In 1978, Argentina hosted the World Cup in the midst of a period of tremendous political repression. Grant Farred’s book Long Distance Love tells this story, and reflects on what it means for the way we think about politics and football. More recently, this 2014 piece by Wright Thompson offers a remarkable account of the co-existence of the World Cup & torture, with a number of testimonies by victims.
Christopher Gaffney’s book Temples of the Earthbound Gods offers us a rich geographical, culture, and ethnographic look at the way lives in Brazil and Argentina intersect with and our transformed by the space of stadia. What do you see as the most interesting contributions of this work? What kinds of theoretical approaches does he use in trying to understand what happens in and around the stadium? In what ways does his interpretive framework or insights help you understand experiences you have had in sports events?
As you grapple with these questions, feel free to read the comments made in 2013 by students in the Soccer Politics Class in response to a similar post.
Peter Alegi’s book African Soccerscapes offers a careful account of the place of football in colonial Africa and the important role in played in the process of decolonization. Alegi, a Professor at Michigan State University, also maintains a blog called Football is Coming Home, and recently wrote about the first African Nations Cup.
This post is an invitation for you to share your thoughts and responses to Alegi’s work. What do we learn from this book? What are the most interesting or arresting stories he tells? How does the work help us understand the place of Africa in contemporary global football?
That is the question posed in an excellent essay by Shireen Ahmen, whose blog Tales of a Hijabi Footballer is a must-read for those interested in the global politics of global football. It is published at Football is a Country, part of the Africa is a Country blog.
The piece focuses on a recent incident of “gender testing” directed at Genoveva Anonma, a football player from Equatorial Guinea who was named Africa’s Female Footballer of the Year in 2012. It offers a powerful critique of the treatment of women’s football players by the sporting federations and institutions:
“Officials and administrators in football are supposed to be advocates for the beautiful game and for footballers — irrespective of gender. But the treatment of female players with regard to gender testing is deplorable. Officials have no boundaries when it comes to shaming female players.”
This week I began teaching “Soccer Politics” here at Duke University for the third time. This blog will host the writings of students in the course in four different languages: English, French, German and Spanish.
You can see the class readings here.
On the first day of class we analyzed three bits of the visual archive of the sport. First, a clip from the brilliant film Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait.
Then, this moment in Algiers, one of the most crystallizing videos I have seen of the intensity of joy the World Cup can produce at its best. I wrote about the Algerian team’s 2014 run here and here.
And finally, a return — slightly traumatizing for U.S. fans, joyful for Belgium fans (I’m part both) — to what I think were some of the most thrilling moments of the 2014 World Cup. I wrote about this game hereSoccer Politics Syllabus for Blog 2015.
This was my concluding piece, part of a series I wrote for the New Republic “Goal Posts” blog, on the World Cup:
“… This World Cup—however we have lived it—has just taught us once again what it always does. Though we watch from many locations, separated from one another by distance, we are brought together during the time of the game. We effuse, we argue, we mourn. And we remember that, most of all, what we want is to be together.”
Read the Full Piece Here.
I wrote this analysis of the U.S. vs. Belgium match for The New Republic.
An earlier analysis of the Belgian team, in comparison with the French team, is here.
For the first time, Algeria moved on to the Round of 16 in the World Cup yesterday. As the game ended, a crowd hoisted a man in a wheelchair up above them to celebrate. Here is what the scene looked like from above in another plaza where a crowd waited out the final seconds of the game.
For more on what this means for Algeria, read my pieces here and here.
Update: after Algeria’s loss to Germany, I wrote this piece mourning & celebrating what they had achieved.
(I wrote this for the Goal Posts Blog at The New Republic, to which I will be contributing throughout the tournament. I didn’t realize then I was writing it for Iker Casillas)
Here is one thing I can predict with total certainty about this World Cup: an as-yet-to-be determined number of goalies and referees are going to suffer terrible fates. They will be vilified. They will ruin their lives as we watch. They will shoulder the rage and sorrows of entire nations.
As we saunter into this month-long spectacle, let us take a moment to thank them. For their suffering is what makes this theatre possible.
Read the complete article