The Soccer Syndrome: Speculative and dirty Business

1) Soccer, porn and pop make up the culture industry today.

2) Clubs, players and coaches are now highly speculative financial assets. The Neymar deal with a transfer fee of 222 million elevates world soccer to a new dimension. The number is rather unwilling to be imagined nor can it be distinguished from other numbers at the moment, most likely to be thought of as an abstract number, with the variable X representing an abstracted symbol for a number, perhaps
one can at least think of an entity called number or a lucky number, which lets repeat the one big throw in innumerable variations, but even this does not meet the phantasticity of the number. The phantasticity of the number line (the set of natural numbers, pure quantity forming an infinite … )

If you click on a club profile, the first number that jumps out at you is the total market value of the club. This is roughly equivalent to the market capitalization of a company, although very few clubs are public companies. All players have a constantly floating market value, which is determined by a conglomerate of player advisors, clubs, commentators and ultimately the players themselves, i.e. a kind of collective rating agency. The player-entrepreneur is the advanced form of the neoliberal human capital characterized by Foucault. The professional player is an income-earning machinic competence, and this within the soccer industry, which considers the player as a streaming financial and sporting complex, ready for a temporary period to support the formation of the corporate entity „soccer club“. Soccer players are neither wage-earning labor nor high-paying slaves; they are (like the club) financial assets exposed to the future.

Players, like clubs, need to be capitalized. Thus, it is necessary to compare the future profits expected at a given point in time (ex ante) with the current profits, which are only known ex post, on which one has speculated. The increasingly short-term contracts, youth work and all speculation about a player’s development potential point to the future-oriented exploitation of the player as a financial investment. Accordingly, big financiers invest in clubs whose player material, which stages the events, is equal to the productivity of the club (in interaction with management, coach, medicine, etc.).

In a special way, the professional football player is a derivative. The price of the professional soccer player Ronaldo is continuously co-determined by the price of a multitude of derivative products, that is, products derived from him, with which Ronaldo’s hair and/or body design is symbolically charged. The market success of the goods advertised by Ronaldo will increase his own price (as a commodity), while commodities, because they bear his name and thus an image, will themselves in turn mutate into derivatives, with both kinds of commodity-derivatives being there for each other, partly because Ronaldo has managed to elevate himself to the status of living money. Obviously, Ronaldo’s commodity supports the commodities he advertises, and vice versa -: both kinds of commodities raise their price in pure reciprocity, by mutually authenticating themselves as derivatives in the media gutters of the picture industry.

3) In Germany, the DFB provides the institutional framework for the flourishing soccer business. The organization and marketing of soccer includes the stimulation and control of so-called thymotic energies, of ambition, energies that today, however, and Sloterdijk forgets this, are bathing (gone) in a lake of Wellnees feeling. The functionaries of the DFB, whom Sloterdijk calls the indispensable parasites of the sport, follow the organizational secrets, as the Olympic Committee has given them for a long time, namely to create as many functions and posts as possible, in order to rise to the ranks of the newly rich and newly important (Sloterdijk), To accumulate wealth, if necessary through corruption, for which the media, the televesion and the clubs are used, the latter the matrices of the sporting movement, surrounded by applauding fans who are now slowly getting fed up.

4) Football is a global event machinery that broadcasts soccer matches on TV around the clock. Nowhere is the victory of constructivist media theory, which states that the media create the event and not the other way around, better realized than in soccer. Empirically, this is reflected in the fact that the big clubs generate high proportions of their revenues through broadcasting rights awarded worldwide.

The desire for over-reward is spurred on by professional soccer. Unlike modern theater, where from the very beginning there are only losers who talk about their problems and become more and more knotted up in the process, the modern soccer arena is about the desire for the primal distinction: victory or defeat. The staging of the uncertain occurs with the promise that in the end there will be a satisfactory solution for at least one of the parties, whereby tactics are necessary for both sides to produce this satisfactory solution in the course of the game itself by breaking down and updating (virtual) processes into molecular modules and paths that can be recombined quasi-machinically at any time by lightning-fast decisions, calculations and changes of tactics. In the mass media spectacle, the new is always a means of building up and relieving tension or of maintaining a permanent arc of suspense, with just enough novelty allowed as a deviation so as not to disrupt the effect of recognizing the old schemes. The novelty alone should bring unthreatening uncertainties into play, but without the freshness of something alienating.

5) The soccer stadium is both spectacle and panopticon. Through comprehensive video surveillance of the spectator area (seats are better monitored than standing room), the police, who have both their own operations rooms and stadium guards, now have control over the stadium. It is assisted by an analytical apparatus that divides soccer fans into three categories: Category A = normal fan; Category B = conditionally ready for violence; Category C = ready for violence, they seek confrontations. This power-knowledge complex generates specific power relations inside and outside stadiums. In the course of the transformation of stadiums into a primarily commercially exploitable space, pyrotechnics have also been made illegal, for example.

6) The neoliberal player represents the demands of a flexible labor market. Human capital is supposed to possess stamina, flexibility and autonomous performance, occupy spaces, anticipate game situations, play in a way that serves the team and yet be creative. The magic formula is called team. Performance potential is realized as a team, but at the same time it is necessary to assert one’s own elegance, and this is what makes a star. The soccer industry today is always also a casting industry.

7) Ultras are both a result of state-produced delinquency and a political issue. They are fans who do not want to be conventional fans and yet are.

Every form of local patriotism produced by fans and consumers is, like the soccer club itself, part of a ranking that cities organize against each other as capital locations in international competition.

8) Soccer pays homage to success, which is synonymous with happiness and positive thinking. This is matched by the permanent life-logging of the player, a careful observation of the body that is supposed to lead to higher performance. The control becomes gaseous, it excites and is insidious at the same time. The player is a perfect self-quantifier, albeit one that only ever helps the team.

9) Vision: There is the intimate dialogue of the soccer subject with the ball as a quasi-subject, whereby it seems to be exclusively and solely the ball that constantly goes over the top and chooses its own paths and ways, so that the ball alone seems to occupy the positions, runs, and places, shifting them in every second of the game, thus the continuum of infinities of possible paths and encounters, touches and relations that the very ball paves, becomes unspeakably alien to the soccer subject, this chaosmos of infinities, only laboriously limited by strategies, tactics, skills and abilities – players, referees, television cameras, soundscapes and Euclidean geometry, yes, and even the stadium plays along, the spectators with their collective perceptions oscillating between event and event – (the stadium panorama creates the orbit of an exaggeration of collective affects).

10) A position: „It is the fact that the Monday newspaper is always the most unreadable, because the aggressive sports section with its slurry of soccer front coverage, player half-naked photos and penny wisdom holds the puny remainder in its claws. Soccer commentary is not an opinion, it’s a crime. It is the audacity of the bar, which costumes itself from the daily garbage collection of Feuilleton, KiKa and H & M and hallucinates in soccer the „adventure I“ and even the „adventure life“….

It is the benighted rent visages of accepting media work, the grenade-dumb zombies from politics, church and economy, who chum up to soccer, in order to be somehow also pop or cool or both. Because if you don’t look good and go along with it, you won’t get elected, your ratings will drop, your chair will wobble, and no one will buy your products. Never before has the commitment to mediocrity been so convincing. It is the affirmation bubble of polytropic fun bourgeoisie, which is the worst precisely because it wouldn’t dream of being modern bourgeoisie.“

translated by deepl.

Scroll to Top