10 June 2014

World Cup Politics

"Soccer, metaphor for war, at times turns into real war. Then “sudden death” is no longer just a name for a dramatic way of deciding a tied match. These days, soccer fanaticism has come to occupy the place formerly reserved for religious fervor, patriotic ardor, and political passion. As often occurs with religion, patriotism, and politics, soccer can bring tensions to a boil, and many horrors are committed in its name." ~ Eduardo Galeano
The World Cup is coming up very soon - soon enough that Susan and Esme (the English contingent of the family) sent me an England Jersey for Fathers Day. It is important to keep the nationalist spectacle in perspective. The tournament is not working out well for all Brazilians. Surprised? I came across this report at The Guardian on street art in the host country protesting the games. And, perhaps the best writing on "soccer" is by Eduardo Galeano who has dissected the political-economy of football in pretty exquisite ways. You can find a sample here but really ought to track down his book Soccer in Sun and Shadow (Nation Books). That is where I lifted the opening passage above.
P.S.: My fellow political scientists have written a series of posts at The Monkey Cage (WaPo) on the politics of the world cup; it is fair to say that some of these are howlers, while others are more interesting. But here they are nevertheless: 1, 2, 3. 4. 5, 6

P.S.2 (Added 6/12/2014): My friend Navine Murshid alerted me to this OpEd by Dave Zirin at The New York Times which is germane to this post. FIFA is as corrupt and authoritarian as the NCAA and the International Olympics Committee.

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