly the Confederate flag due to its racist connotations; Swastikas are much more prevalent than Confederate flags in terraces where right wing fans are in the majority. Most other fans fly the Confederate flag for more innocuous reasons. In fact, these are the same reasons many Americans in the south fly the Confederate flag: It is a sign of local identity and local pride in the face of perceived domination—both political and economic—from a distant center located in a different geographic (and sometimes economic) region.

Take the Civil War as an example. Many argue that the US Civil War was fought over slavery; that interpretation is just the tip of the iceberg, even if the Washington Post will shame you by labeling you a racist if you might think otherwise. The Civil War can also be seen as a colonial war: The Industrial North, with its superior manufacturing capability and economic base (in 1840 71 percent of the nation’s railroads and 87 percent of the nations banks were in the North) had to control the South as it was the country’s agricultural center. By 1860 90 percent of the United State’s manufacturing output came from the North; the North produced 17 times more cotton than the south, 3,200 firearms were produced in the North for every 100 produced in the South, and just 40 percent of the Northern population were involved in agriculture at a time when 84 percent of the Southern population was. In order to continue receiving raw materials like cotton to support the North’s industrial revolution the South could never be allowed to secede—it would have crippled the United State’s economy. Now the internal colonialism interpretation of the Civil War has also popped up recently in order to explain Ferguson and the racial divide in the US, but such interpretations still fall flat for me in the face of the economic truths of the matter. To explain social issues using the simple term of “racism” ignores real problems and only serves to divide societies further.

 

Mr. Taylor’s article cites France’s Olympique Marseille as one of the teams that fly Confederate flags in the stadium out of hate. But Marseille’s ultras, Commando Ultras, are a left wing group. Alongside the Confederate flag one can also see images of Che Guevara, and their fans have also hung banners that read “Marseille is anti-fascist” and “Love Marseille Hate Racism”. Please note the Che Guevara image on the “South Winners” banner: Being “southern” is a huge part of the Marseille fans’ identity.

sw28ok1 omnancy9emej101181

 

Images Courtesy Of: http://z6.invisionfree.com/UltrasTifosi/index.php?s=03c052ddcebea9d571a0727a1ae09964&showtopic=4518&st=8393

The ultra group Apei Rotan of PAS Giannena, a team from Southern Greece, are leftist as well and they also display the Confederate flag alongside Che Guevara’s image.

bluevayerosalkazarsv4

Image Courtesy Of: http://z6.invisionfree.com/UltrasTifosi/index.php?showtopic=4518&st=8382O.

And the fans of Lokomotiv Plovdiv in Bulgaria—a railway worker’s team formed during the communist era—also display the Confederate flag during matches.

1326

Image Courtesy Of:http://hooliganstv.com/lokomotiv-plovdiv-botev-plovdiv-28-10-2014-pyro-and-fights-in-plovdiv/.

1. FC Nuremburg, from southern Germany, fly a Confederate flag at matches because of their identity as a team hailing from the south of the country; since Nuremburg was the site of the Nazi trials they are especially sensitive to any kind of racist displays in the stadium and their fans are apolitical.

s465ydvj

Image Courtesy Of: http://z6.invisionfree.com/UltrasTifosi/index.php?s=03c052ddcebea9d571a0727a1ae09964&showtopic=4518&st=8393

Despite coming from leftist and apolitical backgrounds some teams display the Confederate flag at matches. It is because, to many fans, the Confederate flag’s image represents things that go far beyond the simple “racist” image that is—unfortunately—underlined. In the United States the populace is sharply divided over what the Confederate Flag means yet mainstream media won’t hesitate to make a hero out of someone who lowers the flag. Blindly championing the removal of a symbol related to a nation’s history is a slippery slope, and it is when the divisions between what is seen as wrong and right get blurred is when societies only get further divided. By labeling one flag simply and solely as a racist symbol cheapens debate and doesn’t do much in the way of unifying people, it just harshens people’s views of one another irreconcilably; maybe five percent of those who support the Confederate flag do it out of hatred, and even that may be a generous estimate.

For so many others—especially football fans—it means much more. For Napoli fans it is a protest against southern Italy’s domination by northern Italy. For Marseille’s fans it is a sign of the “southern” identity of the country’s second city against the richer northern capital city of Paris. For Lokomotiv Plovdiv’s fans it is a representation of the country’s second city, Plovdiv, in the face of economic and political dominance from the country’s capital of Sofia. A kind of provincial pride is in place, perhaps. And for PAS Giannena and 1. FC Nuremburg the flag simply reflects the teams’ identities as representing southern cities.

The global North/South divide between rich and poor is also manifested in countries whose two major cities are often separated by very different economic conditions. Thus the Confederate flag should be seen in some contexts as a sign of respect for local identity in the national periphery and as a form of protest against—and reminder of—the homogenizing, conquering, identity put forth by the national center. The attacks on the Confederate flag by some professors and graduate students labeling it only as a sign of hate not only erase history, but also cover over real economic and social problems that are common to all people—black and white, American and European, football fan and non-football fan—by making those that disagree racist, bigoted, “others”. And that is the kind of simplistic division and fascistic thought process that cannot bring people together in the long term; life—like football—is much more complicated than that.