(This article appeared in the New Worker – the newspaper of the New Communist Party of Britain, No. 1780, dated 20.June.14, Page 6-7)
The socio-economic structure of world football as controlled by the vicious bourgeois institution of the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA), and the regional Football Associations it has spawned. The exploitative tentacles of FIFA spread far and wide into all poor and working class areas of the world. It spreads the myth that all poor people, if they can kick a ball, can become multi-millionaires over-night, if only they tried hard enough! The reality, however, is very different. A very small number of working class men (originating from advanced industrial, or industrialising nations), are chosen from a mass of applicants to be streamed into the exclusive training regimes that more or less ensure a job as a professional football player upon graduation. These men are taken out of their natural socio-economic (working class) conditions, and immediately thrust into a middle class, financial utopia, where they can earn millions of pounds a year working for just 90 minutes a week, and personifying a developmental, bourgeois myth. The reality is more brutal.
For a small number of working class men to be privileged in this manner, the majority of the working class (and the oppressed) around the world, must be kept firmly in their place. The majority of the masses (in the world) actually finance this gigantic money making machine that only benefits the minority – that is the middle class – which reaps all the financial benefits. Even after paying the individual players millions of pounds, there is still a tremendous amount of money leftover, which flows only from the working class toward the middle class, through a relentless process of accumulation. This process is maintained not only by the selling of associated merchandise such as football shirts, boots, flags, DVD’s, CD’s, and other paraphernalia, but relies heavily upon slave-labour, whereby very small children spend 12 to 16 hours a day, working in appalling conditions, in factories situated in the poorer areas of the world. This highly exploited workforce sews the shirts, footballs, and flags together, which are then played with by the rich adults and children of developed countries as a matter of leisure. This exploitative situation is compounded by working class males (in developed countries such as the UK), who spend hundreds of pounds of their hard earned money per week, in attending football matches of teams occupying the Premier League. The Premier League (and others like it), is the main money making device that FIFA uses to drain the poor people of the world of their wages. In the UK, a ticket for a single football match can cost more than the national government believes a family should live for a week, when in receipt of state benefits! In this regard, supporting football becomes an addiction that paradoxically destroys the very same working class that its mythos claims to be saving.
Modern football evolved during the industrialisation process of the UK from an ancient game played in and around villages. The bourgeois wanted the working class controlled during every part of their day, and this extended to the regulation of their leisure time. As factories closed for Saturday afternoons, the working class males were encouraged to attend football matches held in purpose built stadia, and spend a part of their earnings on the price of admission. Their wives and children were not yet welcome, and had to stay at home. The police patrolled the football stadia, ensuring that the euphoria of victory (or the disappointment of defeat), remained only amongst the working class, who were encouraged to fight amongst themselves. It was essential that this discontent never spread onto the streets. This harsh control was considered necessary wherever working class men congregated en masse, so as to prevent the possibility of the development of class consciousness, and of revolutionary fervour, as such a development threatened the over-throw of the bourgeoisie.
On the pitch, 22 working class men confront one another in two teams of 11 each, moderated by a referee and two linesmen. The game is played for 90 minutes, with a 15 minute break for half-time, when the two sides change the half of the pitch they have to defend. The time of 90 minutes is purely arbitrary, and together with the 15 minutes break, (as well as the time it takes the paying audience to assemble for the start, and disperse at the end), is designed simply to waste time on a Saturday afternoon – there is nothing special about this time, and indeed, compared to contemporary sports, seems a ridiculous length of time for anything significant to happen, or effectively hold an audience’s attention, etc. The football stadium (and the pitch), are microcosms of bourgeois society, within which the working class are allowed to exist providing they follow strict rules that benefit the bourgeois, but are detrimental to the working class. These rules, or ‘laws’ are taught as being beneficial for all, when obviously they are purely arbitrary and designed to maintain the highest level of exploitation. There is also the indication that all good laws originate with god, and have a mysterious origin, when in fact all these regulations emerge from the minds of fat capitalists who have probably never kicked a ball in their lives. The referee is the ‘judge’ who must be obeyed, and he is assisted by two assistant-judges (or ‘Linesmen’). A player who infringes a rule is ‘booked’ – similar to how a police officer records a suspect’s details – and receives a ‘yellow’ card which amounts to a ‘warning’ or a ‘fine’, whilst the ‘red’ card represents expulsion from the pitch, or the removal from society, as in being sent to prison, etc. The message is simple within modern football; the authorities must be obeyed, or there will be punishment. Quite often the working class resent these measures, but aim their discontent at perceived foreigners, rather than at their middle class over-lords and the Judeo-Christian system they represent. The middle class allows and encourages this deception, as it takes the working class attention away from what is really going on – such is the seductive power of modern football.
Footballs teams, with their distinctive, different coloured football kits, became the subject of a pseudo-regionalism that was used to infect the mind of the working class, and divert their attention away from the real enemy in society – the highly ruthless and exploitative bourgeoisie. It is the bourgeoisie that is the real enemy of the working class, but if working class men have their attention aimed at the supporting of a local football team, (a false construct), and pitching that support against another local football team, (another false construct), then true revolutionary knowledge is not developed. Modern football is used by the bourgeoisie to keep the working class in their place. This exploitation is more or less self-sustaining, just like any drug addiction. On the world level, the pseudo-regionalism of football is replaced with pseudo-nationalism. It is exactly the same psychological structure that expands its parameters out of regionalism, (i.e. disliking others because they come from a different local place), into the hating of others because of their different ethnic and cultural origin – i.e. racism. Modern football is both highly exploitative and addictive. In the minds of its victims – the working class – like any addiction it is rationalised as the ‘beautiful game’, and its inherent racism is viewed as an aberration rather than as a foundational structure of its history. Modern football today, at either its local, national, or international levels, serves as the bedrock of racism and far-right political parties. Aggressive young men meet at the football grounds to racially abuse other supporters or players, whilst exchanging extremist ideological information. FIFA knows that it can not stamp racism out of football, because to do so would destroy the highly lucrative financial structure that is in place. It is up to the working class to develop their class consciousness, and break the addiction that is modern football, that viciously holds them in psychological and financial servitude.
The UK’s Premier League is a very successful capitalist enterprise – and this is exactly what it is meant to be. The fact that it just so happens to be the game of football that is used to generate millions of pounds is irrelevant to the process of the accumulation of profit itself. As long as the money keeps flowing, the Premier League will be considered successful. Of course, this measure of success is purely fiscal, in as much as this ‘success’ has absolutely nothing to do with performance on the pitch. This explains why the financially ‘successful’ Premier League, has not been able to produce eleven English footballers (since its inception in 1992) that can dominate at the world level, for the simple reason that it does not have to. Playing well and winning games is irrelevant to the money making process. Expect another dismal performance at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, with an early exit for England. The only way the standard of play would increase is if there was a system-wide fall in financial income, created by people protesting en masse by not going to football matches. This scenario would generate a market force that would effect how the capitalists who run the Premier League, (that is the English FA), approach the game, but it is unlikely to happen due to the sustained mirage of tribalism, which is reinforced on the terraces every week, through a false sense of achievement and failure. The Bourgeois system of modern football is designed from top to bottom to prevent the working class from joining together in solidarity.