Supporters | Material evidence of unruly rooting

The stadium becomes a place of cult where feelings and emotions are collective, and simultaneously, a place that is on a fine edge between emotion, excitement and fascination on the positive side, and aggression on the dark side. Thanks to that positive side of the coin—which is lived collectively for instance when celebrating the joy of a goal—that energy can become the complete opposite: an experience of collective suffering.

As the final image in the online “Masas” section demonstrates—of flowers and scarves laid in 1989 in the goalmouth at Hillsborough—the stadium serves well for exposing such extremities. While supporters in Liverpool are singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” those in Utrecht are chanting “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas.”

This video tour includes some of the violent ephemera on view, such as the brass-knuckle and nunchaku collections. To view video, copy the provided link into your browser’s address bar. (Europa Press)

Such themes are taken up in an extensive menu of forums tied to the three-month-long display. These include panels with journalists from El País, La Vanguardia and Catalan daily Avui, anthropologists and photographers (link to schedules). Some of the forums address the place of the media, in particular the Spanish football press, in throwing wood on the fire of such rivalries and in distorting the meaning of football such that it becomes an outlet for societal dysfunction.

These lazy repetitions of half-truths or outright falsehoods contrast—one of the themes in the “Palabras” area of the exhibit—with a growing minority of anti-racist activists who try to bring sport into its proper frame. For example, former Spanish minister of health and consumption Ernest Lluch Martín, a Barcelona supporter, decried any associations between Barça and violence. In rough translation, he wrote, “A violent Barça supporter is not a Barça supporter, he is just violent. A violent Nazi is not a Nazi, he is just violent. A violent anti-fascist is not an anti-fascist, he is just violent.”

Lluch died in 2000, shot twice in the head at home by members of the Basque separatist group ETA.

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2 comments on this post.
  1. Pitch Invasion » Links » It’s in the inter(net)! | 02.25.08:

    [...] Curating football fandom [The Global Game] [...]

  2. Bet Blogger:

    An interesting article, and it offers a glimpse into what would be a fascinating exhibition. We see so many displays of photos, memorabilia, replica kits, etc. that it’s refreshing to see something different. Some of these artefacts are bizarre but have so much history and stories behind them that they deserve a platform and to be shared for others to see.

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