Football, exploited by post-democracy

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Written By Maya Cantina

In Germany, there is a strange, symbiotic connection between the country’s political climate and the successes of the German national team. The day of the first World Cup title on July 4, 1954 Many people only half-jokingly regard it as the actual founding date of the Federal Republic. The second home World Cup victory, twenty years later, came late in the economic miracle years and the socio-political liberalization supported by large parts of the country as a result of the 1968 Cultural Revolution.

Winning the title in Rome in July 1990, between the fall of the Berlin Wall and reunification, fitted in perfectly with the national euphoria of these historic months. And finally, in 2014, Germany was the undisputed center of economic and political power in Europe, which was reflected in World Cup title number four. But there were already other sounds mixed with the joy of Brazil’s sporting triumph. According to the constant bluster of the political media establishment, it was not the old Germany that won the title, but rather the new, cosmopolitan, multicultural Germany of Boateng, Khedira and Özil.

Today, ten years later, this framing seems almost innocent in light of the total politicization of all areas of public space. Today, football is fighting the right, climate change, homophobia and racism, promoting vaccinations and diversity and taking a stand against Russia – but not against Islamist attacks by countless football professionals.

“Ideally, sport turns out to be a source of pleasure”

That this political activism was not conducive to the success of the ‘team’ was proven by their early elimination from major tournaments since 2018. In his new book ‘Football was our life’ dHe is a German scholar and passionate football fan, Günter Scholdt the link between commercialization and politicization of the Germans’ favorite sport and also recognizes totalitarian tendencies that go beyond the purely sporting.

What is the function of sports? How far has contemporary sport deviated from this? At the beginning of the book, Scholdt contrasts the ideal image with the current degenerated condition, only to shed more light on this later: “Ideally, sport proves to be a source of pleasure, meets basic physical and mental needs and condenses life. At worst (common nowadays) it merely shows itself as a surrogate of a truly perceived existence, pushes the necessary from the center of attention, offers a glossy façade to the precarious, or undermines civic responsibility by sacrificing itself. to be corrupted. Commercially and in daily politics.” According to Scholdt, sport in general and football in particular has degenerated into an instrument of post-democracy, which no longer allows politically-free spaces, but exposes people to the dominant worldview. 24 hours a day.

The democratic institutions continue to exist pro forma, but are now merely a facade to give the dominant ideology pseudo-legitimacy through elections and parliamentary procedures, the outcomes of which are largely determined in advance. Critics counter that there has never been a sport completely free of politics. Even at the ancient Olympic Games, wealthy patrons with political ambitions tried to gain an advantage by giving donations to athletes.

Günter Scholdt: Football was our life. 488 pages, Manuscriptum-Verlag. Order now from the JF book service

Kimmich could not withstand the pressure of the hate campaign

That is not really wrong, but it ignores the all-encompassing magnitude of the current circumstances, as Scholdt rightly states: “Sport has now simply become a political domain and is subject to its preconditions or the form of speech bubbles. The new thing lies in the penetrance. Because it is the dose that makes the poison.”

Anyone who behaves well within these “framing speech bubbles” receives media plaudits for illustrating values ​​and demonstrating sociopolitical attitudes. Christian Streich, Jürgen Klopp and Leon Goretzka are among the establishment’s favorites precisely because they have never attracted attention for their non-conformist views. On the other hand, different views are mercilessly criticized, as discovered by Joshua Kimmich and tennis star Novak Djokovic, who stated during the pandemic that they did not want to be vaccinated against Corona. Kimmich could not withstand the pressure of the subsequent hate campaign in the media and was vaccinated a little later, as was triumphantly announced.

Djokovic, on the other hand, showed the world what it really means to take a stand, continued to refuse the vaccination and has been winning one title after another ever since. Scholdt takes an in-depth look at the phenomena of anti-racism and LGTBQ, which have formed a powerful alliance with global corporations and donors, leading to the rise of woke capitalism. The success of the progressive ideology that lies behind the keywords diversity, inclusion and equality lies in this combination of economization and moralization of the public space.

Football stabilizes the system

Clubs such as Werder Bremen, St. Pauli, Freiburg and the Volkswagen subsidiary VfL Wolfsburg have fully committed to the rainbow ideology and have decorated their stadiums with the corresponding flags. Bremen and St. Pauli in particular, as clubs that are decidedly critical of capitalism, show that left-wing moral arrogance and millions of profits can apparently harmonize perfectly.

The fact that football at club level is flourishing like never before is testament to the enduring fascination with this sport, the core of which remains intact even in the age of hyper-capitalization. It also shows the individual’s desire for identity and belonging in times of uprooting and globalism. Football channels the warlike potential of a society into somewhat peaceful channels and thus has an internal system stabilizing effect.

The alienation that more and more people feel towards the moral-political excesses of their club team in general and the national team in particular is more than just a home loss, however serious this is for the individual fan. From a societal perspective, we are currently experiencing the destruction of one of the last unifying bonds that still holds us together. It is rightly said that football brings people together.

This is already pure totalitarianism

But millions of people representing positions marked as right-wing are now also in ‘their’ stadium in enemy territory, where they would be banned if they openly supported their political views. This no longer has anything to do with taking a stand; this is already pure totalitarianism.

Scholdt mentions a humorous internet discovery in which someone recommends FC Bayern to have Bayer Leverkusen audited by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution. This method of combating competition is currently popular in politics. In view of the upcoming European Championship in your own country, this sense of humor is highly recommended for every true football fan.

There is a threat of a propaganda event that will overshadow everything that has come before. Tournament director Philipp Lahm has already announced several anti-racism and diversity campaigns. In addition, he will obviously not travel from location to location by helicopter to set an example in the field of sustainability. This book is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the mechanisms behind this continued politicization of sport.


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