Monday, April 2, 2007

Sports and Authority (Escape from Alcatraz) - Guitougoal

Monday’s Matt Scott column about European football clubs holding talks over a potential breakaway from Uefa and Fifa sounds like the remake of an old Clint Eastwood film: ”Escape from Alcatraz”.

Does that sound like there is trouble between the rich and the richer? Next step we learn the players decided to have their own team and the coaches claimed the right to choose the referees who don’t mind being insulted by the athletes. Are the inmates taking over the asylum or the elephants running the circus? No, but disrespect for authority is at an all time high in sports. Respect for authority has eroded. It’s not with the managers it’s with authority figures across the board.

“Authority” of course depends on the author. Authority got mad as we have seen in the world and should always be questioned. The crew of the Bounty had good reason to mutiny but authority for the good of the group is another matter. It was probably the Romans who created the modern notion of authority. And they built aqueducts, formed military chains of command and built a great civilization and brought discipline where there had been chaos. They designed a blueprint for the world.

What has this to do with athletes insulting the referees? Just this: all sports, like Caesar’s Gaul are divided into three parts: players, managers and owners. They have to work together under the supervision of their league. You render to Caesar things that are Caesar’s. Otherwise dysfunction and individualism are overrated, as we see it today, if we don’t like the rules we disqualify the maker of the rules. No laws, no bosses then no progress. Blaming the victim has become a national pastime.

Examples, good or bad, come from above. Some clubs driven by economical need or just pure greed are attempting to challenge the federations in control. By doing so, they are setting an unprecedented challenge to a legal authority. The lesson at work here is that what once constituted authority is in full, mindless retreat. The owners have to be reminded that to breakaway is like to run away from the law. Any attempt by the clubs to escape should be perceived by the public as an illegal challenge to the authority and as a bad example for those who are looking up to them.


marcela said...

guitou - very interesting points.
i would argue that the ability to question authority is one of the most basic rights. as you say, 'authority has got mad' and the truth is hope lies in sanity coming from the lower ranks.
what i think is questionable about the big clubs' disdain for the ruling bodies is that they are not 'lower ranking' if you like. it's like the US disregarding UN mandates. maybe.
on the other hand, FIFA, Uefa, and FA - and AFA, etc. - have not given us reason to believe their management of the industry is beyond question.
a paradox, i think.
i like the idea of players forming their own teams, however.

guitougoal said...

Marcela,in a democratic society "authority should always be questioned" .The point is if some clubs try to break up the league it's not for the pretended reasons, it's only to have a bigger stock . Whatever their relationship with the Federations are ,the uefa became the most successful governing body in the history of sports in Europe.It will be a little overblown to say that a move away will save these clubs, it will hurt everybody including the fans, Do we want two champions of europe?or two fa cups?

offside said...

Whatever the money men are cooking up for us paying customers, I have a feeling it won't be to my taste.

I am especially concerned about international football. In the case of a breakaway super-league, I can't see the clubs being happy releasing their best players for international games. More power struggles ahead, it seems.

It's a paradox for me, as I have a profound dislike for borders and no natural nationalistic tendencies. Yet, the only team I support unconditionally is the one in blue, with the silly looking fowl on the badge. Go figure. I must have gotten hooked when I was young.

I might write about that if anyone is interested.

Now, about the Romans bringing discipline where there had been chaos... I think that, in some places at least, the chaos was a lot more interesting than whatever the Romans brought. Didn't the Romans bring oppression and a rigid system where there was freedom and creativity? Or is that just a romantic notion? I wonder what blueinbetis, our resident historian, makes of that...

Anonymous said...

Offside, I hope BiB doesn't get his informations from
the frenchman with the pink shirt.
"The team in blue with a silly looking fowl on the badge" sounds like ;les bleus, if you could teach their captain about french wine he may use some of your knowledge.
we are always interested to read your stories
whatever they are.
Thanks to you and your friend Marcela,I didn't have to sweat it as much as I thought.

guitougoal said...

I am the nonvoluntary anonymous.

greengrass said...

Offside says:
"It's a paradox for me, as I have a profound dislike for borders and no natural nationalistic tendencies. Yet, the only team I support unconditionally is the one in blue, with the silly looking fowl on the badge. Go figure. I must have gotten hooked when I was young."

We have a similar problem. I share your dislike for borders, but strangely find myself supporting England. I wouldn't call my support
unconditional, but it has survived such challenges the "liberation" of those barren rocks off the coast of Argentina and the invasion of Iraq.

The power of the places where we grew up is strong: we were very impressionable then. Are our adult ideologies but a thin veneer? Perhaps supporting our national sides provides a "safe" way of living out nationalism. That's the way it works with my "foreign" friends and myself when we sit together and watch our sides meet.
And I care less and less about the results of the matches.

Would you support "les bleus" so fervently if Le Pen hadn't attacked the racial composition of the side?
Would you support them if they didn't have such a "silly looking fowl on the badge"?

Guitou -
the paramount authority in today's sport is money; it is slavishly obeyed by almost everyone.


offside said...

I would stop supporting them at once if the wore a delicate little pinkish flower as an emblem.

They'd certainly look like a bunch of big sissies.

Ebren said...

A rose by any other name still has thorns.

The footy side has three lions on it. I always assumed this was done to take the mick out of the Scots, as they only have one.

greengrass said...

Offside -
Ingrid heard that comment about "a bunch of big sissies". She (?) has now suspended you from keg-changing in the cellar of the Pakalolo Tavern for the next three taprooms.


offside said...

trois p'tits minous, p'tits minous, p'tits minous

qui avaient perdu leurs mitaines

s'en vont chercher leur mère


(French lullaby, 18th c.)

Ebren said...

Allouette, gentile allouette,
Allouette, je te plumerais
Je te plumerais la tete,
Je te plumerais la tete,
Et la tete, et la tete,
Allouette, allouette, oh-oh,
Allouette, gentile allouette,
Allouette, je te plumerais.

guitougoal said...

Ebren can you ban yourself or should I call the cops.
Offside national pride?-Football, Scotland 1 France 0-
Rugby - England 1 France 0-you have some catch-up to do, should I ask the Chicago Bears for help?

Mahalo said...

Pakalolo, gentille pakalolo
Pakalolo, je te fumerai
Je te fumerai le soir
Je te fumerai le soir
Et le soir, et le soir
Oh Oh Pakalolo...

guitougoal said...

you guys when not knitting or drinking you do quite a recital. Thanks god geengrass left the building.

Ebren said...

Good haikus
Are in three parts
Like Gaul

MotM said...

When Kerry Packer challenged the cricket authorities in '78 and brought many great cricketers with him, it hurt at the time, but it was unquestionably a good thing for the game and for its players and fans at all levels. The Rebel Tours to Apartheid South Africa ten years or so later were not.

So I guess it's why you challenge authority and what happens as a result that really matters.

I don't care much for national borders, but I identify with Everton strongly - literally in the blood. I enjoyed England winning the Ashes but more because the team was so clearly at their gut-busting peak against strong and gracious opponents. I'd like England to win this World Cup, but I'd be just as happy with West Indies (no chance for either of them) and I'd even feel a bit if McGrath and Gilchrist finsihed their great careers holding up the Trophy.

Romans? Didn't one of them say, "I know, I'll promise to do something for you if you'll do something for me, and if either of us don't deliver, we won't fight, we'll seek legal redress", and invented contract law? I know only a little of Roman Law which, though hardly democratic, is a stupendous invention for its time, every bit as mind-blowing as the pyramids or ziggurats, arts or mathematics of other cultures.

andrewm said...

Guitou, an interesting read and you raise a number of questions that are too big for me to answer, but one question of my own:

Does anyone other than those who stand to make a direct financial benefit from it actually want a European Superleague?

I can't believe they do.

pipita said...


At long last!!!Bravo mon ami. I come from a country where one lives terrorized with authority...but, I see what your getting at, and in spite of going along with Brian Glanville's contempt for FIFA's, and especailly Blatter's, "greed is good" philosophy, I think powerful clubs wanting to make their own rules can end up in a big disaster

guitougoal said...

'So I guess is why you challenge authority and what happens as a result that really matters.
I can assure you the big clubs are not challenging for
humanitarian reason.
The Roman empire as a reference for an organized society, I thought it was a good example because they realized that in order to rule they have to organize themselves.Coincidently their decline started mainly because of the divisions and their collapse is due to the fact that
after Constantine's death, their empire was parted between the three sons .

guitougoal said...

Do you want another European Super League? Do you remember WBC,WBA, etc... in boxing? who is the real champion?
As bad as Fifa may be, a new league would be going from bad to worst, imagine in Argentina Bocca and River competing in two different leagues.No more rivalry, El super classico se fue per la ventana!

andrewm said...

guitou, I really think a European Superleague would be the end of my interest in football.

mimi said...

Another football piece that goes well beyond the game. Nice one Guitou. Challenging authority is a right in a democracy, but there are times when the motives are questionable and the idea of a European super-league is as others have said, surely just the richer wanting a bigger slice of the cake. It's going on in other sports as we speak.
As far as the old Romans are concerned, whatever they did for us, good and bad resonates so loudly down the centuries, that we still use them as a benchmark today from plumbing, straight roads, wine-making to law and politics. And now in a Sports blog!

guitougoal said...

same here, it will be the circus with no clowns and no elephants, only dog and pony show.
are you still sitting on the dock of the bay watching the tide rolling and whisling with mister redding?
Romans and the blog-let's leave it to Greengrass and offside to figure this one out they may come up with one raw man made story.

mimi said...

guitou: sunday at the harbour with the sun shining and some dodgy character playing his sax on his wrecked boat should have been a good set up for the week. Sadly mon and until a few hours ago today, it all was grey and I was miserable.
All much better now as midweek Taproom serving, and I've been forgiven all my sins by the OBO boys.
See you over there.

BlueinBetis said...

Questioning Authority is an individual right, which means that an individual in a democracy has the right to question decisions and have an input.

The problem is that large companies are not individuals, football clubs are not individuals, so how can they claim the same rights?

I agree that there are huge problems with football, but see no benefit for anyone apart from the accountants with this.

This is a very nice piece Guitou,

The thing with the Romans is how they began and terminated, they began as a society due to pressure from other civilisations around them, and finally fell apart due to the separation from the sons you talk of. They didn't really expand much after taking Gaul, maybe due to the change to a "leader" in the society? No democracy?

I also support England, and hate nationalism, patriotism, its a very tough question to understand. But I think I have the answer, "support England" we are told as children...or Scotland, or that lot with the Chicken, not Tottenham, and then we are told it is bad to change your team just because they are shit. We have to suffer with them. Unless you've got that team with the chicken on it. (I don't really need to point out that this is not Tottenham, since their fans are still suffering.)

guitougoal said...

do you mean we have the chicken and the eggs?

BlueinBetis said...

Yes. I think that's what I am trying to say.

I would have no problem if all the 92 league teams were questioning the ability of the FA to run the game. Or all the players eligible to play for England. But that isn't the case.

This is the oligarchy of the top clubs in Europe wanting more money. Which basically means that even less will go to lower division clubs and grass roots. It's a myth to say they will create more money. They will just be taking it from some other clubs. There is only so much income available for football. And I get the feeling it's on a downhill slide. It will only take a few problems to begin the slip.

The problem is that UEFA are over a barrel with this one, and they know it. They can hardly say sod you lot to the largest clubs in Europe, can they? But then they are directly responsible for creating the monster in the first place.

Also, another related aspect of this attitude to authority is the actions of players to referees. This is creating monsters too. The referees have no respect on the pitches, from the coaches to the players, they never really did from the fans, but I think that this is another manifestation of the same problem.

Maybe as Marcela says, the only hope lies in the teams at the bottom of the food chain organising themselves and standing up for themselves against the big clubs, but this would have to be done in individual countries, and Europe wide, in order for it to work for UEFA. I wouldn't even know where to begin!

This is a great piece Guitou. Well done again, sorry if I can't get back to you very quickly with this, but Mrs Betis has me painting the front room...'tis truly the work of Lucifer, decorating!

BlueinBetis said...

Don't I feel like the idiot, I missed the chicken and egg gag.

It appears somebody had thrown the egg at my face, and it hit.


[slaps forehead]

guitougoal said...

Thank you for your clever, insightful and knowledgeable comments.
the bottom line is : "do we have to break-up an organisation in order to change it?" Also, there are legal issues because the clubs signed a chart and they have a signed binding agreement with the Federation.
As far as the eggs, save them for breakfast with chorizo.(y cafe con leche).Hasta luego.

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