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European Success Comes at Africa’s Expense: Former U.S. President Barack Obama’s First Major Post-Presidential Speech Focuses on Football but Misses the Mark

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Former U.S. President Barack Obama chose to make the focus of his first major post-presidential speech football, and in so doing proved (as has become the norm for globalist figures) his distance from the people. At an event in South Africa celebrating the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s birth, Mr. Obama praised the French national football team as an example of “inclusivity”. Unfortunately for Mr. Obama, however, his speech missed the mark on many levels.

As I have written before, the FIFA World Cup—particularly the 2018 incarnation of it—has become a propaganda tool for globalist interests. Predictably, Mr. Obama’s speech followed the globalist logic. Mr. Obama noted that the “multicultural” French squad confirmed Mr. Mandela’s “principle that we are bound to a common humanity”, and that this is a

 

truth that is incompatible with any form of discrimination based on race or religion or gender or sexual orientation. And it is a truth that, by the way, when embraced, actually delivers practical benefits, since it ensures that a society can draw upon the talents and energy and skill of all its people. And if you doubt that, just ask the French football team that just won the World Cup. Because not all of those folks – not all of those folks look like Gauls to me. But they’re French. They’re French.

 

While Mr. Obama may have wanted his “observation” to be interpreted as one in favor of multiculturalism, instead it seems that he has not abandoned the race-baiting tactics which have so disastrously divided the United States; indeed, the focus in this statement is not on the caliber of play but instead on the physical appearance of the French team. And that is something that someone as “tolerant” as Mr. Obama should have recognized before making such a ludicrous statement.

 

Yet Mr. Obama was not done. He continued by saying:

 

Embracing our common humanity does not mean that we have to abandon our unique ethnic and national and religious identities. Madiba never stopped being proud of his tribal heritage. He didn’t stop being proud of being a black man and being a South African. But he believed, as I believe, that you can be proud of your heritage without denigrating those of a different heritage.

 

Here I am forced to ask who—aside from, perhaps, Google—would ever claim that being proud of one’s heritage means denigrating those of different heritage? Mr. Obama seems to be going by the bizarre logic of Google, which equates xenophobia with nationalism, that I criticized on 10 July. It is a shame that Mr. Obama is so caught up in the narrative he is trying to spread that he cannot see the problems inherent in his effusive praise of the French side.

 

While the French side deserve all the credit in the world for winning a physically and mentally taxing tournament like the World Cup, the image of the “multicultural” French side may not be as rosy as some commentators seem to assume. As I have written about previously, globalization is essentially imperialism with a kinder face. In France’s case, their “multicultural” football team may be less a reflection of their “tolerant” society (which, in actuality, is fairly racist), and more a reflection of neo-colonialism; the team is the fruit of past imperialism! France’s team won the world cup with a squad featuring a many players of African descent; according to Yahoo Sports, there were players of Congolese, Guinean, Nigerian, Cameroonian, Algerian, Mauritanian, Senegalese, Malian, Tologlese, Angolan, Zairian, and Moroccan descent in the French squad. Yet, at the same time, this World Cup saw the worst performance for Africa, as a continent, since 1982; it was the first time in 36 years that an African side failed to appear in the tournament’s second round, and the African contingent’s 15 games resulted in 10 losses, two draws, and just three wins.

Comically, the BBC asks, rhetorically, “What Went Wrong for Africa in 2018?”, and they suggest VAR and “bad luck” as possible answers. Readers who expect honest reporting—rather than globalist rhetoric—from journalists would do well to avoid the BBC, because the answer is quite clear: What went wrong for Africa is that some of Africa’s most talented footballers are currently playing for European countries! If Mr. Obama actually cared for Africa—as he continually claims to do—he could have addressed the neo-colonialism of the French football team while also praising it. Or he could have praised Croatia, who—despite their small size—showed what a team can do when both players and fans are united with a strong sense of national identity and national pride. In the end, however, Mr. Obama’s rhetoric is just that: rhetoric. It has no basis in reality, and merely represents another form of globalist propaganda. Meanwhile, I am hoping for a true African success at the next World Cup. After all, that is likely what Nelson Mandela would have truly wanted: the sons of Africa playing under an African—and not a colonial—flag.

 

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For Instance, Didier Drogba didn’t play for France…He Played for the Ivory Coast. Image Courtesy Of: https://fr.starafrica.com/football/articles/mondial-2018-drogba-revient-sur-lechec-de-lafrique/
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The Top World Cup 2018 Shirts: A Lesson in Late Stage Capitalism and Global Homogenization

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Four Years ago, I wrote a piece detailing my top picks among the 2014 kits and my choices for the top five classic world cup kits. With just seven days until the 2018 FIFA World Cup kicks off in Russia, I thought I would do the same. However, this year, the list will be a little more sociological than the one from four years ago.

Indeed, outlets like GQ have provided their rankings, as well as a slew of other websites; one need only search “top world cup shirts 2018” in order to be bombarded by hundreds of choices. This is why my list will not be so much as a ranking. Instead, it will be commentary on just how late stage capitalist logic—and one dimensional thought—invade every aspect of our lives. This invasion—similar to the colonization of the life world by the system, that Sociologist Jurgen Habermas has written about—is very evident in the world of football shirts.

For an introduction to the topic, please see my earlier post from 6 July 2017 here. In short, my argument is that when the logic of consumption drives the creative process, one dimensional thought becomes the norm. Designers and creative minds are unwilling—in fact, in some cases, they may even be scared—to stray from the “tried and true” methods. After all, these are the methods that have brought profit. Therefore, creativity is stifled by a dominant form of one dimensional thought which cannot stray from its own money-making logic.

This is why cars have started to look more and more the same, and why mobile (or cellular) telephones are virtually indistinguishable from one another regardless of if they are iPhones, Samsungs, Nokias, HTCs, LGs, or any other brand. As a human society, we have become used to images—we are obsessed with them, as Jean Baudrillard has said—and this means that our reality is more of a hyperreality dominated by these images. We know what a mobile phone should look like, anything that does not look like the image we have been grown used to cannot be a phone (think of flip-phone versus iPhone). Similarly, with cars, we see the same process. We have become used to what a “luxury” car should look like, so we cannot conceive of anything that does not look like what we expect (perhaps this is why Hyundais and Kias look virtually the same while also resembling more expensive brands like BMW and Audi).

 

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Which One Of These Is a Phone? Image Courtesy Of: https://thoughttamales.wordpress.com/tag/prepaid-cell/

 

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The Same Car? Image Courtesy Of: https://www.carwow.co.uk/blog/kia-sportage-vs-hyundai-tucson

Unfortunately, football shirts are not immune from this ongoing homogenization in the name of increasing consumption, and the latest World Cup shirt designs show this. More than a few of this year’s shirts bare a striking resemblance to older shirts, which makes for a very boring overall lineup.

 

Spain 2018. Image Courtesy Of: http://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/gallery/world-cup-kits-ranked-2018

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Spain’s 2018 shirt did not impress GQ, and this is perhaps because it is just a re-hashing of the country’s classic 1994 design.

 

Spain 1994. Image Courtesy Of: http://www.branchofscience.com/2014/05/nineties-kits-usa-94-special-part-two/

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Colombia 2018. Image Courtesy Of: http://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/gallery/world-cup-kits-ranked-2018

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Another shirt that GQ didn’t like. Perhaps that is because this is just a modernized version of Adidas’ 1996 template; the antecedent of this shirt was perhaps Romania’s Euro 1996 shirt.

 

Romania 1996. Image Courtesy Of: https://thefootballshirtcollective.tumblr.com/post/142359500227/repost-199698-romania-home-shirt-from

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Mexico 2018. Image Courtesy Of: http://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/gallery/world-cup-kits-ranked-2018

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Mexico’s 2018 kit is not very imaginative (and has no resemblance to the beauties from 1998 which actually paid homage to Mexico’s Central American heritage). Instead, this kit seems to have been inspired by Bulgaria’s 1994 World Cup Kit. I suppose that is globalism at its best; in 20 years Mexico went from gaining inspiration from their own history to gaining inspiration from…Bulgaria. Maybe it is due to the fact that both countries’ flags share the same tricolor, who knows.

 

Bulgaria 1994. Image Courtesy Of: http://kirefootballkits.blogspot.com/2011/10/bulgaria-kits-world-cup-1994.html

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Germany 2018. Image Courtesy Of: : http://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/gallery/world-cup-kits-ranked-2018

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While Germany’s shirt might be striking in this line up, it is merely a rehashing of the classic West Germany shirt from 1988. And, like so many shirts on this list, the new one is not as nearly as well designed as the old one. Indeed, sequels are never as good as the originals.

 

Germany 1988. Image Courtesy Of: http://hullcitykits.co.uk/meet-the-hck-staff/

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Nigeria 2018 (Image Courtesy Of: http://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/gallery/world-cup-kits-ranked-2018

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Nigeria’s new kit has been widely touted as one of the best in this year’s tournament. GQ calls it “eccentric”, and given that it is already sold out in the UK it goes to show that sometimes it pays to stray from one-dimensional thought. Yet, at the same time, even this shirt is not completely unique. When I first saw the shirt I couldn’t help but think that I had seem something like it before. Indeed, it bares some resemblance to Holland’s classic 1998 design and West Germany’s Euro 1988 Away kit as well as Northern Ireland’s 1990 Umbro shirt.

 

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Holland 1988. Image Courtesy Of: https://www.retrosyrarezas.com/products/holland-netherlands-mens-retro-soccer-jersey-euro-88-gullit-10-replica

 

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Germany 1988-1990. Image Courtesy Of: http://kirefootballkits.blogspot.com/2016/07/germany-kits-euro-1988.html

 

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Northern Ireland 1990. Image Courtesy Of: http://nifootball.blogspot.com/2006/10/iain-dowie.html

 

It is important to note that this list—and this criticism of the 2018 shirt line up—is not to say that respecting the past, and paying homage to past designs, is not a bad thing. Indeed, respecting the past and what has come before is a good thing. But this does not mean that we should be blind to the fact that, in the name of consumption, we are being sold the past back to us in the present. It means that while we—as consumers—are paying more and more for our products, while the designers may be getting less and less creative. And it also means that there is a very real double standard in world football when it comes to shirt designs.

I will leave this post with a comparison between the 1996 Turkey Home and Away shirts and the 2016 “Spider Man” home and away Turkish Kits. Perhaps, in this instance, the designers would have done well to seek some inspiration from the past. But even here, the “past” of 1996 still represented by an Adidas template.

 

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New vs. Old. I am not a fan of the new shirts at all. Image Courtesy of the Author.

 

In March 2018 a Turkish sports pundit, Mehmet Demirkol, came out threatening to take the Turkish FA to court if they did not return to the classic Turkish national shirt design. The classic design has been changed on and off for years, culminating in the monstrosity of the 2016 “Spider Man” kits. And it is here that I agree with Mr. Demirkol. There is such a thing as national symbols, and—as Mr. Demirkol argues—the football shirt is a national symbol. We do not see international corporations like Nike and Adidas playing with German, English, Brazilian, Dutch, or Argentine kits. No, such countries have been wearing similar designs for years. Indeed, as I pointed out, Germany has returned to a classic design for the 2018 World Cup. Yet countries like Mexico and Turkey have their kits played with—and their national heritages ignored—by the whims of global capital. In order to resist the ongoing global homogenization of global corporations and globalist ideas, it is important to respect your national heritage regardless of which country you come from. And, even when it comes to football shirts, we can still stand up for our countries in the face of globalism.

 

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The Classic “Red Stripe” Design Evoking the Turkish Flag. Image Courtesy Of: http://www.milliyet.com.tr/yazarlar/baris-kuyucu/17-yil-sonra-klasik-forma-1206165/