Jonathan Wilson (editor), 2012
This issue of The Blizzard was a little bit less exciting than the ones before. A big topic of Issue Five was the world cup bidding process which lead to the decisions for Russia and Qatar but they miss to lift the fog around that topic. Three articles cover the topic and although a lot of people comment on the process in the articles, hardly any leads are followed to prove the speakers right or wrong or final conclusions are drawn, which are based on all the information available. It is good to hear what the Qatar officials or some conspiracy theorists have to say but I would expect that their comments are double-checked and opposed to each other to see the validity of what is said. As it the articles are just an endless line of comments, which do not help to get a more educated opinion about whether there was corruption and bribery involved in the decision making.
The interviews in this issue are not really enlightening as well. I think reading the first four or five answers of Socrates you know the direction of the thinking of one of the last hippie soccer players and you can predict his answers very well. Roy Hodgson, on the other hand never really had anything interesting or new to tell in his career. I think his biggest achievement as a manager was to make the media and supporters of the English national team accept mediocrity and that it is already a big achievement for a small country like England to go the the World Cup Final. Who would have thought that a manager can play the British media so well that he does not get fired after the disastrous tournament in Brasil.
Much better however are the articles about the supporter culture, whether it is in Japan, Singapore or Argentina. Especially the article of Ben Mabley about Japan, shows very nicely the rise and fall of any trend in the youth culture. Very similar to music, if a new genre is created, it starts with separation and the will to be different than the existing. That can be on a big scale as general rebellion against the parents, like in the seventies, or that can be on small scale, like Black Metal separating from the rest of the Metal genre. At the beginning the newcomers are creative, they try to get inspiration from other areas, which are usually rejected by the establishment, to show that they are different. The new way gets a shape and the uniqueness is celebrated in a certain way. More and more people follow although not knowing the source myth and why the followers do what they do. They are not coming because they want to be different but because they want to join and want to be part of a movement. Now the movement becomes so big and the clothes they wear and the song they sing become a ritual, which is carried out, because it is necessary to be part. The whole movement ends in the mainstream and has not the differentiation ability it had before. At that point either the old founding members or some creative new guys start to grumble because the uniqueness is gone and sooner or later a new genre or movement forks off starting the cycle again. This cycle is very nicely described for the ultra fans of Gamba Osaka, who just want to be different than the usual Japanese supporters, partly to revolt against the typical Japanese culture, too, but finally end exactly there again.
Simon Kuper’s observation that the nationalism is not that serious anymore I can just confirm. Being from Germany I had for years the pictures of the 1990 World Cup quarter final in my head when a game against the Netherlands was scheduled, which made me hate the Durch fervidly for one evening. I can also remember the school trip in 1992 when we teens had serious discussions about getting into a fight with Turkish school kids because they had supported Denmark (remember “everyone hates Germany”) when we watched the final together. All that is gone. On one hand the European union made it easy for so many people to move around, that you end up with friends from all over the world, so you have to accept other loyalties, too, and when you work abroad you always partly support your host country, too. On the other hand the European Union made the national states less relevant but it strengthened the regional loyalties. Being Scottish, Bavarian or Catalan creates today a much stronger home feeling than being British, German or Spanish and therefore the local teams are supported with more vigor than the national teams.
Finally the article about Wiel Coerver by Steve Bartram is worth reading. For my taste it focuses a bit too much on the biography of Coerver and does not provide enough detail about the method itself (which is available in German) but I think it would be a good expansion of The Blizzards’ scope, when the history or development of the training methods in soccer is portrayed.
Tactics & Game philosophy: 1/3