Fascinating Football Fascism

From a link to an article a reader, John, sent me about how fatal violence outside and racist violence inside Italian soccer stadiums mirrors “darker developments in a broader segment of the Italian and indeed the European body politic,” UD was easily able to jump to other similarly appalled analyses of the increasingly unworkable business of putting on a football match in many of the world’s countries (scroll down). Africa, North Africa, South America, the Middle East — ain’t only Europe where the world’s most corruptly run game is also the most violent.  Football, “a sport with a deeply tribal nature and a large captive audience full of disenfranchised working-class males, and thus in many ways the perfect arena for the unscrupulous populist and his macho, nativist fantasies,” has an important “function in the rise of global far-right populism.”

Global football thugs are in some intriguing ways the haredim of Europe:

Their potential for violence is … so strong that pacifying them has been a matter of public order. 

Punishment is as half-hearted as Israel’s efforts to deal with its mobs of violent tribal male ultras – the ultra orthodox – and for the same reason. Violent-Corrupt-People-Is-Us. Absurd moves like making players compete in empty stadiums (there are more and more of these Beckettian theatrics across the globe), allowing only one team’s fans to attend (The Sound of One Side Clapping), or identifying ringleaders and denying them admission to games (guaranteeing violence on the streets — exactly where a nation’s women and children are cowering in an effort to get out of range of fascist gangs) accomplish nothing. Leaders like Victor Urban want it that way. Even as tribes become smaller and smaller (“[S]tadium attendances [in Italy] plummet every year as people decide it’s better to watch games on TV rather than amid the violence and hatred of the terraces. In Serie A, stadiums are less than 60% full…”) their political and social violence, often stoked by governments, intensifies.

‘In light of the scandal, the school, which serves Grades seven through 12, has canceled all “events involving external groups, teams, and public performances” for the rest of 2018 and canceled the rest of the junior football season. The principal and president have both resigned.’

They seem to take things like this more seriously in Canada.

From the same article:

“There’s this really odd dynamic of ‘I really want to belong, I really want to be part of this team… and at the same time, you have to put up with this assault about something very personal, very private, and very scarring in order to prove your worthiness to be a member.”

Liberals, argue Judith Shklar and Richard Rorty, are people who believe that “cruelty is the worst thing we do.” UD agrees; she has always found the very deep, very twisted, very sexual masochism/sadism of this apparently common child’s play baffling and frightening. But UD has to deal with the fact that all over the globe the human race is cutting off clitorises with dirty knives and lacerating anuses with broken broom handles because …

What’s the cliche? Love is stronger than hate?

Nope. Hate – abundantly obviously – is stronger than love.

And not only stronger. Socially acceptable. If Argentine fans hate opposing teams and try to kill them, fine. If Reuben Foster hates his girlfriend and tries to kill her, fine. My beloved country elected a cruel paranoid as its leader; maybe, to reward him for killing our decency along with our institutions, it will reelect him. We like violence, we like hatred, we like cruelty. Liberal is a dirty word.

What international soccer competition has come to: Argentina v. England

And, sure, similar attacks might have happened in the Champions League. Many have already pointed to the obvious example of Liverpool supporters attacking the Manchester City bus. But the big difference is the context, the control around it.

Our security apparatus is better.

On the eve of hosting the G20 summit, Argentina once again shows its true colors.

Violence does love a vacuum, and it don’t get more nihilistic than bloody Buenos Aires football.

[W]hy do people care so much? What is the source of that passion? That, perhaps, is the most uncomfortable question of all. It is commonplace to discuss passion for a football club as an unquestionable good, but how healthy is it, really, for people to tie their self-esteem quite so tightly to the results of a football club?

What does that say for the other institutions from which meaning might be derived?

Can we even call it meaning? Isn’t it just jaw-dripping satisfaction at having eaten one’s enemies?


Hours after yet more absolutely insane soccer violence, G20 leaders arrive in the city for a summit.

The protests, looting and attacks before the Copa Libertadores final came just days before world leaders — including Presidents Trump, Xi and Macron — descend on the capital for the G-20 summit. The violence raises questions about the city’s preparedness to welcome an expected 8,000 visitors this week.

The team owners, the gangs who run the various game-related rackets, the corrupt police, the corrupt armed forces, the corrupt government – all have too much of a stake in the matches to care about corollary damage. And anyway…. Ours, theirs, in the stands, on the field, on the streets…

As any habitual observer of Argentina’s lower leagues – where police escorts are even skinnier and the headlines at national level sparse – can tell you, barely a match goes by without an away club’s vehicle being subjected to such an attack, with the minimum of repercussions.


The sadness of Argentina is that it has yet to disprove VS Naipaul, who in the blistering final pages of “Argentina: The Brothels Behind the Graveyard” seethes with disdain for a country that never grew up from being a colony, that worships idols, believes in magic, exemplifies misogynistic machismo, and will never move past a culture of violence, corruption, and plunder. These sentiments are hardly credible descriptions of Argentina’s past, present, or future, but Naipaul’s anger arises from witnessing cultural attitudes that Argentina still cannot entirely deny. There is still too much paranoia, still a tendency to quickly declare enemies, still an unnecessary level of acrimony on display in political life.


In an entire special section dedicated to the scandal, less than 24 hours after the violence occurred, [a] Nación columnist, Francisco Schiavo, wrote that “this happened right when it should not have happened, with the imminent G20 summit putting the city of Buenos Aires on lockdown. But it happened,” he wrote, “because of who we are as Argentines.”

‘”There are a lot of universities that have a football team, but we are the only team with a university, and really, a comprehensive educational system,” he adds.’

We all knew the saying We want to build a university our football team can be proud of would be literalized someday. But who knew Argentina would get there first?

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