tomorrow's matches
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there's no stopping big soccer

Andrew O'Hehir with a solid article: "Donald Trump, America’s isolation and the World Cup: There’s no stopping Big Soccer".

World soccer in the 21st century represents the opposite of everything Trump appears to stand for, in every respect but one. (That would of course be the money.) Indeed, the story of how soccer escaped its gritty, clannish, working-class roots and became an enormous global industry is a central cultural and economic parable of our time. That happened through essentially the same processes of globalization, commodification and “financialization” that have led to widespread resentment and right-wing backlash in much of Europe, as well as the election of You Know Who in the United States....

If Big Soccer still tries to cash in on nationalism, especially during the quadrennial pageantry of the World Cup, the dynamic has shifted immensely. It might be more accurate to say that soccer now tries to commodify nationalism -- as a charming anachronism useful for marketing purposes, its bombs and bullets replaced by one-liners in a Volkswagen commercial. Mostly this is the inevitable logic of capitalism at work, that revolutionary force under which “all that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned.” But it also clearly represents a strategic marketing effort to pivot away from the darker episodes in soccer’s past....

There’s also what might be called the immanent contradiction of Big Soccer, which is marketing the distinctive, peculiar intensity of the European game to a global audience, and in the process making it less distinctive and peculiar. Once upon a time, a London “derby” match between Arsenal and Chelsea was an urban, tribal event, pregnant with the possibility of violence. Today everyone in the stadium understands that it’s a global spectacle, and they are performing the roles of passionate London fans for an audience of millions. The whole event has become a “simulacrum,” to use Jean Baudrillard’s term, a self-consciously artificial representation of itself.