Slog - The Stranger's Blog

Line Out

The Music Blog

« Better Switch Your Major to Bu... | Shot of Old Glory: a Recipe fo... »

Monday, July 3, 2006

Discoursing Football

Posted by on July 3 at 15:53 PM

Let’s begin the little winding path of pictures and words with this image of global Pele:

With that image in mind, consider this: During a weekend email exchange about the globalization of Football and Pele, the editor of the South African journal Chimurenga, Ntone Edjabe, sent these words:

“For me, generally, discussions around the commercialisation of the ‘beautiful game’ have become as stale as talks on the blinging of hip hop. I think nationalism has been dead since Camus kept the goal for Algeria in the 30s, since di Stephano sold his right foot to the Franco-sponsored Real Madrid in the 50s, since the Mozambican-born Eusebio led the 1966 world cup in scoring, a tournament that had been boycotted by all African and Asian teams. We’re talking stillbirth here.

If we swing back to the nearest tv screen, however, there’s a new spin on the much publicised war of the worlds - only two contenders remain: Nike and Adidas. The pseudo third-worldism of Puma has been kicked off stage, along with Ivory Coast, Ghana, and other minnows.

The trajectory of Puma, over the last 5 years, in reconquering the world chests from the bottom (Jamaica’s olympic team, Cameroon’s football team, etc. and of course, da street soldiaz worldwide) so to speak, is an interesting take on the brand war.”

Now consider the “pseudo third-worldism of Puma”:
africangame2-1.jpg (The source of that image can be found here.)

The final item along the way is this email, which I received from a good friend who lives in Vancouver, BC and is a response to my recent post “Field of History”:

Charles, I don’t know if you read these words in Le Monde Diplomatique by Ignacio Ramonet before you posted about football and slavery: “The buying and selling of footballers is a perfect image for the state of the global market: the treasures of the South are consumed in the North, because only the North has the money to buy them. This market, full of traps for the unwary, generates a modern slave trade.”

The Ramonet article is over here and worth reading not only in light of what I had to say about the symbolic significance of the Ghana/USA match, but the globalization of Pele and Ntone’s comments concerning the “brand war” that presently dominates the international stage of football. It all comes together very neatly.

CommentsRSS icon

I don't recall slaves being paid millions of euros and marrying white supermodels.

The comparison does seem to make light of the horrors of slavery: whole villages depopulated, the fostering of wars throughout the coast of Africa, unkown numbers dying on ships in horrible conditions, generations of their decendents to be beaten, raped, murdered on the whim of their masters...

It's sort of like comparing Tim Eyeman to Hitler. Tim Eyeman is bad. And you may be able to draw some comparisons with Hitler (slick, misleading political sloganeering, for instance). But the whole exercise diminishes the crimes Hitler commited.

The Ghana team are all Christians, the most oppressive group on the planet today. Christians cause all of the world's problems, and no educated person should support a Christian sports team.

Yeah, this is a poor comparison of different circumstances.

And Italy wear Puma, and they're in the final, beating Adidas-clad Germany today.

Comments Closed

In order to combat spam, we are no longer accepting comments on this post (or any post more than 45 days old).