Sometimes football is bigger than a single match. ‘The Game’ is bigger than the game. No matter that a particular match may carry great significance in its own right, sometimes what it represents, what it portrays, what it speaks of to the watching world is much more important. Even if the match is a World Cup semi-final, a mere single step down from the most important match in world football. Even if there’s historical antagonism of armed conflicts between the protagonists. Even then. The significance of it to football as a whole and how it should be perceived can even be bigger than that.
It’s eighth July 1982. The venue is the Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán, in Seville, Spain. It’s the semi-final of the World Cup between West Germany and France. A game that Michel Platini, captain of France and the leader of a French team full of flowering romanticism, suggesting an apparent ennui at the fatalism of life expressed by football, later described as something that, “No film or play could ever recapture so many contradictions and emotions. It was complete. So strong. It was fabulous.” His summary neatly fits with the image of the French team as poets eschewing concern of any future consequences, merely lost in the moment. Extravagant and grand gestures dominating the imagery, and ignoring tomorrow. It was however not fabulous in the way it spoke to the world as to how the game should be played. How it should be loved and cherished. Simply put, the result was wrong. Continue reading →
As if the 2022 Qatar World Cup was not already enveloped in enough controversy, reports suggest that a new innovation is planned for the tournament’s games, that may just ramp up the public concern by a further notch or two – or perhaps more appropriately, a notch or three. The final is already set to be played out a week before Christmas, in a move that changes the traditional summer tournament into one played in November and December, but if my sources are correct, that could turn out to be pretty small beer. Continue reading →
It doesn’t take a Hamlet to discern that there’s something rotten in the state of Fifa. Dissension is rising over widely-perceived corruption and an autocratic ruler. President Sepp Blatter decides what will happen, and even discerns what is true and what isn’t, almost by a principle of vis et voluntas. A de facto statement that force and authority can overcome reality and justice is the very definition of a leader defined by power, with arbitrary decisions justified by the fact that he simply can. Continue reading →