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Barbaric Sport: A Global Plague

Globalized sport as savage spectacle and ‘opium of the people’

Marc Perelman pulls no punches in this succinct and searing broadside, assailing the ‘recent form of barbarism’ that is the global sporting event. Forget the Olympics and consider, under Perelman’s guidance, the ledger of inequities maintained by such supposedly harmless games.

They have provided a smokescreen for the forcible removal of ‘undesirables’; aided governments in the pursuit of racist agendas; affirmed the hypocrisy of drug-testing in an industry where doping is more an imperative than an aberration; and developed the pornographic hybrid that Perelman dubs ‘sporn’, a further twist in our corrupt obsession with the body.

Drawing examples from the modern history of the international sporting event, Perelman argues that today’s colosseums, upheld as examples of ‘health’, have become the steamroller for a decadent age fixated on competition, fame and elitism.

Reviews

  • “Marc Perelman has written a magnificent manifesto for all of us dedicated anti-Olympiads, revealing in compelling detail how sport, which has long been the opium of the people, is now the political and financial dirty business of the rulers as well.”
  • “Excited about the Olympics? If not, this bolus of weaponised French spleen will be the perfect literary antidote.”
  • “Bracingly bilious counterblast against the new "planetary religion".”
  • “The work of stirring polemic that all of us who were picked last for teams at school have been waiting for.”
  • “A provocatively timed polemic that situates today’s mass sporting spectacle at the very heart of globalised capitalism.”
  • “Perelman’s claim that sport “becomes the sole project of a society without projects” rings uncomfortably true as austerity-hit Britain prepares to host a lavish Olympics.”
  • “French journalist Marc Perelaman argues … ruthless[ly] … agaist an emerging kind of barbarism.”

Blog

  • Boycott Football and FIFA

    The 2014 football World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio: we can be certain that these two mega-events will accelerate the degradation of most Brazilians’ living conditions and will allow the unleashing of a campaign of denigration against those who oppose it. And there are many protestors against the football World Cup, with their shouts of ‘FIFA go home!’, ‘We want trains, buses, boats and hospitals up to FIFA’s standards’. A World Cup that thus risks aggravating the country’s socio-economic crisis.


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  • Uprisings in South America: A reading list



    As neoliberal policies and monetary hegemony continue to dominate around the globe, protests for democracy and against the political elite are widespread. With the start of the World Cup in Brazil it is, yet again, kicking off everywhere.

    Riot police fired percussion grenades and teargas at anti-World Cup protesters in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro on Thursday as the countdown to the kick-off was marred by demonstrations in at least 10 Brazilian cities. Just hours before the opening ceremony at the Itaquerão stadium, about 100 protesters started fires and threw rocks at police in an apparent attempt to block a road leading to the venue.

    The "Our Cup is on the Street" protests are targeting the high cost of the stadiums, corruption, police brutality and evictions. "The World Cup steals money from healthcare, education and the poor. The homeless are being forced from the streets. This is not for Brazil, it's for the tourists," said Denize Adriana Ferreira in this Guardian report.

    The following reading list from Verso suggests books to help us understand the multifaceted histories of uprising in Central and South America, as well as the anti-world cup protests.

    Barbaric Sport: A Global Plague

    by Marc Perelman


    What does hosting the World Cup really mean for Brazil? Marc Perelman explores this, and more, in Barbaric Sport.

    Boycott Football and Fifa - read his piece on the world cup here.

    Radical Cities: Across Latin America in Search of A New Architecture
    by Justin McGuirk


    Justin McGuirk travels across Latin America in search of the activist architects, maverick politicians and alternative communities already answering these questions. From Brazil to Venezuela, and from Mexico to Argentina, McGuirk discovers the people and ideas shaping the way cities are evolving. 

    'We want FIFA standard schools and hospitals' - what the World Cup means for Rio: read an extract from Radical Cities here.

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  • The IOC and FIFA, the Twin Stars of the Global Sporting Plague



    by Marc Perelman and Patrick Vassort

    The places that are chosen to organise large sporting demonstrations make the mind boggle. In 2008 the Olympic Games were held in Beijing; in 2010, the football World Cup took place in South Africa, while this year’s Winter Olympics were held in Putin’s Russia (in Sochi) and the football World Cup will be staged in Brazil.

    In 2016, the Olympics will take place in Rio, and the 2018 and 2022 World Cups in Russia and Qatar respectively. Despite the obviously different political régimes in each of these countries, all of them have to bear the brunt of an ‘Olympicisation’ (as Baron de Coubertin put it) of the world, within the wider framework of a generalised ‘sportification’, which always means a sharp loss of democracy.

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