By Mathias Ehlers
Alright, good soul of football, now you have your own classic. Ironic, though, that it is a publisher from the U.S., the home of rigorously commercialized sports, that created this forum for alternative football culture. Hardly any of the contested issues in the world’s most popular game is missing, not nationalism, chauvinism, or the permeating commercialization. What we are handed is a broad picture of football’s political relevance.
In four chapters we can find an international range of authors (including Gerd Dembowski, well-known to a German audience) that examines everything from the myth of the working-class origins of the sport to pressing contemporary issues to examples of a truly alternative football culture – a culture lived by the English football ambassadors of the Easton Cowboys (and Cowgirls) who receive a worthy portrait in Soccer vs. the State. Yes, there are some recycled texts and themes in here too—we do know enough about the FC United of Manchester, Volker Ippig, and Cristiano Lucarelli at this point—but Soccer vs. the State reaches so far beyond the limits of mainstream left-wing football discourse that its purchase is no less than a must—at least for those who want to see further than the limits of the contaminated professional business. In addition, it is an important wake-up call for all who think that football should not be blended with politics.