European Football, Colonization, and FUN WITH MAPS!

I’ve been so swamped at work, and I’ve found little time to just write for myself, Own Goal, or work on The LOL is Round. I wrote this on a break at work. It took 5 minutes or so [humblebrag]. As soon as this conference is planned and done with, I’ll be ready to take on this upcoming season with lots of poorly thought out pieces and crudely drawn references to things no one gives a shit about, as such:

The critique of the systematic pillaging of the non-European world at the hands of European powers isn’t something new. Since the revolution of revisionist history in the United States and Europe in the 1950s and 1960s and the study of post-colonial ERRYTHANG, English-language literature on the events between 1492 and now has gotten quite expansive. Eduardo Galeano, if you’re looking for a good book on the subject, wrote The Open Veins of Latin America in 1971. It’s wholly depressing, but is a great resource for building one’s understanding of the work that goes into creating a European empire at the expense of countless lives. From the late-15th century until about last week, European powers, at will, through war, disease, papal decree, whatever, carved up the natural and human resources of the non-European world. Europeans got pretty efficient at creating networks of colonial and imperial outposts that served crowns and governments over centuries. America even got in on the action after the War of 1812 and that lil’ Monroe Doctrine-y thing.

This summer marks another off season where European football clubs take their show on the road and hit Africa, Asia, and North America with a typhoon of lazy step overs and out-of-shape footballers. Disturbingly, the way the European and American media speaks about these tours, they seem more like crusades of conquest than anything else — a flexing of European exceptionalism. Most importantly, it’s all part of a new systematic, calculated ‘materialistic’ sacking of new world markets that can provide a place for the selling of English and Spanish goods. Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, United, Arsenal, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Milan, Juve, PSG these are the new global conquistadors of corporate entertainment. United and Arsenal (BTW Arsene Wenger doesn’t like this who touring thing) have their eyes set on Africa, Asia, and the Middle East (so do Real Madrid). Chelsea spends its time and money to make money in the United States and in the process cornering already sports-heavy markets with their royal blue and white, rouble-fueled charm, but everyone wants a piece of that sweet American pie.

Like European conquerors before, clubs in Europe swear that they are spreading the noble truth that is European football that these unwashed, unclothed, and backward peoples really need. It is their duty as emissaries of European football culture. This truth will cleanse the souls of these beasts and also create a uniformity that will make the European products easier to sell and pawn off to people thousands of miles from SW6 or the Champs-Élysées. These noble savages will inevitably throw away their local culture and traditions after having seen the true light that is global marketing strategies.

The winners are no longer decided in a league or cup formet; it is won in the storefronts and online shopping carts outside of Europe. South America, Africa, North America, and Asia, are the new battlegrounds for European competition. And, like the colonization of Africa in the 19th century at the hands of the English, Dutch, Belgians, Germans, Portuguese, Spanish, and Italians, these are both public and private enterprises that benefit the European public and private sectors. 

To be honest, the football is better in Europe. They do have the best players and the best coaches. Everyone on the wrong side of the imaginary line that divides Europe from the rest of us should be proud that their exported products — players like Messi, Suarez, Toure, Drogba, Dempsey, etc. — are repackaged and sold directly to those who helped create these and many other greats of the eternal game.

Shades of the Columbian Exchange. 

Unfortunately, here, there will be no Boer War. Even worse, there will be no Boxer Rebellion or Opium War. This time the conquered are happy to have their new masters. They are welcomed with open arms. I am, at times, that person.

Personally, it’s hard to come to terms with the way clubs, the European media, and even the American media approach these pre-season friendlies. At times I just want to say screw it and not watch a minute and burn all my Chelsea shirts. My rage against the machine usually stops because I realize how much I paid for those shirts. I also really love European football. It’s entertaining.

The same stupid smile I wear on my face when sipping a Coke or buying frivolous piece of technology I felt that I absolutely needed is probably the same smile I exhibit when the European season kicks off. It’s the same smile I have when I get to see my favorite players play against the Sounders or PSG. The smile is a sign of the state of blissful ignorance I have entered when Chelsea Blue is on the screen. I’m conflicted because I feel like I owe my local football culture more, but who isn’t? I try hard to like the MLS and my local team, but my inclination is still there to sing “Blue is the Colour” and bang on about how John Terry couldn’t possibly be racist. 

Screw it.

The MLS All-Stars v. Chelsea Football Club will be aired tomorrow, Wednesday, July 23 on NBC at 7:30PM CST. 

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