Soccer and Sport: New Medium of Communication

The Review chose to focus on football. This choice can be questioned, as it is only one segment from the broad world of sports. And still more seriously, the sector parcellation of sports along with single disciplines – like football, motor race, and table tennis – may be inappropriate to an efficient and democratic administration of sports football has grown and is a new medium of communication as its players, teams, and sponsors have worldwide recognition. Its players’ stardom, fanatic base, brings in completion for ownership and rights issues. Examples of Manchester United and Manchester City were used to show fanatic rivalry, wealth, and prosperity the clubs gain and how they are used by their fans in their personal identity.

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The concentration of wealth in certain clubs and leagues makes them more lucrative and more entertaining. This influences and entices more fanatics to join the clubs and leagues. These clubs in turn attract the media which televises and broadcast its matches live to fanatics all over the world. Due to the masses, the clubs gather for their matches, it entices advertisers to use the player’s uniforms, and every advertising space in the stadium and around for advertising in the context of sponsorship for the club. Here we can see communication passing and be portrayed through different media as a form of advertising to the viewers and fanatics. (Buckley &Burgess, 2000)

The race for club ownership comes from the business perspective as some would like the prestige and fashion-lashed lifestyles that are associated with owning the clubs. The clubs are a lucrative business and a form of communication for persons with multiple businesses it gathered others to try getting their hands on the clubs by unscrupulous capital owners.

Match-fixing and corruption scandals also arise as a bid to place the clubs in international recognition to gain the fanatic base on which all business negotiations are based. This dampens communication as there is a loss of interest by one party of this communication, and that is the fans. Wage inflation on the players market brings the clubs an opportunity to gain talent by bidding on the best players who will, in turn, bring in a load of fanatics as their talent draws fans to them. The communication links will then increase as there are more people being communicated to. The face-to-face negotiations to convince a player to join a club and the wage negotiations thereafter are a form of communication. The players would like to be associated with fashion and other interaction rituals. (Abstract)

The bankruptcy of European clubs makes them less appealing to media, fans, and cooperate sponsors. These clubs use other methods to entice their few fans, that is, they apply a strong base of commitment with the not-so-famous players. Therefore the communication between the players and coach is more intimate. (Crolley & Hand, 2002)

Internet piracy and ambush marketing are other ways of interclub rivalry communication to their fanatics. This form of communication enforces negative publicity. Under-investment in the training of young players kills the local fanatic base hence spoils the local advertising and communication links as the sponsors focus on international fans. Illegal betting and internet gambling outside tax control.

Gender is another issue in football as it is mainly associated with males, though it also has strong female support. Hooliganism, racism, and xenophobia among supporters, sexual offenses, and insecurity in the stadiums call for action as this discourages female supporters and breaks the inter-gender communication and association to the sport. (BBC1, 2000)

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Football and contemporary society fuse as the footballers’ stardom and courage plays a big role in creating an attraction to lifestyle-oriented social groups. Due to the footballer’s stardom, they communicate to the ambitious young player that there is a lucrative life in the waiting if they archive their goals. They also associate themselves with their trademark wears in which young talents enjoy, as it associates with the name bearer’s talent. Young talent will also associate with the courage the players show on the pitch to offer their best while being booed down by the opposing fans. (Abstract)

Football and identity, many fanatics would like to associate themselves with their clubs and use the clubs as their identity. Therefore players should show in sport, for without cooperative agreement to obey the rules and refrain from self-serving cheating, sport cannot continue; its nature is violated. Yet acts of integrity can be magnified in sport to provide a true test of character.Nick a Manchester united fan would like to identify himself as a Manchester United fan rather than as Nick. Some identify themselves with the titles the club has won or by professional players’ names because of their character or the gameness, integrity, and composure they show while they are losing or winning. (Buckley &Burgess, 2000 & abstract)

Football and television, since football cannot be watched live at the stadium by all the fanatics at the same time, media plays a big role inform of television. Media companies that televise the matches live to belong to the areas the clubs are from, but due to international recognition, they are compelled to sell their rights of live transmission to various other channels global, in turn, get their local stuff publicized international and also get revenue by the sell of rights and change extraordinarily for advertisements during the live broadcast. Privatization of television rights by certain media is also done to globalize the media agent. (Crolley & Hand, 2002)

On a wider note, a research opportunity awaits for a thorough analysis of the negative impact that commercial companies’ sponsorship of football clubs might have on certain consumers. In other words, how many potential customers are lost because a firm sponsors a rival club? The question is not without merit and companies that have sponsored United over the years, like Pepsi, Nike, and Sharp would be advised to consider it. The story that City fans keep their kitchen knives blunt to avoid having anything Sharp in the house is humorous (and apocryphal) but also carries with it an important commercial message that telecommunications giant Vodafone appears to have acknowledged. Shortly after it began sponsoring United in 2000, posters appeared in Manchester city center bearing the slogan ‘Vodafone supports the whole of Manchester’ which might be interpreted as a (failed) attempt to avoid alienating City fans from its products and services. (Brown, 20

The concept of the symbolic system is applied here as tradition places some colors on specific teams. The importance of color in the City–United dynamic is so significant that commercial companies operating in Manchester must demonstrate some sensitivity towards it. In 2001, for example, staff at a branch of supermarket chain Asda were puzzled by the reaction of certain local children who refused to enter Father Christmas’s Grotto at the store until it became evident the problem derived from Santa’s red-and-white attire: Father Christmas was obviously a United follower and, therefore, a bad man. Once a second Santa was installed, this time resplendent in sky blue, peace and harmony was restored to the local community. In a similar vein, sportswear manufacturers Le Coq Sportif, City’s official supplier, have been careful to ensure that their traditional logo of a cockerel on a triangular red background is always replaced with a blue background on any merchandise or, indeed, publicity connected with Manchester City (Blue View, 2002).

The quality of football as a contribution to local bonding and to bridging between different cultural groups has also been used by international exchange. In development cooperation between Denmark and Tanzania, for instance, football and Ngoma, local traditions of song and dance competition, have been supported side by side. Games of this type manifest local identity – rural or urban – combining festivity and ritual encounters with popular culture and competitive professional soccer (Crolley & Hand, 2002).

It would be foolish and slightly naïve to attribute the changes in UEFA only to

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The interventions of European institutions. Indeed, like any other organization

UEFA has had to adapt to a new environment in a highly globalized market. The

The commercialization of professional football in the last two decades has

Transformed the game into a sort of entertainment industry. The traditional

Pyramid of European football is now a much more crowded environment and

The power of UEFA is contested especially by the richest clubs and leagues

UEFA has had to adapt both to keep pace with the modernization of football and to maintain its central role as governing body. Engaging with public authorities, such as the EU, UEFA is for the moment able to assert its authority in the pyramid of governance of football, hence surviving the turbulent times that started in 1995 with Busman. (UEFA, 2005) UEFA has positioned itself as a reliable partner to the political authorities that want to preserve, somehow, the soul of the game from the excesses of commercialization

UEFA has cleverly framed the rules on locally-trained players not as a regulation of the footballers’ market, but as an attempt to contribute to the training and education of young people through football. This falls within that vision of UEFA going beyond the pure regulation of competitions but taking care also of its wide responsibility to the

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Game and to society. The main idea of the message is that if professional clubs

Are obliged to field more locally-trained players, then they will invest more

Money on football academies, which in turn will benefit local communities. This,

Of course, can be conceptualized as an irresistible message from the part of

UEFA. An idea dressed with social and cultural values which is certainly easier

to accept than to reject, even if one may have doubts about its legality.

On the other hand, UEFA felt that, as the negotiations went on, the

The commission showed an increasing understanding of the special structures of

Football is in need of protection from over-commercialization. Second, the large

Number of meetings ‘to think until it hurts’ served to cement some personal

Relationships that enhanced mutual understanding (UEFA, 2005).

Finally, it is worth considering a recent fictional representation of the City–United dynamic for the light it sheds upon the conflictual relationship between the two clubs’ supporters. In the British film, there’s Only One Jimmy Grimble, the eponymous hero is a modest schoolboy footballer and City fan, bullied by his peers, who ultimately overcome his physical and psychological limitations to achieve success on the pitch. The film may be read as a metaphor for the City–United divide because of its director’s desire to make Manchester ‘a real character’ in the picture. Indeed, the locations are set in the city and, in fact, in and around Maine Road itself while the soundtrack is largely made up of elements from the famous Manchester music scene (Brown, 2002).

There is substantial evidence to suggest that the attitude adopted by Manchester City fans towards United is not based upon the principle of ‘love thy neighbor’. In the context of traditional English football fandom, founded as it is upon civic pride and fierce local rivalries and antagonisms, there is little reason to suppose it would be otherwise. What it has been interesting to isolate and analyze in the present study, however, are the various forms that this antipathy assumes in and around Manchester. Ultimately and notwithstanding the full complexity and contradictions of City and United’s identities as social facts, it is clear that perceptions of United held by many City fans deliberately polarize the protagonists in the dynamic and, therefore, portray them through a series of antipathy binary oppositions that serve to establish the projected identity of United as the complete antithesis of City (Blue View, 2002).

References

BBC1 (2000) ‘North West Tonight’, 13 April, television programmed.

Blue View (2002) Web.

Brown, A. (2002) Do You Come From Manchester? A Postcode Analysis of the Location of Manchester United and Manchester City Season Ticket Holders. Web.

Buckley, A. and Burgess, R. (2000) Blue Moon Rising, Bury: Milo Books.

Crolley, L. and Hand, D. (2002) Football, Europe and the Press, London: Frank Cass.

Hand, D. (2001) ‘City ’till I die? Recent trends in popular football writing’ soccer and society, 2(1): 99–112.

UEFA 2005: Vision Europe. The direction and development of European football over the next decade. Nyon, 2005, 34 pp. Web.

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