SUPER LEAGUE: FOOTBALL CONFRONDS CAPITALISM
by Howard Green
From a perspective, the mobilization of football supporters is something that is wasted in the way of social progress. Often, individuals sacrifice their money and a large part of their free time to follow their football club, or just to participate in the general activity of football. If this kind of frequency and mass mobilization was done in the name of protest and justice, we would probably see a greater change in our society. But since the initial announcement of the separatist European Super League, the opinions of the most loyal football fans are not taken into account. A powerful elite is changing audiences, and in many ways football fans need to say what it is: simple capitalism.
The audience for elite English football and other European football has changed dramatically from local to global, from inside the stadium to outside the country. The relationship between clubs and their owners has also changed immeasurably, as the billionaires who run elite clubs have only an economic stake in its success and stability. Both of these factors have unquestionably contributed to the Super League’s muted tone proposition.
Typically, an anti-capitalist agenda is rarely patronized by football fans, and their lack of opposition to the greed of many wealthy footballers before the crisis leads it. It is probably also true to observe that elite football has been a huge beneficiary of the distinct free trade capitalism that has erupted in Europe since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Football is so commonly referred to as a “ working class sport ” (whatever that really means), and that label somehow justifies much of the elitist nature that has continually slandered and changed the sport itself. Due to its supposed working-class nature, the billions of pounds that are paid in and withdrawn by betting companies and other predatory capitalist agents are then somewhat ignored. If we want to avoid again a crisis in the world of football like this, is it even possible to imagine sport without capitalism ruling it?
To answer the question, we need to assess why people continually attend and watch football games. The condition of the average football fan is very static. Apparently, many will continue to support their favorite club throughout their lifetimes, through the layers. This is because football is for the most part a solid, unbreakable construction. As much as the interest in football remains within the working class, the solid foundations of a stadium, or a field, or the club colors, or just the idea of a club is about as immutable. as many aspects of anyone’s social life, or the political or economic hardships they must endure. Even during the pandemic, elite football in this country never really stopped.
So is football resistant to change? The Super League was always going to face a visceral backlash, but the proposal Changing the format of the UEFA Champions League that coincided with the Super League has also come under heavy criticism, although it does not have an entirely lucrative motive. Other more recent changes, such as VAR, have been meet with controversy and anger that still has not given way.
One change that embodies the entire relationship between elite football and capitalist free market “progressions” is the authorized sponsorship space for Premier League clubs. Since sponsors started to appear on soccer jerseys, the length, width and number of sponsors have steadily increased, but gradually. Football may have changed in many ways, but the capitalism that is so now so obviously grafted into the sport is right under the noses of football fans, which in many ways can and has been ignored.
True resistance from fans is usually only encountered when the rules or elements of competition are changed. The proposal for a Super League is, paradoxically, a radical change in the competitive element of football, although it directly coincides with the capitalist interests driving sport as a spectacle. Football needs immediate reform and change, but all the reforms that seem to have been proposed so far have been with the intention of maximizing profits and not really developing the sport.
Football in this country and the rest of Europe is far from perfect. This is in part because the resistance against change is deeply rooted in the conservative stance that many of its officials and fans take. The rules of the game are not allowed to change drastically (although in some cases they probably should as far as the player is concerned. well-being), and the fairness that this country’s football system arguably seeks to promote should not be violated. What is needed, then, to prevent another Super League from happening is to recognize the largely ignored capitalist elements and distinguish between these driving forces and the reasons many still make it to the stadiums. football every week.
It would be difficult to conclude that in some respects football fans hold a greater revolutionary capacity (despite the scenes seen at Old Trafford during Man United’s game against Liverpool), although they certainly have a much deeper understanding of the value of football, at least to them. Football is spoken so romantically among individuals locally and globally, recognizing its value outside of a capitalized, elitist, profit-driven sphere it finds itself in right now. The collapse of the Super League idea showed how fans and the public hold the power to suggest, impose and effect change at a higher level; if it has been possible in this case, why can’t we speak of radical, communal or even state ownership of football in the domains of the possible, severing ties with the capitalist forces which have taken control of the so-called ” beautiful [working class] Thu’?
Featured image CC BY-SA 2.0 Martin abegglen
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