SportsFootball is political

Football is political


Futbolítica book cover.

The personality of football clubs is built through decades and decades of history. The ingredients of a cocktail formed by their origins, the tens of thousands of souls who have animated them, the directives that have governed their destinies or the role they played in historical moments for their communities, make the name of the teams associated with a series of values ​​that would add something similar to an ideology or way of understanding life. Football is a very interesting element to explain societies. For example: all the countries in the world with some kind of territorial tension have their Madrid-Barça. By delving into the singular history —and present— of some clubs, the contemporary history of their countries or territories is also discovered.

In Futbolítica (Altamarea), the sociologist Ramom Usall proposes a trip around the planet through 47 teams. A journey that begins, like football, in the British Isles. It does so with the history of a club born in a Manchester parish with the aim of avoiding the distancing between the church and the youth. With a marked worker and community character. And whose history changed in 2008 when it became the property of an Arab sheikh.

The trip uncovers stories like that of the Sport-Club Tasmania, a Berlin team whose name came from a bar discussion between sailors. A concatenation of events meant that, in 1965, the Bundesliga was left without a representative from Berlin in the middle of the Cold War. Geopolitics worked the miracle and, 15 days before the start of the competition, Tasmania was informed that it would play in the highest category. The results were another thing: last, with 8 points, 15 goals in favor and 108 against. And there, yes, neither geopolitics nor anything. Decline.

It also vindicates, once again, the unifying role of football. With the example of the Al-Wehdat Sports Club, which reflected the illusions – and the frustrations – of thousands of Palestinian refugees in Jordan. After many pitched battles, fluctuations in the management of the club and bans on displaying Palestinian flags in the stands, their triumphs have continued to be celebrated in the refugee camp of the same name, as well as in the West Bank or Gaza. “One day, when we Palestinians had no voice, Al-Wehdat was our voice,” Yasir Arafat said.

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