Soccer vs the State by Gabriel Kuhn
Sunday 07 August 2011
The idea of football as "the people's game" has taken a battering in recent years, as at the top level in England and elsewhere it increasingly resembles the "rich man's plaything" or "highly leveraged foreign owners" game.
Soccer vs the State does a useful service by reminding us that since football was codified by public school amateurs in the 19th Century, then run by capitalist club owners after the advent of professionalism, it has rarely belonged to the people except in an emotional sense.
This collection of essays by various hands seems a daunting rag-bag of radical ideas at first glance but, helped by deft linking commentaries from Gabriel Kuhn, a common theme soon emerges: fans worldwide have a duty to fight attempts by government and big business to control football for their own ends. A few entries verge on self-parody – Wally Rosell's "The Pass and Albert Camus" claims: "The act of passing is the antipode of a nihilist or Stakhanovist act; it is a creative act" – but there is plenty of thought-provoking history too. For those who associate the ultra movement with hooligan right-wing fans of the likes of Lazio and Internazionale, it's instructive to learn there are plenty of ultras worldwide who combine a passionate love of their clubs with an abhorrence of both violence and fascism. And the example of the Italian international Cristiano Lucarelli, who took a £450,000-a-year pay cut to play for the side he had always supported – "Some players buy a Ferrari or a yacht. I bought myself a Livorno shirt" – is a welcome antidote to the cynical badge-kissers who pack their bags the minute a better offer comes along. Will this book change anything? Probably not, but it's full of original ideas about what could and should be changed.
Published in paperback by PM Press, £12.99
Is the comedy album making a comeback?comedy
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
- 2 The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
- 3 Danish TV reporter is all business up top, all party down below
- 4 Ross Burden dead: MasterChef and Ready Steady Cook star, dies aged 45
- 5 Businessman charged £75 for three small bottles of water in London hotel
Secret Cinema: Why were Back to the Future screenings cancelled?
Top Gear Burma episode breached Ofcom rules over Jeremy Clarkson's racial slur
Game of Thrones season 4 blooper reel unveiled at Comic-Con 2014
Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 teaser trailer sees Katniss lead rebellion against the Capitol
The Simpsons Family Guy trailer: First look at crossover episode after Comic-Con debut
The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
A new Russian revolution: The cracks are starting to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Were 'Poor Doors' added to mixed developments so wealthy residents don't have to go in alongside social housing tenants?
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Opponents of Israel's military operation in Gaza are the real enemies of Middle Eastern peace