Saturday, February 03, 2007

The beautiful game?

What the hell is wrong with people. I've tried to educate myself and understand the fanaticism surrounding football (albeit only from one source thus far: Franklin Foer's 2004 book, outlining his, arguably, wobbly theory "How Soccer Explains the World"). I've heard of the English hooligan ("On a smaller scale, the English hooligan has become like the gangsta rapper or the Mafioso, a glamorized, commodified criminal. When the BBC finds itself in need of a ratings boost, it airs one of its many hooligan documentaries."). Read of the notoriously violent fans of Belgrade's Red Star club and their perceived complicity in the Balkan Wars of the 1990's ("But at Red Star the violent fans occupy a place of honor, and more than that...From Red Star's own ranks, a hooligan paramilitary force was organized and armed. Krle, who took a bullet in his leg, would serve in this army. The Red Star fans would become Milosevic's shock troops, the most active agents of ethnic cleansling, highly efficient practitioners of genocide").

But in bella italia? The most scathing thing Franklin Foer had to say about Italian soccer in the book was just "To understand the importance of refereeing requires a brief word on the paradox of Italian soccer. As everyone knows, Italian men are the most foppish representatives of their sex on the planet. They smear on substantial quantities of hair care products and expend considerable mental energies color-coordinating socks with belts [sidebar- did anyone see that the spokesperson for the Italian football federation was wearing a matching pink collared shirt under his pink sweater during the press conference?]. Because of their dandyism, the world has Vespa, Prada, and Renzo Piano. With such theological devotion to aesthetic pleasure, it is truly perplexing that their national style of soccer should be so devoid of this quality."

Now, I have personally seen the crowd rush the field, rip up grass and break down the goal-posts during Fiorentina's closing match of the season...but fatalities? Tear gas thrown onto the field while the game is in play?

Violence erupts in Italy

All matches suspended after officer killed in fan riot

CATANIA, Sicily (AP) -- A police officer was killed Friday when fans rioted at a Serie A game between Sicilian sides Catania and Palermo, prompting the Italian soccer federation to suspend all league matches in the country's top two divisions this weekend.

Fans rioted outside Catania's Angelo Massimino stadium during the second half. Police fired tear gas, which wafted into the stadium and forced the match to be temporarily suspended in the 58th minute with Palermo leading 1-0.

Police said the officer died after an explosive device was thrown inside his vehicle.

The violence continued after the game, in which Palermo beat Catania 2-1, trapping hundreds of fans inside the stadium as authorities sought to avoid further violence and stop people from leaving.

So, understanding that Sicily is a whole separate animal, I wonder, Franklin, how does soccer explain the world in such a deplorable situation?

"...[S]occer clubs represent communities or neighborhoods. And when you're representing a neighborhood, you're representing a very specific segment of the population. Soccer clubs become proxies for ethnicity, class, religion, or social caste. That makes them inherently more political. So soccer matches usually signify a clash of religions, classes, and castes. To me, that's what makes the game so thrilling to watch. There's always some elevated stake to the game.

Do you think that's part of why soccer has gotten such a firm grip on the world's imagination?

I do. For all the globalization that it obviously embodies, in most cases soccer is still firmly rooted in the local. Your identification with a particular soccer club has a lot to do with how you define yourself as a human being. That's part of why the game is responsible for so much violence. It has this dark side associated with its fan culture, because the clubs represent so much more than just what city you live in."


Anonymous said...

perfectly ignorant and STUPID comment about Red Star fans.
go learn a bit about recent European history, and if you do generalizing, start from yourself.
But before everything, you could just re-read what you actually wrote, and is there any sense in it?

thank you.

Anonymous said...

don't get me wrong, but your comments were just stupid and dumb. no better words to find.

and no, it's not soccer, it is football.

Anoush Rima said...

speaking of ignorance, if you had read carefully you'd notice that I disclaimed having little knowledge of the sport and the history surrounding it, and that my source of reference is just one book. Further, all the portions of my post which you have contention with (generalization of Red Star; refering to the game as soccer) are not my words, but rather direct quotes from the book. If you have problems with them, you should take it up with the author- Franklin Foer.

thanks for reading. but read more carefully next time.

Dylan said...

when football is good

you deleate the guys comments in your dashboard.

I thought you asked some good questions