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Super Bowl and a Soup Bowl

Super Bowl and a Soup Bowl

Football is a community distilled product (“You’ll never walk alone” goes the Liverpool F.C. anthem, adopted, against all odds - in the Beatles city, from a Pink Floyd show tune). Football unevenly blends feelings brewed by a collective order civilization which yet reeks of a wriggling culture of conflict. Association football is, among the rest of the team sports, the paragon that can most successfully neutralize societal disaggregation. Unlike theatrical performance (with which it imparts the technical and tactical demands of the plot, the actors getting into a play of mutual relations in which the spectator is merely a “spy”), the soccer performers are participants in a web of mutually shared strategy game rules where the spectator solely intrudes as a spy. The football show will also stand apart from the gigs, say, a pop-rock concert (akin in that they both trigger deep visceral sensations, still distinct where the former lacks the gut feeling usually associated with inward mystery myths, while the latter is a product explicitly delivered to its fans). This game will always generate peculiar reactions. It re-unites there where entropic drives are marked: the football supporters will allow themselves to be drugged with the cause and the strategy of the game, only when they experience this excitement with the punter on the left, right, in front and behind. The football fan will thrive feeding not only on the peers sitting close in the stand but also on the combined energies of the crowd, shouting against opponents, yet strangely aggregated by the empathy for the other team supporters. Go! Go! Go! Boo! 

Well, well, well, it seems I got carried away with this trite ad-hoc sociological analysis of football as a mass psychology phenomenon whose epitome, both on the pitch and in the rows of seats, is actually spawning all these inmost thoughts and primeval emotions. No matter if you play it employing mostly… your hands (in American Football) or your feet (the European variety), football has become an industry in itself, and the very reason behind this, is that it can stir the deepest feelings and can be made to serve to a purpose like no other social phenomenon. The United States have got the NFL: a championship that winds up with the Super Bowl, and which, far from the inter-borough, inter-region or inter-state belligerence in Europe, has culminated several years ago in a little sibling-rivalry episode – specifically John, the elder brother, coaching Baltimore Ravens, has defeated Joe, San Francisco 49ers head, in a multi-million performance, seasoned with an in situ power cut, spicy commercials, Beyoncé’s electric tunes, all in New Orleans which is definitely a rhythm and blues zone. The old continent boasts the UEFA Champions League and Europa League, but it also accommodates the EU which, in its regulatory offensive, couldn’t have left outside its jurisdiction the 3 billion euro market of transfers where, in a flagrant offside position, the market makers are a handful of clubs in affluent circumstances. 

“But most of the big spending is concentrated on a small number of clubs which have the largest revenues or are backed by very wealthy investors” contends a European Commission release. ‘The European social model’ does not accommodate the striking discrepancy between the clubs basking in money and those that do not have access to adequate funds. “Less than 2% of transfer fees filter down to smaller clubs and amateur sport which are essential for developing new talent”. Thus, we witness a major flaw of the football market which risks to rollover this failure indefinitely: why should we keep on investing in Gramps Beckham while in worldwide run-down neighbourhood-spur talents are fizzling out in poverty, subsiding in underfunding or choking with heaps of homework. “The level of redistribution of money in the game, which should compensate for the costs of training and educating young players, is insufficient to allow smaller clubs to develop and to break the strangle-hold that the biggest clubs continue to have on the sport’s competitions”. Indeed, it seems rather strange that some are more equal than the others when it comes to sports, bro! 

After all, this is happening all the time. The transnational corporations can afford to pick and choose the crème de la crème in recruitment without making any contributions to solidarity funds (as the European Commission would like to impose in the case of football) other than their nurturing nurseries, kindergartens, primary, middle and secondary schools, tertiary education, post-graduate and doctoral degrees. “Now that’s downright obnoxious!” The mere fiscal redistribution is never enough, the rich simply have got to pay more than they are doing already to provide for their senior champions and for the juniors ripening in academy teams. Just like the multinationals ought to be financing SME academies on the long road from kids to seniority, ideally indulging them to over-ripen a bit to beat above par in this sulking bearish market. But let us fall from the skies back to playing ball: it looks like the EU is once again hitting below the belt in this wild market where smaller actors like Barking FC can hardly compete with Barcelona CF and Maidenhead United must be way off Manchester United. This foul play is definitely not a matter of sheer luck: in the brave new world of European football that flaunts evenly matched chances, the players are more likely to end up in a draw. Since it doesn’t seem quite right when one team scores a goal and the opposing team evens up, nil then sounds perfect – wishy-washy broth penetrating bang-slap into your belly!

 
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OEconomica No. 1, 2016