Christian Reutlinger, St.Gallen (Switzerland)
The final EURO 2008 tournament has taken place from 7th until 29th June 2008 in Austria and Switzerland. With the motto “Expect Emotions” was a similarly positive mood generated, as at the 2006 World Cup in Germany (we still remember the former motto: “Die Welt zu Gast bei Freunden”, direct translation: The World as Guest with Friends; English motto: A Time to make Friends). How does this big event concern the social work? Or in other words: where could the various social dimensions of the football phenomenon in the contexts of social work be discussed? And can this event be a subject for debate in our discipline at all?
In various Swiss Universities of Applied Sciences the topic EURO 2008 gained popularity during the social evenings with beer, sausages und “public viewing”. Students and faculty members (readers, professors and people from the administration) were coming together to support the host team.
This issue could be also found outside the university, in different areas of the social work practice like for example projects on violence preventions. The people coming to the Soccer’s European Championship in Austria and Switzerland had different backgrounds and that is the reason why a very sure and peaceful atmosphere had to be created. Both, “hard” and “soft” measures were taken into consideration, which means that, next to the control and security strengthening, booklets and campaigns would help reducing the frustration and the aggression in the sport. Major aim of the Austrian and the Swiss government was, with the help of EURO 2008, to point out the idea of international connection and prevent and stay against all forms of racism (see Nachhaltigkeitskonzept Österreich – Schweiz für die UEFA EURO 2008, http://www.are.admin.ch/themen/nachhaltig, direct translation: “Sustainability framework Austria – Switzerland for the UEFA EURO 2008”). Actions for social integrative and intercultural understanding were taken in the social / cultural field as well. In addition to the work with fans and accessibility, similar themes like “Youth and (soccer) culture” and “Prevention and youth protection” belong in the same context. Other projects for young people and schools were supported. They were aiming at familiarizing the youth with the enthusiasm for soccer and sport activities, show how to experience fairness, as well as should communicate prevention of alcohol and smoke addiction.
Just on time for the Championship’s kick-off of the appeared the title „Doppelpässe – Eine sozialwissenschaftliche Fussballschule“ (Juventa-Verlag 2008 - http://www.buchonline.de/pages/index.php?juventa=1, direct translation “One-two- one social science soccer school”), one German-Swiss- Austrian co-productive social science debate on the Soccer Phenomenon.
The authors try to bring out the soccer’s living spirit and fever using the links with social-psychological, sociological and educational subjects of discussion. Behind these thoughts stays the thesis that the social development, event in the soccer area, has left more or less its visible traces in the last decades. Additionally the authors emphasize on how the soccer nowadays could be medial staged and how for example does the change in the perception of the social reality reflected on the modern system of the zone marking. In a football reading, the euphemism for soccer is confronted with discussion on Masculinity (Lothar Böhnisch), Ball sense of women (Angela Tillmann), The Friendship myth (Steve Stiehler), Commercialisation (Michael Rautenberg) and Space (Christian Reutlinger). Dynamics and longings clearly describe the game and the players, as well as the fans and the viewers in their everyday world.
At the end only the hope remained that emotions were to be expected on different levels!
The author works as professor for social work at the University of Applied Sciences St. Gallen, Switzerland.
Picture: www.pixelio.de (Photographer: Martina Marten)