Football, in 21st century, is still regarded as one of the most celebrated games and its increasing popularity across the world is almost incomparable.

The globalization of the game and consequent establishment of its global market have resulted in its inseparable association with consumerism achieved through ‘commodity fetishism’, the term popularized by Marxist studies to denote the nature of consumer capitalism. For instance, we can mention the famous sporting goods manufacturing company NIKE’s using of the catchy Portuguese phrase ‘Joga Bonito’(‘Play Beautifully’) during 90s to raise the branded value of the game.

On the other hand, there is also a rich history of rebellions, resistance associated with the beautiful game. During and after the Spanish Civil War, Spanish football clubs like Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao revolted against the Fascist regime of General Franco; while, the dictator had stretched his arms towards Real Madrid and exploited the game for his propagandist purpose.

During 1980s, Socrates-led Corinthians influenced a social movement in Brazil, demanding democratic rights for its citizens. They  entered the field holding  banners with a single motto  ‘’ Ganhar ou perder, mas sempre com democracia’’ (‘’Win or lose, but always with democracy’’) written on it. Similarly, history  of football has witnessed  Argentina National Football team’s protestation against the British occupation of Falkland, Irish rebellion against the empire, movements against racism.

However, this article doesn’t aim at elaborating the game’s role in various movements but at tracing the consumerist orientation that has restricted the consumer’s ability of perception. In India, though the flourishment of Franchise-based game like Indian Super League is  problematizing both the footballing and the economic structures, the game acts as a fodder as the consumers remain oblivious about the grave menace. During the FIFA World Cup 2014 and UEFA Euro 2016, the major mass protestations were not treated with least sympathy by the sports media; sporting persons like Romario, Dida were totally  neglected following their connection with such movements. Thus, the interest of footballing culture, now-a-days, seems to be confined only in creating market.  Such consumerist approach also causes the debasement of the vibrant culture of the beautiful game.

But it is true that the huge fan-base and the marketing policy of the leading European clubs certainly have helped in popularizing the beautiful game all over the world. Football icons alongwith their jerseys, fashion-statements and sporting accessories undoubtedly increase the brand value of the game. Globalisation of the game has erased  barriers between the consumer countries. Football  has become almost synonymous with the names of the sponsors and their brands. Thus the Premier League of England , since 2001, has earned its reputation across the world  as Barclays Premier League .

But there is also a bright side. The movement against racism has got a new impetus by necessary intervention of the footballing authorities. With its growing popularity the game itself has become a voice of  universal brotherhood. Thus only time can tell us whether the footballing culture is totally moulded by Capitalist construct or the game resists the very idea.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. quite nice . specially that it states consumer fetishism a term generating from marx . this is eventually a study about the human consumeristic nature in world globalization, or rather better to say consumer capital and its nature . the various football brands which have been taking the place slowly and steadily in this beautiful game is doing its market , through further nurture of this fetishism . that is cheifly promotion of more ultility through artificial creation of want … nothing have i to say with football though , the point however is whether this marketing and all this consumeristic fetish would interfere with football’s culture … well i have a thought it will and it has already done a great deal …

    • Thank you Upal for reading the article so thoroughly and expressing your valuable opinion. I completely agree with your view. Yes global market has been able to exploit the game and its culture, and has utilized it for its own sake.That’s why,in my article, I wanted to mark the thin line of distinction between the game and its market.The line often seems to have been blurred. Personally I think that the beautiful game should stand by its own power irrespective of its market identity.

    • Thank you Upal for reading the article so thoroughly and expressing your valuable opinion. I completely agree with your view. The global market has been able to exploit the game and its culture. That’s why,in my article,I wanted to mark the thin line of distinction between the game and its market. Often the line seems to have been blurred. Personally I think that the beautiful game should stand by its own power irrespective of its market identity.

    • Thank you Upal for reading the article thoroughly and expressing your valuable opinion. I completely agree with your view. The global market has been able to exploit the game and its culture. That’s why,in my article,I wanted to mark the thin line of distinction between the game and its market. Often the line seems to have been blurred. Personally I think that the beautiful game should stand by its own power irrespective of its market identity.

  2. Interesting topic and quite good presentation indeed. Can we also mention about futsal india? It’s giving a new direction to the game in India.

    • Thanks a lot Joydeep for going through my article. Well I think you are talking about Premier Futsal in India. Yes of course we can see such enterprise as a marketing policy. Some renowned football players had flocked here and played well.Also it was an initiative to popularize the game of Futsal.

  3. Thank you Upal for reading the article so thoroughly and expressing your valuable opinion. I completely agree with your view. The global market has been able to exploit the game and its culture. That’s why,in my article,I wanted to mark the thin line of distinction between the game and its market. Often the line seems to have been blurred. Personally I think that the beautiful game should stand by its own power irrespective of its market identity.

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