The time would have been around 6pm. The final spots of daylight were fading quickly into the surrounding buildings. The sun had been kissing the horizon when we left the guest stadium in Bornos, but that had changed quickly in the bus ride back through the foothills of the Cordilleras Béticas. In the shadow of the Chapín, my two interviewees led me to an innocuous family bar.
It’s raining outside, so I guess I’m not jogging tonight. Perhaps I’ll do some writing instead. But it’s tricky; has there been anything worth writing about in the world of Football recently?
Of course I’m being facetious. The European Super League proposal involving 12 big names in European club Football breaking away from their national Football associations and UEFA entirely that was pitched early last week was so outrageous that it even got people who don’t usually talk about Football talking about Football. Yet as quickly as the idea raised its head, it got shot in the neck by a horde of arrows fired from several million bows disguised as Social Media platforms. So quick, so clear and so vociferous was the public reaction at this concept that one by one the 6 English-based clubs implicated in the cartel (the appropriate name for this posse) all announced their subsequent withdrawal from the league in the matter of days. Now, the concept hangs as limp as a used piñata.
One feature common to many cities across Catalonia is their “Rambla” – a surprisingly complex concept to describe when you stop and think about it. It is little more than a straight road (more or less), usually lined with trees either side that is located relatively centrally in the town in question. A suitable English translation could be something like “avenue” or “promenade”, but it’s a little more complicated than that.
For most people, 2020 has offered little cheer. But the year does mark a noteworthy anniversary for Football fans from one nation that has contributed extensively to the global game. This year citizens from Seville to Santander can celebrate the 100 year anniversary of Spanish international Football.
The big news story in the British Football press right now (besides the loss of one of the most popular figures in the world game) is the return of fans to English stadia. For the first time since early March 2020, up and down the country the top 4 tiers of English league Football will conduct competitive matches in front of a live audience. You might have stumbled across this blog post months or perhaps years down the line and think “what’s all the fuss about?” But right now, the possibility of getting back in to watch the boys seems very exciting. Last week I stumbled across the following image and got an idea for the post you are now reading:
The message “practice what you preach” is more relevant than ever. Social media’s ubiquity has facilitated the growth of a macabre, international market for the superficial and the vapid. The inability of platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Tiktok to accommodate depth in the content posted to them inadvertently promotes the expedient and the striking over the well-researched and the empirical. One negative side-effect of the global social media tsunami is the premium that popular culture places on virtuosity – regardless how selfless or benevolent an “influencer” may actually be away from the filters.
We at FBTG believing in practicing what we preach. Thus, after years of talking critically about fans from Beijing to Buenos Aires via Berlin, we are finally looking in the mirror and being self-critical about “our” Football club.
To my surprise, fans were freely walking back out of the stadium. The vast security team that had so diligently monitored the actions of the crowd inside the ground now seemed entirely ambivalent to their temporary exit. With fifteen minutes to kill, I followed many fans out to find a soft drink. Having completed my purchase from a vendor making his living in the shadow of the stadium named in honour of the city’s proletariat, I turned to face the Beijing Workers’ Stadium and bumped into three young men in identical green t-shirts featuring bold designs. Given the impenetrable language barrier, I made a friendly motion to demonstrate my wish to take a photograph. Their passive demeanour evaporated.
There was a time when we were wondering if we would ever see live professional Football again. The necessary measures put in place to contain the terrifying transnational spread of Covid-19 in spring forced an immediate and indefinite halt to all organised sporting events. Caught between a rock and a hard place, broadcasters and governing sports bodies pursued a wide array of alternatives in order to keep television viewing figures high and to fulfill their contractual obligations, from repeats of classic Football matches to a first ever gaming 24 Hours of Le Mans race in June.