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[Opinion] Football Game Is Drugs…

Posted May. 27, 2002 08:38,   


Opening date for 2002 Korea-Japan World cup is coming near.

After few days, people of globe will pay attention to this big football festival.

It is said that T.V audience in 1990 Italy World cup and 1994 U.S. World cup reached 26 billion and 32 billion respectively.

Seeing statistics, it means 6 billion people around the world watched matches at least 4~5 times during World cup.

As participating countries and number of matches will increase it is sure to surpass those statistics of 1998 France and 2002 Korea and Japan World cup.

High interest in World cup reflects that football is one sport which has spread the most and is the most beloved game.

FIFA, which was inaugurated with seven nation of Europe in 1904, has above 200 member nations, more than U.N.

Why did football gain such a big popularity and how could it occupy whole world?

As for lovers of football, attraction of football game, which produces dramatic score through harmony of ball and feet, might be one of the main reasons.

However, developing football as popular sport in each nation or the World took long time and certain historic background also operated.

As it is well known that football was `invention` of U.K. in 19th century.

Cradle of modern football was elite middle school in U.K. like Eton and inauguration of England Football Association in 1863, for which they were main members, became an opportunity to create new football style match, unlike Rugby football.

Football was `invention` of U.K. as well as an `export good`.

Britons, who went to many places of the world in 19th century played role of football `missionary ` to preach new sports of their motherland.

Those who created football in U.K. where bourgeois, however, labors raised football.

When many football clubs were made and games progressed in every place after inaugurating football association, labors contributed in popularizing football, as players or spectators.

Football game and its viewing became means for many laborers to enjoy weekend due to rise in payment and off day on Saturday afternoon, through labor movement.

Regionalism and nationalism also played a big role in popularization of football.

Support to their local football team reflected local identification and love for hometown and, simultaneously, it created both of them.

However, in case of Europe and Latin America which had bourgeois feature of football, unlike U.K, it combined with nationalism than regionalism.

Following successive international matches within continents or between continents after the First World War, football became model of sports nationalism.

Stimulating developing football with popularization of football was appearance of professional football.

Professional football was introduced in U.K. before the First World War and in Europe and Latin America after the First World War, disguising amateur, amid protest from gentlemen who persisted with amateurism

The First World cup that was held in Uruguay in year 1930, amid conflict with IOC, was expression of tenacity on professional football.

There was critical voice over football which developed through popularization and commercialization.

Bourgeois elites avoided football when it abandoned principle of amateur and fair play mind.

Socialists suspected if football is tactics to disturb labor movement as it was from Bourgeois.

Today`s social analysts also define football as `opium` that paralyzes people`s political judgment.

Such criticism and analysis is right, but one-sided.

It is time that Germany`s Nazism, Italy`s Fascism, and Latin America`s military regime wanted to utilize football as political propaganda and its control measures.

However, football promoted execution of democracy in Italy after war and it became fort for protest against dictatorship in Argentina and Brazil.

The result from above contradictory cases is obvious.

Football is not neutral with politics at all; however, the matter is not football itself but how to accept football socially.

The relation between football and politics comes up on the test platter again.

There are local elections in the middle of World Cup and result of World Cup will exert influence on not only treatment of current political scandal but also major election in year end.

Ahn Byoung-jik (Prof of Seoul National University, Western history)