I’d simply like to juxtapose a couple of recent pieces of commentary about football today.
Neither the local nor the national identification is what defines the economy of football today.
What defines it is that since globalisation it’s been possible for a consortium of wealthy clubs in a particular set of Western European countries to build themselves up as global brands which have relatively little contact with their original local roots and hire people from all over the world.
They make money by selling goods, such as T-shirts, by television and to a diminishing extent by people watching [live] football.”
Logically these clubs would prefer to limit the game to a super-league of teams playing together irrespective of national leagues and local loyalties, were it not for one thing: football’s marketability is rooted in nationalism.
You see it whenever there’s a World Cup. What keeps the whole system going is the fact that football is something noneconomic for a large number of people who use it to identify themselves and their country.
Jose Mourinho, former manager of Chelsea FC:
And then comes Chelsea, a cosmopolitan club, with fans famous around the world, like Bryan Adams, Claudia Schiffer and Chelsea, the daughter of former president Clinton.
And there’s a common denominator among them all – they’re foreigners, which fits in with the general profile of the fan of the club. Whoever is a foreigner and leads a life above the means of the average citizen is a fan of Chelsea because Chelsea have the most expensive tickets, the most expensive meals, their social life around the game is more important than that of other clubs. Because they have that spending power, the Chelsea fan is more ‘society’ and, of course, that’s reflected in the stadium, with the support they give the team.
It’s the soft sort of fan who doesn’t get behind the team a lot, who don’t organise themselves into fan groups, with the cheering on that is characteristic of the image of English football.
They create a different atmosphere because a lot of our fans also go to the opera, the theatre, other types of shows that don’t lend themselves to lots of shouting. That’s the Chelsea fan.
That’s why Chelsea have some difficulty in asserting themselves as a great club of English football.