In this issue, I want to share with you some important topics from the book “Football et Globalization” of Pascal BONIFACE, translated by Ýsmail YERGUZ and published by NTV Publications in May 2007.
Football is the last stage of the globalization. Today there is nothing more global than the football. The football empire has no border or any limit. Furthermore, it’s the only popular empire that the excited, entranced peoples desire to be conquered by. The football empire is surely the most universal empire. Its authority is complete and strong, because it is peaceful. In this context, what count are not guns but the passion and examples. Of course George W. BUSH, Bin LADIN, the Pope, Dalay LAMA, Madonna or Youssu N’DOUR are known by everybody and they are subject to various comments. But Zidane, Beckham and Ronaldinho are far more known and popular than those figures. The football is the first example of the globalization, definitely far more than the democracy and the market economy.
According to BROMBERGER, the writer of the book “Football, the most serious game in the world”, the biggest advantage of the football against the other sport games is its simplicity. Football can be played everywhere, in the street, in a garden, in any square, parking place, in any field, on the beach, in a real football stadium, with or without grass. Except fouls that are ignored in jungle ball, its rules are simple. It’s of course good to be gifted, but it’s not a must to play with friends. Briefly, nothing can refrain an adult or a child from joining a team which not necessarily a good one. There are two more factors that contribute to the popularity of the football. In this sport the classical trilogy is strictly respected: the unity of action, the unity of location and the unity of time, even though the time is divided in two halves of 45 minutes. The game makes you feel all the excitement of an entire life: joy, pain, hatred, distress, adoration, feeling of injustice…
Football started to conquer the external world through seas and oceans. British seamen used to play this game during their stay in harbors. And the local people followed their example without any coercion. Thus, it’s not surprising that the first football teams of the continental Europe have been founded in Le Havre in France, Genoa in Italy, Bilbao and Barcelona in Spain and Hamburg and Hannover in Germany. And In Denmark, Russia, Argentina and Brazil the new football territories are conquered through land roads. This time, there were engineers building new roads have thought the rules and the joy of the football to local people. The colonialists have introduced football to Africa and Asia. That’s the historical background of why football has first been popular in the British colonies.
The development of radio starting from 1930’s has replaced the Commonwealth and accelerated the spreading of football. People first listened to radio to learn game scores and they enjoyed live comments. Television completed the conquest of the world by football. In a magnificent movie called The Cup, we watched with admiration the efforts spent by two young Tibetan monks to find a TV set to be able to watch the final game of the World Cup 1998 and witness the victory of France over Brazil. In this place devoted to pray, seclusion and meditation, where the people are suppose to free themselves from earthly pleasures; these two youngsters share the same earthly passion and spread this passion of football to this society which is supposed to be against such forms of entertainment. Football is a worldwide phenomenon that managed to be a passion even in Tibetan monasteries and the television is its best aid, if not its prophet, as it allows football being watched in most isolated and unexpected places. Be happy or not, the television made the world a single stadium where everyone has their seats.
Football, which is a school of friendship and brotherhood, is the best way to fight against racism. It’s an excellent way of is the best way integration. This statement which is true for some people is only an illusion according to some others, who think that the stands of stadiums are contaminated by racism. Stadium stands are offered to extreme right which has developed a discourse of hatred and racial discrimination. What can we think, what can we believe in? Denying the fact that there is racism in football is denying the facts. But isn’t there any miracle that could save the football from this epidemic? Football merely reflects the society and suffers from the disease of the society. This doesn’t mean that football itself generates racism. It suffers from the racism, is sometimes its victim but doesn’t generate it or it’s not the reason of the racism. Football is not the way to exterminate racism but can only be a way to struggle against. As there exist no miraculous remedy against racism, the sport can be a very effective drug against idiotism and racism and a way of friendship beyond racial differences.
“All empires are bound to crash.” This statement may seem pessimistic. But it came to be true for every empire throughout history. As far as football is concerned, is there any guarantee that it would survive until the next century and it would go on to be the most powerful cement of the international society as it has been during the last centuries? An empire needs an ongoing acceptance and it needs to be desired to continue its rule. Money invested in football is the sign of success. But this money may also be the sign of its agony. If ticket prices rise too much, would modest families be able to afford the tickets of the whole family? If stadiums are filled by gentlemen with suits and ties invited by sponsors and if those gentlemen applause their team just for show, if nobody sing or dance in the stadiums, how would the ambiance be like? Managers of high level frequenting the stadiums don’t go there merely for watching the game or getting new relationships, but also to enjoy the atmosphere. And this atmosphere is provided by the stands filled by modest people. If only managers of high level go to stadiums, what kind of an atmosphere would be created? Football can only survive if it can preserve the values that give its strength. If it doesn’t turn to be a budget war or if it can remain a collective sport full of human values… To that effect, international games must continue besides local games between clubs. In fact, money is not a decisive factor in games between national teams. And the gross national product of a country is not the only factor that dictates the score.
Briefly, all the global actors of football must do something for this game, which is the last stage of the globalization.
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