Today I don’t want to discuss budgetary deficits or the WEEE Directive as I feel, like many others, caught up by the collective frenzy of the World Cup. Although I don’t really like football, I have read, over the last couple of weeks, a lot of articles, comments and alternately shared hopes and disappointments. What particularly stood out of this complex literature is the incredibly high political dimension that accompanies this World Cup.
In the particular case of France, the fate of the team has become so political that I started to think of football as a political utopia. Football, as any utopia, reflects our society and can bring out the best and the worst. It is festive, has no skin colour, no social preference, and has an “unbelievable potential to bring us together” to quote Dave Zirin from the Guardian.
But it can also be aggressive, arrogant, and dictated by money. When the French Black-Blanc-Bleur team won the World Cup in 1998, it was celebrated as a success for immigration and integration. Today, after their pathetic collapse, the team is the shame of the country, and many politicians have expressed concern about their country’s reputation on the international scene as well as the way in which the team’s behaviour may influence French youth.
Should French leaders and the media expect so much from a football team? There has been too much politics, too much money, and too much arrogance inside and outside of the team. When taken too seriously, football can become as excessive and disappointing as a perverted utopia. This is what makes football so vibrant and human, but sometimes also unfair and full of disillusions.