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Fascism in the United States? Both Football Fans—and Journalists—Seem to be Looking in the Wrong Places

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Antifa Fans at a Colorado Rapids Match. Image Courtesy Of: https://sports.yahoo.com/news/trump-presidency-created-quiet-anti-fascist-movement-americas-soccer-stadiums-225443656.html

 

A few weeks ago a friend alerted me to an interesting article written by journalist Leander Schaerlaeckens. The article, from Yahoo Sports, is titled “How Trump presidency created quiet anti-fascist movement in America’s soccer stadiums”. While Mr. Schaerlaeckens correctly recognizes that “[s]occer stadiums have historically been hotbeds of political sentiment”, he fails to question why this movement has risen. Mr. Schaerlaeckens takes the easy route by regurgitating media tropes:

quietly but surely, “antifa” – as the anti-fascist movement is broadly referred to – is on the rise in American soccer stadiums. This is a direct reaction to the current political climate in which the far right has made very visible inroads since the election of President Donald Trump.

 

Without bothering to engage the issue critically—like a journalist should—the author goes on to quote a supporter of the New York Cosmos’ (a second division team in the United States football pyramid) Antifa fan group “Metro Antifa”, who says that:

 

The election of Donald Trump has made many people feel scared, like they do not belong in our country. We want to show all Metro supporters that we do not care what your ancestry is, what your skin color is, what your sexual orientation is. If you support the same club we do, you are more than welcome to stand with us without fear of exclusion.

 

While this particular fan’s intentions are certainly laudable, I am left wondering what would happen if a fan entered their group not with a different ancestry, skin color, or sexual orientation, but with a different political opinion. Something tells me that they would not be welcomed in “Metro Antifa”. The political “left” in the United States has become more and more intolerant of dissenting views—despite their own “tolerance”—and it makes me wonder how real these self proclaimed “Antifa” groups truly are. It makes me wonder if modern society has—as Herbert Marcuse argued in his One Dimensional Man—already become totalitarian (and fascistic)?

Two recent examples—from personal experience—tell me that American society has exhibited signs of fascism long before Donald Trump; in fact, it is a form of fascism that comes from the opposite end of the ideological spectrum. While sitting among fellow students at my university one asked what our summer plans were. Knowing that this particular student was one of the best in our department—a hard-working and intelligent individual—I spoke honestly: I was going home to take care of my mother and father who have not been well recently. When she asked me what I could specifically do since I am not a medical doctor, I told her that I would be assisting my mother and father with day to day activities while also taking care of my brother. That is when I made the fatal mistake of adding that “obviously, my father wants to see me before his surgery”. At this the girl exploded, telling me “Obviously? My father would not want to see me even if he was dying”. At this I paused…it was a deathly silence and I simply said “this is not a competition”. At that she added “Well don’t say obviously”. I was shocked. I was being silenced—censured, if you will, for using the word “obviously”. That a father should want to see his son before a serious surgery seemed fairly “obvious” to me. Yet, to this girl, it was “offensive”. That her family was less than stellar is not my problem. That her upbringing was less than stellar—and that it did not give her basic manners—is also not my problem. In fact, judging by her response, I have little sympathy for her going forward. Such callous responses—in the name of “tolerance”—are fascistic in nature and must be resisted. While this is just a personal anecdote, this process has also worked itself out in national politics in the United States.

A statue of Jefferson Davis—the president of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War—was removed from the city of New Orleans on 11 May 2017 at 5 am. It is a statue I myself have seen (and photographed) during a visit to New Orleans, and its removal reminded me of similar social engineering projects in fascistic societies.

 

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Jefferson Davis in New Orleans…When it it existed. Image Courtesy of the Author.

 

It reminded me of the occasional removal of Ataturk statues from Turkish cities (to make way for 15 July “democracy” monuments (!) ) by the ruling Justice and Development (AKP) Party. It is an attempt to erase history, a tactic that the fascistic rulers of Nazi Germany and the Stalinist Soviet Union wrote the book on. Yet this is not Turkey, this is not Nazi Germany, this is not the USSR; it is the United States of America.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu justified the removal of the statue by saying:

These monuments have stood not as historic or educational markers of our legacy of slavery and segregation, but in celebration of it. I believe we must remember all of our history, but we need not revere it. To literally put the Confederacy on a pedestal in some of our most prominent public places is not only an inaccurate reflection of our past, it is an affront to our present, and a bad prescription for our future. We should not be afraid to confront and reconcile our past.

 

With all due respect to Mr. Landrieu I have to ask a simple question: How does removing a statue work to “confront and reconcile our past”? Erasing history—by forcibly removing it—does not confront the past, it merely pushes it under the rug. These are the same tactics that the USSR engaged in; it is fascistic in nature and must be resisted. All such events do is exacerbate the divisions within American society—adhering to the fascistic doctrine of “divide and conquer”. Some of the protestors came with banners that read “America was never great”, trying to exacerbate the divide between Whites and Blacks. Unfortunately, what these so called “antifa” don’t realize is that they are feeding, and not healing, the division. By dividing Blacks and Whites further they are playing in to a true fascistic system that can take total control in the name of “globalism”.

 

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Images Courtesy Of: https://www.bestofneworleans.com/thelatest/archives/2017/05/11/jefferson-davis-comes-down-second-of-four-confederate-era-monuments-removed-in-new-orleans

 

It is my hope that these two examples of the rampant fascism that exists in American society—a type of fascism which has nothing to do with Donald Trump—will open the eyes of the football fans that Mr. Schaerlaeckens wrote about. Those fans (as well as the author) might want to get out a little more. While the United States is not perfect, it is certainly not (yet) fascist. There are far worse places in the world, and the sooner football fans in America realize that they are feeding—and not fighting—division the more effective they will become in fighting for their cause. Fighting “fascism” and being “antifa” is not a child’s game in order to further ones’ own sense of moral superiority; fascism is real—it just takes more than regurgitating media tropes to understand where it comes from.
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Image Courtesy of Instagram
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Bandirmaspor: One Small Football Team Does Its Best to Bridge Turkey’s Political Divide

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Bandirmaspor are a little known Turkish side languishing in the Spor Toto Second Division, the third tier of Turkish football. The club hails from a small district of 143,000 in the north-western province of Balikesir. Most people know the town for its seaport, a hub for travellers taking ferries across the Sea of Marmara to Istanbul. In sporting terms the club haven’t seen much success, having never appeared in the top tier of the country’s football structure. Their biggest claim to fame is that in the 1965-1966 season the team became the first “district” team—one not hailing from a provincial center—to play in Turkey’s professional football league. Today, they may have achieved another first: Bringing together members of Turkey’s three largest political parties.

The club has debts of 5,200,000 Turkish Liras (about 1,902,000 USD) and was on the brink of going into receivership before the club voted in a new board made up of an unlikely coalition. The leaders of the district organizations of Turkey’s three major political parties—the Justice and Development Party (AKP), the Republican People’s Party (CHP), and Nationalist Action Party (MHP)—put forth the names of politicians and businessmen in the district in order to find a new board of directors. The club’s honorary President Dursun Mirza, the district’s Mayor from the CHP who won 45.8% of the vote in 2014, explained:

“Yeni yönetim listesinde siyasetçi var ama siyaset olmayacak. Dayanışmayı kurduk, güzel bir yönetim oluştu. Belediye olarak, devamlı bu takımın arkasında olacağız. Hepimiz Bandırma partisi için bir araya geldik. Tüm partilerin ilçe başkanlarına, olumlu yaklaşımlarından dolayı teşekkür ederim.”

“There are politicians in the new administration but there won’t be any politics. We established solidarity and a good administration has been formed. As a municipality we will continually be behind this team. We all came together for the Bandirma party. I thank the leadership of all the district’s [political] party’s for their positive approach.”

In the board of directors of the Bandirmaspor football team we have a microcosm of the Turkish political scene as it stands in June of 2015. With the aforementioned three parties at loggerheads over forming a coalition government following the elections, their representatives have been able to come together in one small district to run the local football team. Running a country is obviously more difficult than running a football team, but such small attempts at mutual understanding during such divisive times are worth celebrating all the same.

Below I have compiled a list of the new board of directors at Bandirmaspor. After each name is their political affiliation as I could best ascertain from various news sources. Some are businessmen and therefore do not have any published political affiliations as far as I could find. This list is by no means one hundred percent correct; it is just my attempt to make things as clear as possible with a little bit of research. I apologize in advance to my readers and to the individuals listed below for any errors.

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Bandirmaspor. Image Courtesy Of: http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/spor/futbol/29320289.asp

Honorary President: Dursun Mirza (CHP): Municipal Mayor

President: Erhan Elmastaş (CHP): Accountant and Municipal Council Member

Board:

Former President: Mehmet Kılkışlı (AKP): Head of Bandirma Chamber of Commerce and Former AKP Municipal Council Candidate 

Ozan Onur (CHP): Municipal Council Member

Murat Ercili: Businessman

Yakup Ataş (AKP): Municipal Council Member  

Adnan Tuksal (MHP)

Ahmet Edin (AKP)

Bahadır Çolak: Businessman

Tolga Tosun (CHP): Municipal Council Member

Hüseyin Baş: Businessman

Göksel Karlahan (AKP): Municipal Council Member.

Ozan Tüm (CHP): Municipal Council Member 

Mülkü İnci (MHP) 

Gökhan Yankol (CHP): Municipal Council Member

Mehmet Özbek (MHP)

Orhan Demir: Unfortunately I could find no information on this individual.

Football and Geopolitics: Behind the FIFA Scandal

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May 27 2015 will prove to be a day that lives in infamy—the day scandal rocked world soccer’s governing body, leaving 14 FIFA officials under arrest in Zurich, Switzerland. This is, of course, old news. I’ll try to make it interesting by putting the whole surreal event in a geopolitical context. Lets start with the basics. It was the United States Department of Justice that spearheaded the operation in a 164-page 47-count indictment. In some ways it felt like turning back the clock; the United States of America emerging from its isolation to ostensibly “save the world” by crossing the oceans as in World War One and World War Two. Of course, there were reasons for this particular move since parts of the scandal pertained directly to the United States of America; the Economist outlines them nicely. A video version for those averse to reading is available courtesy of CNN.

The United States has, since World War Two, controlled much of the world system indirectly through both formal and informal international organizations, befitting its hegemonic role. Financially it was initially through the Bretton Woods system, since then it has been the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank. Politically control came first through Woodrow Wilson’s brainchild the League of Nations, now there is the New York headquartered United Nations. Culturally the United States has been able to influence the world to a great extent as well; first through Hollywood and music, now it is through technological advancements such as iPhones and iPods, Google, Facebook and Twitter that American culture is felt the world over.

The one sphere in which the United States has failed to make a global impact is, arguably, the world of sports. Indeed the results of a 2014 Harris poll, which has asked Americans aged 18 and older the simple question, “What is your favorite sport?” every year since 1985, tell us that Americans are very USA-centric when it comes to sport.

 

America’s Favorite Sports in 2014 (Courtesy of ESPN)

The National Football League (NFL)(Professional [American] Football): 35%

Major League Baseball (MLB) (Professional Baseball): 14%

College Football (NCAA): 11%

Auto Racing: 7%

National Basketball Association (Professional US Basketball): 6%

National Hockey League (Professional Hockey): 5%

College Basketball (NCAA): 3%

 

The top three vote getters—and more than half of the entire poll’s respondents and 60 percent—listed sports played almost entirely in the United States as their favorite sports. The next highest sport listed is Auto Racing. Although this is a global sport—think of Formula 1 and Rally cars—I personally believe that responders had NASCAR (Again, very American) in mind when answering this question. That leaves the NBA and the NHL—just 11 percent of all respondents called these two their favorite sports—as the only ostensibly international sports to make the list. I say ostensibly because although basketball is played all over the world—and the NBA has been making itself more international with each passing year—it is still a very different game than FIBA’s Euroleague, to name one. Hockey is international in the sense that the NHL has 7 Canadian teams (alongside 23 American teams), but I’m sure very few responders cited in this poll had ever watched a game from Russia’s KHL. Hockey also has a fairly small fan base, limited to those living in northern climates along a belt stretching from Vancouver to the steppes of Central Asia and going only as far south as, perhaps, Zurich, along that belt outside of the United States.

Soccer is certainly the one place in world sport—and world culture, for that matter—that the rest of the world has a chance to best the United States. And it is this chance for “the rest to beat the best of the West”—the battle between the global South and global North played out on the pitch—that gives international football, and the World Cup in particular, its unparalleled allure. The recently departed Eduardo Galeano’s masterpiece Soccer in Sun and Shadow explains the phenomenon well without explicitly saying it (and therein lies the book’s genius, at least for me). So why did the United States focus its power on FIFA, what I explained in my thesis was arguably the first international organization and the globe’s first foray into global civil society, when the US isn’t even interested in the sport? The answer may lie in the organization’s history. FIFA was founded in 1904 in the midst of a different era, the era of empires when the hegemonic power base was located in colonialist Europe and old world territorial powers such as the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Russian Empire, and Ottoman Empire were in decline. Fledgling nations rushed to achieve FIFA membership in order to affirm their independence—to states such as Lebanon, Syria, and others, emerging from the ashes of empires that had long controlled them as dusty peripheral provinces from lavish imperial palaces in far-off capitals, FIFA Membership was what NATO membership now means to Georgia, what European Union membership now means to Ukraine and Serbia. Membership to FIFA was a bold statement to the world: We Have Arrived! And this feeling has not gone away. Today there are 209 members in FIFA. Compare that to the 193 official member states of the United Nations. Look at Palestine’s attempts to push Israel out of FIFA if you don’t believe that FIFA membership can provide succor to those unable to get a seat at the United Nations at which to air their grievances. Perhaps the United States moved to strike a blow at an international institution that had strayed from its original goal of bringing together nations in fair play for everyone’s benefit; it was not founded to line the pockets of a few corrupt officials after all. So, like the American interventions in both World Wars, this can be looked at as another benign intervention by the world’s superpower in order to save the (sporting) world from itself. But there are other theories as well.

As many know, the nexus of the FIFA scandal lies in the bribes received by officials in return for, among other things, votes in choosing World Cup hosts. The hosts of the next two World Cups—as chosen by the aforementioned officials—are Russia (in 2018) and Qatar (in 2022). Both of these countries have something else in common—they are, on some scale, geopolitical rivals of the United States. And both won the right to host their respective World Cups over the United States’ interests; chief US ally England lost out to Russia in 2018 and Qatar beat out the United States’ own bid for 2022. Clearly, the United States could not sit idly by when the chance at winning a considerable amount of soft power influence in the world for themselves and their ally went by the way side. Russia has long been a geopolitical rival to the United States; Qatar is using the confusing situation in the Middle East to cement their role as a regional power in a region key to the United States’ foreign policy interests and hope that hosting a major sporting event such as the World Cup can add to their influence in the region. South African Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula represents another voice from the global South who criticized the U.S. move by mentioning the U.S./British alliance, saying that it is “for the United States and Britain to fight their own battles: ‘We have fought colonialism and defeated it and we still fight imperialism and we will fight it whenever it manifests itself.’

With the stakes this high, the United States’ move may still pay off. Although FIFA insists that there will be no re-vote for either the 2018 or 2022 World Cups, signs are showing that nothing is certain. Human rights groups have called on Qatar to publish the death figures for workers building stadiums for the tournament and it is estimated that 1200 migrant workers have died in the construction since 2014. Long-time FIFA president Sepp Blatter—who was reelected days ago despite the scandal—resigned on June 2 from his position at the head of Soccer’s governing body. These events—along with UEFA president Michel Platini’s long standing issue with the 2022 World Cup’s potential to affect the European football season—signal to me that a re-consideration may be on the cards.

In such a globalized world—where the World Cup has become bigger than ever—it is only fitting for the world’s sole superpower, the United States, to take a leading role. And in this increasingly interconnected world it is equally fitting that geopolitics is intimately linked with cultural and sporting events.

I find it refreshing that some action has been taken against corruption in world football. But there is still more to be done—the Economist warns that the endemic corruption in sports goes beyond just Sepp Blatter because “sports corruption is a reflection of wider problems—sport merely being an organism to which criminal succubi attach themselves—it is too formidable for sporting organisations to tackle alone.” For the sake of the game we all love let’s hope the United States’ intervention keeps the game from turning into a vehicle to make the rich richer. In David Goldblatt’s words, “the entire football industry has traded on the notion that the game really is the most global cultural practice in the world, a rare form of universalism on a divided planet. That, if nothing else, is worth salvaging from the wreckage.” I can only agree.

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Image Courtesy Of: http://pulse.ng/sports/football/sepp-blatter-resignation-sepp-blatter-resignation-the-football-world-reacts-id3822195.html

Modern Football and Modern Life: In Memory of Eduardo Galeano, 1940-2015

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On April 13 Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano passed away at the age of 74 in Montevideo. Many articles following his death characterized him variously as a “leading voice of the Latin American left”, a “modern-day Simon Bolivar”, a “critic of capitalism”, and a “U.S. Critic”. Personally, I prefer to look past such politically-tinged descriptions and look at Eduardo Galeano for what he was—and still is—to me: A writer with an amazing ability to look at the seemingly mundane—football for instance—and uncover the subtle details that make it special from a humanistic point of view. While some may not know much about Mr. Galeano and his works (evidently the New York Times didn’t—their obituary reported erroneously on his familial situation and gave a passing sentence to his work on football), it was refreshing to see other outlets focus on the sporting side of the author. Al Jazeera America announced “the beautiful game loses its man of letters” while SB Nation chose to run a review of his classic work on football, Soccer in Sun and Shadow.

Soccer in Sun and Shadow, originally published in 1995 before undergoing reprints to cover the World Cups up to 2010, has been called the greatest book about football ever written. Certainly, when it comes to readability and prose, it is brilliant—and I think one would be hard pressed to find a football fan able to resist turning the pages in order to hear the stories told. It is not written in chapter form, and that is what makes it so readable. As Andi Thomas of SB Nation describes:

 

“Not a chapterette — the book is shattered into more than 150 mini-chapters, the longest amounting to a few pages, the shortest no more than a couple of paragraphs — goes past without some line provoking a nod or a smile. And laced throughout, almost there in passing, are sketches of football’s great players, taken out of the broader sweep of events and given their own spotlights…. Not all are memorable, perhaps not all are necessary, but it all amounts up to something unique, righteous and quite beautiful: history by turn as jumbled memory, as fractured story, as furious broadside, as hazy dream, and occasionally even as joke.”

 

This description is apt, since every small installment describes something the reader can relate to; Galeano tells not only the story of a sport’s development but, simultaneously, the story that is 20th century history. We see how football—initially accepted as a form of leisure for working classes during the post industrial revolution period—undergoes a transformation from a fringe curiosity, into an ethnic identity builder, into a show of state power, and finally into a multi-million dollar business that uncovers all the positive and negative qualities of humanity including passion, love, and perseverance on the one hand and corruption, hate, and exploitation on the other. It is in this sense that Soccer in Sun and Shadow truly becomes a classic: using sport as a lens through which to view society and its values as they evolve throughout the years, affected by the changes wrought upon them by competing political—and economic—systems.

In one of the opening “chapterettes”, entitled simply “Soccer” Galeano effectively presents what could be termed his thesis:

 

“The history of soccer is a sad voyage from beauty to duty. When the sport became an industry, the beauty that blossoms from the joy of play got torn out by its very roots. In this fin de siècle world, professional soccer condemns all that is useless, and useless means not profitable. Nobody earns a thing from that crazy feeling that for a moment turns a man into a child playing with a balloon like a cat with a ball of yarn, a ballet dancer who romps with a ball as light as a balloon or a ball of yarn, playing without even knowing he’s playing, with no purpose or clock or referee. Play has become spectacle, with few protagonists and many spectators, soccer for watching. And that spectacle has become one of the most profitable businesses in the world, organized not for play but rather to impede it. The technocracy of professional sport has managed to impose a soccer of lightning speed and brute strength, a soccer that negates joy, kills fantasy and outlaws daring” (Galeano, Soccer In Sun and Shadow, 6).

 

He shows how football has become just another business; the division between leisure and work no longer exists—it has become combined. Recently, in professional hockey, this type of business-like attitude brought on by the advent of statistical analyses—focusing on results (and winning) as the bottom line—has led to one classic type of player (the “enforcer”, in this case) becoming obsolete. In many ways, the football of old has also become obsolete. Numerous vignettes focus on players who are sort of “neighborhood boys”, playing for the fun of it. He describes members of the Uruguay squad that won the 1924 Olympics as “workers and wanderers who got nothing from soccer but the pleasure of playing. Pedro Arispe was a meatpacker. José Nasazzi cut marble. “Perucho” Petrone was a grocer. Pedro Cea sold ice. José Leandro Andrade was a carnival musician and bootblack . . . They cured their wounds with salt water, vinegar plasters, and a few glasses of wine” (Galeano, Soccer In Sun and Shadow, 45). Legendary Russian goalkeeper Lev Yashin, who saved over one hundred penalty shots in his career, explains the secret to his goalkeeping exploits: “the trick was to have a smoke to calm your nerves, then toss back a strong drink to tone your muscles” (Galeano, Soccer In Sun and Shadow, 117). Indeed, the players of old are a cry from the professionals of today.

In an evocative passage about stadiums Galeano also briefly hits on football in the Gulf, long before the idea of a Qatari World Cup was hatched:

“Have you ever entered an empty stadium? Try it. Stand in the middle of the field and listen. There is nothing less empty than an empty stadium. There is nothing less mute than stands bereft of spectators. At Wembley shouts from the 1966 World Cup, which England won, still resound, and if you listen very closely you can hear groans from 1953, when England fell to the Hungarians. Montevideo’s Centenario Stadium sighs with nostalgia for the glory days of Uruguayan soccer. Maracanã is still crying over Brazil’s 1950 World Cup defeat. At Bombonera in Buenos Aires, drums boom from half a century ago. From the depths of Azteca Stadium, you can hear the ceremonial chants of the ancient Mexican ball game. The concrete terraces of Camp Nou in Barcelona speak Catalan, and the stands of San Mamés in Bilbao talk in Basque. In Milan, the ghost of Giuseppe Meazza scores goals that shake the stadium bearing his name. The final match of the 1974 World Cup, won by Germany, is played day after day and night after night at Munich’s Olympic Stadium. King Fahd Stadium in Saudi Arabia has marble and gold boxes and carpeted stands, but it has no memory or much of anything to say” (Galeano, Soccer in Sun and Shadow, 21).

As a fan that has made it a point to visit as many stadiums as possible, this passage rings true. In the modern game more and more old stadiums are being demolished to make way for new ones so that higher ticket prices may be justified. In so doing the romanticism of the old stadiums is lost in the sands of time, replacing memories with creature comforts (What would a modern stadium be without Wi-Fi, for instance?). By the time Qatar’s World Cup rolls around the King Fahd Stadium will be considered an antique.

 

Later on, as the book goes in chronological order from the game’s humble beginnings in squalid slums and working class neighborhoods around the world to the shiny mass-market game played in gigantic stadiums and beamed via satellite around the world world, Galeano shows the progression. In the 1950’s Uruguay’s Peñarol became the first team to wear sponsor on their shirts—it could be seen as the beginnings of what Galeano terms “The Telecracy”, a game increasingly reliant on sponsors so as to attract consumers.

In between we learn how dictators on both sides of the ocean used football. In 1970 Brazil’s dictator General Médici used the national football team’s march “Forward Brazil” as the government’s anthem while Pele’s image was used for government propaganda with the words “No one can stop Brazil”; Chile’s General Pinochet made himself president of the successful club Colo-Colo and Bolivia’s General García Meza named himself president of the popular club Wilstermann. In Spain, during the reign of General Franco, Real Madrid president Santiago Bernabéu simply stated “We are serving the nation. What we want is to make people happy.” Vincente Calderon, president of rivals Atletico Madrid, seemed to agree: “Soccer keeps people from thinking about more dangerous things.” Galeano notes that these leaders were effectively saying, “Soccer is the fatherland, soccer is power: ‘I am the fatherland’; Soccer is the people, soccer is power: ‘I am the people’ (Galeano, Soccer In Sun and Shadow, 137).

 

The book ends with an important note, one very relevant to the increasingly homogenized world we are living in:

 

“An astonishing void: official history ignores soccer. Contemporary history texts fail to mention it, even in passing, in countries where soccer has been and continues to be a primordial symbol of collective identity. I play therefore I am: a style of play is a way of being that reveals the unique profile of each community and affirms its right to be different. Tell me how you play and I’ll tell you who you are. For many years soccer has been played in different styles, unique expressions of the personality of each people, and the preservation of that diversity seems to me more necessary today than ever before” (Galeano, Soccer In Sun and Shadow, 200).

 

Indeed the preservation of diversity has become paramount in a world where previously unique human interactions are increasingly homogenized, taking place via electronic means with friendships on Facebook and relationships on Ok Cupid or Tinder. But the onset of modern football (a byproduct, perhaps, of modern life) is still not without its critics; it is in Eduardo Galeano’s writing that we can find one of the first criticisms of the phenomenon and that is why his legacy will live on for a long time to come.

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Two Posts From Ultra Style’s Facebook Page bemoan the advent of “Modern Football” or “Industrial Football”. The first criticizes the lack of fan passion in modern football, the second–taken from a Atletico Bilbao-Schalke 04 match in the 2012 Europa League–shows a banner unfurled by Schalke Fans protesting high ticket prices. It reads: “€90 per ticket = one euro per minute? Football is not phone sex!”

 

For an example of his foresight, take for instance one of the new chapters added into the end of the book, referencing the 1998 World Cup. Galeano states soccer’s importance to South America:

“Whether a shared celebration or a shipwreck that takes us all down, soccer counts in Latin America, sometimes more than anything else, even if the ideologues who love humanity but can’t stand people don’t realize it” (Galeano, Soccer in Sun and Shadow, 203).

With the political roles that football fans played recently in both Egypt and Turkey in mind, I would add to this prescient passage: Soccer counts all over the world…even if the ideologues (and ideologies) who love humanity but can’t stand people don’t realize it…

 

In Memory of Eduardo Galeano: September 3 1940 – 13 April 2015 . . . and Beyond

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Image Courtesy Of: http://www.anarkismo.net/article/28087