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
tv Jenny Lee may have left, but Miranda Hart and the rest of the midwives deliver the goods
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Planes go hybrid-electric in important step to greener flight
- 2 Antonio Martin shooting: Police and protesters clash over teenager's death just five miles from Ferguson, Missouri
- 3 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
- 4 Hip hop is both racial and political, and for Iggy Azalea to suggest otherwise is insulting
- 5 Man hospitalised with pneumonia after downing eggnog at office Christmas party
Christmas Day TV guide 2014: What to watch from Strictly Come Dancing to the story of Frozen
Best underrated Christmas movies: From Trading Places to While You Were Sleeping
Felicity Jones on being Stephen Hawking's wife in The Theory of Everything: 'I didn't want her to be a saint'
Game of Thrones season five: First preview clip shows a beardy Tyrion, a moody Cersei and a distressed Arya
The Interview finally gets US release after Sony hack and terror threats – but reviews of North Korea satire are mixed
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Alex Salmond has 'broken his word to the Scottish people' says Scottish Lib Dem leader