“Everything I know about morality and the obligations of men, I owe it to football”
– Albert Camus
Counterattack: In football, a fast counterattack commences with insistent pressing from the opposing team.
The counterattack embodies football’s soul. Jean Paul Sartre wrote that football is a metaphor for life, because of its precarious balance between the individual and the group. Many after him have tried to read football as an institutionalised form of the sublimation of violence; a collective ritual that allows man to find himself (or vent) through victory (or defeat) of his own faction. The problem is that fans tend to go crazy even when their team wins or draws.
Pasolini thought of football as a language, with its poets (Brazilians in love with their dribbling) and their prose (Italians with their “door bolt” tactics; the masters of the counterattack). The linguistic metaphor can be applied to everything.
But does this grand reasoning applied to individualism, genius, socialism and anthropology, still make sense? OR IT’S JUST a legacy of that interpretive fashion, for which you must weigh down everything with bulky literary conspiracies?
One of the great advantages of the Internet is that there are many interpretations; they often cancel one another out. Many voices = No voices. What do football and philosophy have to do with it? Nothing nothing nothing nothing. Let’s restart.
The discussions over epic heroes, spotless legends, and romantic players are over. Did they even exist? I don’t know. I grew up in the 90s. Gascoigne was already around, and I admired him greatly. Hurrah for all those players who park their Lamborghini in the incorrect fashion, after driving without a license, under the influence of alcohol. At least they don’t beat their wives. I hope not anyway. Or if they do, at least it’s in a different nature to that of any captain from Torino FC in the 60s.
In postmodern football nihilism has arrived as a giant shrimp. Nay, a giant prawn.
Unbridled neoliberalism. Sport, however, is also a practice that encourages the movement of huge quantities of money. Sheiks and porn films have arrived, fascists and showgirls. But football, to be honest, has always been a part of all this. That’s why it’s loved. Perhaps people were different, although their ideas certainly weren’t. Or maybe the contrary is true. It’s just a counterattack.
Places of passion walk hand in hand with deviance, because the sporting sentiment has historically become a poor place of thought, such as Greece. Poor Greeks. And in the end it’s not even true. The philosophers did not run. They wrote about running.
The only thing that matters in football is the kit, because it’s the only thing that lets you understand who to pass the ball to in the middle of chaos, accelerated by the counterattack. Just like in life. I could have said this directly from the start.
Edoardo Totaro is the Chief Editor of marte.com, an Italian digital publication on good things about football.