What really matters is retaining the egalitarian, socialist principles that lie at the core of the world’s favourite sport. With increasing corporate dominance and monetary greed, football is beginning to embody the antithesis of sporting fraternity: corporate capitalism.
What really matters is that this concept has still, for now, been maintained.
Somewhere in the near future – as football clubs are run for profit only, as leagues begin to tear at the seams as potential profit margins threaten to eradicate competition, as footballers wages and consequently ticket sales inflate grotesquely in price – football will begin to replicate American sports, presenting a pointless pursuit of economic gain. Clubs become businesses; fans become customers; athletes become commodities.
I would like to posit that football (for now) is still an egalitarian sport built on fraternity, with an enormous scope for social change. Once on the pitchthe raw socialist art of football becomes the only concern. The white lines of a football pitch represent the severance between the greed and inequality of modern capitalism and the socialist utopia of football.
Teamwork. Unity. Passion. Courage. Equality. These are the attributes on display in a football match. Adored by billions of people, all united in shared adoration of technical artistry and selfless teamwork, football remains the socialist art form that represents the antithesis, the saviour, of the alienation and disillusion that saturates 21st century capitalist society.
Football may be facing threat, but unlike many areas of life, sport is not dependent upon it. Corporate saturation is dissolving artistic merit across our entire civilisation, seeping into every element of modern culture and leaving nothing but wealth disparity and an impending sense of post-modern despair. Football can, and does, avoid this fate.
Our fascination is still preoccupied with artistic grace: a subtle blend of ferocity and elegance that, like all art, strikes a chord somewhere deep within the human body and produces an emotion somewhat akin to religious experience. The masochistic intentions of greedy owners can consume the elements that surround the football pitch, but it cannot touch the art itself.
Admittedly monetary obsession and corporate ownership plagues the modern day spectacle, threatening to consume its anti-elitist philosophical foundations, but football remains a sport with the potential to revolutionise society’s values. It defies prejudice and champions the immense capabilities of our species, technically and mentally. It saturates billions of people with socialist principles, moulding generations into admirers of togetherness, by uniting them in the timeless and spontaneous pleasures of sport.
Football’s potential for communion and democracy is exhibited most prominently by Drogba in his role in the Ivorian civil conflict in 2005, as an attempted coup divided the country in a bloody struggle between Muslims and Christians.
The emotional speech delivered by Drogba at the end of their triumphant World Cup qualification, as he and his team-mates dropped to their knees, visibly eased tensions throughout the war-torn country. The brotherhood of Muslims and Christians in the Ivory Coast national side presented a united front of equality and fraternity. Football championed over politics, and changed the fate of the nation.
There is no doubt that football remains ignited with a fiery potential for social and political change both explicitly, as shown above, and more subtly, in the day-to-day bonding exhibited by teams and their fan-bases.
Sport is about beauty, sacrifice, brotherhood and equality. Capitalism is the direct contrast of this, and it threatens (as with all art forms) to create a culture industry in which pleasure and beauty are murdered, dissected, and sold for profit.
What really matters in football? That we look at every turn to deny this eventuality, and that, when we enter a stadium, when we enter a football pitch, we remember the socialist principles that provide the foundations for our magnificent art-form. Selfless teamwork and unrelenting equality. The courage, the passion, the fraternity – means everything, and must be fought for.
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