Soccer as Ritual, and Being on the Pitch with Zidane

By | January 10, 2019

The French anthropologist Christian Bromberger has studied and written about football games as a kind of ritual that provides an “inexhaustible terrain of interpretation” for those who participate and watch. In his French-language book “Le match de football,” he studied how crowds experienced and interpreted games in the European football heartlands of Marseille, Milan, and Naples. He condensed the theoretical conclusions he came to through this research in his 1995 article “Football as World-View and as Ritual.”

One of the more remarkable works that captures the form and content of this ritual is the 2006 film Zidane: A 21st-Century Portrait, by the film-makers and conceptual artists Douglas Gordon and Phillippe Parreno. On April 23, 2005, they installed seventeen cameras in the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium in Madrid to film a full game between Spanish Liga teams Real Madrid and Villarreal CF. But they focused the cameras not on the ball, but rather on one entrancing player, Zinedine Zidane, considered one of the greatest footballers in history.

Since it’s release, the film has garnered effusive praise from some quarters and sharp criticism from others. While it had a long run in theaters in France as well as being shown commercially in the U.K. and other European countries, in the U.S. it has only been shown in small art houses and film festivals.

The film’s directors, Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno, have a background on experimental contemporary art, including video installations, and the film is also clearly an experiment. (Whether it is a success of failure as such is the key question). Like many other experimental films, it presents its argument not so much through narrative or exposition but through form. It is, among other things, an attempt to represent sport in a way that is radically different from the kinds of portrayals were are used to, which either provide us a global picture of live game or else highlights that emphasize the climaxes of the game over the empty spaces in between. Of course, it is also a portrait of Zidane, and the reactions to the film also have much to do with the very different ways people see him as both a player and an icon.

Here are two interesting discussions of the film

Review in Stylus Magazine

Review at City of Sound

This week in the “Soccer Politics” class at Duke University, we are asking the students to post comments in response to this post that bring together their reading of the 1995 Bromberger article on “Football as World-View and as Ritual” with a viewing of Zidane: A 21st-Century Portrait. Specifically, we are asking them to find specific moments in the film that speak to or illustrate specific points made in Bromberger’s article about how a football match works, and we can see within it. In doing so, we ask them to share specific quotes from Bromberger along with specific moments in the film.

Students, please post your response in the comments section below by 5 p.m. on Wednesday January 16th. We also welcome other comments about the article and film!

Category: Films Zidane

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 and the forthcoming The Language of the Game: How to Understand Soccer.

29 thoughts on “Soccer as Ritual, and Being on the Pitch with Zidane

  1. Crystal McCarthy

    The fans are what make the game. Without spectators, the game of soccer would be no more than a group of individuals kicking around in the street or in their backyards. With fans, though, the game of soccer becomes a globalized and exciting entity. The players have crowds to impress and get cheered for or “booed” by, and in some cases, the majority of these crowds are not even present at the stadium but are watching the game through other methods. In the film, “Zidane: A 21st-Century Portrait,” the camera focuses on the face and body of only one character, Zinedine Zidane. However, in spite of the director’s best efforts to keep the viewer focused on Zidane and Zidane alone, my ears couldn’t help but notice the roar of the crowd that echoed throughout the background of the film. The film never showed the crowd, but the crowd was clearly heard. Shouts arose anytime a player performed some fancy footwork or move, and there was loud cheering any time a player went in for a hard defensive tackle. The crowd loved the show. The spectators showed encouragement and excitement when good things happened, and they even gave Zidane a big round of applause when he was sent off at the end of the game with a red card. Perhaps that was to show support for one of the teams most dominant players or perhaps it was to demonstrate to the other team’s fans that they were not worried about the rest of the game and still confident that their team would surely pull off the desired result. Either way, fans play an integral part in the game whether the player themselves chooses to listen to them or tune them out. In Bromberger’s piece, “Football as a World-View and as Ritual”, he outlines the role of the crowd as individuals “who can – or believe they can – influence and even change the denouement. During a match, the biased behaviour of the crowd is certainly a noisy affirmation of a specific identity, but it is also a condition of taking part in the excitement.” Bromberger notes the group identity of the crowd and camaraderie that immediately takes place when cheering for the same side. Soccer is a global force whose unifying power can be seen throughout football fandom. And although, just as in the Zidane film, the majority of the focus is on the players, the crowd in an ever present and necessary part of the game with their own unique identity and their very own message to spread.

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  2. Steve Hassey

    This documentary was an incredible portrait of one of the game’s great icons, in particular given that it lacked any real context at all. Instead of trying to take on the enormous task of Zidane’s illustrious career and complicated background, the filmmaker brought us pure, unfiltered soccer in a way that I had never really understood the game before. While I was watching the film, I reflected on my own experiences playing, on how isolating the game can be. Watching as some of the game’s greats passed by the screen but with few exceptions Zidane had his eyes laser focused on the ball.

    In particular, I found it fascinating how they portrayed this work as a piece of art. According to the City of Sound article, instead of basing the cinematography off of other athletic camerawork, they looked toward Andy Warhol and his “13 Most Beautiful Women.” This shows, as the film does a great job of capturing Zidane’s stoic nature.

    I also found it fascinating how Zidane’s intense gaze relented into a manic tackle at the end of the game, ultimately leading to his own dismissal. This further paints a complex image of one of the game’s greats, in turn showing both his unbelievable touches, tendency toward tactical progression, and flare of temper. This portrait of solitude also sharply contrasts with the themes of unity that the global sport can inspire, from Liverpool’s “You’ll Never Walk Alone” to the discussion of united fan sections. Perhaps the juxtaposition of the intense solitude of players and the united force of fans can give us a unique into the differences between the fan and player experiences.

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  3. Cole Garda

    What I found most interesting about Bromberger’s “Football as World-View and as Ritual” was the way it connected a fan’s identification with their city to the style of the team and the kind of player the fan values most. Bromberger states “Style is part of a collective imaginary, not so much in the way in which the men live and the players play, but in the manner in which it pleases them to recount their way of life and the playing style of the team.” He gives several examples across Europe of teams that admire specific traits in players that can still be seen in the players those clubs have today, even though the article was written in 1995.
    This idea is very true for a club like Real Madrid and could be seen in the way fans react to Zidane in the film “Zidane: A 21st-Century Portrait”. In the last 20 years, Real Madrid has valued signing Galacticos, or superstar players from across the world. During the time the film was made, Zidane was the biggest superstar Madrid had signed and was the most expensive signing ever. This showed in the way the fans were enamored with his play, clapping after every skillful touch and pass he made. In terms of the film itself, the way it mixed following one player throughout a game with broadcasts from the actual game was unique. It was fascinating to see how a player like Zidane paces himself throughout a match and only reaches a full sprint several times. The way he viewed the fans in a match and how he could “hear a whisper from one fan to another” made the experience seem peaceful. I am intrigued as to whether other players have a similar experience or if only players as calm and composed as Zidane feel this way. Overall, the film was able to succeed in showing a soccer match from a new perspective.

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  4. Cameron Anderson

    What struck me about the intersection of Bromberger’s piece and Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait was the actual play on the field was representative of many of Bromberger’s points. Bromberger points out that football “embodies an image of today’s world that is both consistent and contradictory.” Greatness itself in football might be the most consistently contradictory. Nobody doubts that Zinedine Zidane was a great footballer but that greatness is rarely visible in the film. Most of the time, after all, Zidane is standing or jogging, isolated both from the ball and the rest of his team. Anyone, surely, could stand or jog the same. Even in his time on the ball he managed to assist a goal but also draw a red card. A bad game, by many accounts, and hardly one that we would expect from a great player against an inferior team. Similarly, Real Madrid themselves are a superior club and yet go down 1-0 early on in the match. While obviously even the best players have bad games and a 1-0 score line is hardly a damning one it is precisely these contradictions that define football. The greatest players are ‘only’ great a couple of times per 90 minutes, if that. Some of the players who are not great can have great moments and be the hero in any given match.

    The consistency comes into play when you pull back further than the film allows. Football viewed over the course of a season, or a tournament, or a year allows great players and teams to rise to the top. To further Bromberger’s point in applying the lessons of football to real life even the best people are not great in every moment. The kindest people are apt to have negative thoughts and actions and the most generous have moments of selfishness. The film, in other words, allows us to hyper-focus on a player and experience the match with Zidane. In evaluating footballers and football clubs, however, our point of view must be much more zoomed out, both in the moment and in time.

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  5. Madeline Manning

    While this week’s reading of Bromberger’s “Football as world-view and as ritual” focuses on analyzing all aspects of football matches in general, including everything from player actions to fan interactions and stadium layouts, the video “Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait” exclusively observes Zidane’s time on the pitch within one match.

    The juxtaposition of the two reminds me of a topic we briefly discussed in class from professor Dubois’ article “How to really watch the World Cup.” The idea that each football match is simply a collection of infinite stories is introduced immediately in the article. It seems that both of the works from this week support the claim.

    Bromberger mentions that even fans of the same team can throw jeers at each other based on the sections in which they sit, a factor that seems trivial until one considers the implications of each section and their place in the hierarchy; “spectators themselves are not unaware of the way they are sectioned off from each other. Those on the terraces, aware that they are where they belong…” In this case, there are thousands of spectators and, in turn, thousands of stories that are carried into the stadium through the fans themselves. Despite the differences between their tales, all of the supporters are bound by their common purpose: to support the team. When a goal is scored, the sects aren’t thinking about their location in the stadium or their place in the hierarchy- instead they are merely celebrating (or mourning) the fact that they’re in attendance at all. Knowingly or not, everyone inside the stadium becomes a part of a new, joint story as soon as the match begins.

    This concept of unity in football is seen again when Bromberger mentions Liverpool’s motto “You’ll never walk alone.” This is exceptionally relevant to “Zidane” because, quite literally, he walks alone for a majority of the film. Following his journey, physical and emotional, throughout the match allows the viewer to focus on just one story inside the stadium, though we know there are an unlimited amount present. This allows the video to be less about the outcome of the match and more about the process behind each decision he makes, leaving the viewers to contemplate the lessons Zidane has learned through the stories he carried into the stadium that day. Without much background information on the teams playing, it’s interesting to conjure guesses about why Zidane goes out of his way to clip a player on Villarreal- do they have a history? Is he just tired and trying to defend without having to really exert himself?

    Instead of thinking of “Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait” as the story of a match, think of it as just one of the stories that makes up the match.

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  6. Alex Goodman

    Gordon and Perrano’s film, Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait, and Bromberger’s article, “Football as a World-View and Ritual,” depict football as a somewhat ritualistic art form and attempt to draw parallels between football and life outside of it.

    In the film, when the second half begins, Gordon and Perrano decide to play monotonous and intense music while focusing the camera in on Zidane’s feet (45:30). Until this point, the camera had mostly focused on Zidane’s whole body, panning out to see the field on a few occasions. Zidane’s movements almost felt random in the first half, as his movements varied between a walk, a slow jog and a sprint in response to the movement of the ball which we often couldn’t see. However, when the second half starts, the focus on the rhythm of his feet paired with the monotony of the music emphasized a ritualistic component of the game. On a wider scale, a match in its entirety can be compared to an everyday ritual. The movement of a team to maintain its formation, the organization required for a set piece and the fluid motion of the football all exemplify a rigid and somewhat repetitive aspect of the game.

    However, in “Football as World-View and Ritual”, Bromberger explains that the parallel is not cut and dried. He exclaims, “In the spirit of modernity, two main features distinguish this ritual from most traditional ceremonies and cults: firstly, it is never repeated in exactly the same way; secondly, it changes its idols so rapidly that a player who is, at one moment, adulated, can be totally forgotten only a short time later.” The film shows only one match, so it is difficult to support the first distinction using the film, besides knowing as a viewer that outcomes vary greatly from match to match even when maintaining the same personnel. To the second point, we can look to the ethnic background of Zidane and the French national team. Zidane, who is of Algerian descent, along with various other members of the national team were often scrutinized by French natives for not being stereotypically “French” despite their standing as citizens. However, when Zidane scored two goals in the world cup final in 1998, the skeptical perception that many people had of him because of his descent changed.

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  7. Cole Walter

    I was particularly fascinated by Bromberger’s “Football as world-view and a ritual” because it challenged the common notion that football serves the purpose of entertainment to distract the people from the more important aspects of life, and instead suggests that football is amongst the most important things in life, and is treated as a ritual. He explains how it can bring complete strangers together, and make them have an extreme bond. I felt this way when watching the world cup this summer. I lived in Shanghai, which has become a very international city. For nearly every night with world cup games, I would go a ‘compound’ of bars that went in a circle around the edge of a crater-like outdoor area in a park. The compound consisted of many international bars, consisting of French, English, German, Italian, Mexican, and Brazilian bars. In the middle, giant projector screens had been set up for people to watch the games in the square, posted outside of certain bars. Every night, I would have to show up 2 hours before the first game came on in order to get in before it was full. If the country of a certain bar was playing that night, it was sure to be overflowing with hoards of people outdoors. Not by coincidence, the countries of each of those bars had many people living in Shanghai, so when their teams were playing, the fans were all able to come together. What was particularly amazing was getting to be in one place with so many people of different countries and discussing peoples stories for why they were rooting for a certain team. I was rooting for France because I spent lots of time growing up in Paris. When a bar’s team won, the crowd would celebrate for hours later, until the sun rose. This allowed me to understand the beauty of football and its magical ability to bring people together.

    I enjoyed watching Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait, and how it made me think about how much effort is required in football to get a goal that might not even happen. The quote at the end “magic is sometimes very close to nothing at all” explains that a tiny difference in the game, such as getting a ball half a second earlier, can make an enormous difference in the outcome, and creating a magical goal.

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  8. Alex Goodman

    Gordon and Perrano’s film, Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait, and Bromberger’s article, “Football as a World-View and Ritual,” depict football as a somewhat ritualistic art form and attempt to draw parallels between football and life outside of it.

    In the film, when the second half begins, Gordon and Perrano decide to play monotonous and intense music while focusing the camera in on Zidane’s feet (45:30). Until this point, the camera had mostly focused on Zidane’s whole body, panning out to see the field on a few occasions. Zidane’s movements almost felt random in the first half, as his movements varied between a walk, a slow jog and a sprint in response to the movement of the ball which we often couldn’t see. However, when the second half starts, the focus on the rhythm of his feet paired with the monotony of the music emphasized a ritualistic component of the game. On a wider scale, a match in its entirety can be compared to an everyday ritual. The movement of a team to maintain its formation, the organization required in a set piece and the fluid motion of the football all exemplify a rigid and somewhat repetitive aspect of the game.

    However, in “Football as World-View and Ritual”, Bromberger explains that the parallel is not cut and dried. He exclaims, “In the spirit of modernity, two main features distinguish this ritual from most traditional ceremonies and cults: firstly, it is never repeated in exactly the same way; secondly, it changes its idols so rapidly that a player who is, at one moment, adulated, can be totally forgotten only a short time later.” The film shows only one match, so it is difficult to support the first distinction using the film, besides knowing as a viewer that outcomes vary greatly from match to match even when maintaining the same personnel. To the second point, we can look to the ethnic background of Zidane and the French national team. Zidane, who is of Algerian descent, along with various other members of the national team were often scrutinized by French natives for not being stereotypically “French” despite their standing as citizens. However, when Zidane scored two goals in the world cup final in 1998, the skeptical perception that many people had of him because of his descent changed.

    Ultimately, while football can be seen as ritualistic, there are some key distinctions that differentiate the game from common rituals.

    Reply
  9. Jared Cordover

    In Bromberger’s article, “Football as World-View and as Ritual,” he places emphasis on the nature of sporting competition and entertainment. Early in his article, he notes that “we are told that we are dealing with the opium of the people, popular entertainment which helps blur people’s perception of their place in society and of their everyday problems, both as individuals and as a group…” By the negative connotations he introduces this perspective with, it is clear that Bromberger is not speaking his own sentiments. They may be a numbness induced by sporting entertainment, but Bromberger and the film Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait frame display the beauty in this numbness.

    Soccer is a game that seeks consistency over time. Bromberger notes that “[soccer] celebrates merit, performance and competition among equals, in stark and brutal fashion, it points up the uncertainty and changing nature of individual and collective status.” The concept of individual and collective status when it comes to sports is quite dynamic. A collection of individual fans becomes a collective as soon as they step foot in a stadium, rooting on their club’s group of individuals, who themselves are a cohesive collective also. Fan support is rooted in ties that are physical, familial and emotional. Player motivation often comes from personal success, and transfers to prestigious clubs are a primary way for star players to feel more successful. When fans feel as though players on their team are properly representing their club, a fan’s emotional ties towards those individuals strengthens. The most interesting aspect of the player-fan dynamic is that the interests of both parties have a substantial intersection: Winning. Fans and players come to the stadium for each match with a goal in mind, to outcompete their opponent and leave victorious. For players, their team successes will often correlate to personal wage increases, popularity raises and a stronger sense of self-fulfillment. For fans, victory provides evidence of their club’s (and in many cases, their city’s) successes. Winning dominates the player-fan relationship, but tradition and culture are also uniquely displayed in tandem across the soccer world.

    In Bromberger’s article, “Football as World-View and as Ritual,” he extends the intersection between fan and player interests, particularly when it comes to developing a culturally-unique playing style. Clubs develop styles that work in favor of their current personnel, and because oftentimes physicality or speed levels differ from club to club or country to country, new coaches must adapt to deploy their teams. For many Spanish clubs, the tiki-taka style of play, characterized by short passing and movement, is a staple. This style of play, popularized by Spain in the 2006 World Cup, originated because the Spanish National Team “wasn’t physical and tough enough to outmuscle opponents, to instead wanted to concentrate on monopolising the ball.” In Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait, one defining attribute of Zidane was his constant motion. Real Madrid’s style of play in the film is indicative of this strategy to “monopolize the ball,” a style of play that players now come to Spain to master, and one that Spanish and global fans continue to marvel at. Bromberger also mentions the Brazilian style of play “which sets a high value on the art of the feint, offers an illustration of the golden rule of a society where it is important to know how to work your way out of trouble with stylish dissimulation.” Although sports may be a form of entertainment, the numbness from experiencing a football match may reveal more about player, country and fan than what may appear on the surface. Personal challenges, collective strategy and historical pride have made today’s soccer clubs what they are, and they are much more than just a show.

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  10. Andrew Workman

    In his article, Bromberger eloquently articulates the role of chance in soccer and its effect on how viewers and players experience play on the pitch:

    “The spectre of chance, which is rarely conceptualized as probability, and from which emerges a sense of destiny, hangs over these sporting encounters, reminding us with brutal honesty that merit alone is not always enough to get ahead. Just as it might change the course of life, chance can change the trajectory of the ball against the run of play. It is these chance variables that players and supporters try to ward off by means of a plethora of micro-rituals which aim to propitiate the course of fate. Football can, therefore, be understood as an infinite variation on the drama of fortune in this world.”

    The brilliance of Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait lies in its ambitious attempt to show us what the game is like as experienced by one of the sport’s all-time greats. What results is a glimpse of what Zidane sees and feels and hears and offers further insight into the role of “fate” that Bromberger describes. Throughout the film, brief segments of the game are shown as they would appear on a television screen at home. These shots are then juxtaposed with intimate shots of Zidane on the pitch. He looks up at the lights and the camera follows him, flooding the frame with light. The noise of the stadium is vibrant and deafening. When the Zidane quote appears, “I can hear someone coughing,” we believe him. While it is impossible to get inside the head of this stoic Frenchman through mere footage, the interview quotes help to illustrate what his subjective experience must be like. While Bromberger gives a rational explanation for why people believe soccer games have a fated ending––”The spectre of chance, which is rarely conceptualized as probability, and from which emerges a sense of destiny”–– Zidane gives a goosebumps inducing anecdote that demonstrates his feeling that “the script has already been written”: “I remember playing in another place, at another time, when something amazing happened. Someone passed the ball to me, and before even touching it, I knew exactly what was going to happen. I knew I was going to score. It was the first and last time it ever happened.” Did Zidane have a vision of the pre-written script? We can never know, but the earnestness and passion that he plays with signify to our hearts that he is telling a truth.

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  11. Lord Nicklas Bendtner

    Bromberger’s “Football as world-view and as a ritual” is ultimately about the paradoxical nature of the sport. In some ways this is mirrored by the film, which depicts a unit, the Real Madrid, through the lens of one player Zinedine Zidane. The camera is centered around one object and through this actor a story is told- we see the protagonist with sweat dripping down his forehead, the agility of his foot as he strikes the ball, and often the sound dissipates allowing the audience to hear his gasping breath accompanied by an inner dialogue; his team, the opposition and the fans are very much present and its is these layers that make a seemingly simple event take on a deeper meaning and a ritualistic character- the inter and intra-specific interactions between these different layers are ever-present and are not necessarily uniform in effect.
    A particularly powerful moment was the penalty kick, and more specifically, the sound during the short sequence following the whistle and culminating in the sound of the net. This moment highlights the dramatic nature of the story unfolding during every match in which the “capacity to embody the cardinal values that shape modern societies…Its deep structure represents the uncertain fate of man in the world today.” Penalties are often dreaded by many fans due to their chaotic nature, it is the feeling of losing control and not knowing the outcome that torments the players and the audience. This is derived not only from the kick itself but the buildup and perceived validity of the call in the first place. The element of uncertainty is evident in the sounds that can be heard during this event, whistling, jeering, a momentary silence before the eruption and relapse of these and other more discrete sounds dependent on the location of the spectator.
    Collective consciousness, as described by Bromberger, is a key element in the identity of a team and this principle is very discernible in the film. Zidane embodies Real Madrid, the calmness of his actions, particularly when he dribbles, the elegance in his touches and the confidence displayed even when coming back from a deficit are what most would associate with the badge on his shirt. The author writes that this idea expands to conduct on the field, style of play and virtually every action that the player, and fans, take during the spectacle. In some ways, the stereotype of the club almost becomes an expectation, a mantra that the player must abide by.

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  12. Ian Roughen

    The crowd at games are one of the most interesting aspects of the theatre of soccer. They react full of emotion to what happens on the field. They react in unison with disgust and adoration towards opponents and their own team. According to the Bromberger, The crowds “are certainly anonymous hordes for whom communal fervor and the joy of being united together against the opposition”. This is made clear in the Zidane documentary, where we do consistently hear the crowd in unison but we often have moments with silence or a ringing. When these moments are replaced by the crowd, it is fascinating because you can truly hear the individual sounds of crowd members, as you see them screaming behind Zidane. These anonymous hordes bring their individual experiences and goals to the stadium and are an integral part of the game. Bromberger tells us that soccer embodies core values of humans and that is the reason for the passion it elicits from these fans. The fans give their individual passion to the game in the hopes that this will lead to the success of their team. Something that is spectacular about sport is that it makes these passions acceptable and gives fans the opportunity to be completely vulnerable with their emotions in such a large crowd. It is the group setting that makes this possible, and vulnerability rarely occurs in this kind of setting. Crowds are truly special and I think that facet of soccer is incredibly interesting.

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  13. Julia C

    In “Football as World-View and as Ritual” Bromberger provides evidence that football matches are like ritual ceremonies in that there is a sense of solemnity throughout both. The serious environment that surrounds each player during a football match is captured in the film Zidane: A 21st-Century Portrait. The eerie music and Zidane’s stoic expression are reflective of intense nature of the game. However, Bromberger points out that, unlike occurrences in ritual ceremonies, long periods of uneventful intensity are contrasted against short bursts of drama and excitement. Bromberger explains this in mentioning that “transcendence appears only hazily, and on the fringes; the sacred and its figures are only called upon in a metonymic or hyperbolic way.” This phenomena is perfectly exemplified in the film, specifically when Zidane comes alive to provide a dynamic run and brilliant assist. Leading up to that point in the match, Zidane had not seen much of the ball nor had he produced anything to be considered spectacular. Bromberger argues that this aspect of football, the knowledge that there are unexpected and extraordinary moments that will be buried throughout monotony is one of the sport’s main attractions.

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  14. Henry Soule

    Christian Bromberger’s article Football as world-view and as ritual takes a broad view of the sport by laying out football’s ability to describe so many different human processes and emotions. Coupled with a movie that focuses in on just one player, we are provided here simultaneously with the most overarching and microscopic views of the game. Even despite the apparent disconnect between the focus of each piece, the film gives us incredibly intimate glimpses of how what Bromberger describes in a very general sense manifests itself through an actual game being played.

    Near the beginning of this article, Bromberger introduces the idea of football as emblematic of the values of society. He says “It seems to me, on the basis of supporters’ comments, that if football fascinates people, it is due first and foremost to its capacity to embody the cardinal values that shape modern societies” (296). While this theory could be applied to any number of moments from the film, to me the most salient example was when Zidane was sent off for involving himself in a scuffle following a coming together between a Madrid and Villareal player. A key aspect of modern societies is the presence of a judicial system which is tasked with interpreting and applying the law. If someone breaks the law they are punished accordingly, but with every decision comes interpretation by both the judges and general public. In the case of Zidane’s clash, I’m sure there were arguments among Madrid supporters afterward about how he shouldn’t have been sent off, but according to the official the offense merited a red card and dismissal from the game. This process of infraction of the law followed by punishment from an official then discussion among the public is integral to the game of football and also to the functioning of society.

    A second quote which struck me from the reading is as follows: “Thus, style is part of a collective imaginary, not so much in the way in which the men live and the players play, but in the manner in which it pleases them to recount their way of life and the playing style of the team” (303). In the case of Zidane, this assertion becomes slightly more complex because we must take into account that he represents three different groups of people while he is playing in the Real Madrid shirt. At once, he is a symbol for France, Algeria, and Madrid, making his actions on the pitch open to different interpretations by each respective party. A French fan may point to his economy of motion on the field as representative of the manner in which he himself lives, while a Madrid fan may see his deft flicks and touches as a reminder of the smooth element of the Spanish game and lifestyle, and finally an Algerian may see his perseverance on the pitch as symbolic of a national struggle for independence.

    However, as mentioned a few times in Bomberger’s article, football is of course a team sport and the actions of one player are but part of a bigger picture. So a player’s style has to mesh well with that of his ten other teammates in order for the team to develop a collective identity. Although from the unitary focus of the film it was difficult to get a grasp of the style of play of Zidane’s teammates, we can deduce based on his effortless link-up play with teammates that more than just fitting in, he drove the identity of the team. For the vast majority of the film, Zidane is off the ball and even appears alone on the pitch, but as soon as the ball is passed into him he turns from stationary into attacking instantly, and is able to find a teammate in a more dangerous position each time.

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  15. Armin Ameri

    Admittedly, I’m largely unfamiliar with soccer and the culture surrounding the sport. However, through reading the Bromberger article and watching Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait, I was given two different perspectives on the game that at times complement and at other times conflict with one another.

    Both the film and article demonstrate the collective mindset of soccer fans. Bromberger writes that “every match between rival towns, regions and countries takes the form of a ritualized war, complete with anthems, military fanfares and banners wielded by fans…”; this is seen throughout the film. As we watch Zidane slow his pace or catch his breath, the fans in the audience are always active, crafting a white noise that is always heard throughout the stadium. They scream, sing local chants promoting their club, or boo at calls they disagreed with. Unlike in other sports like basketball and football, these soccer matches never seem to experience lulls in the cheers, as the clock never stops and the game runs continuously (except for halftime). As such, there’s always a sense of presence and urgency, that something is happening even if it’s not, and the screams of the fans never cease. Bromberger writes that the zeal of each fan is tied to their sense of nationalism and identity, that the team they associate with very directly ties to their sense of self. “If the supporters identify so intensely with their city’s, their factory’s or their nation’s teams, it is because these teams are perceived, through their playing styles, as symbols of a specific mode of collective existence…” (303). Each local sees themselves in the game and in their team, and this ties them to the fans around them and their city. And while it wasn’t as apparent in the film, the chants and anthems of the audience reflect their sense of local identity.

    One of the interesting points touched on in the film and article was the concept of escapism in soccer. Bromberger describes a match as a religious experience for the fans, writing “the ‘faithful’ express their excitement, punctuating the actions on the pitch with words, chants and gestures, all of them codified. Their particular way of dressing, and the accessories they exhibit and make use of (outfits, scarves, drums, rattles, banner etc.) contribute to this metamorphosis of appearance and behavior, characteristic of ritual time” (307). Whereas the fans are experiencing a degree of collective effervescence, all cheering for the same team and being lost in the occasion of the sport, the players themselves are not necessarily experiencing the same feelings. Zidane himself is rarely smiling or playing the game, instead pacing himself and walking throughout the match. It looks almost like a somber occasion for him, as though the celebration around him is distant and as if his thoughts are elsewhere. Even when his team scores a goal, he is not shown celebrating much, instead opting to just carry on with the game. To highlight Zidane’s isolation, the directors insert quotes of his where he comments that he can hear through the veil of sound, instead hearing individual fans screaming and coughing, noting that he very well could hear the seconds tick by. Furthermore, the directors insert footage of pressing current events occurring around the same time as the match: acts of terrorism, famine, and general hardship are happening concurrently with this occasion. And while the fans may well feel distance from these events, instead feeling lost in the game, Zidane doesn’t exhibit that same sense of distance. It’s almost as though he is entirely outside the bounds of the occasion, as though the significance of the event is entirely lost on him. The escapism of soccer is not felt by all, as the players have an entirely different perspective on the sport.

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  16. Joshua Landsberg

    Over this past week, I was able to read Bromberger’s piece, “Football as a World-View and as Ritual, and watch the film, “Zidane: A 21st-Century Portrait.” I think that one of the most fascinating elements of soccer is its ability to take on so many meanings, all at once. As we discussed in class, the game itself has multiple subplots already built into each game, and can be interpreted in many different ways. I think that the themes from both the film and the article encapsulate this idea. For example, I really appreciated Bromberger’s thesis, which relates to how soccer can really contribute a large role to constructing a collective identity of either a city, region or country. Specifically, he contrasts the styles of two Italian clubs, Napoli and Juventus. Napoli, located in Southern Italy, is known for their attacking style, and positive play. Conversely, Juventus as a club are known for not only their historical success, but also their defensive tactics. I found this particular aspect of the reading to be noteworthy because while I studied abroad in Italy, it was clear to me that the north and the south were definitely very different in many ways. However, it was really awesome to be able to read about how soccer has contributed to the collective identity of those two localities.

    As for the film, I thought it was awesome that the entire film is focused on Zidane. His movements, both on and off the ball, and his interactions with the other players throughout the game. For me, I have been watching European soccer for years, but this was the most unique viewing experience. I felt like in a way, I was allowed now, to view the game through his lens, rather than from mine as a fan. By the end of the film, I felt a personal connection to Zidane, and by the time that he gets sent off, I felt a bit bad about it, as I’m sure Zidane did as well. I was also thinking about how the Real Madrid supporters that came to watch that game, did not view that game in the same way that viewers of the film did.

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  17. Ramon Arza

    Bromberger’s “Football as world-view and as a ritual” is ultimately about the paradoxical nature of the sport. In some ways this is mirrored by the film, which depicts a unit, the Real Madrid, through the lens of one player Zinedine Zidane. The camera is centered around one object and through this actor a story is told- we see the protagonist with sweat dripping down his forehead, the agility of his foot as he strikes the ball, and often the sound dissipates allowing the audience to hear his gasping breath accompanied by an inner dialogue; his team, the opposition and the fans are very much present and its is these layers that make a seemingly simple event take on a deeper meaning and a ritualistic character- the inter and intra-specific interactions between these different layers are ever-present and are not necessarily uniform in effect.
    A particularly powerful moment was the penalty kick, and more specifically, the sound during the short sequence following the whistle and culminating in the sound of the net. This moment highlights the dramatic nature of the story unfolding during every match in which the “capacity to embody the cardinal values that shape modern societies…Its deep structure represents the uncertain fate of man in the world today.” Penalties are often dreaded by many fans due to their chaotic nature, it is the feeling of losing control and not knowing the outcome that torments the players and the audience. This is derived not only from the kick itself but the buildup and perceived validity of the call in the first place. The element of uncertainty is evident in the sounds that can be heard during this event, whistling, jeering, a momentary silence before the eruption and relapse of these and other more discrete sounds dependent on the location of the spectator.
    Collective consciousness, as described by Bromberger, is a key element in the identity of a team and this principle is very discernible in the film. Zidane embodies Real Madrid, the calmness of his actions, particularly when he dribbles, the elegance in his touches and the confidence displayed even when coming back from a deficit are what most would associate with the badge on his shirt. The author writes that this idea expands to conduct on the field, style of play and virtually every action that the player, and fans, take during the spectacle. In some ways, the stereotype of the club almost becomes an expectation, a mantra that the player must abide by.

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  18. BJ James IV

    The two works considered this week show an incredible dichotomy between the experience of an individual player and the cultural collective that surrounds soccer, giving a holistic view of the game and its many layers. Christian Bromberger’s piece “Football as world-view and as ritual” demonstrates the manners in which the culture of soccer interacts with individuals and groups. His piece focuses on the rituals and understandings that surround the sport from the perspective of fans and communities. The film “Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait” instead focuses in on the individual. One player, their movement, emotion, and intent throughout a single match. Several clips throughout the film evoke an understanding that single moments or matches reside within a grander history of the sport, but also validates that the game comes down to individual moments and players.

    Much is said about soccer being a game of chance, and the disproportionate effect it can have on outcomes. Bromberger states that “The spectre of chance… hangs over these sporting encounters, reminding us with brutal honesty that merit alone is not always enough to get ahead.” While chance does play a role in determining these events, its role is more nuanced that saying merit alone is not enough to get ahead. To an onlooker a vital change in the nature of a match may seem to result from dumb chance, but the portrayal of Zidane in the film makes a counter-argument to this claim. For the entirety of the game Zizou never stops moving. He never stops adjusting his position, aiming to give himself and his team the best chance to make an important play. This can be seen during the build up to Real Madrid’s first goal, assisted by Zidane. The play begins with a throw-in for Villarreal that Zidane contests. The ball quickly moves down field away from him, but he begins to drift inside as his teams vies to win back possession. Once Real have the ball they make a break forward, Zidane begins pulling out wide immediately creating space for himself and his teammates, as the ball advances up field Zidane has a little more purpose and urgency in his movements until he collects it wide, with time and space. It is this time and space created by his movement that have turned this “chance” into an opportunity to streak down the sideline past out of position defenders to deliver a cross across the face of the goal.

    While “the special place occupied by uncertainty and chance” is most evident to onlookers, those on the field involved in the most basic aspects of the game must account for this chance. By maneuvering the way they do, they are ensuring that they are best capable of capitalizing on opportunities that present themselves. It is through this work, merit, which allows teams to get ahead. Luck itself not enough to change the balance of the game, instead it is those who are prepared who can capitalize. While Bromberger is correct in mentioning the impact of chance on the game, it is still merit that puts some ahead of others, as merit can create chance.

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  19. Alex Bajana

    Zidane is one of the greatest players that the game of football has ever had. He is also one of the toughest players in history. One can only imagine what growing up in the housing projects on the outskirts of Marseille must have been like. One must grow up fast to compete with the older kids in the courtyard and that can still be seen in the documentary film Zidane. Throughout the match against FC Villareal, the Madrid midfielder utters only a couple of words from calling for the ball to chastising the referee for a penalty call. Even when Zidane delivers a beautiful cross that results in a goal, he does not celebrate but merely walks over and high fives the other players. And yet despite his lack of showmanship, the Real Madrid fans love him. They give him a standing ovation when he is sent off the pitch for getting in a fight with one of the Villareal players. It is not until one reads Christian Bromberger’s Football as a world-view and as a ritual that Zidane’s admiration by the Madrid fans is better explained. As Bromberger says “The popularity of sport lies in its ability to embody the ideals of democratic societies…that status is not conferred at birth, but is won in the course of a lifetime.” Seeing players rise from humble beginnings does more than giving the fans a cool story, it gives them hope. Hope that you can always improve yourself and that a situation does not define a person; their actions do.
    Zidane’s expulsion from the game is also explained in Bromberger’s article. The player that Zidane began to fight with did not attack Zidane. The Villareal player fouled another Madrid player and it was Zidane who rushed in and began to grab and yell at Villareal player. Zidane could have easily stayed back and wait for the referee to handle the situation. But it is clear that Zidane saw one of his teammates, a family member for all intents and purposes, being attacked and it is this sense of identity that Bromberger explains in the article. Football clearly changes people’s perception and creates a “them” vs “us” mentality. Football is where fans and players come together to fight for pride and honor and it is this in this fight where players like Zidane can often get caught up and lash out. Bromberger states it best, “A football stadium is one of those rare spaces where collective emotions are unleashed.”

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  20. Qusai Hussain

    The dichotomous, yet parallel, aspects of Christian Bromberger’s piece about “Football as World-View and as Ritual” and Douglas Gordon and Phillipe Parreno’s 2006 film Zidane: A 21st-Century Portrait made both pieces quite interesting to read and view together. Bromberger mentions the collective aspects of football many times in his work. He writes, “football competitions, therefore, display another law of modern life: the complex interdependence of individual and collective destinies on the road to happiness.” At one point he also compares the “collective”-ness of football as rooted from the industrial world, which rose from collective planning and the division of labor. Similarly, Zidane demonstrated many collective aspects of football. During the game, Zidane cumulatively had the ball for a very short amount of time, likely not spanning more than a few minutes. As someone who does not watch soccer but knows star soccer players, I was surprised to find this to be the case. As a strong basketball fan, typically the star players possess the ball quite often—highlighting the more individualistic aspect of the sport as opposed to soccer.

    Bromberger highlights that football “celebrates merit, performance and competition among equals; in stark and brutal fashion, it points up the uncertainty and changing nature of individual and collective status.” Regardless of socioeconomic background, football serves as a reset, where players can only climb based on their skill level. In the film, for the majority of the game, Zidane spends his time in solitude and quiet, yet everyone knows he is the most important player on the pitch. Similar to players, when fans enter the stadium, their immigration status, income, social status are all reset and forgotten. They all become equal, celebrating the same team—only evaluated based on their level of excitement.

    As Bromberger states, there is a “discrepancy between the futility of a game and the intensity of the passions it arouses.” In the film, another similar dichotomy can be drawn between the intensity of fans, who are constantly roaring throughout the game, and the intense concentration of Zidane, who rarely leaves the ball out of his site. Some of my most favorite parts of the film are when Zidane finally receives the ball and moves it past many players, using small tricks, until he very soon passes it to other players. Those short and simple moments often raise the most excitement from the crowd.

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  21. Christopher Kleypas

    I thought that the dialogue between Bromberger’s article, “Football as World-View and as Ritual,” and the film Zidane: A 21st-Century Portrait was quite interesting, whereas the film provides a clear avenue to interpret the game as the ritual according to Bromberger.

    Bromberger mentions that the game of soccer fascinates us because it employs “uncertainty and chance.” Gordon and Parreno’s film certainly highlight on the uncertainty and chance of the game — through the lens of just a single player, it becomes much more difficult to anticipate what is going to happen next in the game. Similarly, Zidane’s actions during the game are largely a result of chance, as his movements and actions are dependent on the movement of the ball, and a number of variables. Moreover, the film creates an atmosphere of uncertainty and chance with its suspenseful score.

    In comparing soccer as a form of ritual, Bromberger states that “as well as individual performance, it need not be stressed that football values teamwork, solidarity, division of labor, and collective planning.” Gordon and Parreno’s film captures this with the struggle between foreground and background. The individual performance — Zidane — is clearly the subject of the film, highlighting how one icon plays his role during a game. But we are constantly reminded of the collective through the background, that is, shots that pan out to reveal both teams playing across the entire pitch, the unified chants and jeers of the crowd, and interactions during stoppage of play.

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  22. Kevin Winiarski

    An aspect of football that is captured well in both Bromberger’s article and the Zidane film is the idea that when football games occur, the players on the field are simply going about their jobs as normal citizens do. Besides the fight that breaks out in the 83rd minute, the film depicts a seemingly pedestrian game between Real Madrid and Villarreal. What is more, because the film just shows the actions of Zidane and accentuates the idea that one player is insignificant to the overall game itself, one could draw the connection that Zidane is just a normal employee of the team going about his everyday duties. In other words, Zidane is a cog in the Real Madrid machine, similar to an employee of a large corporation who does their small part to contribute to the company’s efforts. Despite Zidane’s brilliance as a player, the film almost seems boring just because of how pedestrian and normal it is. This also connects to the idea of football as a ‘ritual’ in the sense that Zidane is doing the things that he more or less does everyday. Zidane’s performance is relatively unremarkable and similar to many other games he has played. This shows that football is ritualistic in the sense that the same sorts of things happen every game that it is played. Though Bromberger points out that football games are decided based on a “mixture of merit and luck,” which obviously varies every game to some degree, the Zidane film shows that the actions of players and the course of the game (with the exception of the fight) are in essence the same every time that footballers step out onto the field. Overall, both pieces from this week demonstrate that Zinedine Zidane as well as other professional footballers are akin to everyday citizens in that they go to their jobs and make small efforts to contribute towards the greater efforts of their employer.

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  23. Matthew Farrell

    Two main thoughts from the Bromberger’s, Football as World-View and as Ritual, and the 2006 film, Zidane: A 21st-Century Portrait. First, the film strongly supports Bromberger’s argument that football is a fluid and contradictory process and therefore defies any single reductive interpretation. Too often, football is viewed as an escape, for players and spectators alike. Football, these reductive proponents add, transports us to a new world, an almost perfect one, where the harsh realities of everyday life are forgotten and instead replaced with either pure adrenaline that comes from raw competition or comradery that comes from raucous watch parties and fan sections. However, Bromberger argues that this reduction of football as a mere fantasy, a coping mechanism in essence, reduces football’s real power of so called deep play, or a “philosophical dramatic tale” that produces emotions and enacts fundamental values of contemporary life. In the film, Zidane: A 21st-Century Portrait, one sees this not in the climax of the goals or the red cards, but instead in the monotony and everyday moments.

    It has never occurred to me personally to watch a soccer player’s feet. Of course, I might jeer a bad touch or praise a good one, but I had never given thought to the actual physical limb that most often deals with the ball. However, the film doesn’t only depict Zidane’s feet as he possesses the ball, but actually mainly depicts them when he in fact doesn’t have the ball. Bromberger’s argument is played out beautifully here in the minutiae in which Zidane’s feet are shown in moments when he does not have the ball. These moments can be seen as symbolic of the everyday, the monotonous moments that most people don’t give a second thought to. This is in essence a part of the concept of deep play, whereby viewers of the game see reflections of their own life, the minutiae and all. The cameras depict these moments with scary persistence. One sees Zidane’s black and red Adidas boots with a magnified view that typical viewing angles never show. In fact, the film magnifies the boots so much that they are relatively blurred out, giving the effect of seeing through the cleats. Cleats are an essential part of any footballer’s kit, and yet the film intentionally flashes to them for a second and then blurs them out. This reinforces Bromberger’s point about deep play, where human beings frequently look past (blur out) the essential and yet seemingly unimportant everyday events they experience. Furthermore, one sees this again when Zidane fixes a divot that a player had left on the pitch. While watching a normal football match, one really never sees such an innocuous moment. However, the film makers perfectly capture the true, everyday work environment and tasks that a professional footballer undertakes and thus enact a sort of fundamental everyday life.

    My second thought is the connection between Bromberger’s thoughts on the inherent luck involved in soccer’s play, and Zidane’s apparent vision about scoring. Bromberger writes, “the spectre of chance, which is rarely conceptualized as probability, and from which emerges a sense of destiny, hangs over these sporting events…”. This nicely corresponds to Zidane’s supposed vision that he had during a game. The movie documents Zidane retelling, “I remember playing in another place, at another time, when something amazing happened. Someone passed the ball to me, and before even touching it, I knew exactly what was going to happen. I knew I was going to score. It was the first and last time it ever happened.” What is the theoretical chance that these two, seemingly independent events of him having this vision and then actually scoring a goal would happen? I do not know for certain, but as Bromberger states, in soccer, probability is not often conceptualized. Instead what is conceptualized is destiny. Some would argue that this Jungian synchronicity that Zidane experiences is simply a precursor that Zidane is destined to score. The interplay between rational probability and the more fanciful destiny that Bromberger proposes was something I found fascinating.

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  24. Alex Bajana

    Zidane is one of the greatest players that the game of football has ever had. He is also one of the toughest players in history. One can only imagine what growing up in the housing projects on the outskirts of Marseille must have been like. One must grow up fast to compete with the older kids in the courtyard and that can still be seen in the documentary film Zidane. Throughout the match against FC Villareal, the Madrid midfielder utters only a couple of words from calling for the ball to chastising the referee for a penalty call. Even when Zidane delivers a beautiful cross that results in a goal, he does not celebrate but merely walks over and high fives the other players. And yet despite his lack of showmanship, the Real Madrid fans love him. They give him a standing ovation when he is sent off the pitch for getting in a fight with one of the Villareal players. It is not until one reads Christian Bromberger’s Football as a world-view and as a ritual that Zidane’s admiration by the Madrid fans is better explained. As Bromberger says “The popularity of sport lies in its ability to embody the ideals of democratic societies…that status is not conferred at birth, but is won in the course of a lifetime.” Seeing players rise from humble beginnings does more than giving the fans a cool story, it gives them hope. Hope that you can always improve yourself and that a situation does not define a person; their actions do.
    Zidane’s expulsion from the game is also explained in Bromberger’s article. The player that Zidane began to fight with did not attack Zidane. The Villareal player fouled another Madrid player and it was Zidane who rushed in and began to grab and yell at Villareal player. Zidane could have easily stayed back and wait for the referee to handle the situation. But it is clear that Zidane saw one of his teammates, a family member for all intents and purposes, being attacked and it is this sense of identity that Bromberger explains in the article. Football clearly changes people’s perception and creates a “them” vs “us” mentality. Football is where fans and players come together to fight for pride and honor and it is this in this fight where players like Zidane can often get caught up and lash out. Bromberger states it best, “A football stadium is one of those rare spaces where collective emotions are unleashed.”

    Reply
  25. Chris Kleypas

    I thought that the dialogue between Bromberger’s article, “Football as World-View and as Ritual,” and the film Zidane: A 21st-Century Portrait was quite interesting, whereas the film provides a clear avenue to interpret the game as the ritual according to Bromberger.

    Bromberger mentions that the game of soccer fascinates us because it employs “uncertainty and chance.” Gordon and Parreno’s film certainly highlight on the uncertainty and chance of the game — through the lens of just a single player, it becomes much more difficult to anticipate what is going to happen next in the game. Similarly, Zidane’s actions during the game are largely a result of chance, as his movements and actions are dependent on the movement of the ball, and a wide range of variables. Moreover, the film creates an atmosphere of uncertainty and chance with its suspenseful score.

    In comparing soccer as a form of ritual, Bromberger states that “as well as individual performance, it need not be stressed that football values teamwork, solidarity, division of labor, and collective planning.” Gordon and Parreno’s film captures this with the struggle between foreground and background. The individual performance — Zidane — is clearly the subject of the film, highlighting how one icon plays his role during a game. But we are constantly reminded of the collective through the background, that is, shots that pan out to reveal both teams playing across the entire pitch, the unified chants and jeers of the crowd, and interactions during stoppage of play.

    Reply
  26. Chris Kleypas

    I thought that the dialogue between Bromberger’s article, “Football as World-View and as Ritual,” and the film Zidane: A 21st-Century Portrait was quite interesting, whereas the film provides a clear avenue to interpret the game as the ritual according to Bromberger.

    Bromberger mentions that the game of soccer fascinates us because it employs “uncertainty and chance.” Gordon and Parreno’s film certainly highlight on the uncertainty and chance of the game — through the lens of just a single player, it becomes much more difficult to anticipate what is going to happen next in the game. Similarly, Zidane’s actions during the game are largely a result of chance, as his movements and actions are dependent on the movement of the ball, and a wide range of variables. Moreover, the film creates an atmosphere of uncertainty and chance with its suspenseful score.

    In comparing soccer as a form of ritual, Bromberger states that “as well as individual performance, it need not be stressed that football values teamwork, solidarity, division of labor, and collective planning.” Gordon and Parreno’s film captures this with the struggle between foreground and background. The individual performance — Zidane — is clearly the subject of the film, highlighting how one icon plays his role during a game. But we are constantly reminded of the collective through the background, that is, shots that pan out to reveal both teams playing across the entire pitch, the unified chants and jeers of the crowd, and interactions between other players and the referees during stoppage of play.

    Reply
  27. Mark Birmingham

    It was interesting to see how this week’s discussion articles described football through two completely different perspectives. Bromberger’s reading focused on how football brought people together through a ceremonial ritual that is shared within the football fan community. While the Zidane film, focusing on just one player, explained how football can be spent waiting for the one game changing moment that may never come. The video said it best, “Magic is sometimes very close to nothing at all”. The sad reality that sometimes there is no magic goal for a team in a football match made me change the way I think about the game. I found it very fascinating how the player, Zidane, spends the whole game staying in a ready position so he will be ready to take the opportunity to score or assist a goal.

    Bromberger made a point that on the pitch you can be another version of yourself. On the pitch you will do things you may not have done if you were in public. I found this to be extremely interesting since I saw an example if it in the Zidane film. During the closing of the film, there seems to be a small brawl between the two teams. At this time, Zidane run over to protect his teammates and in the process knocks down an opposing player and put his hand to the throat of another. His actions resulted in a red card and he was ejected from the game. However, I believe this moment was one of the movements where Zidane was being someone on the pitch who he his not off the pitch. In anger, he showed dominance over another player by putting his hand to his throat, but in the real world I think Zidane is a gentleman. The same can be said about Zidane when he struck another player with his head and was given a red card. To my knowledge Zidane has no criminal history, meaning the player changes egos on the pitch which relates to Bromberger’s claims.

    In another thought, at the time of the film Zidane was finishing her career in Spain. Bromberger’s article speaks on the increasing number of foreign players in Marseilles which contributed to the symbol of different communities in city. Zidane is an example of this in Real Madrid. Despite the team being in Spain, Zidane is a foreign player on the team. Bromberger claims how foreign player on a team will likely bring foreign fans to game, which creates a true community of integration. At the end of the film when Zidane makes he was to the sideline, the camera pans up at all the cheering fans. It would be wrong to think there wasn’t at least a few frenchmen in the stands cheering on their fellow countrymen.

    Another point from Bromberger’s reading was how footballers treat the field as a ritual. He said they don’t warm up or practice on the field, only inspect the field in their suits as a team. This point was especially interesting to me because of the holiness the field possesses. Being an athlete myself at Duke, I can say that my team does this as well. We never walk on the game field as we pass it to go to the practice field, walking on the game field is bad luck. There is only one day the game field gets use, during the game! The sanctity of the pitch is real, and it’s important the keep its integrity at all times to insure you are giving your team the best chances to win the game.

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  28. Richard Asfour

    I found the combination of this week’s discussion articles to be very interesting. Bromberger’s ‘Football as world-view and a ritual’ looks at the meaning of football from a macro perspective, focusing generally on large groups such as leagues, fan bases and clubs in an effort to understand the obsession for the game. Quite contrastingly, Zidane a 21st Century Portrait focuses on a much more micro aspect, a single player’s actions in a single game. Despite this stark difference, the film provides a number of examples that underline points made in Bromberger’s article.

    One of the main arguments running through Bromberger’s article is how “a football match is akin to a sacred ceremony”. This ritualistic nature of football can also be seen in the film, when Zidane recalls running to the television and almost gluing himself to it whenever he heard the voice of commentator Pierre Cangioni. Zidane’s is just one story of many highlighting not only the effect football has on people, but also how football created a ritual for young Zidane. Nowadays, football fans around the globe go through their own rituals and superstitions on matchday in hopes of helping their team win.

    In his article, Bromberger further makes an interesting point of a ‘communion of minds’ of fans supporting their club. With this aspect, strangers living completely different lives and from a wide variety of backgrounds come together with a shared passion of football, thus creating a sense of, what Bromberger terms, communitas. This ‘communion of minds’ and feeling of communitas is ever present in the film, with many of the scenes filled with cheers or shouts of disbelief seemingly in unison. One of my favourite moments of the film exemplifying this idea comes just before a Zidane free kick, where a shot shows all the players in the box with a large group of fans behind them clapping their hands above their heads as if it was almost choreographed. To these fans, at that moment in time, the only thing that matters is football.

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  29. Patrick Donley

    I found it interesting that Football as a world-view and as ritual highlighted the way that football serves to bring people together, while Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait demonstrated how lonely a football game is for the players. In Football as a world-view and as ritual, Bromberger comments that football matches lead to “embracing unknown fellow supporters, hearty chats with the first person one meets.” In personal experiences, I have found this to be true. Over winter break, I attended a Liverpool game at Anfield, and while I had limited knowledge of the team before and did not consider myself a supporter, I felt like I had been adopted as a fellow fan before the game even started. The man sitting next to me was eager to tell me the inside scoop on different players and keep me updated about intricacies of the game, and he was quick to embrace me when Shaqiri scored the go-ahead goal. However, as we learned through Zidane, the game seems to have the opposite effect on the players. With 22 players spread out over such a huge field, players rarely come into close contact with their teammates and rarely even see the ball. Up until the fight that breaks out in the 83rd minute of the movie, Zidane spends almost the whole film alone in the frame and says very few words to anyone. The film’s eerie background music and lack of commentary highlight the loneliness that players feel on the field by making even the viewer feel lonely just watching it. Zidane’s lashing out, at both the Villarreal players and his teammates, almost feels like the result of his isolation on the field, as if the overwhelming loneliness throughout the game finally got to him and caused his violence. It is interesting that football games can have opposite effects on the fans and the players. As I experienced and as Bromberger points out, football fans come together during the game but then “briskly revent to being a stranger… as soon as the final whistle blows.” Conversely, football players are constantly together and act like a family, with the one exception being that during the games, they are almost completely isolated from one another.

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