Football and society
The 75th Letter of an Autonomous Thinker

Amsterdam, July 14 2006

Dear reader, 

Zidane head-butted an opponent in the final of the World Cup 2006. He was sent off.

But suppose his opponent accused him to be a terrorist (Zidane has Algerian roots).
Suppose his opponent tried to cripple him by kicking him against his ankles. The Dutch national trainer Van Basten had to stop playing football because he was hit too much.
Zidane, Van Basten and scores of others are powerless against opponents that use sneaky methods to prevent that players can use their dazzling skills. Referees seldom take action against rough players.  

It is even worse. A referee that punishes rough players too much (as happened in the match Portugal-Holland) is not accepted by the bosses.  

But I do not write about football, I write about power that is central in human relations.  

What can you do when you are time and again attacked?
What should you do when referees are not punishing offenders?
What do you think when the bosses permit illegal actions?
Maybe you do the same as Zidane and take the law in your own hands. 

In football players earn a lot of money and the public get a lot of pleasure – the Romans said already a long time ago: “Give the people Bread and Games and you can rule forever” (see Chpater 6 of About Violence and Democracy).

What do you do when referees in the real world only punish masspeople that take the law in their own hands.
What do you do when you are time and again kicked in real life?
Something is terrible wrong in our world when people blow up hundreds of masspeople as just happened in India. But who is the real culprit, who causes that people act in this way? I think f.e. of the Indian elite who cannot solve the Indian problems and see what happened in  Bombay.  

Masspeople have a dilemma.
They must accept everything that is decided high-up till the bucket is full. Then they hit back and they are right (but mostly not in their methods).
Just as Zidane they attack fellow-masspersons, not the invisible elitepeople behind the screens.  

Masspeople have no hope on a better future, on a life that is comparable with the life of the referees and their bosses.
Can you reproach these powerless people that they take the law in their own hands?
Can you reproach Zidane to attack an opponent that transgressed the line that separates nice from less nice people?

I applaud when some people become active because enough is enough. Some people suddenly want to break the overall control of the elite.
But mostly I do not agree with the methods. Masspeople mostly attack only their own kind, they hardly attack people with power.
Just as Zidane instinctively attacked a fellow-player and not the referee or the president of the FIFA.

It does not interest leaders in the football world or in the real world what happens down under. They take the easiest way out by punishing the perpetrators and not by looking at the reasons why an attractive player as Zidane did what he did. And why should they, the elite lives on its eliteworld that is not disturbed by this kind of actions of masspeople.  

I prefer actions that will close the gap between mass- and eliteworld, actions that not hurt masspeople but target those people that defend the existing world-order. These elitepeople only want to continue to live on their safe and privileged eliteworld.
Anyhow I cannot reject activities of people who are time and again hurt by actions of people who live elsewhere.  

I only wish they should find better targets.

Yours truly, Joost van Steenis


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