Anarchist Football

By | January 7, 2010

John Turnbull, editor of The Global Game, shared with me some fascinating information about “three-sided football.” In early November, as part of the Bienniale d’art contemporain de Lyon, a tournament showcasing this unique sport was held in Venissieux, a banlieue of Lyon. The game was invented in the 1960s by a Danish Situationist artist, Asger Jorn. The goal is to subvert the antagonistic duality of traditional football by having a hexagonal field and three teams, as well as three goals. As a result, the game turns into a complex swirl of temporary alliances and understandings. Two teams can go against one, collaborating at least for a time, but also change tactics and friends as the situation warrants. And the winner of the game is not the team that scores the most goals, but the one which, through its tactics of collaboration and alliance, manages to suffer the fewest goals.

Click here to read the full rules.

Watch a news report on the recent tournament in France, with footage of the game.

The political statement embedded in the game, according to the explanation provided on Wikipedia, is as follows:

“The game purports to deconstruct the confrontational and bi-polar nature of conventional football as an analogy of class struggle in which the referee stands as a signifier of the state and media apparatus, posturing as a neutral arbitrator in the political process of ongoing class struggle.”

Who says Marxist theory, contemporary experimental art, and football can’t all live happily together?

The game has had sponsors in England and France, as well as other European countries. Clearly what it now needs is a league in the U.S. Any takers?

Category: Europe France Rules and Referees

About Laurent Dubois

I am Marcello Lotti Professor of Romance Studies and History at Duke University. A specialist on the history and culture of France and the Caribbean, notably Haiti, I am the author of Soccer Empire: The World Cup and the Future of France. I founded the Soccer Politics blog in the Fall of 2009 as part of a Duke University course called "World Cup and World Politics," whose students helped me develop the site.

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