Thursday, 7 June 2012

Is Football Intercultural?

Well, wherever people from many different nations and cultures come together, there is something for the interculturalist to study. There are preconceptions, prejudices - there's admiration, envy, ignorance, and in the case of football - there are bound to be negative emotions like aggression and even hatred as well. So quite a rich field!

We've all heard of the England team always having high hopes, but somehow each time the end seems to be very close to the beginning for them. So there's almost a cultural expectation for that squad to break through their own limitations. "This time", we (or their fans) say - definitely! And thus a totally new intercultural field is created. England as a footballing entity is very different from England the nation (polite, funny... or whatever else we associate with England in other walks of life). England is suddenly the underdog we're backing.

It's therefore nice to see how arbitrary such preconceptions that we harbinger about other nations turn out to be. They are fluent, and transitory - not written in stone. Or think of the decade-long dread everybody had of England fans! Being drunken, violent yobs! When Chelsea last played Bayern Munich - and won! the fans sat nicely in beergardens (photo at the top) and behaved like ordinary tourists, bar the odd bit of chanting.

Whilst I wouldn't go so far as to hold football up for a prejudice-breaking area, I do think it is refreshing to see that sports in general comes with its own set of appreciation of other nations' abilities, problems and strengths.

Let's hope Euro2012 lives up to its expectations, and even if you're not a football fan - just treat it as an intercultural playing field!

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