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26· Sport

in theworld but this expansion of foot- ball is happening at an unsustainable rate of debt brought about by private owners, (The Glazers have taken £35 million out of Manchester United). The complete lack of transparency clearly enragedGoldblatt as hewent to on to exclaim incredulously that

On a cold, wet, miserable Thursday evening, a lecturewas given inLSE’s Hong Kong Theatre by Professor David Goldblatt about the links tying global sport to global capital- ism. Goldblatt, writer, broadcaster and teacher who has written for everymainstreamBritishmedia out- let for years, has travelled all over the worldwatching sport.He felt that the globalisation of sportmay have given it enormous cultural significance but has also “left it in thrall to capital- ism”.

After Egypt won 2 - 0 the

Egypt Air office in Algierswas ransacked

Goldblatt started his talk with the

Africa Cup ofNations.Last year itwas staged in Angola as a “coming out party” to celebrate the end of their civil war but the competition won’t be remembered for its glittering football (of which there was little) but for the horrendous attack on the Togo team. Goldblatt blames theAngolan govern- ment for staging games in the politi- cally unstable region of Kambinda in the first place. “They knew it would

happen” but it was done to show that “sovereignty of the area lies inAngola” because that’s where a third of An- gola’s oil reserves are. And oil is An-


gola’s chief export; which would explain then why the four new stadi- ums built for the competition were all paid for, designed and built by the Chinese government, a situation ap- pearing in fifteen other African coun- tries not out of the “benevolence of China but to ensure access to the gov- ernment and therefore the oil”. Huge political ideas about liberation, oil, in- frastructure and government were brought to the world stage by “a little footie tournament”. Goldblatt followed this energising

and enlightening opening by dis- cussing the problems inherent in sport and, primarily English football. The Premier League is fast catching up with the NFL to be the biggest league

Portsmouth had reached such a state of affairs that they couldn’t even pay the St JohnAmbulance service at their games through having private owner- ship. Business pervading and pollut- ing sport. TigerWoods, who worth as a brand was at $90million, was “a per- fect product for a capitalist economy: unemotional, imperturbable, success- ful”. He represented “a man with the skills sets for success”with a clear “self mastery of emotions” that leads to good capitalism but bad intimacy is- sues.Accenture sponsored himand he paid them back in dividends but all this has been destroyed by his actions in recent months. His value suddenly plummeted like a capitalist economy can and has done. As Marx said: “all


raises the emotions like sport’

David Goldblatt · 1stMarch 2010


This sporting planet:moneymad?

CharlesWhitting is intrigued by a David Goldblatt lecture arguing that globalised capitalismis taking overmodern sport


that is solidmelts into air”. But does sport offer resistance to

capitalism or is it simply “bread and circuses”, a “vacuous distraction?” One thing it does offer is the opportu- nity for xenophobia and racism. Beita Jerusalem Football Club, a club with very right wing support, offer a star- tling example: the only club in Israel to sing songs praising the assassin dur- ing a minute’s silence for an assassi- nated politician, a club that required 1,000 police with machine guns and APVs with water cannons to cover 4,000 fans at an inconsequential Arhi Nazareth (a largely Arab club) match, a club whose fans support their goalie not for his skills but for his deeplymil- itaristic views on what to do with Palestine. And then there are the riots, the lu-

nacy of the Egypt vAlgeriaWorld Cup Qualifying matches. Before and after the match in Cairo there were fist fights, even between the players. After Egypt won 2 – 0 the Egypt Air office in Algiers was ransacked. At the play- off inKhartoumtherewere 15,000 Su- danese troops; not police, troops at the game, watching out for riots. When Algeria won and reports of riots start- ing flooding into Egypt 2,000 people took action and tried to burn down the Algerian Embassy in Cairo. All over a footballmatch. But Goldblatt had uplifting tales

about the power of sport. In the slums of Nairobi where 250,000 people live on a postal stamp theYouth SportsAs- sociation boasts 25,000 children play- ing football in a “sea of peace and

solidarity.”The league started out giv- ing the children extra points if they clean up certain areas and now it’s an organisation that nurtures libraries, education, entrepreneurs. It housed and fed people after the troubles of 2007. This is sport as a transforming experience but one for good. “Nothing raises the emotions like sport”. And it is these emotions that go be-

yond capitalism. In today’s modern world where people feel alone, “atom- ised” and unable to connect sport gen- erates that “physical solidarity” in our society. Sport has a set of values that

Portsmouth had reached

such a state of affairs that

they couldn’t even pay the St John’s


the market simply cannot colonise. For a start to destroy your rivals like one would in the capitalistmarket de- feats the point of competitive sport. What would Spurs be withoutArsenal andWestHamto fight against? It’s all about the play, the “glorious stupidity of pleasure” and this is something that cannot be bought. The “thick, tangi- ble wall of noise” at a relegation battle between Newcastle and Middles- brough last season was like nothing Goldblatt had experienced before: “You could feel it in your face; and all over a game?” That is what sport can do that iswhatGoldblatt fears is being lost in the pursuit of winning at all costs. “If that was the appeal of foot- ball then why do I still go and support Bristol Rovers every week?” It would seemthat sport is still fighting to keep its innocence.

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Legsy has the legs lads! Watch out RVC, I’mgunna bang in a hat-trick this weekend! Suckers

Why do Arsenal even exist? They’re a bunch of idiots better off in the Olympics diving competition

£10 says UCL 1’swin the ULU Football Division 1

Haha, UCL.What a poor excuse of a university and a sports team. I reckon even SOAS are better! Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28
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