Day: September 16, 2011

The Economics Of Football And Crowd Unrest

A curious article appeared on the online version of the Wall Street Journal earlier today on the subject of the economic woes that European football is facing. It was, largely, a thoroughly reasonable article, talking of the gap between rich and poor in terms of the tensions that this may come to create within the infrastructure of the pan-European game (even withstanding the at best mixed week that the biggest European clubs endured, which can easily be justified as unfortunate timing), the debt levels that clubs have racked and are racking up in the pursuit of success and the unsustainable amount of money being squandered on players’ wages. As a primer for the uninformed reader on the state of European football, it makes for reasonable reading. The tone of the article, however, was spoilt by two turns of phrase at its top and tail, which attempted, somewhat tenuously, to link the issue of crowd trouble with the economic problems faced by European football as well as the continent in a broader sense. ‘After all,’ writes Alen Mattich, ‘Europe’s stadiums have been breeding grounds for some of its ugliest tribal violence’, whilst Mattich rounds off with the apocalyptic sounding warning that, ‘It’s worth remembering that one of the first battles between Croatia and Serbia in the Yugoslav War was fought in May 1990 between supporters of Dinamo Zagreb and those...

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An Old Firm Apology

According to the calendar, it is time to bash the first Old Firm match of this season. After all, ample material currently exists to do so just on their recent performances in Europe¬†alone. Rangers failed to keep their European campaign alive past August whereas Celtic’s grand contribution was successfully challenging UEFA on the validity of an FC Sion squad that bested them on the pitch and in so doing earned default 3-0 victories off the pitch. The league coefficient enthusiasts politely chuckled at how Celtic’s fortunes were better served when they were not playing. On the evening Rangers, Celtic, and Heart of Midlothian were bounced from Europe, BBC Radio Scotland commentators immediately chastised the Old Firm, stating supporters of the two clubs should care less about the rivalry played out at Ibrox and Celtic Park and more about the shame heaped upon them by their continental transgressions. A good portion of the less than positive views on Scottish football at the moment stems from an assessment of just these two clubs, from their dominance of the domestic league and their failures abroad down to their player recruitment strategies and threats to quit Scotland altogether. Granted, there are myriad sticks with which to beat Scottish football right now–feel free to pick up one for each hand and ask a friend to hold one for the national team too–but the reputation...

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