Hunting White Elephants: Christopher Gaffney’s Take on Brazil

By | October 5, 2013

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. Based on this long-term research, Gaffney has recently been blogging from Brazil in advance of the 2014 World Cup, providing incisive commentary, reportage, and analysis of the social conflicts surrounding this massive sporting event. In dispatches from the streets of Rio and other cities, he offers us a sense of how Brazilian actors are experiencing the intersection between the World Cup and the broader social conflicts and fractures of their society.

I’ve drawn on Gaffney’s work in a piece written this past summer about the Confederations Cup protests in Brazil and more recently offered my sense of what might happen next summer in Brazil in this piece at Sports Illustrated.

This post is an invitation for discussion both about Gaffney’s book and his broader take on football and the World Cup and Brazil. I look forward to your comments!


Category: Brazil FIFA World Cup

About Laurent Dubois

I am Professor of Romance Studies and History and the Director of the Forum for Scholars & Publics at Duke University. I founded the Soccer Politics blog in 2009 as part of a course on "World Cup and World Politics" taught at Duke University. I'm currently teaching the course under the title "Soccer Politics" here at Duke. My books include Soccer Empire: The World Cup and the Future of France (University of California Press, 2010) and The Language of the Game: How to Understand Soccer (Basic Books, 2018)

44 thoughts on “Hunting White Elephants: Christopher Gaffney’s Take on Brazil

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  3. Christopher Gaffney

    Thank you to all who so generously and thoughtfully commented upon Temples and Hunting White Elephants. I have been reflecting on the processes involving sport and stadia for more than a decade now and in reading the comments above feel that there is still much more to explore. The preparations for the 2014 World Cup have made me rethink the ways in which I would approach Temples if I were to start researching it again. I would focus much more on issues of power and representation in the Brazilian stadium than previously, as well as take a more critical stance on the role of the stadium as a place of social integration. I am not sure that all of my initial observcations were correct, but as I did try to interpret places that were not my own for a foreign audience in as neutral a way as possible.

    The political economy of football in Brazil has changed significantly since I began research on Temples and I have written extensively about this in other places (see my profile on for more articles). I hope to continue this dialogue with Professor Dubois and with the young scholars that were generous enough to comment on my work.

  4. Balser

    Temples of the Earthbound Gods is Christopher Gaffney’s exploration of soccer stadiums and the role they play in South American history and culture. Gaffney’s geographical approach was a different and interesting take that I thoroughly enjoyed.
    My favorite chapter two, “Rio de Janeiro: Spiritual Home of World Football”. It focused on how the game first spread to Rio, and how it took hold there. It also chronicles the 1950 World Cup, and how a new stadium the Maracana, was built to host this, and how Brazil made it to the finals only to lose to Uruguay, who they had beat just weeks before. As Alex Bellos explains, “To upset the largest amount of Brazilians as possible without loss of life, there is probably no more efficient way than creating the largest stadium in the world, filling it to overflowing, and then losing, in the final minutes, to neighbors you had recently beaten, at a sport that is believed to best represent the nation” (73). Soccer helps to explain Brazil in many ways, from racial divides and the acceptance of black and mulatto players, to economic differences and even imperialism, the history of Brazil can be told through soccer.
    I think that this reading, and in particular this chapter, is very important especially in light of recent debates over whether Brazil was the correct place to host the World Cup. While many people argue it was a mistake, it can not be forgotten how deeply the roots of soccer run into the history of the country, and that even though there are many difficulties, there is no doubt that soccer is essential to explaining Brazil.

  5. Vishnu Kadiyala

    In his book, Gaffney makes an interesting thesis: that soccer stadiums in South America(And probably the rest of the world) reflect the societies that foster them. But in addition, he also states that the soccer stadiums are cauldrons of culture and collective history, despite the many problems that blight the modern games.
    The organization of soccer stadiums is different from that of American Sports. In Brazil, certain neighborhoods, communities, or ultra-organizations consistently occupy the same areas of the stadium. Thus, the maracana has sections devoted to the national police, the state police, certain prominent favelas, etc, and rival groups are separated by police with German shepherds.
    This serves as a depository of collective knowledge and memory. A loss in 1950 to Uruguay still haunts Brazil’s collective consciousness; it is still referred to as “the failure in the Maracana.” AT the same time, an ugly streak of the game reared its head. The 3 black players on the team were blamed for the loss. Another significant example of this is El Monumental in Argentina; the stadium serves as a reminder of the oppression of Argentina’s military junta. In addition, in 1968, 71 Boca Juniors fans were crushed to death, and soon after, the spaces which these fans were occupied were obliterated. This tragedy, and the “obliteration” of their memory, has only served as a reminder of the tragedy for the Boca fans. In many ways, this is similar to the importance of the Hillsborough disaster to Liverpool fans
    In his blog, the author also explores how the game has changed in its socioeconomic dynamics. The lasting stereotype of the game is that it is one for working class men. Thus, women and minorities were excluded, hooliganism was widespread in the 1970s and 1980s. At the same time, people from the poorest favelas in Brazil could go the game. That has markedly changed; only people with a steady, good income can afford to regularly go the game. This is both a tragedy and a boon. Stadiums and supporters have lost some of their soul, and are quieter and less boisterous than before. Yet, the game is far more inclusive now; it is not uncommon now to see women or minorities at games. Additionally, the blatant homophobia and xenophobia of yesteryear has been replaced as clubs have realized that a large fanbase is beneficial to the team’s coffers.

  6. June Zhang

    Dans le livre de Gaffney, Temples of the Earthbound Gods, il analyse les stades pour décrit l’histoire et l’importance du football. Il se concentre sur deux grandes villes de football : Rio de Janiero, Brésil et Buenos Aires, Argentine. Les stades ne sont pas seulement un symbole du sport, mais aussi les gens et leurs vies. Ils représentent l’identité nationaliste et globale. Ils aussi reflètent la développement de la culture et le l’économie d’un ville. On peut voir les stades comme une microcosme de la société. C’est un lieu ou on a les mêmes expériences et émotions pendant le même temps qui donne au spectateur un sentiment de participation privilégie (3).
    Gaffney souligne des points dans le livre que je trouve fascinant. Il écrit sur le rôle du sexe dans le football, que dans beaucoup de cultures les footballeurs sont des symboles de « normalité hétérosexuelle » (31). Le sport idéalise les rôles des hommes dans la société, que sont les jouer et aussi la majorité des forts spectateurs. Les femmes ne peuvent pas faire partie de la sport qui est domine par les hommes. A Buenos Aires, le stade est appelé « la cancha », un nomme féminine. Ca représente que le stade est la maison littérale et métaphorique pour l’équipe, donc, il y a une expression domestique dans le nom (143). Je croit que c’est un peux paradoxe, que le sport est domine par les hommes mais le terme pour le stade est associe avec les femmes. Les rôles de sexes sont stéréotypies dans l’espace du stade – les femmes sont les gens domestique dans la société et ils se cachent vers le stade et les hommes sont les figures masculine que sont les héros du spectateurs. Les hommes appartenaient au stade – sur la terrain ou dans les tribunes. Les femmes n’ont pas un place la.
    Une autre idée importante que Gaffney introduit est l’influence de Europe sur le football en l’Amérique du Sud. Le Britannique en particulière était devenu un pouvoir économique, social, et culturel en Brésil. Ils créaient l’élitisme dans le sport par des clubs exclusifs. Cette influence étranger a crée un identité sociale des gens a cause du sport. La culture sportive brésilienne facilitait la transition du sport dans la population urbaine mais les Européennes ont crée un sentiment d’élitisme qui continue d’imprégner la monde globale du football. Aussi en Argentine, la premier équipe nationale était crée par les Britanniques, qui ont établie les clubs privée pour les élites local et les expatriâtes britanniques (132). La population de Buenos Aires a augmente considérablement au cause du immigrées, donc, la propagation du football était au cause d’immigration de Britanniques. Quand le football a élargi dans la ville urbaine, il est devenu un mode de culture publique. Les stades sont un lieu de rassemblement pour du les gens diffèrent. Sans l’intervention et l’influence européenne, le football n’aurait jamais devenu le sport favori du pays.
    C’est clair que les stades jouent un rôle impératif dans la sphère du football. Ils donnent le sport un présence national et internationale. C’est un réflexion de la société et les dynamiques sociale, culturelle, et économique de la ville. Par-dessus tout, il donne les spectateurs et les citoyens un identité et un place pour apprécier la sport ensemble.

  7. Rosa Toledo

    Dans Temples of the Earthbound Gods, Gaffney nous montre l’importance des stades dans le monde. En utilisant deux grands villes dans l’Amérique Latine (Rio de Janeiro et Buenos Aires) comme le centre de son argument, Gaffney nous éduque en ce qui concerne le pouvoir d’un stade et comme un stade peut être dans certains cas le catalyseur du changement mais dans d’autres, le renforçateur des normes culturelles préexistantes. La culture du stade et du football dans ces deux villes est tellement différente mais il y a un point commun entre les deux: le stade est un lieu presque sacré car il a été le témoin de moments historiques.

    Les anglaises ont trahit le football en Brésil. Au début, le stade avait servit comme un espace géographique pour contrôler les distinctions de race et les relations entres clases. Le sport du football était posh et cosmopolite; c’était le sport de la haute société. Les matches étaient un lieu dont les spectateurs et les footballeurs se pouvaient faire remarquer. Pourtant, c’était n’était pas jusqu’à 1950, quand Brésil a organisé Le Coupe du Monde, que les stades étaient presque égalitaires. Mais c’tait le fait que Brésil manquait un sport avec lequel la société se pouvait identifier qu’a servit comme la force qu’a facilité la diffusion du football en Brésil et qui a éventuellement transformé le football en le sport des brésiliens. Le stade à Rio de Janeiro a servit comme un espace de modernisation, intégration social, et nationalisation. Le cas du Championnat en 1919 dans le Stade des Laranjeiras serve comme évidence que dans un stade on peut témoigner le change. C’est à dire, le moment dans lequel Freidenreich a gagné le tournement pour le Brésil, il avait aussi signalé l’inclusion des noires dans la nation.

    A Buenos Aires, il y a un différent esprit dans le monde du football. A Buenos Aires, la compétition entre les hommes était constamment présente dans leurs vies quotidiennes. Pour les porteños, le football était un sport agressif dans lequel on pouvait « subvertir les règles ». Ils servaient comme la confrontation du « collectifs masculins ». Les stades étaient le produit de cette constante compétition. Dans ces stades on voulait voir cette confrontation masculine. Gaffney mentionne que même si la rivalité a toujours existé dans le sport, il n’y a autre rivalité aussi fort que celle du Boca et du River. L’animosité entre ces deux équipes et leurs respectives supporteurs est sans précèdent.

    Même si les stades ont joué un diffèrent rôle dans ces deux villes, on ne peut pas nier que les stades ont eu un rôle important dans le développement de leurs cultures. Par exemple, pour Rio de Janeiro, le Estádio Municipal do Rio de Janeiro dans la Coupe du Monde en 1950 représentait la construction d’un grande bâtiment et le cour de la société mais aussi le lieu où la perte d’un match pouvait toucher une société au point de dire que « ce n’était pas possible de bouleverser tant brésiliens sans perte de vie »

  8. Matt Berezo

    In Christopher Gaffney’s book, “Temple of Earthbound Gods”, he describes in depth how the game of soccer in a way of life in South America, and how the aspects of the society play out in these soccer stadiums, such as violence, social norms, etc.
    In urban South America, soccer is more than just a sport. The game has symbolic, spiritual meaning, people identify themselves with the teams they support, and fans can even come extremely violent with one another over a game. One aspect of the nature of soccer in South America that also has symbolic meaning is the structure of the stadiums that these teams play in. Gaffney describes how the architecture, location, and even the name of the stadium have connections to the identity of the society. The symbolic aspects of these stadiums that Gaffney describes starts all the way back with the ball courts of the Maya and Aztecs. One example of a modern stadium set up that Gaffney analyzes is the four stadiums in Rio De Janiero, Brazil. Gaffney goes on to explain how each stadium represents a separate part of the society in this city, where it is political, economic, or social, but also how these four stadiums of one city represent its unity and commitment to one another.
    I found Gaffney’s book and his in-depth analysis of how soccer stadiums in South America particularly interesting. I don’t usually associate stadiums and fields with social, spiritual, or economic relevance. However, Gaffney puts together some interesting points that make soccer and its stadiums more romantic. For example, when people go to soccer games in Brazil and put on their soccer uniforms to cheer on their teams, racial tensions evaporate. These stadiums serve as a place for nationalism, and a place for these people to unify with one another.

  9. Vinay Kumar

    Dans « Temples of the Earthbound Gods » par Christopher Gaffney, l’auteur explique l’histoire riche des stades (et leurs influences européennes) et les ramifications politiques, économiques, culturelles, et écologiques de ces grands chefs d’œuvres. Aussi, Gaffney gère deux études de cas sur le rôle du stade à Rio de Janeiro et à Buenos Aires. Il commence avec l’histoire des stades et ses origines grecques. Le mot « stadium » est dérivé d’un mot grecque : estadion (4). Gaffney explique que les Romains a copié les Grecques avec leurs stades mais ils les ont utilisés pour des moyens violents.

    Je trouve son analyse de la évolution des stades vraiment intéressant. Selon Gaffney (et John Bale, un géographe), il y a un modèle de la évolution des stades avec cinq étapes (pré-moderne, tôt moderne, moderne, postmoderne, le plus moderne). En générale, la tendance de ces étapes est un mouvement de la désorganisation à l’organisation architecturale stricte. Les changes incluent les séparations socio-économiques entre les sièges pour les spectateurs, les dimensions standardisées pour le terrain, et la rationalité économique (15). De plus, Gaffney décrit les caractéristiques iconographiques des stades. Ces bâtiments sont des représentations symboliques des villes qui transmettent le concept de la ville au monde. Ils révèlent les idéologies, les tendances de développements, et le produit des travailleurs (24).

    On peut comprendre l’importance du football et les stades à Rio de Janeiro avec des exemples qui Gaffney décrit. Le foot a une histoire de ségrégation en Brazil et, selon Gaffney, les stades aide à unifier la population. Charles Miller est reconnu comme le père du football brésilien. Gaffney raconte la évolution de football d’un sport britannique à un phénomène national. Bien que les stades aient commencé comme un moyen de séparer les riches des pauvres, ils détruiraient « des barrières socio-spatiales » quand les classes populaires peuvent jouer et regarder des matchs. Gaffney cite Estádio do Maracanã comme un exemple pendant le Mondial de 1950 (70). Ce stade était un exemple de la unification et l’avancement de Brazil à la égalité de la opportunité. Aujourd’hui, il existe beaucoup de la stratification dans la société brésilienne. Malheureusement, la majorité des classes populaires ne peuvent pas échapper la pauvreté. Aussi, Gaffney utilise des exemples qui montrent le pouvoir politique du gouvernement brésilien et leur utilisation des stades pour exercer ce pouvoir.

    La deuxième étude de cas dans le livre est Buenos Aires. Encore une fois, Gaffney décrit la histoire complexe du football en Argentine. J’aime beaucoup son récit d’un match argentin parce que son niveau de détailles m’aide à imaginer l’expérience. Gaffney prétend que le supporter argentin est plus sexuel et violent que ses homologues en Amérique latin et au monde. Dans quelques parties du livre, je pense que Gaffney est un peu sévère avec ses descriptions et ses assertions du football en Argentine. Néanmoins, il m’aide à comprendre les effets des soixante-quatre stades de Buenos Aires.

    J’ai voulu comprendre l’importance du football en Brazil comme la Coupe de Monde approche. Je pense que ce livre est un très bon sommaire de l’histoire du football dans le pays en plus d’une analyse incroyable des stades. Je ne suis pas beaucoup de football mais j’ai visité des stades pour le basket et autre sports. Il est apparent que le football a des supporters incomparables. Je suis impatient de voir mon premier match dans un stade.

  10. Basil Seif

    Christopher Thomas Gaffney, in his novel, Temples of the Earthbound Gods, explains the phenomenon of the stadium as much more than simply a place where people congregate for sport. Stadia, wherever they may be, have many different paradoxical identities and qualities, all very minutely defined by their cultural surroundings. They are places of freedom, places of captivity. They are places of equality, places of oppression. They are places of victory, places of defeat. Stadiums are places of unbelievable, universally shared experience that can also have very unique meanings and interpretations to millions of different people.

    One of my favorite examples of this paradoxical effect of the stadium is his excerpt on the Maracana during the World Cup of 1950. As simply a magnificent human achievement, the building of the Maracana was “a self-conscious testament to the capacity of Brazil and Rio de Janeiro to lead South America into a postwar world of ordered, progressive, and industrialized democracy” (71). This amazing “sky blue” palace “hovering like a spacecraft… creating its own gravitational field,” was always more than a football stadium (77). It always meant more to Brazil than a place in which football played; to the Brazilians, the Maracana was a testament to the beauty, resilience, and majesty of Brazilian culture and Brazilians everywhere. Whether you were mulatto or European, a samba dancer or a martial artist, the Maracana, like the “racial mix” of that 1950 World Cup team, universally represented the best elements of Brazilian society: “creativity… skill, and determination” (72). As Gaffney so eloquently put it, “the eliptical form of the stadium was thought to unite rich and poor, black, mulatto, and white, in a common experience, a shared emotion that would be self-reflective and self-sustaining” (72). The ironic, paradoxical beauty of stadia, in particular, the Maracana, is that this perceived beautiful “common experience,” was one of absolute disaster and tragedy. Within one of the greatest symbols of Brazilian victory, the country suffered its most tragic defeat. Alex Bellos put it well when he said, “there is probably no more efficent way… to upset the largest amount of Brazilians as possible without loss of life,” than to lose that 1950 World Cup to Uruguay in the Maracana (73). In this way, though, the contradictory truths of the stadium create almost a sense of undefinable, unique beauty, a beauty that it is celebrated and mourned both individually and collectively.

    I also very much enjoyed Gaffney’s take on the stadium as a social space capable of social stimulus. When Arthur Friedenreich, a mulatto player, scored the game winning goal of the 1919 Copa America, giving Brazil its first Copa America victory, “the rules of the stadium [began to] change… and these changes [had] to be accepted beyond the stadium walls” (55). Following this new precedent, stadiums very groundbreakingly presented indigenous Brazilians “in the space of the stadium… dressed in modern outfits” in order to create “symbolic and spatial relationships between the modern practices of the city and the traditional cultural practices of pre-Colombian Brazil” (57). In this way, the social precedents set in the stadium carried over to Brazilian society as a whole.

    In the case of Buenos Aires, Gaffney also points out this pattern of adoption of stadium behavior in society. Due to the “highly localized masculine solidarity” on display in Argentinian stadia from 1890-1930, specifically, the social spaces of the country also experienced some of this “masculine solidarity” (142). Upon losing in the World Cup final of 1930 to Uruguay, Argentinians aggravatedly “burned several Uruguayan businesses and badly beat Uruguayan nationals,” expressions of anger that portrayed Argentina’s implied “lack of national virility” (142).

    In general, I thoroughly enjoyed Gaffney’s message about the indefinability of the stadium, about the indescribably unique qualities of a stadium fitting within the framework of a place of collective experience. As he says so eloquently in the preface, “Part of the problem of examining stadiums is their mind-boggling complexity. They can be understood from so many disciplinary, historical, geographic, experiential, and methodological perspectives that a totalizing view is impossible. On the other hand, this complexity allows for nearly everyone to connect with them” (xvi).

  11. Morganne Gagne

    In Temples of the Earthbound Gods, Gaffney analyzes the societal importance of stadium as well as how historical context, gender roles, and/or class conflict have influenced stadiums in Rio de Janiero and Buenos Aires. Gaffney begins by describing the stadium in theory and practice and argues that stadiums may be the most “global of the globalized,” by stating that every politically-organized territory has at least one stadium to host local, national, and international games [4]. Stadiums are an essential part of many cultures and function as a place for community interaction and a vault of collective memories. While reading the opening section, I was honestly surprised at how it effortlessly evoked memories from my own past, and I believe what makes Gaffney’s analysis so powerful is that it is something everyone can relate to. As a Boston-native, going to Red Sox games at Fenway Park are some of my fondest memories. I agree with Gaffney in that “we remember and value what happens in the stadiums: good, bad, and mundane” [26], and I would argue that going to a stadium is even more than what happens in the game. Rather, it a full sensory experience. In the baseball games that I’ve attended, I honestly don’t remember who the Red Sox played or whether they won or lost. However, I don’t think I can ever forget the taste of Fenway Franks, the sound of hawkers yelling, “PEANUTS HE-AH!” and the sense of community while high-fiving strangers.
    Because the stadium experience has played a significant role in my past, I was fascinated learning how the experience differs around the world, especially in Buenos Aires. Gaffney shares his attending a match at Bombonera, detailing everything from arriving at the stadium to the dramatic entrance of each team’s barrabrava. I was most shocked by the explicit nature of barrabravas chants and insults. (“If you don’t jump you’re a fag!” [129] was on the tamer end of the spectrum). For the barrabrava, who are considered professional fans, the soccer matches are more than just a game – they are a way of life. As Gaffney states, “For these fans, there is no question that what is happening in the stadium is worth bodily sacrifice” [131]. This mentality results in gang-like violence against opposing barrabravas, which is a way to prove one’s dedication to one’s team. Youth rise up in through the barrabrava’s hierarchal ranks by stealing the banners of opposing barrabravas, stealing cars, or starting fights with members of enemy barras. The ultimate displays of dedication are violent confrontations with the police [171].
    Gaffney delves deeper into the masculine- and violence-dominated atmosphere in stadiums in Buenos Aires by examining the patriarchal structure and resulting gender spheres in Argentina. At the start of the 20th century, rapid industrial growth and massive European immigration resulted in males ages 20-40 constituting a majority of the population [135]. The shortage of available woman posed problems for both the church and state for a couple of different reasons. Male homosexuality was heavily feared, so several exclusively male public spaces were created to combat male “weakness,” including legal brothels, “cafes with waitresses,” and the cabaret. Consequently, women were confined to the roles of prostitutes or homemakers [136]. The tango emerged in the 1910s as a public stage for the performance of gender identities. Surprisingly, tango originated as a dance between men; however, men used the tango as a direct way of competing for female attention. Success at a tango bar confirmed a male’s masculine self [137].Gaffney argues that because men in Buenos Aires were in constant competition with one another, the explosion of soccer stadiums was simply a product of this competition.
    Competition against foreign teams was considered a test of national virility [141]. Homophobic fears became engrained in the stadium mentality. Soccer was a pure expression of masculinity, so opposing fans were feminized in the stadium. In the game that Gaffney attended between Boca and River Plate, River Plate implied that the only authentic fans were those who violate the anuses of all other fans [143]. While very public in Argentina, this type of homophobic and sexualized violence is not tolerated in the United States, especially not in public stadiums.

  12. Caitlin Moyles

    “I allowed stadiums to tell their own stories,” writes Christopher Gaffney in the preface to Temples of the Earthbound Gods. What struck me most in Gaffney’s opening paragraphs is that to him, stadiums have agency. His awe and fascination for stadiums—their symbolic characteristics, role as sites of convergence, and function as urban public spaces—suggest that they are complex, living organisms. Although modern stadiums in Western Europe and North America are increasingly designed to separate spectators by socioeconomic level and control human movement, “in the rest of the world, we know a stadium when we see, hear, taste, smell, and feel it” (18). Stadiums in Latin America alone are such complex and essential elements of urban public culture that Gaffney devotes 200 pages of research and interpretation to their attention. A brief history of stadiums in ancient Greek, Roman, and Mesoamerican society and an outline of his general theory of stadiums are followed by four chapters devoted to stadiums in historical and contemporary Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires. In the sixth chapter, Gaffney situates both cities in the context of global political, economic, and social processes. Gaffney calls our attention to the stadium and elevates it to the upper strata of the important fixtures of modern urban life.

    I am particularly interested in Gaffney’s attention to detail regarding the development of sports and stadiums as predominantly masculine activities/ spaces. Just one example is his discussion in chapter five of polo, rugby, and soccer stadiums around Buenos Aires. Polo’s appeal in Argentina was intertwined with the equestrian culture of the gaucho, a romanticized cowboy figure. In 1894, polo was introduced to the Argentine army as a cavalry exercise. In March 2003, the rugby team Los Pumas began to prepare for the World Cup by training with the Argentine Navy. The public “was stunned by pictures of Los Pumas dressed in camouflage, wielding rifles, and crawling under barbed wire” (162). In the hierarchy of soccer fandom in Argentina, the barrabravas are professional male fans, typically socially disenfranchised, who form symbiotic relationships with soccer clubs. Their tasks include anything from collecting money from ticketless spectators to interfering with rival club directors’ businesses, drug trafficking, and fighting with the police. “In this male-dominated world,” Gaffrey writes, “women are almost wholly absent and cannot occupy barra space in the stands unless they are accompanied by male members” (170).

    In this context, it is interesting to consider Gaffney’s argument in the theoretical chapter that stadiums are spaces for masculine socialization that is rife with sexual tension. On the field, male athletes’ “unchallenged heterosexual masculinity…allows them to perform homoerotic acts that would be considered overtly homosexual in nearly any other context.” Gaffney also quotes social historian Brian Pronger, who suggests that male sports fans engage in homoerotic voyeurism. Of course women can also view male athletes as sexual objects, but it is more compelling to consider the stadium as a space where, in Pronger’s words, “the hierarchy of gender difference compels men to find satisfaction in one another” (31). Deciphering the symbolism and function of stadiums as a masculine space is but one way that Gaffney seeks to understand and interpret stadiums’ deep cultural meanings.

  13. Gilda Doria

    The Temple of the Earthbound Gods, is a book written by Christopher Gaffney examining the significance of the stadium in Brazilian and Argentinian culture and in life in general. Through the stadiums, we are able to see how cultures and people have evolved over time. Throughout the book Gaffney hits on a variety of points, keying in on the role a stadium may play in a person and city’s life. Stadiums are used as sites of convergence and as public urban spaces. All of society is united in a limited space for a limited time. People come together to watch a sporting event and find a common connection, which is then broadcast among the rest of the world. They function as links to our past without form or function. Not only that, but they serve as the most viewed buildings in a given urban environment. Some people even reference them as hallowed grounds, among the most significant places in someone’s life. Although it may be a place of worship and respect many think that it is also an observed environment and that any time one may have many eyes observing them. In many stadiums in Brazil and Argentina, as we see in the book, it served as a way to manipulate people’s actions and thoughts towards the government. The government sought out to create a controlled environment. Gaffney’s main purpose in his book is to isolate the stadium and “insert stadiums into a larger discussion of urban public spaces in the region, arguing that stadiums are an important, complex, and essential elements of urban public culture in Latin America that merit more critical attention from scholars.”
    As of recent, stadiums have turned into violence in a lot of stadiums this century in Latin America. They now play a role in urban conflicts, staging ritualized confrontations between groups and competing for urban and sporting supremacy. Public space is being constantly redefined to meet the needs of the communities while still serving as a local intersect with the global world. The bottom line is that everyone has a place and or role in the stadium. Overall, stadiums serve as a good view of society as a whole. In fact, by flipping through pictures, we can see the history of social culture.
    Looking at the expansion of soccer in Brazil and the impact of soccer for our sake in Rio de Janiero, it is impossible to say what specific part of Brazil the origins of soccer emerged from. The diffusion of soccer throughout the Latin American culture came through flexible and simple rules. The migration of new ethnicities, classes, and generations left Brazil without an identity in the early 1900s. The biggest rival of the Brazilian identity came through the Rio de Janiero stadium. Here among many stadiums in Brazil, the Brazilian government attempted to shape the image of the nation. Communal organization and social hierarchy took place in the Brazilian stadiums. Soccer originated as an elite practice and occurred in geographical and socially limited spaces. However the ironic thing was that middle and lower classes took over playing the sport, which then led them to take over on the field and in the stands. Elite space became hard to come by as social pressures from the lower and middle classes began to knock them down. Over time, by investigating a soccer team in Brazil, one was able to understand the role they played in symbolizing the real divisions within the city. This could be done because soccer was and forever will be a fundamental element of Brazilian life
    Social problems in Brazil could be seen built and repaired by communities. In Brazil, sport is one of the few legal mechanisms available to the poor to escape the structural conditions in their life. The biggest take away message I grasped after reading the book was that lthough the political, economic, and cultural practices of stadiums will never be fully understood in its entirety, stadiums will continue to be the most sacred and visible places in many cities throughout the world.

  14. Matthew Schorr

    Christopher Gaffney examine l’importance des stades dans la société. Énormes et impossibles à ignorer, des stades sont aussi difficiles à comprendre. Gaffney cherche à nous montrer comment interpréter ces bâtiments compliqués, qui touchent la vie de presque tout le monde (selon Gaffney, nous avons tous un lien au stade—comme spectateur, joueur, travailleur, ou contribuable). Selon Gaffney, la signification des stades vient du fait qu’ils nous donnent un aperçu de la culture dans laquelle ils existent. Par exemple, l’auteur suggère que des stades ont toujours des implications économiques, politiques, environnementales, commerciales et architecturales, sans parler des conséquences pour l’identité locale et nationale. Pour éclaircir l’utilité des stades comme aperçus, Gaffney considère les nombreux stades de Rio de Janeiro et de Buenos Aires, deux villes où le foot est inextricablement lié à la culture locale et nationale.
    Dans la partie de son livre consacrée à Rio de Janeiro, Gaffney suggère que les stades sont un moyen de mieux comprendre la race et l’identité nationale des Brésiliens. Au début du 20ème siècle, les stades de foot renforçaient les distinctions entre les races et les classes sociales. Le foot était initialement un jeu des élites britanniques et créoles, et la ligue principale de foot à Rio de Janeiro interdisait la participation des noirs. Toutefois, peu à peu, les stades ont devenus un symbole de l’unité nationale et de l’égalité. La victoire de l’équipe nationale de Brésil en 1919 après la marque d’un but par un mulâtre dans la quatrième prolongation démontre ce changement. La victoire « signaled the impending inclusion of blacks and mulattos into the nation ». Gaffney constate aussi que la Maracanã, un stade construit à la fin des années 40, symbolisait un espace social où l’homme ordinaire pouvait se mélanger avec les élites. Une forte identité nationale était construite aux stades de Rio de Janeiro, où des victoires provoquaient de la fierté nationale et des défaites provoquaient de la gêne nationale (après la défaite aux mains de l’équipe uruguayenne en 1950, par exemple).
    Les stades de Buenos Aires sont utiles comme moyen d’analyser le rôle du sexe et de la sexualité dans la société argentine. Pendant les premières décennies du 20ème siècle, l’immigration des hommes européens à Buenos Aires a créé un déséquilibre des sexes. Par conséquent, des stades et des autres espaces publics ont acquis un caractère masculin. Les slogans, les actions et les chansons des supporters argentines démontrent l’agressivité, la violence, l’homophobie et l’énergie sexuelle qui définissent l’environnement dans des stades. Les supporters scandent le slogan « if you don’t chant you’re a fag », et ils chantent à l’unisson une chanson du viol anal. En plus, à cause de la menace de violent élevé aux matches argentines, les vigiles doivent protéger les arbitres des supporters fâchés. Une autre conséquence de la masculinité des stades (et de la société en général) est la peur que la défaite aux mains d’une équipe nationale d’un autre pays émasculerait la société argentine. Ainsi, l’argentine évitait les championnats internationaux pendant quelques années.
    J’ai beaucoup apprécié l’œuvre de Gaffney, et je trouve son argument convaincant. Evidemment, le stade n’est pas quelque chose de simple : la signification du stade est une interprétation subjective, et elle dépend du contexte et de l’environnement où le stade se situe. L’idée que le stade est un type de microcosme pour la société m’intéresse ; mais la partie du livre que j’ai trouvé la plus intéressant était son assertion dans le premier chapitre que la vente des billets représente un effort d’organiser l’espace pour contrôler la foule ; malheureusement, cette stratégie renforce les distinctions socioéconomiques qui existent dans la société et sape la notion que le stade symbolise l’unité et une identité commune. Le problème est exacerbé parce que les billets sont souvent trop chers pour l’homme ordinaire, qui est donc entièrement exclu du stade. Ces phénomènes sont évidents à Yankee Stadium, un stade que je connais bien, où les billets sont exorbitants. C’est de plus en plus difficile pour l’homme ordinaire d’assister aux matches parce que les billets ont souvent un prix prohibatif. Ceux qui ont les moyens d’assister se sont séparés selon le prix du billet, et c’est physiquement impossible d’accéder à une section différente.

  15. Patricia Spears

    Ce que m’a frappe la plus dans “Temples of the Earthbound Gods” par Christopher Thomas Gaffney était les méthodes diffèrent qui était utilise pour unifier le pays.
    Dans le cas de Bazille, quand le football était introduit, il n’était pas déjà une culture sportive, alors, soccer était presque parfait pour unifier les classes sociales et mêmes les locations de tout le pays en sport. Il était introduit par Charles Miller, et il semble comme une fable. L’histoire indique qu’il était le seul jouer de foot qui a donner le jeu aux Brasillions. Il existait beaucoup des différences entres les classes sociales, mais car la plupart des équipes était forme par quartier, il y avais des associations qui était créer avec les garçons pauvres, et tout le monde avait, en théorie, l’opportunité pour s’améliorer, même que soccer était, au début, un jeu pour les élites. C’est reflété dans les stades, ou au début, il n’y avait pas des sièges, mais après quelques années, et décisions par FIFA, les sièges était obligatoire. C’était un change qui a forcée la population d’être plus riche et plus vieux. Ca a stratifiée les spectateurs aussi.
    L’auteur décrit la situation en Argentina comme la violence est un partie de la vie normal pour les Argentines, et le foot n’est pas diffèrent. Le stade est un forum pour combattre les classes sociales et pour faire un débat sur la politique. En Brasille, il y avait la violence parce que les enthousiastes voulait entrer leur stade. Argentine aussi a une histoire de barrabavas, qui était les enthousiastes qui ont une occupation plus formelle dans leurs équipes, mais ca aide aux même temps à la corruption.
    J’ai remarquée aussi les différences entre les deux pays aux sujets des idées de sexualité et sexe. En Basil, la plupart des spectateurs sont les hommes, et l’auteur discute le fait que les actes qu’on aurait trouvé un signal homosexuel dans une autre situation sont acceptables dans le sport. C’est probablement car les sports sont un image classique de masculinité et hétérosexualité pour les hommes masculine normative. En Argentina, l’auteur propose l’idée de masculine comme un conflit. En Argentina plus de Brasille, les femmes sont spectateurs de football. Aussi, Brasille semble d’avoir un culture dans lequel la sexualité est plus rencognées. Pour exemple la prostitution est légale. Le sport offre un mode pour montre son propre masculinité.
    J’ai trouvée les idées de masculinité intéressant. Quand j’ai trouvée mon blog pour soccer, j’ai trouvée dans le site-web un tumblr qui était dédiée au les photos qui montre les moments dans le foot ou on peut dispute les idées de masculinité et homosexualité. Evidement, c’est un idée claire dans le foot.

  16. Halsey Friedel

    In his book, Temples of the Earthbound Gods, Christopher Gaffney discusses how the various stadiums in Brazil and Argentina are not only the locations where some of the greatest soccer spectacles have taken place, but how they also provide significant insight into many of the social justifications surrounding the particular actions of the country.
    He begins by discussing how the introduction of stadiums was an attempt by the European based upper-class to achieve the standards of modernization set by Europe and, by extension, to clearly define the socially structure of the nation. This process began with the upper-class individuals, who held the power, striving to mimic the public services available in their native countries, such as Argentina trying to create a similar environmental structure to Paris. This process included incorporating public areas such as parks, plazas and stadiums. However, stadiums were still reserved to the upper-class individuals, due to their unique knowledge of the sports, soccer and rugby. This distinction did not last long, because following urbanization and social reforms spurred by Francisco Pereira Passos, all classes started becoming familiar with the sports and thus more involved in society. As they became more involved, there was the somewhat unexpected result of forming an identity beyond socioeconomic status. This was most successfully demonstrated when a significant combination of native Brazilians and European based immigrants all cheered on Brazil in 1910 friendlies in Rio de Janeiro. It was this “ affirmation of ‘Brazilian-ness’ opposed to the English and Argentine ‘other,’” (Location 765), which suggested that the soccer could provide the national identity and the stadium was their stage. This also held true for the various neighborhood-based teams in Argentina, showing soccer’s true potential as a social changer.
    However despite this unified success, there are still clear lines between socioeconomic classes present in sport stadium. The first example of this is the two stadiums of Estádio Figuera de Melo and Estádio das Laranjeiras (Manoel Schwartz). Both of these stadiums had been very large and successful in their prime, but nowadays they have both taken on new function based on their relative location. Estádio Figuera de Melo is located in a poorer area, which did not receive any particular benefits from the economic expansion or commercialization of Brazil. As such this once great stadium and team have been reduced to shoddiness and lackluster results. This decline into irrelevance was stemmed by the surrounding areas inability to fund the stadium, seeing as memberships have declined significantly. On the other side, Estádio das Laranjeiras (Manoel Schwartz) is in a particularly wealthy area of Rio de Janeiro, and as such, it has had extensive remodeling. Even though the stadium is no longer used for the professional team’s soccer matches, the new grounds are described as “gold-trimmed, wrought iron gates, the manicured grounds contain four clay tennis courts, an Olympic swimming pool, a diving pool, and a large, ornately decorated clubhouse with a restaurant bar, club offices, and two ballrooms that can seat 800 comfortably.” (Location 1227). The comparative conditions of these once proud stadiums demonstrate the potential influence of socioeconomics on soccer.
    The other example of this is though the varying stadium environments of Rugby and Soccer. Despite using soccer stadium as Rugby fields, there are substantial factors that differentiate the two, such as location. The most important factor is the attitude of the fan. In Rugby stadiums, there is a large scoreboard showing replays allowing fans to be somewhat passive. This is believed to be an attribute of the upper-middle class “conveying an illusion of power over the events on the field”. (Location 1994). This passive manner would never be tolerated during a soccer match, where everyone is constant jumping, chanting and lighting off fireworks. I believe the quote “rugby is a hooligans’ game played by gentlemen and soccer is a gentlemen’s game played by hooligans,” (Location 2195), truly demonstrates the divide the fan base’s actions and thus socioeconomic standing.
    One last thing that Gaffney talks about is the sexualization, and homophobic nature, of soccer in Argentina. He mentions that soccer is truly a game demonstrating virility by defending “from penetration by opponents.” (Location 1810). While he did provide some good arguments, such as the various chants and demonstration of masculinity in social settings, I thought his argument was a little bit over the top. That was until I remembered an advertisement from a recent Brazil versus Argentina match: ( The top image is a suggestion that Argentina is going to penetrate Brazil. But after Argentina lost, Brazil released the second image, suggesting poor virility of Argentina. This advertisement truly validates his claims, and establishes his analysis as quite interesting.
    Overall, Gaffney used many different techniques to attempt to describe a variety of social aspects that are defined with in the stadium, and I truly believe he did so in a very effective manner.

  17. Lauren Oliveri

    In Temples of the Earthbound Gods, Christopher Gaffney documents the histories of two soccer-crazed cities through the development, characteristics, and structure of their stadiums. Gaffney provides solid historical evidence to illustrate how stadiums and football have changed over time and even transformed the societies of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Buenos Aires, Argentina in a political, economical, social, and cultural context.

    One of the first arguments Gaffney makes is that “there is something essentially human” about stadiums and arenas, citing the appearance of such structures in ancient cultures including the Mayans, Aztecs, Greeks, and Romans [4]. Gaffney continues to prove this idea with current facts. It’s hard to refute that sport is inherently popular on a global scale when more nations involve themselves in international athletic competitions than international politics [5].

    Gaffney continues to explain why and how football became extremely popular specifically in Latin America. Football began in Rio de Janeiro as a British game, where British elites and expatriates organized games among themselves in clubs, with the first official stadium, Estádio das Laranjeiras, being built in 1904 by the Fluminese Football Club. Eventually, Brazilians created their own club, the Botafogo Football club. Within the next two years, more than thirty football clubs were established.

    In The Ball is Round, David Goldblatt best describes how the “them versus us” is truly empowering for a team, their fans, and even the home and location they represent. “For winning, and winning in style. For winning because you were the best, the quickest, the cleverest. Because, when it came to it on the pitch, when the whistle blew and money, power, status, reputation and history were all sent to the bench, you wanted it more” [xvi].

    Brazil lacked a cohesive national identity, and football, Gaffney claims, with its simple rules and lack of equipment, accounts for the rapid adoption of the sport in Brazil. Gaffney suggests that these facts demonstrate why football was able to expand through various socioeconomic levels with ease. The stadiums of Rio de Janeiro reflected the corpus generalus mentality, where everyone became one collective body despite having seating segregate people by their class. Gaffney goes on to illustrate that clubs and stadiums aided working class citizens of Brazil in that “this convergence forced elites to reconcile the inclusion of the lower classes into conceptions of the nation” [52].

  18. Kavin Tamizhmani

    Christopher Gaffney’s “Temples of the Earthbound Gods” provides a comprehensive investigation into the role of stadiums in shaping the political, cultural, and economic landscapes in Latin America. In particular, he paints a picture of the stadium as a major public space occupying regions of enormous urban development in Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires. Since soccer’s presence in these 2 countries emerges from European trade and mercantilist policies, one can trace the origin of soccer to the British introduction of the game in these areas. As Brazil and Argentina developed industrially, stadiums took on greater meaning within their respective societies. They became sites of political unrest, convergence for people, and arenas of violence between governments and unruly residents. Gaffney articulates that “Stadiums are sites and symbols of power, identity, and meaning that allow us to enter and interpret the cultural landscape through a common medium.”(24) Through the Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires case studies, Gaffney presents his ideas of how to make sense of the development of these two major Latin American cities.

    To discuss the spread of soccer in Brazil, Gaffney speaks about the entrance of the sport through the mode of British colonialism, the same means by which it entered into Argentina. Although the sport began as a game for the elite classes in sporting clubs, the game diffused rapidly through vertical and horizontal integration. This occurred in large part due to the lack of a Brazilian sporting culture in place. Interestingly, the major social and geographic changes in Rio de Janeiro took place in the late 19th and 20th century following the abolition of slavery in 1888(47). To this day, the Afro-Brazilian portion of the Brazilian population have played integral roles in the success of the national team. Concurrently, the massive inflow of migration at the time permitted the government to establish a nationalist identity through monuments and public spaces in urban settings. This story of exclusion to an all inclusive game from the British to the Brazilians has greatly shaped the identity of Brazil to the point that soccer is a staple of national identity on the international stage. Personally, I enjoyed the discussion of the incorporation of samba and capoeira into the playing style of the Brazilian players as expressions of athleticism. When I watch the Brazilian team today, I expect this form of flair and dancing during their play and goal scoring celebrations. For them, soccer is as much an art form as it is a competitive sport. The team plays to provide joy and win in style.

    Additionally, the construction of Estádio do Maracanã reaffirmed Brazil’s intentions of demonstrating its vast national potential through an incredible stadium. It was “destined to fulfill an important symbolic and functional role in the lives of Brazilians.”(70) Maracanã embodied the ambition and capital landscape of Rio de Janeiro. It was an instrument for Brazil to project itself as a nation globally through sport. In fact, the loss to Uruguay during the 1950 Fifa World Cup held in Brazil still haunts the nation. The “Failure in the Maracanã” illustrates the iconic nature of the stadium in sport. Losing in a stadium constructed to win the Jules Rimet trophy was unthinkable. No other stadium in my experience has held such a deep connection to a single nation than the Maracanã. In the United States, each city has its own professional sports teams for the NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL, but the conscience of a nation is not captured by any particular team. There may be Lakers, Celtics, or Duke fans throughout the country, but not everyone can agree on the share connection to a single team.

    Contrasting Buenos Aires with Rio de Janeiro, it is interesting to regard the spectacle of soccer stadiums in the city. Gaffney begins with the description of the famous Boca Juniors stadium and the classic pre-match rituals. Specifically, I found his depiction of sexualized expression in stadium development particularly insightful. As stadiums were being built in Buenos Aires, the church and state played complementing roles in the legalization of bordellos. Since mostly young men and immigrants were working in this industrialized environment, stadiums served to reinforce masculine identities and masculine solidarity. Compared to Brazil, the women played a much less-involved role in fandom within Buenos Aires. Women in Brazil are openly seen supporting their teams and coercing their children to similarly demonstrate their support while in Argentina, soccer is seen as a masculine battle held in stadiums.

    There is also a phenomenon of barrabravas fandom prevalent in Buenos Aires. These fans give rise to the ritualistic mindset discussed earlier in the Bromberger piece. They are described as those fans that can “act in a more sinister fashion in the service of the club directors by disrupting rival club directors’ businesses, causing political disruptions, or engaging in violent acts against rival barrabravas and the police.”(168) In the stadium, these ultra fans are able to show their true colors and act as a threat to social stability. This contrasted with rugby and polo where class conflicts is not present. There was an understanding between the “military and children” at the polo grounds. In other sports, this form of fandom is not breached because of the distance between team owners and devoted fans. Soccer barrabravas though have the capacity to influence the game at a level that I have not previously considered as an avid sports fan. There is more to sport than the play and entertainment offered by players. The socio-political motives of fans play a decisive role in shaping results as well. Thus, the stadium is a platform to instigate social unrest in a transcendent space free from the bounds of authoritarian restrictions. In all Gaffney concludes eloquently stating, “Stadiums are everywhere, understanding them brings us closer to understanding our commonalities, differences, and shared human qualities.”(209)

  19. Jun Yoon

    Gaffney’s argument is centered around the “stadium.” He argues that stadiums form an integral part of urban landscapes and cultures. Even when the stadium is empty, it communicates power, history and meaning (3). Moreover, it gives spectators a sense of privileged participation but it has also been sites of tragedy, murder, and repression. Stadiums also play an essential role in the modern society in that it is a place of gathering. In a similar vein with plazas, squares, and markets, stadiums affect a society’s political economy as well as a place of ideology dissemination. Gaffney argues that by the stadium is a melting pot where “a full range of socioeconomic actors comes together at a given time: minimum-wage laborers, middle-class season ticket holders, CEOs, multimillionaire owners, and idolized superstars all have their proscribed places and roles.” Hence, through stadiums social interactions can be analyzed more thoroughly.
    Gaffney goes on to explain the history of the stadium briefly. He talks about how the stadium has evolved from a mere ground of dirt known as the “ball courts” to cultural icons such as the Maracana. The ball courts of Maya, Aztec, Zapotec, and many other Mesoamerican cultures had ball courts in their villages. These ball courts served as “integral part of the social, political, and religious orders of their societies.” These ball courts, over time, have evolved into stadiums with “satellite communications to ergonomic seats” that operate at different scales simultaneously. Although the look of these ball courts have changed, they altogether serve the same role in that “they function as sites of convergence and urban public spaces (19).” And at the urban scale these stadiums stand as iconographic representations of political ideologies and social inequalities. Also the emergence of these stadiums had a profound impact on the “sociospatial dynamics of sporting and social practice in the city (75).”
    Gaffney then extends his argument that through stadiums a critical part of understanding the geographies and cultures of Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro because in those cities stadiums have served as physical theaters in which the embodiment of public expression was allowed.
    I thought one of the most interesting points from Gaffney’s book was “the limited space and time of the stadium gives spectators a sense of privileged participation (3)” and “stadiums serve as shrines of sports fanatics (106).” I think the second quote is a direct reference to what Cameron Indoor and Dean Smith Center represents for both Duke and UNC basketball fanatics respectively. These stadiums serve as the spiritual home of Duke and UNC basketball. Even though Cameron is smaller compared to the Smith Center at Chapel Hill, it carries the same weight when full. Opposing players are often deafened by the thundering chants of the Cameron Crazies. Much like the Maracana example Gaffney uses in his book, I think there are certain stadiums that serve as “shrines” all over the world.

  20. Christopher Nam

    The Temples of the Earthbound Gods by Christopher Gaffney focuses on the soccer stadium to show how soccer influences local, national, and global communities. He emphasizes the sacredness of the stadium, which plays roles in political, economic, and cultural affairs. By using two major soccer cities in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Buenos Aires, Argentina as case studies, Gaffney analyzes the way the soccer stadium has manifested itself into such a prominent structure. He begins by giving an account of the origins of the stadium, starting with its birth in early Greek times and continuing with different ball courts of Maya, Aztec, and other Mesoamerican societies. The stadium served a similar purpose as it does now, being a place to celebrate festivals through games and athletic competitions. They went a little further with respect to religion by being places of worship, to “reestablish connections with the divine” (5). The first modern stadiums arose in Latin America in the late 19th century, due to the spread of British ideologies through the area. These stadiums eventually became a place that represented the culture of the time period by showing the interactions of the people who came to watch the spectacles. “Minimum-wage laborers, middle-class season ticket holders, CEOs, multimillionaire owners, and idolized superstars all have their proscribed places and roles.” (39) The stadium provides a “snapshot” of the cultural landscape of each time period and can show how each society changes and progresses ideologically.

    He first analyzes the role of stadiums in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, one of the big epicenters of soccer today. Soccer originated in Brazil as a game only enjoyed by the elite where the stadium served to isolate them from the rest of the masses. However, by the second half of the 20th century, social integration occurred allowing the middle and lower classes to both take their place on the field as well as enjoy the game in the stands. The new social climate “ruptured sociospatial barriers that, once broken, could never be re-formed.” (74) One of the most iconic stadiums of the world, the Maracana, the site of the 1950 World Cup, was an overt example of the powerful social integration and discourses that occurred in the changing cultural climate. More than 830,000 people of all classes entered and exited the stadium within a month. However, class profiling and social order were still present within the stadium due to different seating arrangements and natural congregations. The stadium offered a view of a new social order while simultaneously allowing the mixture of different social classes with different economic and political ideals. In present day Rio de Janeiro, stadiums are playing a bigger role in social reform. They attempt to be a unifying feature in a society that is plagued by stratification and polarization. The success that Brazil has had on the global stage has reinforced the mechanism of the sport and stadium to influence society. However, the stadiums reflect a larger overarching economic polarization where the poor strive to escape poverty by aiming to be one of those praised players that can step out onto the field. Furthermore, with the development of many more stadiums for each local community, stadiums have become less of a picture of the entire society, but more representative of the community it is located in and the identity that the home team has adopted. With the 2014 World Cup scheduled in Brazil, it will be very interesting to see how the “snapshots” of each stadium changes, with an influx of fans from all around the world piling in to support their country. The atmosphere and identity of everyone in it will surely change, but the unifying forces that the stadium provides will be even more evident as well as the paradoxical stratification that it also permits.

    Gaffney then goes on to explain the development of stadiums in Buenos Aires, which has more stadiums, 64, than any other city. The rise in stadiums began due to its important trading relationship with Britain, which introduced the game of soccer as well as other sports to the population. The role of the stadium in Buenos Aires is similar to that in Rio de Janeiro as well as cities all over the world. It acts as a place to congregate and celebrate the spectacle of sport all the while both reinforcing and forgetting societal order. However, Buenos Aires remains unique with the higher influence of gender and violence. The stadium was reserved not only for masculine matches, but also for masculine spectators. Men spent more time than women in stadiums, giving stadiums the role “as sites of sexual sublimation.” (136) These gender preferences extended to spaces beyond the stadium, with men gathering in other public places to listen and watch different matches. The increased focus on gender roles paved the way for an increase in violence, in order to keep “the integrity of maleness secure.”(147) This violence reflected the violence that existed in everyday life, further showing the stadium’s reflection of society and cultural ideals. They viewed the sport less as a sacred spectacle than as a war against a masculine opposition. The focus shifted from a celebration of achievement to a violent celebration over defeat. And not only was the war on the field, but it extended in the stands, immediately outside the stadium, and everywhere in the city that saw social conflict. This violence, especially in the stadium, continues to occur as the media glorifies these acts and manipulates the global community to keep the social order that the stadium provides. Thus it is very interesting to see how the introduction of television and radio influenced the role of the stadium as well as the social picture the stadium provided. It is also intriguing to see how the sacredness of the stadium changed with the ability to get a similar experience in watching the game in the comfort of your own home, or now even on the go on your cell phone or tablet.

  21. Colby Leachman

    In an effort to avoid creating a summation of Gaffney’s book, which I believe to be less resourceful than an ideological or theoretical analysis, I have chosen to analyze a few of Gaffney’s more interesting talking points. In particular the duality of soccer, soccer culture, and the role of stadiums in both Brazil and Argentina. As well as the reconciliation of this this duality with the over-arching view of sport, and soccer in particular, as a uniting force. Embedded within this analysis is a comparison of my view of sports and its impact on the societies I have lived in.

    In Gaffney’s discussion on Brazilian soccer stadiums he focuses on four important stadiums in Rio De Janiero, all, “located within a four kilometer radius” (82). These stadiums he argues, represent the cultural, political, and social stratification of the Brazilian society. Yet, simultaneously, they also represent a small portion of the national unity that soccer brings to Brazilians. In his dissection of these four soccer stadiums he contends that all four stadiums represent a a different but equally important part of Brazilian society. For example Sao Januario shaped Brazilain society by “redefining the relationship of poor whites, blacks, mulattos, and the working class to the larger society…” (99). Similarly, the Marcana is a, “place for the ritualized renewal of social bonds and represents democratic ideals of the Brazilian Republic even as those ideals are shifting” (119). The roles of each individual stadium are made more compelling by how important these stadiums are to the Brazilian people. The stadiums act like temples, and in some cases fans from other Brazilian teams are treated like family or “cousins” while fans from rival teams are treated with revolt.

    This idealization of stadiums and teams appears in Argentina but in a much different light. In Brazil, soccer works harmonically as a uniting and balancing force, while in Argentina the soccer is a catalyst for separation. The fans in Buenos Aires seem to use soccer as a way to enforce gender roles and promote hyper-masculine stereo-types. As a result, Buenos Aires’ stadiums remain less idealized than thier Brazilian counterparts. In comparison, one of the stadiums in Brazil has a family section and due to its popularity, inappropriate words are not allowed. Rules such as this are everything but foreign to the stadiums of Buenos Aires.

    This sort of decorum shown in some Brazilian stadium resinents with my own experience, far more than the violence in Buenos Aires. I have grown up in Durham and in doing so have been a life time Duke fan, especially during basketball season. This is partly due to the fact that unlike in Rio, Cameron Indoor stadium is the only stadium within a 20 mile radius. Furthermore, I have always viewed Duke Basketball as a uniting feature. Even when I am amongst UNC fans, the fact that I am a Duke fan is not cause for automatic exile. However, this all being said, Durham is an entirely different city than both Rio and Buenos Aires. Durham is incomparable on nearly every important measure. Yet, at even the most localized level, sports, wherever they may be, have an enigmatic nature about them in which unity and separation are nearly impossible to distinguish.

  22. Maggie Lin

    For all the stadiums that I have sat or stood in for reasons relating to sport or music, I have never quite thought about them in the same historical and analytical way that Gaffney has described them in Temples of the Earthbound Gods. He first puts the history of human stadium-building in context with the Romans, the Greeks, and the Mesoamericans, as a reminder that stadiums are not a phenomenon unique to modern society. Then, Gaffney begins weaving a web of connections from the stadium to the rest of the society. In terms of form, material, architecture, functionality, location, usage, and even the chosen name, Gaffney analyzes how an inanimate stadium can reflect the cultural, political, and social identity of the people and society who built it and use it. Especially focusing on stadiums in the soccer capitals of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and Buenos Aires in Argentina, Gaffney delves into how soccer stadiums in particular have shaped and transformed locals in these areas, which is all the more relevant with the changes and construction that has occurred in Brazil in preparation for the 2014 World Cup.

    I think one of the most curious aspects of soccer stadiums (and soccer in general) is the contrast between exclusiveness and inclusiveness, which have both helped form the identities of each nation, city, team, and fan. In the beginning, soccer demonstrated exclusivity with British expatriates “practicing soccer …as a way of celebrating their British identity” (44), “members of the Brazilian team [of Fluminese] split[ting] to form a club that only permitted native-born Brazilians” (45), and “modern sporting practices…generally limited to the private clubs and schools of the local elite” in Buenos Aires (132).

    However, this did not last for much longer than a few years. With an influx of immigrants to both Brazil and Argentina combined with of major urban, political, and social changes, elites were forced “to reconcile the inclusion of the lower classes into the conceptions o the nation” (51). Similarly, with the advent of international competitions such as the South American Championship, soccer games increasingly became events that unified people of all races, socioeconomic statuses, and even increased nationalism as “an overflowing stadium” became associated with “a sense of Brazilian citizenship” (54). This kind of inclusiveness was surely welcomed in urban centers that had a diverse group of citizens. Even more importantly in Brazil, it was the actions made by players such as the mulatto Friedenreich on the pitch that encouraged the inclusion of blacks and mulattos in Brazilian society.

    Fast forward to the later half of the century, and soccer became more and more commercialized. As with all companies, club teams need money to function. With more fans and ticket sales, there comes more money. However, with the advent of national championships that required great traveling expenses and increasing TV revenues for major teams, many smaller and more locally based club teams struggled to stay afloat. In the case of São Cristóvão F.R., they have “become dependent on its ability to recruit, identify, develop, and sell human talent” (88). In Argentina, rugby has been incorporated in soccer stadiums as well, and they are usually dominated by foreign, corporate sponsors that cause “the entire event (spectators included) [to become] associated with the symbols and values of the corporations” (160).

    Hosting a World Cup is as much of a spectacular showing of modernity as playing soccer in stadiums was to early 1900s Brazilians and Argentinians. With the final of the 2014 World Cup scheduled to play in the famed Estádio do Maracanã stadium in Rio de Janeiro, I’m sure it will be an incredible event to remember in itself. Even though the World Cup is very different from the Olympic Games (Brazil will also be hosting in 2016), hosting any major international event is equivalent to inviting everyone from around the world to a home party where the home is an entire nation. Despite all the troubles and controversies, I think that when the 2014 World Cup comes around, much of it will be subdued because the World Cup is still the most important international stage on which Brazil can redefine its identity.

  23. Sanket Prabhu

    Upon first getting into this book it seemed a bit verbose. But as I kept going and started following the connections that Gaffney made I realized that anything but Gaffney’s style would not do his work justice. Gaffney, eloquently, is able to join the wonderful sport of soccer to the people who surround it through culture and passion. He opens up the reader to the world of soccer fandom, bring life to stadiums and the teams they house. Latin America is an ideal canvas for him as his descriptions of the people and their culture are vivid and plentiful. The description of the Estadio Sao Januario is peppered with facts from its construction and accompanied with lovely photos of the stadium’s early being. For me, this book was great at depicting Latin American history, not because it was accurate and descriptive. More so for me, the stories were told through the lens of soccer. He describes how sexual expression was created led to some backlash towards the homosexual community, but then concludes with how the stadiums were booming as the premier venues of expression, albeit that of masculinity. Overall, the book walks us through culture formation in Latin America, with soccer being a dominant force throughout the timeline.
    One part that really caught my eye was about the relationship between a fan and a player. It’s a one way street most of the time, where the fan might know everything from a player’s elementary school to where they played professionally. In contrast, the player will likely not even know the fan exists. Thus it is hard to convey to others outside the sport why we follow these idols even if they have nothing concrete to offer back. The author says “The nature of team sports creates an intense emotional bond between spectators, as well as the players. The stadium provides a venue for a massive congregation of men who share a common emotional sentiment.” He continues on drawing tangents between the hugging and kissing men in the stands complementing the sweaty men on the field. This description really brings to light what it means to be a fan, and how some of these fans change as soon as they take their seat in the stands adorning their team’s crest. While randomly getting up and hugging the next guy in the pub might seem a bit uncanny, doing so to the fan next to you after a goal is scored is welcomed with open arms. Gaffney’s description cuts into the emotional aspect of sports and how we change as fans.
    Another piece that caught my eye was Gaffney’s descriptions of games and stadiums in Latin America through an experience at a soccer game in Buenos Aires. His recollection of the experience really makes a reader feel like they are there. The description starts out very enthusiastic and jubilant, but just like with all things in life the bad accompanies the good. He is very blunt and does not try to hide or dismiss the violence aspect, but instead considers ingrained in soccer’ structure. From there, the descriptions of the various attendees give some detail to the faces one would expect to see at a match. Lining the description with historical and political facts Gaffney continues to paint the ever-clearer picture to its fullest. It’s these descriptions that really draw in a reader and leave a lasting impression. To Gaffney, stadiums are a medium of culture communication along with a place of culture culmination.

  24. Daniel Carp

    In Temples of the Earthbound Gods, Christopher Gaffney offers his readers a sociological explanation for the way that soccer stadiums help to represent a microcosm of society. On the surface, soccer stadiums appear to represent an amorphous blob—socialist in nature, with all of its inhabitants bounded by a common cause, supporting their team. But when Gaffney dissects the origins of racial, socioeconomic and class divisions that exist within soccer stadiums, the arena’s makeup begins to look significantly more robotic and regimented. For a common pop culture reference, think about the cafeteria map in the movie Mean Girls, or think about where you know certain types of people are going to hang out the next time you go to Shooters (if you’re a member, that is). Soccer stadiums draw clear lines between the haves and the have-nots, the social norms and the social pariahs.

    Gaffney’s two primary case studies in his book are stadiums in Argentina and Brazil, both of which are the two primary soccer powers in South America. His central argument is that these stadiums would take on the characteristics of whatever society it is set in, and it appeared that he tended to be easier on Brazil than he was on Argentina throughout the book, although one of his more common assertions was the underlying racial tensions that continues to exist in Brazil. Nevertheless Gaffney is free to admit that “The complex geographic, political, economic, and cultural networks that extend from the stadium will never be understood in their entirety” (208).

    Reading Gaffney’s work has forced me to think about my experience as a sports fan growing up. When I was younger, I went to countless Philadelphia Eagles and 76ers game, and in the football stadium especially, I noticed a diverse mixture of people of all races and socioeconomic standing. There were people from the suburbs, most of whom were upper-middle class and commuted to the stadium, and then there were people who came from South and West Philadelphia, who were in a different socioeconomic situation. And although there was a common bond in the stands, it wasn’t difficult to tell who was who. The only difference in this scenario was there were fewer class separations within the stands themselves because we live in a developed country and even people with lower incomes could spend more money on football tickets if they budgeted appropriately, whereas in Brazil or Argentina poorer people would not have the money to buy tickets in a more expensive section.

    Gaffney’s reading forces you to look at all sporting events from a different angle. Just because people choose to put on the same jersey does not mean they will be viewed as equals by the rest of the group.

  25. Elena Kim

    J’ai trouvé l’analyse de Gaffney du stade et de ses répercussions sociétales particulièrement intéressant et très pertinent pour la prochaine Coupe du Monde au Brésil. Gaffney explique que les stades sont progressivement devenus plus élitiste et contrôlé, correspondre à l’évolution de la société vers une économie mondiale et l’influence des forces mondiales concurrentes (14). Par conséquent, il y avait une perte de la signification, de l’histoire et de substance derrière les stades de football dans l’ensemble. Gaffney continue en décrivant comment le « all-seater » modèle du stade a été adopté par la Grande Bretagne et éventuellement par FIFA et UEFA en 1995, ce qui a empêché beaucoup de ouvrières de participer à ces matches (16). Donc, le spectateur typique n’était plus capable de payer pour aller à ces stades. Au lieu de cela, l’accès au stade est devenu limité à une foule plus riche. J’ai trouvé que cela assez déprimant parce que avec le recul à la Grèce antique et la Rome antique, les stades étaient considérés comme des endroits publics pour tous les citoyens d’apprécier et étaient fondées sur les idéaux plus démocratiques. Actuellement, avec l’ambition économique et une économie mondiale florissant, les stades sont devenus vraiment séparées et organisées par le statut socio-économique. Comme Gaffney écrit, les parties plus populaires comme les gradins étaient bien-aimées à cause de la ferveur et la passion des fans ainsi que l’atmosphère de pandémonium (24). Aujourd’hui, les « boîtes de luxe » sont installées souvent dans les stades et elles sont devenus un symbole de privilège, mais l’atmosphère avec laquelle ils sont associés a tendance à être dépourvu d’ardeur.

    De plus, j’ai pensé que c’était intéressant que dans les villes émergentes et métropolitaines, les nouveaux stades sont conçus pour tirer un profit maximum des fans et ils ont atteint un haut niveau d’organisation et de sophistication technologique (16). Malheureusement, en conséquence, le financement pour ces stades peut souvent prendre le financement pour les services sociaux et éducatifs indispensables, surtout dans un pays comme le Brésil. En recherchant plus loin sur le conflit qui entoure la prochaine Coupe du Monde, j’ai découvert quelques informations choquantes d’un post écrit par Spike Friedman. Tout d’abord, on estime que le Brésil a dépensé environ $13,4 milliards pour la Coupe du Monde au lieu d’utiliser un part de cet argent pour la santé, l’éducation, ou autres services publics. En réponse à la critique du public et le reste du monde, le gouvernement Brésilien ont fourni des billets à tarif réduit pour les citoyens brésiliens à des prix aussi bas que $15 par siège. Au début, cela semble comme un arrangement très favorable… avant qu’on regarde le plan de table du stade ( Selon ce plan de table, le nombre de sièges réservés pour les citoyens brésiliens est 400,000, ce qui représente environ 6,250 par match. Cela peut sembler beaucoup de sièges, mais pour un pays de 200 millions de personnes (et beaucoup de fans de foot), ce nombre par match semble étonnamment mince. Si vous êtes le Brésilien ordinaire (qui gagne moins de $10,000 par an), vos chances d’aller au match sont extrêmement rares, sauf si vous êtes un fonctionnaire ou un maçon du stade (100,000 sièges sont réserves pour eux).

    En outre, à cause de l’obsession de la société avec la richesse et le matérialisme, beaucoup de ces nouveaux stades de point ne sont pas en service après la Coupe du Monde. Dans le blog de Gaffney sur la Coupe du Monde 2014, il affirme que la plupart des 20 stades construits pour Corée/Japon 2002 ne sont pas utilisés et que le gouvernement portugais tente de démolir les stades qui ont été construits pour l’Euro 2004. Dans un article dans ABC news, l’écrivain Manuel Reuda prédit que les stades nouvellement construits au Brésil ne seront pas utilisés beaucoup après la Coupe du Monde est terminée, en partie parce que certains de ces stades sont situés dans les villes où il n’y a aucun équipes de foot de première division ou dans les villes où il y a peu de demande pour des évènements massifs. Reuda souligne que dans Manaus et Cuiaba, chaque ville obtiendra des stades de $200 million, même si les deux n’ont aucune équipe de foot de première division.

  26. Jarrett Link

    Upon discussing Brazilians seemingly everlasting dismay regarding 1950 World Cup loss to Uruguay with a friend, the person in question likened that chagrin to how Bostonians must still feel about Bill Buckner unfortunate mishap during the 1986 World Series. While Bostonians surely still dread that memory, the two events are incomparable. Baseball may be America’s pastime, but soccer is life for Brazilians (and indeed Argentinians). Christopher Gaffney makes this clear in Temples of the Earthbound Gods. While he also explains the importance of soccer to Argentinians, he manages to paint the sport in a much different light there, due to his intentional use of opposing strategies to describe the two. Ultimately, however he succeeds in arguing the relevance of stadia and their ability to be social, cultural, and political catalysts.

    When discussing Brazil, Gaffney presents soccer there primarily from a historical and political angle. British industrialists originally claimed soccer as their own, but Brazilians quickly developed their own version of it. Not only was this achieved to surpass the British in terms of skill, but it was also done to subvert their regional influence. Through the construction of stadia for easily identifiable Brazilian dominated clubs (i.e. Vasco de Gama), Brazilians were able to establish a place for their beloved futebol to flourish. The architecture and symbolism easily identifiable throughout these newly developed stadiums imparted a Brazilian-ness that was not present before their construction. These stadiums gave Brazilians of all backgrounds—until recently, Gaffney acknowledges—a place to congregate, socialize, and develop support for an entity all their own. Furthermore, these stadia were used to promulgate political ideologies generally in support of Brazilian nationalism. As iconic as it gets, the Maracanã perhaps best embodies this nationalism. It exists as a microcosm of the nation at large, albeit with the not so minor blemish of the 1950 World Cup. Despite being responsible for cultivating a sense of national unity, the geographical location of the many stadia throughout Rio de Janeiro also managed to create rifts between Brazilians as well. Stadiums, of course, were constructed in neighborhoods that typically contained people of a particular socioeconomic background or trade, who also comprised the members of the team that played on the pitch. So, in a way, these stadiums allowed for the players and fans alike to affirm their personal identity, while giving those less fortunate the ability to rise from the ashes of their misfortune and succeed in an endeavor that is paramount to virtually everything else in Brazil. This overwhelming passion grips nearly every Brazilian. Gaffney himself remarks that in Brazil, “Soccer is everywhere.” Soccer fueled passion is indeed ubiquitous throughout Brazil. However, since we now know the political fervor that often accompanies soccer matches, the ever-mounting concern for public welfare will certainly play a dramatic role in the upcoming 2014 World Cup.

    Argentinian soccer, in my opinion, was painted in a negative light relative to the Brazilian version. While violence in Brazilian stadiums was mentioned, Gaffney focused much more intensely on this, the hyper-masculinized nature of Argentinian soccer, and the use of soccer as a tool to achieve undeserved and illegitimate political power. The image of vicious, passionate, overtly-masculine Argentinian fans was quite vivid after reading Gaffney’s account. I can completely understand why politicians and local powers would have taken advantage of the realm of soccer and stadium to achieve wealth and influence. That being said, despite his rationale, it is confusing why Gaffney resorted to his different strategies in describing Brazil and Argentina. Brazil surely could have been described negatively in this way with the same amount of depth, but after reading this book, I immediately was moved to consider the development and status of Brazilian soccer, and Brazil at large, as better than Argentina.

    Perhaps, however, we should disregard the discrepancy and simply realize that the stadia themselves in both Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires were able to achieve, in similar or different ways, powerful influences on their respective neighborhoods, cities, states, and countries. While trite in some cases, Gaffney in general does not fail to make the argument that without the grand stadiums of their respective cities, the great cities of Rio and Buenos Aires would lack some of their cultural unity, passion, politics, and traditions. Tritely, they would not be the same.

  27. Jordan Cirocco

    Note: citations are from kindle version of book

    In Temple’s of Earthbound Gods, Gaffney argues that stadiums offer us a window into the driving forces of social, economical, and political change across different cultures. (location 276) Gaffney believes that “as sport and leisure became central components of industrial cultures throughout the world, their associated spaces increasingly defined the cultural landscape.” To articulate this idea, Gaffney chooses to study two cities, Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires, which have very similar origins of the introduction of soccer to their respective cultures. Despite their similar beginnings, marked differences can be seen in the culture within the stadiums between two different cities.

    The rapid diffusion of soccer throughout Brazil was aided by the lack of a sporting culture suitable for the urban masses prior to the arrival of the British (location 695). Politicians and elites took advantage of the sudden spreading and diffusion of soccer by “attempt[ing] to shape the image of nation through urban reform projects in which stadiums would play an increasingly important role” (location 722). As the number of stadiums and teams expanded, the inclusion of fans of all socioeconomic classes became more widespread, thus forcing the elite to include the “lower classes into the conceptions of the nation” (location 771). While the barriers of economic classes were being broken down, race was still a major issue. The heroics of Freidenrich in the 1919 South American championship signaled that the rules both inside and outside of the stadium were changing with the inclusion of other races in Brazilian national identity. This event coincided with the development of new clubs in Rio, such as Sao Cristovao and Vasco de Gama, that integrated immigrants and the lower class, resulting in both clubs finishing in the top two in the Liga Metropolitana in 1923 (location 926). Unfortunately, the success of such clubs that included a large proportion of blacks and mulattos resulted in the formation of a new league by the elite clubs. While this split did not last forever, the development of these clubs were markedly different, reflecting the class and race of its players and supporters. Janet Lever recognized this fact, realizing the potential of studying the different teams of Rio de Janeiro to help understand the complex social divisions in the city (location 1120). Thus, studying the development of stadiums and soccer in Brazil can help to reveal the influence of racism as the driving force of economic and social change in the city of Rio de Janeiro

    While Argentina had a similar soccer origin story, a noticeable difference in the culture could be seen in the increased violence and sexuality expressed within the stadiums of Buenos Aires. Gaffney argues that the violent and sexual nature can be “linked to the social and geographic conditions of the city and the nation over a century ago” (location 1634). Buenos Aires experienced a rapid industrial growth at the turn of the twentieth century, leading to a massive influx of European immigrants (location 1690). This ultimately led to a population imbalance, with the majority of the population being men between the ages of 20 and 40. The shortage of women to go around led to a very competitive and sexualized culture. Gaffney argues that the violent and sexual nature of the soccer fan today in Argentina originated from this competitive and sexualized culture that has remained as tradition. Therefore, by studying the different cultures within the stadiums of the two cities, we can see the difference in influence on traditions establish both within and outside of the stadium’s walls.

  28. Christina Malliris

    As the 2014 World Cup approaches, and as has been discussed on this blog in several other posts, the world has turned with enthusiasm and anticipation towards Brazil only to find that deep political issues, simmering for some time, have burst forth in the face of preparations for the world’s most watched event. The background for this backlash against the intense infrastructure spending on new stadiums was supplemented nicely by Chris Gaffney’s book, Temples of the Earthbound Gods, which delves deeply into the political, social, and cultural impacts stadiums and their purpose have on our lives.

    The situation in Brazil is deeply connected to the infrastructure spending that is now the norm whenever a country wins the bid for a World Cup. The strict regulations FIFA has for its World Cup stadiums mean that even the nicest, newest arenas are not good enough; and so new ones must be built at considerable expense. Fair or not, this divests time, energy, and money from other projects–projects that Brazil desperately needs. The roads in Brazil are badly in need of repair, there is deep frustration among the populace with the state of public transit, and cries of corruption aimed towards both the government and the Brazilian Football Federation are undermining efforts to get things done. For FIFA to swoop in and demand millions of dollars to build shiny new stadiums that will likely never be used again after their month long period of glory seems, quite rightly, unreasonable to those who actually live in the country. Costs are rising, the problems are still around, and yet day after day Brazilians see their livelihood being traded for the steel and plaster of the stadiums.

    This is where Gaffney’s talk of stadiums come into play. Throughout history, they have served a special place in our cultural space; they are places where people come together to share a common emotion, to celebrate an event; they are highly ritualized and sexualized; they are identity shapers, community creators, and spaces of conquest. A stadium is not merely a building, but a metaphysical space. And yet, they too have evolved over time. A particularly poignant evolutionary feature, as Gaffney outlines, is the increasingly segregated space within a stadium, seperating high and low classes and, in the modern era, restricting access to those who can afford tickets and therefore to a more affluent group of fans. Here, already, we can see parallels to the violence in the streets of Rio and other cities–most of these people will not go to a single World Cup game in these stadiums that are being built. They are paying for something they will not use. And so we can see how a simple “building” is actually ensconced in a sociopolitical debate.

    This debate relates as well to Gaffney’s discussion of the development of soccer and stadium in Brazil specifically. Much like other countries, soccer began as an imperialistic, foreign, elitist game, and trickled down to the masses due to its universality and ease of play. It became the people’s game, with the ability “to rally diverse elements of carioca society around a common cause” (50), and in so doing creating a sense of Brazilian identity. This was during a time of enormous upheaval in the country, with many different ethnic and racial groups coming together in the big cities, both immigrants and native-born, to create a melting pot that was unprecedented in Brazil’s history. When Rio was restructured, the elite made the design choices and in so doing removed the urban poor from the center and space of the city. I mention all this to come back to stadiums, which were part of the restructuring: the government took a symbol of what had become a people’s game and tried to return it to the elites.

    So perhaps this is what the Brazilian population fights against when they take to the streets in protest; this stripping of their rights as people and their rights to see and be involved in the game that so many of them love. Soccer is universally loved because anyone can play–these rigid stadiums and million dollar contracts were not part of the original beautiful game. I as much as anyone love the World Cup and its spectacle, but perhaps it’s time to separate the World Cup from soccer and look at what this event has brought out in Brazil.

  29. Jordan Pearson

    In Temple of the Earthbound Gods, Christopher Gaffney delves into the world of stadiums and takes Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires as case studies, showing how the stadiums in these two cites can be used to observe the urban history, racial tension, gender, nationalism, and other social and political movements “as they are expressed on the local level” (194).
    After outlining a brief history of stadiums, Gaffney focuses on Rio de Janeiro, specifically how the main stadiums in the city intersect with social class, race, and nationalism. Called the “spiritual home of world soccer,” Rio is also home to Brazil’s famed Estádio das Laranjeiras, which Gaffney notes long served as a “site and symbol of elite privilege” (52). It was in this stadium that the 1919 Brazilian team’s one mulatto, Arthur Friedenreich, scored the winning goal against Uruguay, effectively signaling “the impending inclusion of blacks and mulattos into the nation” (55). Gaffney also depicts the stadium as a place where people come together regardless of race, genders and socioeconomic status, all united in purpose, at least for a brief period of time. Using the stadium as a microcosm of the surrounding society, Gaffney notes the “full range of economic actors” that come together to watch a match.
    Gaffney continues to focus on social class and political movements. Though originally brought to the continent by English elites, futbol soon became a unifying game that embodied nationalist sentiments and was dominated by the working class. Social mobility is also a key theme, as futbol is often seen as a way for people to rise up in society. Indeed, futbol teams tend to take on the characteristics of the society they represent and as such, the stadiums too tend to represent the people there (60).
    This sets the stage very nicely for the work that Gaffney is currently doing in Brazil in preparation for the World Cup. As the country spends millions of dollars in renovating stadiums, people are protesting and wanting more stable transportation infrastructure ( It will be interesting to see how public opinion shifts in Brazil and how the building and remodeling of new stadiums affects the representation of the population.

  30. Nat Cat

    The title of Gaffney’s book, Temples of the Earthbound Gods, pretty much encompasses exactly what the book’s main message seeks to convey, which is the fact that these physical structures we call stadiums are far more than merely another building on the block. Stadiums transcend the physical boundaries of standard architecture, and through cultural, social, economic, and political implications they have manifested themselves into “temples” that we ritualistically flock to in order to watch our “earthbound Gods” at play. I can’t help but relate this metaphor to the way our very own stadium, Cameron, represents the “temple” for us Duke disciples who follow basketball religiously. The stadium, in a manner different to any other typical community structure, brings together people from all sorts of backgrounds – the rich, the poor, males and females, freshman and seniors, bankers, and bricklayers – and for one shared moment in time, all those differences disappear as “we share a common emotion in a common place.” In this book in particular, Gaffney focuses on the way that the stadiums of both Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires simultaneously impact and reflect their respective societies.

    When we think Brazil, we think soccer – arguably the best soccer in the world. But this seemly intrinsic association between the two stems from the “origins in the late nineteenth century to the dramatic 1950 World Cup Final held in what was then the world’s largest stadium,” (42). It was during this time that soccer evolved from a game played by “British and local elites to a national passion that in many respects define conceptions of Brazilian citizenship and identity,” (42). Gaffney makes the point that the astounding pace at which soccer “transformed Brazilian cultural and urban landscapes” could not have occurred without the stadiums of Rio acting as the collective stage for the transformation. And it is no coincidence that the development of stadiums in Rio at the turn of the 20th century occurred simultaneously with a host of urban, political, social, and economic changes within the country. Gaffney illustrates the way that once colonialism was over and Brazil began to industrialize, the people of Rio struggled to find union with one another. They “shifted unevenly along class, racial, and geographic lines and was characterized by tension, exclusion, and violence,” (45). But as with other public space in Latin America, the emergence of the stadium was initially a space used that facilitated the control of race and class relations. But as time moved on and soccer embedded itself within the culture, “all creeds, colors, and classes were screaming together, and at each other, in the stands,” (58). Gaffney highlights the 1950 World Cup as a pinnacle point in Brazilian history because by this point in time, the stadiums of Rio were relatively egalitarian public spaces where a “wide spectrum of society understood themselves to be part of a collective national enterprise and shared emotions related to the stadium.” The power of a physical structure to facilitate such a change within a society is astounding – and this awe of the stadium is in exactly what Gaffney truly wishes to show. The stadiums of the Rio were unique venues for the “expression of horizontal class, racial, and ethnic solidarities that extended vertically to connect with the idea of the nation,” (76).

    I found the role of the stadium as a catalyst for social transformation in Brazil extremely fascinating, and I think it is interesting to note how the Brazilian people currently view the implications of soccer (specifically of FIFA and the upcoming World Cup) upon their society today. Based on recent posts from Gaffney’s own blog, in which he chronicles events occurring in Brazil today as they World Cup 2014 draws closer, citizens of Rio are not the biggest fans of the FIFA at the moment. Gaffney notes that teachers in Rio “have been on strike for two months, making demands for better pay, a viable career plan and an end to the market-oriented dogma of merit-based pay. The embarrassment of Rio´s public education system is not reflected in the dedication of its teachers, but in the lack of decent infrastructure, a poorly functioning state apparatus.” Money that could be used to address these persistent crippling issues is instead being put towards the renovation and construction of soccer stadiums up that are up to FIFA standards. It is no surprise then that currently the streets of Rio are filled with chants of “Da Copa, da Copa, da Copa eu abro mão, quero meu dinheiro para saúde e educação!” (I give up the Cup, I want my money for health care and education).

    Lastly, another very interesting aspect of Argentinian society that Gaffney brings to surface is the issue surrounding gender and equality, and the way this is explicitly reflected within the stadium environment. In his analysis of Rio, he focused primarily on the issues of race and class. However, Gaffney explains this by saying that his decision to “treat sexuality and masculinity in Buenos Aires but not in Rio de Janeiro was motivated by stadium demographics and cultural norms,” (181). In Argentina the presence of women in the stadium is “statistically insignificant, whereas in Brazil women are full agents in stadium spectacles, forming between 10 and 20 percent of an average crowd.” Although I am the first to admit that the soccer world and the sports arena at large is dominated by males, I was astonished by the fact that two Latin American countries, with similar cultural and moral values, place such different significance on women as merely spectators of the game. Even in today’s world, women’s soccer is a rarity in Buenos Aires. While the social clubs associated with “soccer teams may have provided space for female recreation and socialization, women’s activities were never represented in stadium space.” Here again, Gaffney shows us the immense power of the stadium. So if Argentinean women can make it into the “stadium space,” only then does this make them worthy of recognition and acceptance?

  31. Bryan Silverman

    Gaffney analyzes stadiums, which he calls temples, through the lens of Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires. However, he uses these two as microcosms of what stadiums truly represent throughout the world. His analysis of stadia throughout the world is extremely intriguing, as he does not just focus on football stadia, but also those of other sports and the differences and similarities that exists amongst all of them. Beginning in Bale’s foreword, he sets the stage by speaking about the other books and research that have studied stadia, their characteristics, and most of all, their place in society as a mega-representation of the city as a whole.

    I enjoy the way he starts, by stating a quote from Galeano that reads, “Have you ever entered an empty stadium? Try it. Stand in the middle of the field and listen. There is nothing less empty than an empty stadium. There is nothing less mute than the stands bereft of people.” To begin his work with such a powerful quote, one that puts you in a different mindset than you often think of stadia, is fascinating. Often times, we think of Maracona in Brazil, where the fans are in unison, singing, screaming and cheering. However, we seldom take the time to think about what the stadium is and what it means, at its core. With this quote from Galeano, he is prefacing his work by noting the sacredness and sanctity inherent in a stadium. However, he is sure to note the craziness than can exist within a stadium, the chaos that erupts for 90 minutes as a football match begins and ends. For example, he references Estadio das Laranjeiras in Rio de Janeiro, where the maximum capacity was 18,000 spectators. Games often, however, surpassed the 20,000 mark and even reached 35,000 for the Brazil vs. Uruguay contest (54).

    Seeing statistics and analysis like immediately makes me think about 2 things: 1) my soccer “stadium” I played in during my high school career and 2) Cameron Indoor Stadium. My high school soccer field, doubled as a football field, tripled as a track and field center, amongst being used for gym classes, was the most sacred place in our high school. As soon as the sun went down and the lights turned on, life seemed to shift from classes and work to football. It was somewhere literally steps away from where people passed and failed, from where cliques created divisions, and yet, everyone stood and cheered, together, for a common goal. When thinking about the statistic about Estadio das Laranjeiras above, I can’t help but think, “that place was about double its maximum capacity – how is that even possible?!” And then I think about being a Cameron Crazie, having half the space my body needs available to me, and uniting with the rest of my fellow students to cheer on my Blue Devils and heckle the crap out of the Tar Heels. People might think that we are truly crazy, but Cameron is the best home court in the nation for a reason. Stadia truly serve as holy temples where players and fans, together, can forget the world and unite together with one another. Gaffney’s analysis hits the mark about the importance of stadia in cities, beyond the financial advantages, beyond being a major part of the skyline, but helps to boil it down to the essence of what is so important about a stadium.

  32. Matt Darlow

    “Temples of the Earthbound Gods” speaks volumes about the profound role of sport in society and how stadiums reflect the underpinnings of a country’s culture. Gaffney explores this phenomena through an examination of the birth and expansion of football in Brazil and Argentina, two of the world’s major soccer powers. Through his anthropologic analysis of soccer stadiums and the microcosms they represent, Gaffney arrives at the conclusion that football is so much more than a game, it is an ideology and lifestyle that shapes national identities and cultures.

    For Gaffney, stadiums are not merely grounds in which sport is played. In reality, they are the center of urban society — dictating the lives of its temporary inhabitants both spiritually and physically. For numerous fans, these iconic stadiums are their temples. Their prayers manifest themselves as cheers aimed directly at their football gods. This is evident when examining Maracona, Brazil’s and arguably the world’s “spiritual home of soccer” (107). Thousands and thousands of fans, decked in green, yellow, and blue uniforms, come together to show their pride and faith in their team and country as if, they were going to church and praying to God. This is not only seen in football stadiums in South America but around the world. For example, Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs, is considered to be the Mecca of all baseball stadiums; a destination required of all die-hard fans. Another important role that the stadium plays is in its simultaneous unison and separation of fans. For 90 minutes, it doesn’t matter what job someone has or how much someone makes, but rather, that these people are coming together in support of a greater cause, cheering their team on to victory. Conversely, the way in which stadiums are built and organized creates both an inherent and physical separation between fans. Those who posses the means will sit in the luxury boxes and those without, will find themselves squished in the bleachers. Within each section, there are specific social norms and rules that one must follow. Taken together, these two broad issues regarding the spiritually and physicality that stadiums impose on their visitors, really makes one contemplate what it means to be a fan and the implications and perceptions that are carried with fandom.

    Reading, analyzing, and contemplating Gaffney’s work has really changed my own perception of what it means to be a fan and how I view stadiums and the role they play in an urban society. In my hometown of Houston, there are 4 professional sports teams, each with their own stadium and fan base. To say the atmosphere produced from each stadium is the same, would be a lie. Perhaps it’s the inherent nature of different sports that creates various fan experiences and attitudes but I think, it really has to do with the stadiums themselves. Houston’s NFL stadium is one of newest and most grandiose stadiums in existence. Likewise, Houston is one the largest and most popular cities in America, rich in history and promise of a bright future. By critically analyzing these subtle facets of sport, just as Gaffney has done with stadiums throughout Brazil and Argentina, the true culture of a city or nation can be understood.

  33. Matt Ochs

    In Christopher Gaffney’s book entitled Temple of the Earthbound Gods, he lays the framework for analyzing the complex social forces that define and shape an urban area by means of using the local soccer stadia as a microcosm for the city itself. In noting the particular historical, cultural, and social factors that influence a given population’s behavior at the stadium, one can gain a deeper understanding of the larger forces at play in the social makeup of a city.
    Beginning with an in-depth analysis of the social norms of stadiums in the Brazilian metropolis of Rio de Janeiro, Gaffney concludes that the soccer stadium was as essential as any other public space in breaking down the neocolonial social stratification that plagued Brazil. Soccer, and more specifically the spaces in which it is played, have had a significant impact on Brazilian culture. Once a game dominated by the elite European ethnicities, the popularity the sport spread like wildfire throughout the country. It provided a nearly equal playing field for Brazilians of all races, whether they be European, Mulatto, or Black. However, the sport itself clearly only provides that equal playing field for the very select few players who are talented enough to rise to the highest ranks of Brazilian soccer. However, the stadium is the apparatus by which the social distinctions of those Brazilians born without immense natural skill are torn down. Gaffney comments that in the soccer stadia of Brazil, many class stratifications are rejected and a fervent sense of nationalism (for the Brazilian national team) or regionalism (for the various Rio de Janeiro clubs) reign supreme. Specifically the Maracana, which was constructed for Brazil’s “coming out party” in the 1950 for the World Cup, promotes nationalism in a country that at one point in its history completely lacked any sort of national pride. While Gaffney’s arguments all seem to be rather ambitious and over-arching in general, it is evident that many of his points concerning the role of the soccer stadium in Brazilian culture are deeply profound and eye-opening.
    As for Gaffney’s arguments about the soccer stadiums of Buenos Aires, I was particularly struck with the author’s claim that stadiums offer a showcase of Argentina’s sense of hyper-masculinity. Unlike in Brazil, where the stadium was a focal point of a shifting set of social norms, the stadiums of Argentina represent a continuation of a culture of masculinity that has existed for a long time. Whereas in Brazil women have become a major contributor to the culture of soccer stadiums, in Argentina they have remained essentially absent of that culture. This insistence on masculinity has spread to both sides of the stadium culture: the players and the spectators. As for the players, over the past 30 years a sort of prototype for the Argentinian soccer hero has formed: small and physically unimposing but with a relentless style of play and a refusal to take the soft way out. Just as the 5’5” Diego Maradona refused to yield to bigger and stronger opponents, the 5’7” is never outmatched by defenders who are more physically dominant specimens. As for the spectators, the testosterone filled event that is a soccer match in Buenos Aires leads to more stadium brawls than anywhere else in the globe. In fact, there have been “one hundred recorded deaths and innumerable injuries in the period 1958-1985” in the soccer stadiums of Buenos Aires (146). Such violence is an obvious side-effect of the Argentine style of hyper masculinity.

  34. Avery Rape

    Gaffney describes many social, political, and economical problems brought to light by stadiums in Brazil and Argentina, however it is the current relevance the book has to the 2014 world cup in Brazil that I would like to focus on, which he does as well in his blog. In his blog he says, “While some attendance figures have jumped, others are pretty low indeed. 8,136 people paid to see Santos x Fluminense at the Maracanã. The Botafogo x Fluminense clássico in Rio the other night only had 19,562 fans – and this was with prices reduced to R$40. The average price for tickets in the Minerão in Belo Horizonte is R$50 and in Brasilia´s Mané Garrincha R$66.” He also mentions that the prices for Brazilian soccer games are high compared to the rest of the world already. Putting hundreds of millions into the new world cup stadiums will create issues for Brazil as a country. Just like South Africa, they will struggle to fill seats. In the 57 games played in their state championship this year, there have been less than a grand total of 50,000, Valor Economico newspaper reported in April. FIFA is confronted with these problems for every world cup, but when they arrive and leave they seem to do nothing about it. How are the South African stadiums holding up? I applaud the efforts of FIFA to bring soccer to other areas of the world, however they should make more of an effort to make even a slight dent in helping countries with extreme poverty longer than the month games are being played.
    As for the social issues, Gaffney’s analyses of the stadiums bring the Brazilian and Argentinian gender and racial problems to light. He expresses that “soccer pertains to all social sectors and involves multilayered conflicts and contradictions that frequently boil over into violent acts both inside and outside the stadium. Soccer stadiums are cauldrons of passion where masculine, class, ethnic, and geographic identities clash in ritualized combat” (178). He talks about how when everyone puts on Brazilian jerseys, race is eliminated. However when games are over, racial differences is a huge problem in Brazil. People may come together for ninety minutes, but that solves nothing for the country as a whole. He also illuminates the difference between sexuality in Brazil and Argentina, which I found very interesting. Women in Brazil make up between 10 and 20 percent of an average crowd, but in Argentina the presence of women in the stadiums is “statistically insignificant” (181). I had no idea that two countries so close to each other had such different outlooks on women’s involvement in sports.
    There will be all this strife leading up to the world cup, but when it finally arrives will all the problems go away for the time period where Brazil will be encompassed by the games? Right now we hear about problems such as the ones raised by Gaffney in his blog, including the persistent chant of the teachers in Rio saying “I give up the Cup, I want my money for health care and education.” Once the cup arrives, there will be no time for negativity, because the world will be encompassed with nationalism. Therefore, these problems, for a month, will be completely ignored.

  35. Ian Bruckner

    “The stadium forces us to reconcile and recognize the underlying organization, trajectories, and discontinuities in society,” writes Christopher Gaffney in his book Temples of the Earthbound Gods (116). With an emphasis on footballing powers Brazil and Argentina, Gaffney details how stadiums in Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires reflect local social, cultural and political realities. As thorough as an analysis of soccer stadiums could be, he examines more than the composition and behavior of fans, delving into the architecture and design of stadiums as well as the relevant institutions that influence game day experience. Gaffney’s scrutinizing of Brazilian and Argentine stadiums shows how the myriad cultures, rituals, traditions, institutions et cetera are all interrelated and help to explain how society functions as a whole.

    One aspect of Gaffney’s book that intrigued me is his discussion of the role of violence in soccer stadiums. Violence at important games in South America is an issue almost as old as the sport itself. Look no further than the fact that, for safety reasons, the Argentine government banned away supporters from attending matches this season ( After the 1930 World Cup Final, in which Uruguay defeated its neighbor Argentina 4-2, an angry mob in Buenos Aires burned several Uruguayan businesses and beat up some Uruguayans (142). As an American reading this, I was astonished that such passions arose even in 1930, when the beautiful game was just beginning to come into its own as an internationally organized sport. I have long been aware of the violence surrounding soccer, but I thought it was mostly limited to recent decades (e.g. The Two Escobars and the chapter in How Soccer Explains the World about Serbia). In addition, growing up as a Yankees fan, the only “violence” I have ever witnessed first hand at a sporting event was a Yankees fan pouring beer on a Red Sox fan at a tense late-season game. Yet Gaffney talks about how even in 1930, Argentines viewed this defeat as an affront to “national virility” (142).

    To be sure, Gaffney writes that violence is not the rule but the exception. He writes that in his experiences in Rio de Janeiro’s stadiums he has “never witnessed anything more than the intimation of violence” inside a stadium and witnessed violence outside the stadium on only a few occasions (190). Furthermore, violence in Mexican stadiums is exceedingly rare, so, fortunately, the issue is not one that spans the entire region (231). However, violence is prevalent enough that that he repeatedly refers back to it. If nothing else, Gaffney demonstrates how that this entrenched culture of violence is indicative that for many Brazilians and Argentines, soccer is emblematic of their greater sociopolitical struggle.

  36. Colby Shanafelt

    I have always considered myself a diehard fan of my hometown Pittsburgh sports teams. I can count the number of Steelers games I have missed on one thumb and to this day am still ashamed of this momentary neglect. Yet, when I moved away from home for the first time, an unexpected transformation happened: I began to live and die by the Steelers, as my mood for the particular week was contingent on the results from the previous Sunday. I have become the vocal fan, one who desires to make my allegiance known to those around me. Nevertheless, when I would return home during breaks, I did not have to be the same person I was while in school. In essence, it was as though I had to make up for the lack of Pittsburgh fans in college by carrying the team’s glories and woes on my shoulders. Thus, when the team lost, it was a reflection of my city’s performance, as opposed to the players on the field. In Christopher Gaffney’s Temples of the Earthbound Gods, he explores the reciprocal impact soccer stadiums have on the surrounding cities of Rio de Janiero and Buenos Aires. Yet, perhaps the most interesting analysis lies in his exploration of fan loyalties and the role of sexuality and masculinity in the proliferation of the sport.

    In Buenos Aires, the barrabravas are professional fans “…widely considered the most organized and violent fan groups in the world” (166). These fans are often paid by the club directors themselves and have become almost more famous than the actual players they are supporting. When Boca’s barrabrava, La Doce, make their dramatic entry into the stadium, they begin their song:

    “We are the glorious Doce
    Those that follow Boca don’t ask anything
    Even if you lose we will always support you
    Because through everything we will love you.

    I give everything to the xeneixe
    Win or lose I will follow
    It is an inexplicable sentiment
    That I carry within me
    And I cannot stop” (129).

    Gaffney attempts to explain this enigmatic loyalty as he describes how the numerous individual teams that have sprung up in both Rio de Janiero and Buenos Aires are representative of particular neighborhoods. In a society in which mobility is constrained, these fans take great pride in their individual communities; support for the local team transcends from a mere infatuation to a consuming passion. For example, in Rio de Janiero, the São Cristóvão Athletic Club represents the people of São Cristóvão and augments the strong neighborhood identity on the national and international stage. Gaffney conveys that allegiances to particular teams are often a result of ethnic affiliations: “The formation of Vasco da Gama helped to structure the Portuguese community along ethnic lines in a way that distinguished them as a particular social entity within the urban polity” (62). Moreover, this was one of the first clubs to incorporate the blacks, mulattos, and poor whites that had been relegated from many other teams throughout Rio. Thus, loyalty to a particular team is not a choice, but an innate reflection of one’s surrounding neighborhood. A win is not merely a win for the team, but could be a victory for a particular cultural minority or poverty stricken community. These soccer teams offer their communities hope as they provide the means for upward mobility in such a rigid socioeconomic structure. This dedication is so strong that teams that compete in the lower divisions in Buenos Aires still have intense fan support, often filling the stadiums with tens of thousands of supporters.

    While geographic location is a strong indicator of team loyalty, Gaffney provides a comprehensive picture of why the need to win is so powerful. In Buenos Aires, prostitution was actually legalized as a way to combat homosexuality: “If men were going to be ‘weak,’ the logic went, better that they visit a bordello than have sexual relations with other men” (135). In a city where the public role of women is irrelevant, men are compelled to prove their masculinity to other men. Gaffney shows that opportunities to accomplish this feat present themselves in many different environments: “tango bars were fraught with sexual insecurity…by entering into the social and physical spaces of the tango, men put their masculinities on display for others to evaluate” (137); women were generally absent from cafes, and thus men were judged and evaluated on their social interactions with other men. While these particular events foster the expression of masculine solidarity, stadiums facilitate a masculine collectivism through which opponents directly challenge this masculine dominance. In the chapter, La cancha de fútbol y la concha de tu madre, Gaffney explains that a soccer stadium in Argentina is called la cancha, while the derogative term for a vagina is concha (143). Gaffney interprets this as “masculine control of a feminized space,” and demonstrates that to assert one team’s masculinity over another, fans will exclaim that they will “fuck and tear open the anuses” of their opponents (143). In addition, he rationalizes that after a loss, fans will stay longer in order to reclaim the cancha after defeat. Gaffney goes on to dissect the symbolism of the rituals fans in Argentina perform, such as how the tunnels where players emerge appear to be phallic-shaped and how the toilet paper fans throw represent the sperm of the crowd (144). This reproductive imagery casts the players as true products of their testosterone-filled environments, making these ‘births’ a medical mystery.

    Gaffney also contrasts soccer stadiums with the polo and rugby stadiums in Argentina. Unlike soccer, these stadiums cater to the passive observers, and the violence and emotion that invades the soccer stadiums is strangely absent. Of the three sports mentioned, rugby is the most physical, so it is intriguing that this does not evoke the same passion from a crowd so worried about asserting its masculinity. Gaffney characterizes rugby as a middle to upper-middle-class sport that, like soccer, was originally introduced by the British. Yet herein lies my solitary disappointment with Gaffney’s analysis: Gaffney explains why soccer has become so popular, but hasn’t thoroughly analyzed why the actual sport of soccer (as opposed to other sports) has elicited such a masculine following. Gaffney shows that soccer could be played with oranges or wadded newspaper (46), but aside from depicting its convenience, he never actually explores why the game itself evokes such dramatic responses. A more in depth study of the appeal of the game itself would provide interesting insight.

  37. Tuck Stapor

    Throughout Christopher Gaffney’s book Temples of the Earthbound Gods, Gaffney expresses the large impact that soccer stadiums themselves have on the team, the sport, the city, and even the nation. For the most part, the stadium’s significance is too complex to explain as in a stadium is specifically “a sports arena that contains tiers of seats for spectators” ( However, Gaffney is effective in clarifying the roles that stadiums play in a region in his book. Stadiums are able to establish communities and/or adapt to the local identity of the community that already exists. From acquiring a collective identity for its fans to follow, the stadium helps establish a common goal as well as express the community’s identity to the rest of the country or world. Even though the actual stadium is just a structure, the environment that occurs in and around a stadium influences culture, lives, and identities of the community.
    Gaffney uses two cases studies to elucidate his theory on the merging power that stadiums hold: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Buenos Aires, Argentina. In Brazil, soccer was first played by the upper class citizens in socially limited areas. Fairly quickly, the sport began to receive pressure from the lower classes, and eventually players from all classes began playing professionally. Even though the fields themselves were integrated, the stands in the major stadiums were not. This trend was destroyed as more teams, and thus stadiums, were created throughout the country. Each team drew players from their local regions and allowed all classes and races into their stadiums. The stadiums themselves developed into symbols of class, ethnic groups, and national identities. These symbolic stadiums eventually caused all stadiums, and other open areas, around the country to be fully public. The formation of soccer stadiums along with their symbolic nature helped dissolve class restrictions in Brazil. In fact, the formation of Maracana for the 1950 World Cup exemplified national achievement and social integration.
    Similar to Rio de Janeiro, Gaffney explains that stadiums in Buenos Aires are full of symbolic meanings. These stadiums mainly express the identities of local regions. Stadiums were utilized as areas of expression in Buenos Aires, which is the primary reason for the amount of violence that would occur in the stadiums. Fans in the stands would join together and attempt to elucidate their masculine solidarity by loving and support their team, and by team, Gaffney means the team’s identity. Due to the extremely large amount of stadiums that exist in Buenos Aires, numerous sub-cultures and identities would develop in different geographic regions. These sub-cultural groups would then attempt to compete politically, economically, socially, and most importantly, through sports. Somehow, all of these areas of competition would get bundled up and exemplified throughout a stadium. The stadiums’ atmospheres would encourage each regions’ attempt to demonstrate that they have the best identity. In reality, everything that occurs outside of the stadium affects the environment on the inside, and vice versa.

  38. Julianna Miller

    Christopher Gaffney’s Temples of the Earthbound Gods, traces the effect that stadiums have on urban culture (particularly focusing on South America). Gaffney starts off by delving into the influence of sport and sport complexes in ancient and contemporary societies and then progresses to use Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires as launching points for a more in depth analysis of the effects that stadiums have on those urban cultures. He looks at how they affect the spirituality, violence, social norms, anarchy and expressions of sexuality and gender. The stadiums represent iconic monuments in the architecture of the city, the memories of the visitors, the logistical organization of the city, and in the nation’s sense of national pride. An example of this is the persistence of the lasting imprint that the Roman Coliseum has had for people all over the world.
    Stadiums, because of the enormity of their structures and the collective excitement and fervor that comes along with the events held there, seem to “draw us like moths to the flame” (pg. 2). These colossal structures affect the logistics of the city often causing traffic, immense flocks of decorated fans, and often times even the halting of daily lives. These monumental structures are often a “powerful locus of [Brazilian] national achievement” because of the monumental architectural feat, and the sacredness that the space represents. It shows the country and city’s ingenuity, strength and power to be able to “construct monumental buildings for the rigorous pursuit of national glory through sport” (pg.70).
    Nonetheless, the stadiums not only affect urban culture, but they also reflect urban culture and society. The economical divides of society are exposed in the construction and layout of the stadiums. For example, el Estadio das Laranjeiras (built in 1917), was a “site and symbol of elite privilege”. The separation of the different echelons, mark the different tiers of socio-economic societies. It is interesting, however, that this stadium is a place where people of all different socio-economic societies can come together with a collective goal and leave having shared that collective memory in that specific place, during that limited time. In addition, soccer is universally known to be a sport where anyone can succeed, regardless of his or her socio-economic background. Gaffney mentions how football teams in Brazil could almost be categorized by a “neighborhood identity”, explaining that they would often “represent the people that lived there” (60). Thus, it is a bit ironic how the stadiums recreate class differentiations in their structures, and how they require a great amount of revenue to construct, and yet they are creating a space where all of these societal implications no longer exist.
    Gaffney also applies his extensive research on sport and stadiums to the current situation in Brazil in regards to the 2014 World Cup in his blog. Many of the effects and influences that stadiums have on a societies’ culture and society that he has mentioned in his book, have been magnified recently due to Brazil’s preparation for the 64 soccer matches during the World Cup. The ensuing issues in Brazil are preexisting issues that are becoming amplified and unleashed through the construction for the World Cup.

  39. Michael Reintgen

    In Gaffney’s Temples of the Earthbound Gods, the author argues that stadiums are culturally significant spaces that reflect the characteristics of the surrounding area that they are situated in, especially in areas of South America like Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires. Gaffney states that although stadiums have been vastly overlooked as places of socioeconomic and cultural study, there are virtually no other institutions that can give a better “snapshot of society as a whole, and by comparing pictures over time we can read the changes and patterns of culture” (39).
    Gaffney presents an interesting case study of the Rio de Janeiro club São Crisóvão de Futebol e Regatas that clearly displays a stadium’s ability to communicate social and cultural changes in the surrounding society. The small working-class neighborhood of São Crisóvão fielded its first organized soccer team in 1909 on a modest field in the center of the neighborhood. This public space dubbed Campo de São Crisóvão was essentially an open field with two pairs of goalposts, and no fences separating the ground from the surrounding town. With the growing popularity of soccer and success of São Crisóvão, the space that the club held its weekly games needed to be improved to reflect the change. In 1915 “motivated businessmen associated with the team to purchase land” for a new stadium, and “members of the São Crisóvão community contributed labor and materials” (61) to build the Estádio Figueira de Melo. The building of this stadium would mark São Crisóvão as a central element “of soccer culture in Rio de Janeiro from the 1920s until the 1980s” (86). However, Gaffney goes on to note that “ in recent years [the club and the stadium] have become marginalized, increasingly peripheral spaces” (86), reflecting trends in the São Crisóvão community as a whole.
    Starting in the late 1960’s and continuing up to the present, there has been a pattern of migration from rural to urban settings in Brazil that have led to overurbanization, political instability, and increased violence. These socioeconomic problems have led to “a vicious cycle of impoverishment and social atomization” (87) that has been reflected in the state of the São Crisóvão club and stadium. The club has “seen its membership numbers decline as people curtail leisure and recreation activities” (87) as a direct result of the violence and fear for safety when out and about in public. This has led to a decline in ticket sales and club revenues, which then pushed São Crisóvão from its former place at the center of soccer spaces in Rio into an increased state of marginalization in comparison to the rest of Brazilian Futebol. The club even “sold most of the bleachers” and “sold the lights” (82) as a result of the economic hardship. The neighborhood of São Crisóvão itself has followed almost the exact same trend as the club, “moving from a residential suburb that was the center of the Portuguese empire to a productive industrial center [and finally] to a zone of socioeconomic marginality.” (89)
    Essentially, Gaffney highlights stadiums as a microcosm of the surrounding South American towns and cities that they are situated in. He describes the remarkable connections these stadiums have with the local community that results in every push and pull of the community being felt in the stadium, and every event of the stadium rippling out into the surrounding society as well.

  40. Austin Ness

    In Temples of the Earthbound Gods, Christopher Thomas Gaffney details the foundations of football, both professional and societal, in two cities where the game is integral to national identity: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Buenos Aires, Argentina. The book offers descriptions of every major stadium in these cities, but more than that, the book uses these stadiums as lenses through which to view the evolution of the Brazilian and Argentinian people. Temples of the Earthbound Gods is an examination of urban culture, the spiritual association between Brazil and Argentina and football, and the behavior that plays out within these “temples”.

    Gaffney’s descriptions of the stadiums of Rio de Janeiro, often called the spiritual home of soccer, are particularly illuminating. Primarily, the account of the history of the Maracana stadium is fascinating, due to how closely the stadium and football are intertwined with Brazilian identity and society. The Maracana was built in order to host the 1950 World Cup, and even before construction had begun, Brazil didn’t think about the stadium as a vessel for the game, but rather, the most visible element of the image that would be diffused to the rest of the world. The stadium was therefore constructed on a massive scale, in order to, “complete the capital landscape of Rio de Janeiro and symbolize to a global audience the capacity of the city and county to construct monumental buildings for the rigorous pursuit of national glory through sport” (70). Gaffney adds that the stadium was a “self conscious testament to the capacity of Brazil and Rio de Janeiro to lead South America into a postwar world of ordered, progressive, and industrialized democracy” (71). However, Gaffney does not sugarcoat the process behind building the Maracana, and details that the stadium was, “beset by difficulties and delays in construction and saddled by the inefficient governmental agency created to oversee it”, and opened its doors in 1950 even though the project had not yet been fully completed. Gaffney also illustrates the overconfidence of the Brazilian people, and how offered to paint the stadium with the colors of the winner of the tournament in a show of arrogance, before ultimately losing to Uruguay in the final game. Overall, Gaffney argues that the Maracana is a simple microcosm of Brazilian culture, more specifically their ambition and pride, and serves as the ultimate monument to Brazilian identity, even after the devastating loss in 1950. It’s also clear to see multiple parallels between the building of the Maracana and the lead up to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil next year; just as there has been resistance towards the expensive construction and overhaul of stadiums now in favor of upgrading social infrastructure, the Maracana met, “fierce resistance on the part of Rio’s intellectuals, who wanted more hospitals and schools instead of another stadium” (68). Additionally, the inefficiency of government and delays in construction still exist, as Brazil’s stadiums, well behind schedule already, are rushed to be completed in time for next summer. Undoubtedly, another loss by the national team in the final game in the Maracana would be another tragic blow to the Brazilian nationalism.

    Gaffney’s account of football in Brazil is more encompassing than just the 1950 World Cup; from the late 19th Century on, Gaffney details the rise of association football and playing fields in Rio, and how the elite societal class of the city initially controlled the sport. “As Rio de Janeiro and Brazil became more fully engaged with modernity and industrialization, soccer belonged to the social spaces and cosmopolitan practices of the expatriate British and the creole elite” (49). However, as soccer began to take hold in the middle and working classes, the sport could not be contained as an elite practice. “As the city expanded and the population grew, soccer diffused both horizontally and vertically and began to lose it’s strict association with the tastes and lifestyles of the privileged classes” (49). In 1909, the Sao Cristovao Athletic club was founded in a working-class neighborhood, and the team soon built up a stadium. “The conflation of team with neighborhood identity was not difficult”, Gaffney explains, as the club strengthened the local bonds between the people who played at and visited the club, and “began to represent the people that lived there” (60). The descriptions and accounts of the formations of several smaller clubs like Sao Cristovao, and how the neighborhoods and regions of Rio supported them, illustrates the power of the stadium in a different way. The Maracana was a 200,000-seat monument to the world, but Rio’s smaller clubs, and the locals who live near there, are the backbone of the Brazilian love for football. Football doesn’t have to be played in expensive stadiums to be appreciated, and ultimately the Brazilian people can find the game at any level.

    In Temples of the Earthbound Gods, Gaffney illustrates the power of stadiums due to the ability to, “share common emotions in a common place in a limited time frame” (3). As he chronicles the rise and fall of the stadium from Ancient Rome to Great Britain, it’s clear that stadiums not only have an important role in urban culture, but that, ‘the meanings and histories they contain, represent, and produce, are inseparable from the cultures in which they exist.” (4). “The complex geographic, political, economic, and cultural networks that extend from the stadium will never be understood in their entirety”, Gaffney laments, but stadiums will continue to be, “some of the most intense and visible places in any city”, and sacred spaces that represent local and national identities (208-209).

  41. Ale Barel Di Sant'Albano

    In Temples of the Earthbound Gods, Gaffney provides a highly readable account of how professional athletic teams in Brazil and Argentina in football arose with higher birth rates, increasing size of population in large cities, and the lack of a national pride/sport that led to the rise of football in the form of religion. Focusing on the vast size, power the stadiums represent and cultural aspects of stadiums in Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires, Gaffney examines the theatrical nature of going to the stadium in terms “politics, social class, race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, and nationalism.”
    The unique nature of a stadium is that for 90 minutes no matter your gendar, social class, race or political belief a nation is brought together by the love of there country. They cheer together, they celebrate together and they cry together, but as soon as the game is over one person might go back to there penthouse apartment in Ipanema while the persons at right next to them goes home to the favela of Jacarezinho.
    Gaffney also touches on the violence and social norms created at the stadium and how it affects how brazil is perceived and looked at amongst the rest of the world. Furthermore Gaffney also has a blog which focuses on the general context of the book, but in a day to day blog, writing about the socio-economic problems of a country like Brazil taking on the huge economic strains of a World Cup and an Olympic games over the next four years.
    One of the key underlying points I feel Gaffney addresses, particularly in the blog, is how can a country that has taken and given so much to football be constantly fighting with the game. The answer to Gaffney is completely political. It has become corrupt, and it has helped destroy the love of Jogo Bonito as funding for health care and education has been taken for better use, “the World Cup.” In one of his blogs Gaffney makes a great point Brazil in co-ordination with FIFA has used the competition to create a “ top down imposition of a sport business model where fans are transformed into clients, players into pets and stadia into shopping malls was predicated in part on the promise of Brazil´s ever expanding consumer economy” as Gaffney has pointed out.
    But lastly, the title of the book speak words to me as in countries such as Argentina and Brazil stadiums like the Maracana are “Temples of the Earthbound Gods,” with over 100,000 people packed into a stadium cheering for their side, it is that type of ritual and worship that we see in churches. When in country plays at the Maracana, much like Cameron indoor for college basketball, the San Paolo in Serie A, and much like Eden Park for rugby, visiting teams never expect to leave with a result, as they are sacred grounds that have almost a God like blessing stowed upon them.

  42. Lindsey Barrett

    Each of Gaffney’s arguments is fairly over-arching, but none more so than the assertion that stadiums can be used to “observe cultures, [to] survey historical, economic, political, sociocultural, cultural, technological, and globalizing processes as they are expressed on the local level.” (Loc. 194) He posits that the stadium can be used as a microcosm of society, particularly in Brazil, where soccer is more than just the national pastime, it’s the national lifeblood. He parallels the function of the stadium to the function of the city⎯ that “landscape is an expression of power⎯sometimes a will to power⎯ of individuals and collectives to transform the natural world,” for “the conflicting meanings of landscapes and their constitutive elements are representative of ideologies and discourses that structure social relations”(394). The stadium is at once a socioeconomic melting pot, and a spotlight on class divisions; everyone is there, united by the same passion and drive, but there’s still a stark division between the box seats and the bleachers. “A full range of economic actors comes together at a given time: minimum-wage laborers, middle-class season ticket holders, CEOs, multimillionaire owners, and idolized superstars all have their proscribed places and roles.” (Loc. 612)
    But this argument can have distinct implications, particularly when you take it outside the walls of the stadium and consider the money being lavished by Brazil on new stadiums for the 2014 World Cup. Just one of the 12 stadiums in the works for next year’s tournament, Amazônia Arena, is projected to cost $265 million⎯ and that’s if it stays on budget, which is unlikely. ( This is at a time when public infrastructure sags to support Brazil’s burgeoning cities (see: this summer’s frequent, violent riots over the inadequacies of public transportation and corruption in government) and income inequality is at a dangerous high. The World Cup brings tourism, prestige, and jobs—but if Brazil can find that kind of money to build sports stadiums, perhaps it could find the money to enable its citizens to get to work without a 2 hour commute. The current rallying cry is for new roads, schools and hospitals to be built “to FIFA standards.”
    Gaffney connects the argument that he makes in his book, stadium as metropolitan microcosm, on his blog, elucidating precisely how skewed the priorities of Brazil’s ruling establishment are. “The top down imposition of a sport business model where fans are transformed into clients, players into pets and stadia into shopping malls was predicated in part on the promise of Brazil´s ever expanding consumer economy.”( And the prioritizing of stadiums over basic services is a reflection of the valuing of that consumerism over the fundamental needs of Brazilians. Soccer is a driving force in the Brazilian economy and ethos; but if it is not held in balance with the other, more basic needs of Brazilians, it’s nothing more than a distraction from the more important goals that need to be met.

  43. Ramsey Al-Khalil

    In urban South America, namely Brazil and Argentina, soccer (futbol and futebol) has become as essential to everyday life as food and water. Gaffney’s Temples of the Earthbound Gods chronicles the rise of athletic teams and the shaping of national sports and identities. He spends much of the time describing stadiums in Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires, specifically mentioning the importance of architectural and cultural workings. For example, he connects spirituality, violence, rigid social norms, anarchy, and also expressions of sexuality and gender to the design of stadiums. Essentially Gaffney uses stadiums as metaphorical units to recount the evolution of culture in Latin and South America.

    The emergence of soccer in Brazil and Argentina comes from the same root as the spread of rugby and cricket – colonialism. British commercialization of Latin American nations not only “brought Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay (among others) into the sphere of global capital,” but “British sports and the spaces to play them appeared in South American cities” (14). Gaffney claims that “as the British economic presence increased so did their cultural influence” (14). At the beginning of Chapter Two, Gaffney mentions the bar ‘Charles Miller’ located in Salvador, Brazil. He cites Gisella Morua as saying that “when Charles Miller stepped off the boat in Santos on the 9th of June, 1894, carrying his bag and a ball and other equipment, he couldn’t have imagined that this moment would mark the official introduction of soccer to Brazil” (42). Consequently, most historians credit Charles Miller for being the founding father of futebol in Brazil. The main focus of the chapter is to describe the development of stadiums and soccer culture leading up to Brazil’s 1950 World Cup loss to Uruguay (still regarded by many as the worst moment in the nation’s history). In this era, “soccer evolved from a game played by British and local elites to a national passion that in many respects defined conceptions of Brazilian citizenship and identity” (43).

    Charles Miller grew up in an industrialist family; when he organized soccer games among his friends at the Sao Paolo Railway, “encountered fertile social ground among the influential agricultural and industrial elite who had the time, money and cultural habit of vigorous dedication to sport” (44). Aside from Miller’s introduction of the sport, its spread was “a direct result of urban, demographic, and industrial expansion” (44). Soccer evolved not only into a means of expanding competition and intercity camaraderie, it was socially vital. For example, “the stadium of the Fluminese Football Club was a place to see and be seen; the players as much as the spectators were concerned with their appearance and decorum” (46).

    Issues of race were also extremely prevalent during the development of futebol stadiums in Brazil. With the late abolition of slavery in 1888, a new generation of “Afro-Brazilians” was introduced into society. For years, the “social distinctions that pertained in the workplace and the separateness of radically different living conditions and lifestyles demarcated along class and racial lines were not challenged by the newly reformed urban environment. Other spaces of modernity, including the stadium were much more likely to have the generalized, integrative effects that urban reformers” intended (49-50). Despite having lost every match from 1908-1910, the Fluminese club’s stadium was packed to maximum capacity every week, indicating that in terms of forming a national identity, “soccer had the potential to rally diverse elements of society around a common cause, and the stadium was the conduit through which these emotions were communicated and transferred” (51). Maracana is perhaps one of the most well known examples of such a shrine. It is “considered by many to be the spiritual home of world soccer” (107). It’s history as the birthplace of Brazilian soccer gods, home of Pele’s thousandth goal, and unfortunate location of Brazil’s loss to Uruguay in the 1950 World Cup Final deems it one of the most recognizable sports and cultural icons in the world. Perhaps my favorite description of it occurs on page 108 when Gaffney cites how its “elliptical, monumental enormity reduces one’s sense of individual agency and highlights the connection between the earth and sky.”

    Though my post is very lengthy, I’m obligated to mention some of the interesting points Gaffney addresses about the emergence of Argentinian futbol and stadiums. He makes the argument that stadiums are used as an organized field for staging confrontations between groups of male enemies. Furthermore, Gaffney paints the picture of a match in the context of fans’ rituals and often violent and offensive chants (“fag”, “son of a whore”, etc.). He mentions that yellow and red fireworks flare over the field as people shoot them from the stands, causing “stadium to [take on] the appearance of a battlefield.” As opposed to the case in Brazil, where the national bond of soccer transcends definitions of gender, “the contemporary presence of sexualized, violent stadium cultures is inexorably linked to the social and geographic conditions of the city and a nation a century ago” (132). The popularization of the tango parallel to soccer clubs “created spaces of masculine performance, social integration, and cultural identity” (138). By having to compete for the affection of a woman, men would confirm or deny their masculine selves according to their ability to dance. In other spheres, masculine qualities were compared; the workplace for wages, the larger urban matrix for land, political influence and social status (139). As can be predicted, Gaffney goes on to mention “the proliferation of stadiums in Buenos Aires was a product of this generalized competition.”

    Gaffney’s book basically makes us appreciate the cultural significance of stadiums. Often considered the centerpieces for urban landscapes, they are symbolic of the power that sport has on the social backdrop of a nation. As an avid Brazilian soccer fan and a hopeful member of the crowd in Brazil this summer, I am fascinated by sport. There are few things I’ve looked forward to more in these last 4 years than going to Brazil and immersing myself in South American culture. With more knowledge about the ethnographic significance of stadiums and soccer culture, I’ll be even more appreciative of the month-long festival that is the World Cup.

  44. Becca Fisher

    Dans Temples of the Earthbound Gods, Gaffney décrit et analyse l’importance et la signification des stades. Il utilise Rio de Janeiro et Buenos Aires pour expliquer les multiples des impacts qui les stades peuvent avoir. Gaffney soulève de nombreux points intéressants en ce qui concerne le sexe, la sexualité et la violence à Buenos Aires. Il souligne qu’il y a le plus grand nombre de cas de violence du stade par rapport à d’autres villes à travers le monde. Matchs de football sont considérés comme “mis en scène des affrontements ritualisés entre adverse collectifs masculins.” Il permet l’ordre social à être perturbé, qui est contrôlé quand il est dans le stade, mais le problème commence quand ce désordre se déplace dans les rues. Gaffney souligne également la présence unique de femmes sur la scène du football à Rio, où le sport est généralement dominé par les hommes (comme vu dans Buenos Aires). Ceci est probablement la raison pour laquelle le problème n’est pas lié au sexe au Brésil, mais plutôt la race et l’identité nationale à cause de la culture écrasante de football.

    Race a été l’une des premières questions que Brésil a confronté en ce qui concerne le football. Brésiliens dans le passé ont considéré le football comme un sport européen et pensaient que le foot incarnait «l’élitisme, de raffinement et d’exclusivité.” Il était très clair que aucun Noirs ou mulâtres n’étaient permises dans la ligue principale de Rio, Liga Metropolitana (ligue métropolitaine). Mais ils ont défié les règles au 1919 Sud-Américaine Championnat des Nations qui était à Rio dans Estádio das Laranjeiras. Noirs, mulâtres et blancs étaient tous là pour regarder Brésil gagner contre l’Uruguay. Gaffney utilise cette histoire plus générale comme un enchaînement pour décrire 4 des grands stades de Rio et leurs associations et significations historiques.

    Estádio Figueira de Melo a été le premier et le plus ancien stade survivant et est encore faite de béton. Son emplacement a mené à la formation et à l’unification de la communauté qui l’entoure. Estádio das Laranjeiras (Manoel Schwartz) était la maison du club de football Fluminesce, dont le rituel était et est toujours de jeter du riz ou du talc (po-de-arroz). Le stade était très influent et ses supporters se composaient de la classe socio-économique élite. Estádio Vasco da Gama (São Januário) a souligné la marginalisation sociale et des problèmes avec la construction d’une démocratie multiethnique. Enfin, Estádio Mario Filho Journalista (Maracanã) tient le plus l’histoire et l’importance. Selon Gaffney, c’est «magique et défie l’écrit.” La majorité du monde associe football avec ce stade. Il est vrai que le concept et les associations de stades en général jouent un grand rôle au niveau national et international dans tous les domaines, notamment économique, culturel et politique. Il est impossible d’entrer dans un stade familier sans évoquer les souvenirs du passé. Je continue cette analyse des stades en Rio et de leur importance en ce qui concerne la Coupe du Monde 2014 dans mon blog.

    Becca Fisher


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