Professional football has been hyper-commercialised by every means available. Billion pound deals between private entities to secure TV rights, ridiculous sponsorship schemes that see clubs partner with the most strange or dangerous of companies, and ever-rising ticket prices turning the sport into an occasional daytime activity for the well-off rather than dedicated working-class fans. But there are still instances of defiance, of fans and players organising and speaking out against the commercial elements of the sport.
by Jonathan Lee
Content warning: sexual assault, racist slurs, violence
On Monday 14th October, a UEFA Euro Qualifiers match between Bulgaria and England was forced to stop on two occasions after racist abuse from Bulgarian fans was aimed at Black players on the England team. The match, which was already subject to a partial stadium ban for previous incidents of racism, saw black clad, nazi saluting, monkey-chanting skinheads hijack the proceedings and force the stadium to issue announcements and the refereee to halt the game.
The three step UEFA protocol (which reached the second step on Monday night, the third would have abandoned the match) has been criticised for being ineffective and too soft to counter discrimination. Whilst UEFA’s public reaction to the racism has been firm, calling for “football’s family” to “wage war on the racists”, whether or not neo-nazis should be given two free gos at abusing Black English players before they are punished is a valid point.Continue Reading
by Lewis Martin
The NFL’s anthem controversy has been rumbling on for a long time. It started in 2016 with San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick deciding to sit for the national anthem during preseason games. This eventually changed to kneeling after a conversation with former soldier and player Nate Boyer about he best way to protest during the anthem. This carried on for the rest of the season with players from across the league joining him in his protest against the treatment of people of color in the United States. At the end of the season, Kaepernick was released from his contract with the 49ers as they looked to rebuild the franchise afresh.Continue Reading
by Stu Lucy
Professional sport is possibly one of the most challenging and competitive ways to earn a living these days. With national fame and glory as rewards, many dream of representing their country on the international stage and bringing home a medal, earning their place in their country’s sporting history. Imagine then that you were one of the lucky few that made it to the top, that had that chance to take gold and did so, multiple times, earning a revered reputation in the field as the one to beat, then imagine you were told it could all be taken away because you were too much like the opposite sex. Where would you start?!Continue Reading
by Jonathan Lee
Decolonise Wales: Part 1 can be found here.
The Welsh National anthem was the first anthem to ever be sung at a sporting event. In 1905, when Wales played the New Zealand rugby team for the first time. Declining to sing the official “God Bless the Prince of Wales”, the crowd gave a spontaneous rendition of “Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau” in response to the All Blacks’ Haka. The song became a staple of Welsh sporting events from then on. Although until 1975 organisers refused to let the anthem be sung unless accompanied by “God Save the Queen”.Continue Reading
by Laura Jamieson
Last Saturday, July 15th, saw the Eastern Mermaids travel to Upton-Upon-Severn to compete in the second southern fixture for the Quidditch Premiere League. Quidditch – a real, full contact, mixed gendered sport – has rapidly grown over the last ten years, with over 500 teams across 26 countries, competing in national and international tournaments. Played using ‘brooms’ made of PVC pipe, the players aim to score points by throwing the quaffle through three hoops on opposite ends of the pitch, all whilst avoiding beaters, players armed with dodgeballs aiming to briefly knock their opponents out of the game.
After 20 minutes, the seekers and snitch take the pitch, a player from each team aiming to ‘catch’ a tag rugby style ball in a sock attached to the back of a neutral player’s shorts. Quaffle goals are worth 10 points, with a snitch catch worth 30 points and ending the game. Full contact and competitive, the sport has seen many people otherwise disinterested or alienated from mainstream popular sports become engaged and active, some going from stationary nerds to cardio and protein enthusiasts, other players having previously played sport, joining due to the appeal of a unique, inclusive sport unlike any other.Continue Reading
by Toby Gill
Content warning – sexism, domestic abuse, racism, two very rich men being awful.
Last night, combat sports enthusiasts of the world gathered around their television sets. At the end of a long day’s work, they sunk into their sofas – remote in one hand, perhaps a Bud in the other. Of course, as they have been saying to their less knowledgeable friends for months, this whole fight is simply a farce. Of course, just like everyone else, they are obviously going to watch it. This week has been the world tour: a series of hugely anticipated pre-fight press conferences. Fans now watch eagerly – just to see if there could be some substance to this fight after all.
What they have been greeted with is a steaming, grotesque, shameless turd-like insult to everything they hold dear.
by Laura Potts
In the midst of multiple crises faced by students, universities and schools, the outcome of the snap general election will be a major indicator of the future of the UK education sector. Each week until the vote we are featuring perspectives from our regular contributors and guests on what the election could mean for students.
The snap election. The vote looming over the future. We in the UK have the privilege of affecting the result. As students, young people and members of a fast changing world, voting in a western country like ours means more than just influencing your own future. Electing certain policies through parties can drastically alter how Britain relates to the rest of the world. How the next generation develop, what they value, and the state of the planet they will live on are all on the line. It is crucially important, therefore, for us each to familiarise ourselves with each party’s policies and plans. Not only is it vital to consider how these policies will affect broader issues such as the environment or foreign relations, it is also vital to be sure that the party you vote for stands to protect what you value in your country.
by James Anthony
So much is written about institutions which are culturally important to us. Visual arts, music and literature — to give some examples — are all vital art forms for Norwich and are rightly given a lot of local attention. They allow people to experience different aspects of life and opinions whilst inspiring and intriguing across the city. It can be a minor hobby for some, but a whole life for others. These arts enhance so many lives and need to be protected for the good of the citizens of Norwich. We often hear that arts funding and exposure is in a crisis (and this is an important discussion) but so is something else which I worry may be overlooked by the progressive media.
Football, while not exactly a form of art, holds many of the same characteristics as art institutions when employed on a citywide scale.Continue Reading
by Candice Nembhard
To this day, I am unable to pinpoint what exactly about sport coverage brings out numerous forms of oppression and respectability politics. It should come as no surprise that something as global and consistent as the Olympics should regularly undermine or overstate the achievements of many hard-working sportsman – thus propagating outdated and sexist narratives within competitive sport.
by Alex Valente
Italy. Land of saints, poets, and sailors, but also of pizza, mafia, and mandolins. Italy. One of the most beautifully perceived countries in the world, but also one of the most corrupt, even according to its own population. Italy. The country that somehow voted for Silvio Berlusconi more than once since 1992. The country that for some reason hosts the Vatican since 1929. My country of birth, and the country I have moved back to after eight years in the UK.
Italy still confuses the *insert passionate hand gesture here* out of me.Continue Reading
by Hannah Rose
Who is your political role model? Mandela? Aung San Suu Kyi? I choose Harriet Martineau— one of Norwich’s very own, and the first female sociologist. But in a Year 11 assembly at The Hewett Academy on the 8th March (International Women’s Day), none other than Donald Trump was advocated as a role model for self-belief – and one that students should be taking notes from if they want to pass their exams. Forget Martin Luther King and forget Emmeline Pankhurst, please welcome to the stage the man who called for the complete shutdown of Muslim immigration, and whose political speeches are a gutter-stream of bigotry. Hewett Vice-Principal Antony Little (former Conservative local councillor) might equate Trump’s success to inimitable self-confidence, but others might put it down to simply having more money than sense. The truth – or at least a key part of it – is that Donald Trump does not have magical reserves of self-belief. He has simply been seduced by the skewed fantasy of himself.
by Josh Wilson
I know what you are thinking, cricket is the least radical sport apart from maybe professional bowls. The only way it can truly be radical is if the unprotected fielding masses rose up to take out the heavily padded bourgeois batsman and aim for the heads of the aristocratic umpires. But the game today is the preserve of the middle and upper classes in the UK and has a very apparent colonial legacy across the globe. It is a game that often puts people to sleep but has been used very specifically as a cultural export of an empire that once covered a quarter of the globe and is responsible for some of the worst atrocities in human history. Empire is a part of British history that should never be glorified and that we should be collectively ashamed and horrified by. But a poll was released about a month ago that showed 43% of people are actually proud of our colonial past.
I am going to be honest — I am a big cricket fan. It was the sport that I grew up with alongside football. But the history of the sport is something that I have become uneasy with. So I thought I would go on a research mission and look at whether my love affair with cricket should come to an end or if it is just another part of our culture that we can enjoy whilst understanding the historical significance of it.Continue Reading
by Rowan Van Tromp
Dear Mr McNally,
I was pleasantly surprised upon hearing the news that Norwich City FC are committed to introducing the living wage — as set by The Living Wage Foundation — to all permanent colleagues across the business by the 2016/17 season, as well as reviewing wage policies of external agencies and contractors who work at the club, to make sure staff also receive the Living Wage by 2016-17. Whilst this is a great step forward in becoming a club that takes its social responsibility seriously, we’re still lagging way behind on environmental sustainability.
One club that’s made huge strides forward in this area is Forest Green Rovers, owned by Dale Vince, the founder of the green energy company — Ecotricity. Since taking over in 2010 the club has implemented many measures to improve their environmental performance and in doing so has achieved the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) — the gold standard for environmental performance, along with international recognition as the world’s leading club in this field.Continue Reading
by Robyn Banks
In previous years, you could be excused for not realising the women’s world cup was on. Not this year. We have been one of the few countries to broadcast every game live, albeit that games were only moved from soon to be online only BBC Three to BBC One for the quarter final, and the games have attracted a lot more attention than they have in the past. An unnecessarily sexualised image of a female footballer didn’t even cross my path, and FIFA announced that for the first time women’s football teams will appear in their annual playstation game. Perhaps it’s because we did so well, coming in third place, and everyone loves a winner, or perhaps it signifies greater steps towards the equality of women’s sports in culture.
by Robyn Banks
Caitlyn Jenner’s controversial coming out made headlines this month, and attracted hate and support in equal measure. While transphobia is always difficult to accept, the worst kind of bigotry has to be from those who veil it behind half-arsed logic and think they can justify their hate with a rational argument. It was in this vein that #givebackthegold was born.
This petition to persuade Caitlyn Jenner to give back the gold medal she earned competing in the 1976 Olympic men’s decathlon has garnered over 15,000 signatures on change.org. The accompanying text reads “Ms. Jenner (as talented as she is) claims that she has always believed herself to be truly female, and therefore, was in violation of committee rules regarding women competing in men’s sports and vice versa. Therefore, it is with a heavy heart that we must ask whether or not it is proper that Ms. Jenner should retain her olympic records in light of this”.
by Jack Brindelli
This, my latest contribution to the Norwich Radical, was all but written an hour before I finally submitted it. My sermon on the overlooked politics of football fandom was signed sealed and on the brink of being delivered. I already had plenty to talk about. It’s been a long month of big themes in the footballing world. Over the course of February, the Beautiful Game has been at the centre of almost every kind of debate there is to be had — and it has popularised these debates in a way that most of us laptop radicals could only dream of.
First, there was uproar when man of the people, Premier League chairman Richard Scudamore poo-pooed the idea clubs should pay their employees a living wage in the wake of a record £5.1billion television deal — at which point Labour leader Ed Miliband literally missed an open goal to popularise his party’s campaign for a living wage, in an election year. Then there was the moment Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrated a goal for Paris Saint Germain tore off his jersey to reveal 50 tattoos, later revealed to be names of people suffering from hunger throughout the world in a bid to raise awareness about global inequality — proving he has a conscience to match his not-so-starved ego in the process. And then of course there were infamous incidents involving Chelsea fans barring a black man from riding the tube in Paris — and of West Ham fans mocking the disabled, reported by TV pundit Kevin Kilbane — provoking widespread condemnation, not least from football fans themselves.