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"Football fans have manic-depressive streaks. They reach the top of the world in the World Cup, and at the end they return to the bottom. It's a difficult experience" | Israel today

2022-12-16T13:54:54.127Z


In Brazil, victories in the World Cup herald an increase in the birth rate • In Argentina, every game affects the national sentiment • And when does football predict political and economic processes? • The laboratory of Prof. Yair Galili of Reichman University is the sports stadiums, and he has some surprising conclusions


Yair Galili


Professor of Behavioral Sciences


Deputy Dean and Head of the Sports, Communication and Society Research Laboratory at the School of Communication at Reichman University; senior faculty member in the master's degree program in sports psychology. Founder and head of the research unit at the Israel Football Association

Prof. Yair Galili, we are within touching distance of the World Cup final, which is considered one of the most emotional seen in recent years.

Before we talk about the special happenings in it, it might be worth starting at a more distant point that corresponds indirectly with the current games: historically, football did not become popular overnight, and our love for it was created in a process way.


"The game started way back in the Middle Ages, as a competition between villages with one ball. The game would move from town to town, and the goal was to get the ball into the goal. Over the years, it changed several times, until it reached the version we know today. Similarly, the fans also They did not arrive immediately, and the process was three-staged. In the first stage, the number of players, which as mentioned also reached the dimensions of entire villages, dropped until it became institutionalized, so that active players gradually became spectators.

"In the second stage, in the 19th century, the construction of organized and larger stadiums began, which turned football into the largest secular religion in the world, with all its characteristics: idols, uniforms, a fixed day of the week, high priests. The more popular the game became, the bigger stadiums were built. And more fans arrived. The third stage occurred in the 20th century, in 1964, with the start of satellite broadcasting. Fans no longer had to be present at sporting events, which turned world sports into a thriving industry."

The processes you mentioned also apply to other sports - institutionalization, stadiums, broadcasting rights.

But what is it about football that makes the experience of watching it global, one that brings out oceans of emotion from us?


"I think that football is a language that almost everyone speaks, they are certainly exposed to it. It is easy for us to see in the game the division into two teams, sometimes good versus bad, there is a somewhat structured plot, but there is no need for scriptwriters because the surprise effect is always present. So it turns out that football has everything - comedy, tragedy and a host of amazing things. All that is required is a ball, players and someone who runs the game."

Why didn't basketball, football or rugby become more popular?


"Although the process of choosing a side also exists in other industries, in football there is something more tribal and basic, in the sense of identity and belonging. These are two elements that people will look for. This belonging also makes you a winner or a loser, depending on the achievements of your team.

"Football or basketball, for example, are more synthetic, artificial, in the sense that they were invented for entertainment purposes. Football grew up in American universities, as a game whose rules were systematically written to make more money. The amount of money made by the American Football League, NFL, is higher than almost any other industry. Maybe only Formula 1 comes close to them."

Escape to fantasy

If we go back to the current World Cup, it seems that, as mentioned, a certain emotional eagerness can be detected in it.

What are the explanations for this?


"Although it's warm in Qatar right now, this is the World Cup being held for the first time in the winter season in many countries around the world, which leads to higher ratings. In the summer I'm tempted to say that not everyone is a sports fan, because people travel and vacation, but in the winter that's not the case.

"Another element is that the current World Cup has stopped most of the world's leagues, and players arrive in the middle of the season when they are in top form, which creates high-level games. In the summer, players arrive tired after the whole season. In a rather conservative sports world, conventions were broken here, and surprises were recorded that led to excessive excitement: the surprising Morocco , Germany and England that flew away, the tragic story of Ronaldo. I was almost tempted to cry with him after Portugal's loss. This is a kind of tragedy for his fans. This is also the first World Cup in which there is a female referee with two female assistants officiating a match."

There is a feeling that in light of the great emotionality in the current World Cup and the mania surrounding it, we are also expected to have a boomerang effect - that is, an emotional vacuum among the fans, depression, at its end.

Fans are already wondering what they will do the day after.


"Sports fans in general, and soccer in particular, are completely characterized by manic-depressive lines. The day of the game and the game itself bring them to their peak, a crazy mania that is difficult to describe for non-sports fans. The other side of the same coin is the depression that follows. In the World Cup, things can be more serious, Because there is a four-year 'build up', and the promises are huge. People say to themselves - 'That's it, it can't be anything better than this, we've reached the peak', and then the games are over and they are flown back to the ground. For the fans, it's a difficult experience. From the top of the world you reaches the bottom.

"There is also an element of excitement here. My PhD supervisor, Eric Dunning, and his supervisor, Norbert Elias, one of the greatest sociologists of the 20th century, wrote a book called 'The Quest for Thrill'. Sports, and football in particular, largely answer this search. For people Many in a boring world, they look for escapism and want to escape from everyday troubles into fantasy. And football to a large extent is fantasy. It's not for nothing that statements like 'the team is me' are heard. Football is a kind of drug, with quite a few addicts."

So at the end of the upcoming World Cup do you foresee a global depression?


"Perhaps in the current event it will be less true, because quite unusually - the players are returning to the regular leagues, so the landing will be softer for the fans."

National manufacturing industry: Taxation

From a research point of view, which country is prone to manic-depressive lines at the end of major tournaments or after losses?


"A good example is Brazil. Many studies have been done on Brazil and the sentiment in it after a loss or relegation. These things lead to depression of an entire nation, and on the other hand - to euphoria after victories, which manifests itself in an increased birthrate, as happened after they won the 1970 World Cup. So the euphoria translates into birthrates and economic processes On both sides of the fence: either a booming economy, or the bankruptcy of a country. Thus, for example, after Greece hosted the Olympics in 2004, it went bankrupt because it misjudged the waves that followed. In Brazil, too, many facilities became white elephants after hosting the Cup The world in 2014".


Argentina fans are also particularly emotional.

On the way to the cup?

Messi, photo: Reuters

"Argentina is an interesting case, because in the end it is a failed nation. It was an empire, and as Abba Ibn said about the Palestinians - they never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity. In 1978, during the rule of the generals, they used the hosting of the World Cup games to normalize the The government, similar to what Qatar is doing today. So the move failed. About 45 years have passed since then, and the Argentinians continue to live from World Cup to World Cup. To be honest, their hope is football and without it they don't have much left. This is characteristic of other countries in South America and Central America.

"If you continue to focus on Argentina, they are in an economic crisis, inflation, huge dependence on other markets, and their number one production industry is football. This is a nation whose national sentiment depends on Messi's success - in Barcelona, ​​Paris Saint-Germain and the World Cup. If they win this time - The euphoria will be tremendous and will last a long time."

You mentioned the increased birth rate after winning the World Cup.

I wonder if football connects us on the one hand to a sense of eternity, just as football teams may exist for years and years;

And on the other hand - on deeper levels - it even connects us to ending experiences related to the finality of life.


"There's definitely something to it. An example of the eternity you're talking about is the Liverpool fans. When you enter the Anfield stadium, the Kop stand, the fans are wearing shirts with the well-known saying 'You'll never walk alone'. There is a documentary series on Netflix called 'Sunderland until death'. That is, people are ready to die for the group, it symbolizes eternity for them. Trumpeldor said 'it is good to die for our country', so for them 'it is good to die for our group'."

When will football come to Israel?

Perhaps it was not for nothing that you mentioned Trumpeldor, because as a researcher you are also interested in the wider effects of football, in the processes it generates off the field.


"It is true, and what happened this week between Morocco and France is an excellent example, because it is a game of greater significance, and this is due to the historical relationship between the countries, which includes many precipitations. I claim that sport predicts the future. If we examine these processes in depth - we will understand what Will happen in 15-20 years in many places."

explain


"When Ben-Gurion founded the state, his vision was the assimilation of immigrants that would lead to a complex Israeli society, as we know it today. I was interested in the Israel soccer team. In 1948 it was composed of Ashkenazi players, while in 1958 it can be seen as the beginning of that assimilation, In other words, various elevations that were integrated into the national team. Ben-Gurion's vision of the first Yemeni Chief of Staff - was realized indirectly precisely in the Israeli national football team.

"Another example is Beitar Jerusalem, which won the state cup in 1976.

This is the first anti-establishment revisionist group, and its victory is for me a sign of the political upheaval in '77.

The third example occurs in the early 1990s.

Yaakov Shahar of Ness Ziona buys management rights of a football team in Haifa.

In fact, he privatizes Israeli football, which until then was very institutionalized.

A few years later, then finance minister Bibi Netanyahu privatizes the economy.

But the privatization first started in football."

Sounds like a coincidence.


"This is what my critics will argue, but when it happens again and again in different countries and in different cases, it cannot be a coincidence. When you look at other processes that happened in the world, you see that the third Balkan war between Serbia and Croatia started on a football field. You understand that if one day Spain separates from Catalonia , from the Basques - it will start with football, because in the stands of Barcelona until now they sing in Catalan and stand for a certain minute as a sign of protest. The football stadiums are very clear in this regard, and also political."

Most of the surgeries you mentioned happened in retrospect.


"We can also talk about future events. The best example is Korea. At the previous Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, it was the first time that a joint hockey team for North and South Korea played. Why is this significant? Because one day, when it was heard that the wall between North Korea to the South has fallen - let's remember that this started with the Olympic Games in 2018. Sports is an indication of broader, deep processes, most of which, at least at the beginning, are hidden from view."

What does the current World Cup predict for us?


"The significant decline in the hegemony of the Western world, which has been dominating the world economy and politics for many years. The very hospitality of Qatar has made a school for the world in many ways. It has realized that money is the name of the game, and in fact is trying to do 'sport washing', that is to wash its image as a country that supports terrorism Through football. Qatar has hosted many sporting events in recent years, and, along with Abu Dhabi and other countries, has turned the Gulf countries into a legitimate region. So through sports, Western hegemony is gradually being broken. We are also seeing things on the field with the Cinderella case of Morocco."

In your other hat, you serve as the head of the research unit at the Football Association.

When will our football take off?


"During my studies I lived in Leicester. My late father came to visit me, and we went to watch Chelsea against Leicester.

We left the stadium and my father said to me: 'Wow, football is such a beautiful game.

Why not bring him to Israel?'

European football, certainly English football, is another level.

To your question, unfortunately - many trainers do not delve into academic research.

The goal is to make science accessible to those who need it.

On the one hand, don't get confused, Israeli sports have made a very significant leap in recent years, but these are long-term processes, and in our instant culture it's a little more difficult.

In the judo branch, for example, a process was carried out, and I want to believe that this will also happen in football, because there are good people in the branch."

Where do you start?


"We need to start from the bottom, so that parents will not be afraid to send their children to a soccer class, and will perceive the game as one that will first give them all values, before they become players. Today, unfortunately, and not always rightly, soccer has a less good image. I encounter parents who want the child's success more than the child itself, which leads to a culture of shouting and violence, so that people are afraid to send their children to the fields in the first place. An integrative process of budgeting, education and goodwill is required here. I am optimistic by nature, and believe, as a paraphrase of my father's words, that one day soccer will come to Israel as well." 

For suggestions and comments: Ranp@israelhayom.co.il

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Source: israelhayom

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