2022 – Champions League chaos proves football is run by anti-fan authorities | Champions League

FOr once it’s still photos that capture the scene better than videos. If you were to base your impression of the view of hell in Paris on Saturday night solely on the shaky and groovy motion pictures, you would likely conclude that it was an illegal and stilted chaotic: of young men climbing barbed wire fences, at the gates jolting and jerking, a constant stream of tear gas and batons. But the overwhelming feeling conveyed by thousands of fans outside the Stade de France was the stagnation: the silent, vacillating frustration that nothing had moved, nothing had changed, nothing had happened, a sea of ‚Äč‚Äčfrustrated humanity waiting patiently hour after hour as if they were waiting in line. bread.

So much for what. The multiple insults and harassment fans faced in Saturday’s Champions League final – long queues, entry denials, a lack of referees and security personnel, police brutality – were documented in the days that followed. What is lacking in all this is knowing why. Why did UEFA and the French authorities allow this groundbreaking event to turn into such a catastrophe? Was it just a widespread outbreak of bureaucratic inefficiency? Or was there something more sinister at work?

Perhaps the most vexing element of Saturday’s rage was its randomness. Some Liverpool fans immediately shouted for revenge against the establishment, but in fact, Real Madrid fans also fell into disarray. VIPs and corporate guests complained of unbearable queues and harsh treatment. The Spanish sports minister reported that he had to wait an hour to enter the stadium. Even commentator Jim Beglin – no, not Jim Beglin – recounted being robbed by armed gangs outside the Stade de France.

None of the traditional football management models offer a satisfactory explanation for this. We have been told for years that football sells its soul for profit, that fans have turned into customers, that the sport itself is run like business and that the Euro is king. But tickets for the final match sold for up to ¬£600. In what vision of consumer capitalism are privileged customers formed like animals? What is the clear thinking industry that dumps tear gas on children? Among other things, Saturday’s events in Paris should force us to reconsider our knowledge of how power works in football.

One of the greatest misconceptions about modern football is that it is a creature of pure market forces. In fact, the game has never been a free market in the truest sense of the word: access is limited, choice is limited, and fans don’t switch teams or sports on a whim. In many ways, they are not empowered consumers but captives, and over time the relationship has increasingly reflected this dynamic: a small, unaccountable ruling class obsessed not only with profit but with power, not just enrichment, but exploitation.

Fans were kept outside and taken to small areas before the finals. Photo: Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images

Sociologist Robert Michaels wrote in 1911: “Who says organization says oligarchy.” Michaels postulated that all complex organizations – however democratic – inevitably tend towards the incompetence, despotism and oligarchy of the privileged few. Leverages of force inevitably create opportunities for the consolidation of that force. Those with wealth are increasingly prioritizing its protection.

Reminds you of anything? Football has not turned into a consumer utopia in the past 30 years. She became an oligarch: sarcastic, greedy, secretive and inherently hostile to those below her. Rules and laws can be distorted and subverted. Public spaces must be demarcated and strictly guarded. Disinformation is not just pervasive, it’s necessary: ‚Äč‚Äčwitness the haste with which the authorities drew the line in which unchecked latecomers were blamed for trouble, and the systematic attempts to portray fans as a subversive mob.

The idea that modern fans – even wealthy fans, even Jim Beglin – could somehow get a stake in the game with their season tickets has been revealed as a brutal fantasy. As it turns out, UEFA didn’t need any of you. She had Camila Cabello, a huge portfolio of excellent sponsors and a bank of television cameras showing the event to a global audience. As far as the crowds outside the gates concerned, they did so not as participants, let alone customers, but as a potential threat.

Michel, who later coincidentally joined Benito Mussolini’s fascist party, offered some rays of hope. The first is that the oligarchy is by nature aggressive and will compete fiercely with each other. The unsatisfactory power struggle between UEFA, FIFA and the major clubs may be the root cause of many of football’s dysfunctions, but it is also perhaps the closest thing to a system of checks and balances. Second, as societies mature, they develop the tools of criticism and resistance. For many fans and critics, exiting the Premier League was a step in that process: a realization that those in power never had their best interests at heart and never did.

But the bottom line is that millions of people need soccer in their lives just as much as they need food and water, and as long as demand remains insatiable, those who have their fingers on the supply will continue to squeeze. And so, we have the plaque revealed on Saturday: The game of the most luxurious clubs in the world took place near one of the poorest neighborhoods of Paris, while thousands of men, women and children lined up for hours outside. They struggle at the gates, suffocating with exhaust fumes, some swear and scream and some quietly despair. But everyone is asking to be allowed in.