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Taking a broader perspective…

Capitalism is destroying Football

The following article was cross-posted from the The Multicultural Politic with the kind permission of Justin Baidoo.

From the texts I got last night, it appears a lot of my English friends are all Ghanaians now with the disgraceful crashing out of the Capello’s men. England is going home, unsurprising when England failed to beat Algeria, it was a harbinger of worse things to come. The millionaire footballers failed to deliver andSunny Hundal, editor of Liberal Conspiracy tweeted last night:

“England today destroyed right-wing meme that more incentives means people work harder. Cut footballers & boardroom pay!”

That tired meme favoured by ideologues of the Right can be summarised further:

“It isn’t for anyone to decide wages, laissez-faire capitalism: the market knows best.”

This idea has covered multitude of sins from England’s poor World Cup campaign to the greatest recession for 70 years, and once again this meme has exposed to be far from a “truism” but instead a pernicious fallacy.

In 1998 the average yearly wage of a Premiership footballer was £190,000 after a period of getting intensely relaxed about the filthy rich, in 2010 it is now £1.4 million. Therefore you could expect that the England team of today are at least twice (if not 9 times) as good as the England team that led the France ‘98 World Cup campaign. It clearly doesn’t add up.

Capitalism promotes the idea that return on investment must be made as quickly as possible and so footballers rather than being nurtured and cultivated are being bought and sold as mere commodities across the globe. This concept has been extended to football clubs, and ownership has passed around without discrimination, from exiled and corrupt billionaires to debt-ridden American businessmen, the Premiership has already bankrupted more than a few football clubs with the promise of more to keep financial administrators busy. This all happens while millionaire footballers, conspire to avoid paying taxin the country that has enriched them.

The marriage of business and football has long been a tradition in FIFA, but in the Premiership it has brought collosal debt, extortionate match ticket prices, a high turnover of managers and players, and the WAG phenomenon.

However the footballing loving public aren’t taking it lying down completely, there are World Cup alternatives and a supporter-led fightback in Manchester United, supporter-owned teams such as Barcelona point to a better sustainable future for football fans, though Spain isn’t immune to big business football.

Meanwhile in the World Cup, Argentina footballing legend and current Argentina manager Maradona is inspiring and getting the best out of his highly paid players, but those who support capitalism in football must answer this question, can Mammon do the same?


Filed under: Football, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Singing when England are winning?

By Darrell Goodliffe.

Football’s World Cup is in full swing and the left has to go through its traditional hand-wringing. Of course, England are not doing much winning recently so singing for a win has been largely off the cards. However, the World Cup poses a unique kind of dilemma for the left; internationalist in its core beliefs it is faced with a competition that encourages a strong attachment to your respective tribe. An obvious answer to this is that there is no ‘party line; some leftists will revel in England’s success and some will not and that’s the end of the story.

However, it arguably cuts to the chase of other important debates on the left around issues like liberal interventionism and our attitude to Europe so it is worth thinking about in greater depth.  Left wing politics encourages a strong and positive view of collective identity be that the traditional one with class or with a group that is particularly disadvantaged for whatever reason in society. Although they claimed to have moved beyond this; the reaction to the ‘war on terror’, for example, defined the likes of Tony Blair as thinking ultimately along collectivist lines. Together we, ‘The West’, the ‘forces of civilisation’ were stronger against the common enemy; not the capitalist class but the ‘evil Islamists’; the superficial collectivist appeal to this concept no doubt was enough to ensure Blair the support he needed to railroad through support for measures that sat uneasy with a lot of Labour Party members.

So, surely we should celebrate the World Cup which ultimately unites people of in a collective effort to will their team to victory? Well, things are a little more complex than that; any positive unity requires a negative to unite against, an ‘other’ that negates the positivity of the collective while at the same time securing and cementing it.  We are all well aware of the prejudice, xenophobia and sheer nastiness that nationalism in its purest form creates; dividing the weak and the powerless against each other in an embittered contest for scraps.  For every decent England fan there is who purely loves the game and wants to celebrate their heartfelt identity there is probably at least one immigrant-hating skin-head who wants to demonstrate the biggest mistake the world ever made was rudely demanding, against the Empire, the right to determine its own fate on and off the football field.

This is therefore one of those annoying questions where there is no absolutely right or wrong answer. It’s wrong to turn our nose up at the England merriment but also wrong to get lost in the mad-as-a-hatter national pride that sees a lot of the media especially lose its collective sense of proportion in a rush to prove itself definitively the most English. Personally, it was this kind of coverage of which poisoned the reporting of the Obama/BP dispute and which made it appealing to look for a good reason not to support England this time around; especially during the USA match.  However, I think this one should be thrown open to discussion. So, are you singing for England to win?

Filed under: Football, , , , , , , ,


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