A month before the World Cup, Africa and African footballing culture—at least, as dictated by FIFA—has taken over a little area of Southeast Asia in the FIFA Official Store. Not in Geneva, not in Johannesburg, but in Singapore.
To remind us that the World Cup is A Big Deal, in January of 2008 FIFA opened its first Official Store in the new terminal of Singapore international airport, where in 2009, there were 27 million passengers that came and went. That’s means foot traffic from anywhere of 200 cities in 60 countries. That’s a lot of mobile football fans.
As an indonesian and a student who has spent most of her life doing development work with urban and rural underprivileged and in emergency relief in several countries, it is disgusting to see the Slumdog Millionare Hollywood trend being manifested into an appalling, undignified, profit-making experience by your company by your marketing of tours in the slum areas of Jakarta.
If what you intend to do is show rich and poor Jakartans as the same as rich and poor of other cities, there are better ways to do this.
This little opinion essay is in response to the Guardian Op-Ed piece about the acceptability of fans booing their own teams’ players.
Does football need better fans? No. That is to say, perhaps they should be more respectful or sporting fans, but I actually believe that football fans in fact deserve better football.
The fans are the only reason why this sport is as popular and why these players and teams are half as successful as they are. Fans are emotionally invested in the team and yet most have no access to the clubs and footballing monopoly. Fans are small-scale financial investors and expect returns. There are an unrecorded number of fans but very few professional players due to the high level of entry in this business; only the very few make it and the rest of us can only watch from the sidelines and this translates into passion for the unattainable which may manifest in criticism (“those who cannot do…”). Footballers are professionals and should accept that this public criticism is a part of their jobs. Football is a hierarchy and with all hierarchies there is some accountability, no matter how trivial, toward the fans, those belonging on the lowest rung of the hierarchy, who ensure that this hierarchy continues to exist. Lastly, if FIFA chooses to make football into a commodity that can be bought and sold, then is it truly unexpected if to find that fans will behave as consumers?