A Football Report: Soraya Soemadiredja, Manila
South-East Asia is football mad, and collectively one of the largest consumers of European football* in the world. This December, it’s all about Asia though, and we’ll see all the big names in their region performing for their countries. The ASEAN Football Federation’s Suzuki Cup will commence in South-East Asia, co-hosted by Indonesia and Vietnam. The Cup has been around since 1996, originally called the Tiger Cup and come the eve of the new year, will another side be in possession of the coveted cup? In Group A, we have Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Laos. In Group B, we have Vietnam, Singapore, Myanmar and the Philippines. Read on for a lightning quick introduction to each of the contenders.
A Football Report: Soraya Soemadiredja, writing from Jakarta
The play by play of the recent friendly between Indonesia and Uruguay mirrors the conditions of which the Indonesian fans have been subject at the international level for their national side. They started out enthusiastic, strong and willing to commit, even managing to score first. But with every attack on their goal, be it a poor result by the national team or corruption, the more disenchanted they become. Fatigue sets in from dealing with politicians taking advantage of the most popular sport. Then the unravelling, opposition hammering at their net without defence from an adequate development system.
A Football Report: By Soraya Soemadiredja, Toronto.
For Canadian residents, the World Cup isn’t the only world event they’ve got their eye on this June. The G8 and G20 annual summits are going to be hosted, at great cost the Canadian taxpayers, in Toronto and Ontario.
Yes, yes, this is all well and good for political watchers, you say, but can I go back to my football? In a second, I promise. According to the Globe and Mail’s Canadian columnist, Michael Kesterton, thirteen of the nineteen nations and one geo-political region that represent 85% of the world’s wealth have “soccer” as their “national past time”, whether or not they are represented in the current World Cup.
A Football Report: By Soraya Soemadiredja.
Eudy Simelane was a well respected midfielder and captain of the South African women’s national soccer team, Banyana Banyana, passionate about the game. She was also gay and that’s why she was murdered. On the 28th of April 2008, at the age of 31 she was gang-rapped and stabbed while being subjected to “corrective rape”. Simelane’s teammate from the Tsakane Ladies football club, Girlie “S’gelane” Nkosi, aged 37, a lesbian activist actively fighting against hate crimes, was stabbed and murdered a year later in Kwa-Thema, where they were both from.
“Corrective rape” is an attempt to punish and change somebody’s sexuality through rape. Horrible events like this is by no means isolated solely to South Africa. Discrimination and hate crime towards gays and lesbians is a world wide problem. But in South Africa, according to ESPN who researched and reported the story in the video above, “a disproportionate number of female athletes have been victims, if only because more are openly gay as Simelane was”.
A Football Report: Soraya Soemadiredja, writing not from Singapore, but Manila.
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.
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?