Freedom of Soccer

December 15, 2011

Political Theory


I am probably one in millions who would want to be a Messi or Ronaldo. They seemingly have everything the world has to offer and whatever they don’t have, they can buy. They are considered godly and praised around the world. Our view of being in their shoes may or may not change after considering what they had to do to get where they are at. Take Messi for example. He grew up somewhat poor in the small random town of Rosario, Argentina and was recruited by FC Barcelona, possibly the best soccer club in the world. He probably practiced day and night, only thinking of soccer and excluding almost everything out from his mind. Still, it is amazing and maybe miraculous that he out of any other soccer fanatic became who he is. He had not lived his whole life positioned to attain the point he is at today, but it was certainly never impossible for him to do so.

Lionel Messi the soccer god

What is great about soccer is that it is virtually free for anyone in the world and therefore, anyone in the world has the opportunity to become a Messi. There are soccer superstars who grew up in circumstances worse than Messi’s, even having been raised homeless. But one can kick anything around as a soccer ball, in that aspect making it the easiest sport to play. Assuming that soccer skills are not innate, anyone is free to develop them up to any level.  We can think about equality in the world of soccer. Unless it is illegal to kick around something, everyone has the freedom to play soccer. Therefore, everyone has an equal opportunity to become a soccer superstar. Of course, they would need to actually practice endlessly, have a diligent mindset, put in limitless effort, but the basic foundations of freedom are there.

In the soccer system, there are also no salary caps so they do not have the whole lockout problem that the NBA had. Private clubs can buy players for as much money as they want. (The Spanish Club Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo recently made a six year $132mil contract, making him the highest paid player of all time). This also plays to equality because a team can go from being the worst to the best by being purchased by someone rich enough. Basically, everyone in soccer is free to make whatever transactions they want. And there have not been any substantial problems that arose from this. The players, owners, and fans are all happy.

Soccer has the aspects of freedom and universality. It is played all over the world and anyone has the opportunity to become a superstar. It all essentially just depends on one picking up a ball and what one does with it. So what parallels and implications can we draw to the rest of the world? Is it possible for everyone in the world to be free and given equal opportunities to attain anything else? Or is there just too many laws and restrictions that prevent people from being free and equal?

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8 Comments on “Freedom of Soccer”

  1. schoiidaho Says:

    I am not too familiar with the world of soccer, but the author does make a great point that it promotes freedom by the sport being open and accessable to everyone and a lot more lax regulations on the business aspect of it as well. Being one of the easiest to understand rule-wise and simplist sport to play, I am certain that there is fierce competition and countless aspiring soccer stars, but I have to agree that this fact of easier access does bring forth more equality and freedom compared to most things in the world.
    Sports is one of the ways one can utilize to move up in social class and provide better life for one self. Soccer is one of very few sports in the world that does not require college or school, unlike NBA and NFL where the players get drafted after their performances in college. Just this fact makes it so much more attainable for everyone, and the teams are allowed to sign on literally anyone they wish.
    Soccer has always been the most popular sport in the world mainly due to its freedom and regulations. A large number of players on professional soccer teams came from poor households, but soccer gave them equal opportunities to be able to make something our themselves.

  2. albosco Says:

    This is a very interesting way of comparing total freedom and equal opportunity to an actual thing going on in the world. I never realized how much freedom there is in soccer and how everyone really does has the same chance to become a super star. In your mind, all it takes is the dedication and practice to become the next Messi. However, I think that there is a little bit more to that. It’s not that people are born being good or bad at sport, but there are some genetics that would play a role in one’s ability to be a soccer super star. I know that some of my friends claim to just not have the coordination to kick something around, and there is probably a pretty good chance that no one else in their family played soccer. Some people just aren’t athletic.

    I also think that it is important to realize that this equal opportunity only applies to male soccer players. There is obviously a big international network of women’s soccer teams, however, they are not paid anywhere close to the men’s players. I am sure they have the equal opportunity to be the super star, but the level of star that one can achieve is much different for male and female players.

    As for applying this concept to other things in society, I am not really sure how it would work out. There is good chance that this type of system would be successful, but there could also be many flaws in it.

  3. ryanjcarney Says:

    You’re totally right about the fundamentals of soccer making it extremely accessible to the vast majority of the world, and thus evening out the field for everyone. As you said, anyone with a ball can play without the need for expensive equipment (like football, for example) and so everyone has that opportunity to play and, with luck on their side, make it big. That said I would not use the soccer leagues around the world and Fifa as examples of institutions that promote equality. As you said, any billionaire can buy some loser team from a Podunk town and funnel millions into it and make it big. How does that promote equality? Fifa itself is arguably the most corrupt sporting authority in the world in the way it has handled tournaments through the decades.

    Again, I totally agree though that soccer fundamentally promotes that equality and accessibility. That’s really the reason it’s the most popular sport in the world right now. It’s really inspiring how some players came from nothing to make it big (Messi, as you mentioned, being a great example of this).

    As for your question, I may just be cynical but I don’t see how the world could be equal in the same way soccer fundamentally is. Even soccer can be corrupted with the goal of making profit (and it is. Ahem Fifa) and the real world doesn’t have rules that each side has to play by.

  4. evanhw Says:

    Unfortunately, I must agree with the above comments in that soccer is difficult to compare to international law. Although soccer does prove to be one of our world’s most integral middle grounds for equal opportunity and cooperation, countries will never compromise on a unified legal system that can be implemented in the same way by every country. Considering the complexity and difference in almost every current legal system and economy from country to country, it’s hard to even fathom a possibility that there could be a global compromise for equal opportunity and cooperation.

    I must reiterate, however, that soccer is truly unique in that anyone can play. The simplicity of the game allows for basically any environment to be an acceptable pitch, whether is be the legendary Wembley Stadium or a random open area of dirt. Anyone in any setting has an equal opportunity. There is much to be taken from soccer, even if our world can’t mirror it’s every quality.

  5. nozomigg Says:

    I like your comparison of soccer to equality. One of the things that I’ve always loved about soccer is that it offers some countries – not just the people – an opportunity to succeed at something, even if that particular country is not doing well in any other aspect. When it comes to soccer, the good team wins and the bad team loses – and that’s all there is to it. It’s simple, clean-cut, and to the point, which allows the opportunity for any country to succeed.

    That’s when it comes to countries playing, however, When it comes to teams, as your article focuses on, I don’t think all of soccer is equal. The best players (the ones that get lucky enough to be spotted) are bought out by the richest teams that already have more of the world’s best players, and doesn’t ever allow other teams the chance to get better. The way that it works now, you get stuck in either the cycle of always being able to recruit the best players and lure them with riches, or get stuck with the other players.

    I think a sport that offers more equality – at least when it comes to all teams having an equal chance to do well – is football. Teams that not doing as well get the first pick on the draft, when offers them a chance to improve. Soccer does the exact opposite.. it basically says “sucks to suck” to all the bad teams.

  6. jps3520 Says:

    I don’t know too much about soccer, all the knowledge I know comes from FIFA and a short stint in IM soccer. However, you make a good point. Not just in soccer, but in all sports. In paying attention to sports, I hear stories of people that come from nothing who are now making a lot of money in professional sports (stories like the one in The Blind Side and countless stories on ESPN). On the world stage, soccer is definitely the best example. In a way, everyone can learn how to play the game of soccer. I heard somewhere that the only things that make the difference in someone’s success at sports is proper motivation and 10,000 hours of practice. This helps your case in that everyone has an equal chance to be great at something given that they put the work in.

    Maybe this isn’t the same for all sports, but there are two things I can think of that might give people an advantage. First, someone who grew up with some money may have a better opportunity for training in the way of personal lessons. In addition, with money they might not have to spend time working to get more money instead of practicing. Also, I think that in some sports having the right body type would help some people. For example, I am too small to play football. If I had been recruited from high school the recruiters would have always noted how small I was and that would hurt my chances. I’m not saying that these alone would drastically change their chances, or that they can’t be overcome. I’m only saying that some people have to go some extra work to get to the highest level.

  7. zekeharris Says:

    It is true that soccer is the greatest sport in the world but it does have a lot of problems sadly. With there being no salary cap and money coming in and out all based on how many wins a team can get and the number of fans a stadium can attract there are incentives to cheat. Referees and players have been caught in numerous scandals in the past for throwing games and shaving points. Now in theory yes we all can play soccer more or less but it is so much more that going into then just playing. As in all sports there are a lot of losers. The few winners there are tend to keep there place and limit the opportunities available, in essence limiting the equal opportunity for others.
    I wish soccer was a perfect model but sadly it is not the winners win a lot but the losers lose even harder. There is equal opportunity to play the sport but not to become a professional. Its all about who you know and what connections you can make.

  8. pelarkin Says:

    It is an interesting concept to compare the sport of soccer to international equality and law, and I can see where some similarities could be drawn. However, in the end, I must agree with some of the other commenters and say that I’m not sure that you can completely relate the two together, for a few different reasons.

    One of the beauties of the sport of soccer is the fact that it is so easy for anyone to play. All people need to play is some sort of spherical object, and four markers to create goal posts. This is much simpler to play than other sports, such as basketball, which would require an inflated ball, two high posts, and two baskets. The fact that soccer is so simple to play really lends itself to the fact that the sport is by far the most popular in the entire world. It is great that almost everyone in the entire world has the opportunity to play a game which brings enjoyment to so many people.

    However, this is completely different from the world of politics, where different people have different resources and opportunities than others. The government of a more developed country, such as the United States or the United Kingdom, and its politicians, have many more opportunities to promote equality and to be successful than the government of a lower developed country, simply because of the resources that we have. Its unfortunate that every government in the world does not get to have these resources, but that’s just the way life is, and its probably not going to change any time soon. The beauty of soccer is the fact that anyone can be successful, depending on how much work they put in, since the game is accessible to everyone. Everyone has an equal playing field. However, this is just not the case in politics and government, and as unfortunate as that is that’s the world we have to live in.

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