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
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 2 Kim Kardashian on Bruce Jenner's 'story': 'We support him no matter what, and I think when the time is right, he'll talk'
- 3 Russian girl takes her own life after parents find pornography on her computer
- 4 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 5 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
The Jump 2015 line-up: Joey Essex, Mike Tindall, Jodie Kidd and co take to the slopes
Game of Thrones: Grey Worm actor Jacob Anderson is all for more male nudity – as long as he can keep his clothes on
Roald Dahl letter warning student to 'eschew beastly adjectives' goes viral 35 years later
Martin Scorsese 'in shock and sorrow' after death on set of new film Silence
The secret joke hidden in Silence of the Lambs' most famous line
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures