society of the spectactle

this is going to be a good ol’ fashioned rant.
about football.

sorry to those not interested, or phased by the world cup. i’m even sorry to proper football fans – i’m one of those skeletons that comes out every 4 years for the cup ‘cos i love international football. i think that it has a unique role in public life.

anyway, the world cup is the biggest sporting event in the world. yes, kids, bigger than the olympics. FIFA has an economy greater than half the developing world * and it unites and divides countries and fans for 4 weeks every 4 years. every continent is represented and the rich don’t always dominate the poor, for once.

it. is. massive.

in the lead up to the australia v germany match, a few of us on twitter had been in contact with federation square, melbourne’s stand-out public viewing space, about screening the game/s on the big screen.
they said that the crowd was too big, they couldn’t handle it so no broadcast – birrarung marr was the back-up plan.
although why we didn’t all go to the a.mazing AAMI park (the caterpillar) i have no idea (public sport fail #1)

i thought it was stupid idea to leave that amazing screen empty for the event, but fine, ok. 11,000 people in fed square is shit anyway. but surely the other games would be on, right? 24 hour viewing space, room to be there, unite and celebrate sport and multi-culturalism, give the range of nationalities in our city a chance to gather, etc, etc. **


so far i have had to search through the streets of carlton for 45 minutes to see netherlands v denmark in a crappy dive pub;
the charles dickens was packed for the serbia v germany, so i trawled the pubs of the CBD, ending up in a tiny room, in a shitty pub blaring terrible music with 6 others. [in a pub that advertised ‘televising world cup 2010!!’];
each night i try untold types of p2p streams online – even just for the commentary.
i’ve now even decided to borrow a tv, so that i don’t have to wander the streets anymore like a harlot.

the games could all so easily have been screened at fed square [like the european championship games from 2 years ago].

i could have frequented that space regularly, for long periods of time, probably bought some greasy food, populated the space with my fellow fans, and made an amazing collective experience.
federation square could have been a real public space for a whole month. how’s about that!

and the city of melbourne could really have come alive as a city attuned with the rest of the world, all watching as one. **

epic fail. (public sport fail #2)

but, just so you don’t think i’m solely hawking on federation square or even the city of melbourne, let me whinge about the FFA and football culture in melbourne generally***.

i had to trawl the city on friday night, trying to find a place to watch the game which decided australia’s fate (germany v serbia). but i could watch the essendon/hawthorn afl match 1000 times over. what does this say to me? melbourne (and australia) is still, clearly, too focused on its own codes to give a fuck about truly international football.

and we’re supposed to be bidding for WC 2022.
you’ve got to be joking…

as sportsmen (and yes, it’s all men here) we are a self-centered, tunnel-visioned, small-minded bunch of kids. lord knows we need the world cup to actually broaden our minds, but as a race, we are not ready. we have no ability to see past our own noses, or hip-pockets. we would rather whinge and blame others. and that is not the mark of international sports (except maybe italy)

and the FFA have hardly contributed towards really facilitating football engagement in australia during this international football event. ****

i don’t have a TV, but these days that should not prohibit me from being able to watch football. i can’t find a decent live stream (paid or unpaid), SBS are streaming audio, but no video; the FFA have allowed Optus to monopolise the mobile platform for their customers (apparently it’s shit anyway), but there is no possible paying app to stream for the rest of the mobile market (competition law?).
And although i’m an Optus broadband customer, i still can’t access the broadcast.

Sport is a massive part of australian public culture. it has the potential to be used for fantastic connections instead of breeding pack-raping, drunk, hooligan fucktard footballers and commentators. But it seems that no-one is really ready to take action to make that happen through the world game. Least of all in melbourne.****

* i made that up. i think.
** i know, it sounds like corny advertising copy, but if you’ve never hugged a stranger when your team scores a goal, you will never understand.
***andrew demetriou and james merlino, i fart in your general direction.
**** and again.

thanks for subscribing to she sees red by lauren brown. xx

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