Jonathan Wilson (editor), 2011
If you would like to read more about the stories in Behind the Curtain, just read this issue of The Blizzard. Directly the first article talks about the raise and fall of Oleg Romantsev and Spartak Moscow, a story which would also fit perfectly into the set of heroic past and present decline scheme of the book but with a new story not told yet. The interviews of Zagallo and Tostao provide great insights into the live and play of Pele with a little bit less legendary tales than usual and the one with Egil Olson, one of the most extreme supporters of vertical soccer is also very entertaining, although his views are a bit too simplistic for my taste.
The report about the Kenyan Premier League, where clubs made themselves independent from the national soccer association show nicely the difficulties of soccer in Africa, which were also described in Ich werde rennen, wie ein Schwarzer and how they might get solved. That might also be a lesson to learn for the countries in Eastern Europe which have similar problems.
I also hardly remembered that Florence had to go to the fourth league some years ago, because they came back so quickly. That a player of the national team, Angelo Di Livio, stayed with the team and brought them back to the top is one of the rare occasions of player’s showing loyalty to a club. Knowing similar examples, of clubs relegated because of bankruptcy from Germany, I can just say that ususally such a club just falls apart and even drops one or two leagues deeper in the next years. The task to fill a complete team roster with player’s quickly in one or two months and then create a team spirit again is usually impossible to achieve. However, as seen in the case of Di Livio, if such a player shows some commitment, than that can create a positive momentum in the whole club, which obviously helped Fiorentina to go back to the first league in just four years. These type of stories also help supporters to bind much more to a club than any single win or promotion can do. That are the type of stories which become part of the lore of the club creating or carrying on tradition.
Another interesting combination of articles in this issue are the articles about racism of Gabriele Marcotti and the article about the right wing nationalist supporters of Beitar Jerusalem. Marcotti makes the point that the smack talk between two groups of supporters or between players on the field should not be taken too seriously. It is usually a coolness game, which is normally played between teenagers. Two people insult each other with everything available, just to see who has the best tagline or who looses the temper first. If someone seriously runs to the teacher to solve the issue, it just shows that he is not able to stand his man. The same happens between players and supporter groups. Therefore not every insult based on skin color or origin is racist and very often making a big fuss in the media around this trash talk just helps to hide the real problems with racism, whether in soccer or society.
The article about Beitar Jerusalem, describes the clubs decline after the supporters become more and more nationalistic and racist. It might sound strange but it is in way encouraging that clubs hardly survive when a takeover of supporter groups by real nationalists happens it becomes impossible to find good players and sponsors who are willing to join such a club. I can also not imagine how one can create a team spirit and a connection to a club when hate and to-be-against is the dominating mindset.
Tactics & Game philosophy: 2/3
Must read for: No One >> Fans of soccer history >> Soccer fans >> All readers
Next book: Zonal Defending the Italian Way (Oct 7th)