Football as a “deep game” packed with meaning€ 3.00
If football is the object of virtually universal infatuation, it is not only because of its dramatic and aesthetic qualities, but also because it coherently reflects the modern world, presenting a ruthless caricature of it. To be successful on the football pitch as well as in life, one must reconcile individual merits, collective solidarity, luck, a minimum of villainy – like knowing how to hold an opponent by the shirt when necessary - and the backing of justice, in the form of the referee. What’s more, this team sport supports the affirmation of collective identity and of local, regional and national rivalries. Creating a bridge between the individual and the universal, this “deep game” (referring to Deep Play, the title of a famous essay by Clifford Geertz) thus embodies the general values that shape our times as well as the confrontation between real and imagined collective identities.
Christian Bromberger is professor of ethnology at the University of Aix En Provence, where he founded and directs the Institute of Mediterranean, European and Comparative Ethnology. He is an honorary member of the Institut Universitaire de France and has been a visiting professor at many foreign universities. From 2006 to 2008, he directed the French Research Institute in Iran. His research has covered Mediterranean societies, popular passion for football and sporting competitions in the modern world as well as the meaning, social and cultural use of body hair. His many books, also translated into several languages, include La partita di calcio (Editori Riuniti, 1999); Football, la bagatelle la plus sérieuse du monde (Bayard, 1998 and Pocket Agora, 2004); Antropologia del Mediterraneo (with A. Dionigi, B. Anton, Guerini Scientifica, 2007); Germaine Tillion, une ethnologue dans le siècle (Actes Sud, 2002); and Un autre Iran (Armand Colin, 2013).