Soccer: The Good and the Bad

National Identity and Global Sports Events written by Alan Tomlinson and Christopher Young looks at the significance of international sporting events, specifically the World Cup in this case, and why so many people watch them. A case study looking at the 1934 World Cup in Italy shows how the World Cup and soccer were used to influence politics, culture, and economics of the people watching this large event. Tomlinson and Young show the relationship between soccer and globalization. They proved that soccer and sports in general are not only globalizing, but contributing to the globalization of other activities, products, and knowledge.

Anthony Giddens in The Consequences of Modernity does not talk about the globalization of culture and sports at all, but he does say when there is globalization there will be benefits and also unexpected downfalls. He expresses this when saying, “The possibility of nuclear war, ecological calamity, uncontainable population explosion, the collapse of the global economic exchange, and other potential global catastrophes provide an unnerving horizon of dangers for everyone” (125). All of these events or possibilities were not done on purpose, but were still a result of modernity.

Tomlinson and Young show the same negative side of globalization through soccer and the 1934 World Cup in Italy in which the Italians were victorious. They say, “Such successes were present and perceived, nationally and internationally, as victories, not merely for Italy but more particularly for the Fascist regime” (42). The globalization of soccer has been an extremely beneficial addition for the world as people are united, the economy is improved, and fans all over the world get to enjoy the game they love. But just as Giddens says, there is always both sides of the issue that need to be considered. An unintended consequence of the globalization of soccer was the help it provided to spread the politically ideas of fascism. Soccer proved the power of the fascist regime and united the Italians and the Germans before the Second World War. Soccer was more than a game in this case as it gave the fascist countries help and the support they needed to become the leading political parties in their respective countries.

Giddens says that unintended consequences will continue to occur as globalization and modernization spread. This applies to soccer as well as the problem from 1934 is past, but more issues have come up in the present and even more will arise in the future. Riots have broken out and bribes to high officials have been seen at the recent World Cup. Regardless of these consequences, the love of the game will always rise above them. Giddens says that at some point modernity will end, but I believe soccer will never reach the post-modernity. As the game always changes there will always be something new and creative pushing soccer along, and for this reason soccer has globalized quicker than any other sport but soccer is not stopping its growth any time soon.

Stephen