The Global Game is a non-profit, grassroots project sponsored by Fractured Atlas, an artist service organization. The mission of the site is to offer insights into the cultural aspects of world soccer. Anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of the game can follow the stories presented on this site. Instead of discussing events in soccer transfers and the daily activities of players, The Global Game focuses on soccer’s capacity to implement positive changes at the communal and global levels through individual empowerment. Soccer is more than a game, and The Global Game aims to inform its audience of the sport’s infiltration into numerous facets of daily life.
It seeks to utilize “soccer as a second language.” Consequently, soccer is viewed as a vehicle for cultural appreciation and understanding between individuals of varying personal backgrounds. Sources of information include books, cinema, and other media to delve into the deeper cultural significance of soccer as a global phenomenon. Moreover, the site intends to focus on soccer as a game for women and marginalized individuals stemming from stories of the daily lives of normal people. Hence, it does not aim to promote “big soccer”, a game for men. Thus, the goal of The Global Game is to include pieces educating readers about the importance of regarding the importance of soccer shaping cultural practices and social norms.
The website is divided into nine major sections: Arts, Grassroots, History, Language, Media, Podcast, Regions, Teaching Resources, and Women’s Football. Within the Arts, there is an emphasis on soccer documentary films and art exhibits on display in prominent museums. The growth of soccer to an art form depicting aspects of life outside of the soccer pitch is explained in detail. The Grassroots section attempts to contextualize soccer’s value as a tool for community and personal expression through pickup games and youth movements. In many cases, these municipal matches represent an outlet for women and youth in underdeveloped regions. The stories mentioned demonstrate the positive value of soccer within urban locations to strengthen communities centered on sport.
The History portion delves into social practices of different eras and their impact on the game. Events mentioned include Holocaust survivors’ recollections of soccer matches held at Auschwitz concentration camp, United States’ immigrants love for soccer, and the tragic Munich air disaster of 1958 claiming the lives of the Manchester United “Busby Babes” squad. It becomes clear in these articles that soccer is more than a universally admired game. Supplementing this notion, the site discusses personal accounts of soccer in the Languages section and how women have embraced soccer as an opportunity to build awareness for the game in the Women’s Football pieces. In both cases, soccer functions to serve as a means to redefine cultural and social means. For women in particular, soccer is vital for its capacity in nurturing genuine relationships amongst individuals dealing with issues at home or in a professional environment. On the pitch they are united to contest traditional beliefs of sport as a male dominated game. The remaining sections provide additional sources and region specific stories supporting these core philosophies of The Global Game.
There are numerous articles that reveal particularly interesting facets of the global impact of soccer. In the piece, Souls on “The Line”: Guatemala City sex workers turn to futbol for a sense of who they are, John Turnbull discusses the documentary Estrellas de La Línea, a documentary on Guatemala City sex workers forming a soccer team and joining a domestic amateur women’s league in 2004. Once their profession was revealed to league organizers, Estrellas were kicked out of the league and the media took notice of this incident. The team, consisting of players from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua, then began to publicly advocate for women forced into becoming sex workers due to the lack of education and literacy in Guatemala City. Estrellas’s manifesto states “Prostitution is a job like any other.” They believe that they deserve to have a sex workers union defending their right to equality in the spheres of labor and human rights. Additionally, they seek to expose police corruption linked to sexual exploitation of prostitutes, as many women are threatened by police demanding sex in exchange for avoiding prison time or deportation. Their fight is for women’s rights and an alteration of the social function of women in their society. Thus, football is an instrument to address these issues and develop a sense of equality on the pitch.
Another noteworthy article is “Afrika’s tale- saved from the streets to play on the streets,” also by chief editor John Turnbull. Martin Afrika represented South Africa at the 2009 Homeless World Cup in Milan as their 32-year-old captain. The Homeless World Cup is an annual soccer tournament with teams consisting of homeless, ex-convicts, gangsters, and others from over 50 countries. Afrika himself hails from a rough background as he was imprisoned at the age of 11 and shot multiple times as a member of a South African gang. Today, he still has tattoos and scars from his life as a former gang member. To assist individuals like Afrika, the MylifE Foundation attempts to use soccer to pull men away from Cape Town’s gang and drug scene. Through its efforts, MylifE has motivated homeless and excluded individuals to redeem themselves. They have attended classes, pursued jobs, and made their lives productive. Once again, soccer is not just a game for spectatorship. It presents an avenue to change one’s life in a positive direction.
Overall, I enjoyed The Global Game and its emphasis on viewing soccer as a tool for societal benefit and reformation. As a fan of the game, I gained a much greater appreciation for the role of sport in society. Soccer has the capacity to bring numerous overlooked problems in society to light. Therefore, it truly affirms the notion of being a global game universally adored as a platform to highlight social and cultural issues.