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Who wins the game?!

Published on June 15, 2012 by: in: Society

Enough of deadly serious and boring deliberations whether we should organize Euro 2012 or not, what could be built if it were not for that, whose fault it is that we’ve built too little or too much. Bring an end to serious discussions about civilizational project. Bring an end to deliberations about serviceability of motorways and readiness of airports. About historic moment, in which Poland and Ukraine organize one of the biggest sporting events in the world, together. Stop waffling, it’s time for shameless entertainment!

picture: Piotr Drabik

Wait a minute, does it mean that I’m agitating to bring an end to thinking, discussion that Euro 2012 isn’t open to criticism, not even assessment as well as imposing here paternalistic, sexist and macho point of view? Never. Simply there’s time and place for everything. Still I don’t forbid anybody to meet in smoky cafes and boycott “plebeian games” eating baguette with goat cheese and mango lassi. But the “spirit of the age”, at least in Poland in June, will be residing utterly elsewhere. In stadiums, fan zones cursed by many, in gardens and at homes in front of TVs switched on at full blast.

Although football has many drawbacks, like fanatic and boorish fans, it has also many completely unusual characteristics. It incredibly brings people together across any ethnic, class or language boundaries, for example. In the far East people can’t know where Milan lies or how the La Scala steps look like, but looking for the context for the inhabitant of the world design capital they will shout Paolo Maldini. Perhaps even Hungarian, who we met at the end of primary school on the suburbs of Budapest, didn’t know a word in any “civilized” language and we had to draw with chalk on tarmac and show on fingers info about number of players and how long we’ll play, however they kicked the ball, as we did (maybe not exactly because we beat them soundly). Maybe in Spain nobody heard about my hometown Łódź, but they remember that such club like Widzew once played and it even gained something in Champions League.

Prime Minister and his driver, trader selling tights on the market and car concern owner, brokerage office worker and baker, from whom I buy fresh rolls every morning and a heavy, who wakes them both with his evening howl “EŁKAES”[*]!. They all watch football.

In this counting-out rhyme there’s no woman – there’s a belief that football is for men. Unfairly. Great number of girls watch matches showing more or less interest, there are even determined female fans, who will catch anyone out with composition of their favourite team. And taking upbringing into account, in which guys since childhood are running in the backyard with the ball, and girls jumping over rubber band (perhaps I’m talking about some old-fashioned times, today probably both are sitting on Facebook), the football interest among women is huge. Football isn’t sexist but the exclusion from this huge adventure on the basis of sex and shaping “appropriate” behaviours is sexist.

Let’s forget for a moment about our ordinary problems, let’s enjoy, passionate, shout and cry, let’s free ourselves from the dictatorship of everyday life because the time of the Carnival came. And for those who hate football and at all cost don’t want to join, I have a request for understanding – it’s only 3 weeks, later everything will return to normal again. And we, the football fans, don’t exclude those who don’t understand our passion. There is always hope for them, it’s never too late for football salvation. Who knows, maybe they will convert?:-)

Translation: Katarzyna Kołodziej



[*] (ŁKS – Polish pronunciation: [ˌɛwkaˈɛs], is a Polish Sports Club which is publicly owned by Łódź City Council

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About Leszek Jażdżewski

Politologist, publicist, regular political commentator in Polish media. Editor in chief of “Liberté!”, Polish liberal socio-political journal. Studied international relations in University of Lodz, Institute of Political Studies on Polish Academy of Sciences, Glamorgan University in UK and Tbilisi University in Georgia. Vice-president of Liberal Forum, member of the council of Projekt: Polska Foundation, secretary of the board of Transport Integration Society, vice-president of Industrial Foundation. Coauthor of books: “Liberal reflections on life chances and social mobility in Europe” and “Democracy in Europe. Of the People, by the People, for the People?”

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