The ludic aspect of soccer tends to disappear under the organization of soccer as a mass sport, but it remains present and contributes largely to its popularity. The arsenal supporters tickets come really important.
Soccer is a social phenomenon
The sociological analysis of sports is progressing. Several researchers have been interested in soccer, sometimes from phenomena of violence in the stadiums or because of the extraordinary media coverage of the sport. The ethnologist wrote in 1982: Soccer is a total social fact because it concerns, pretty much, all elements of society but also because it allows itself to consider different points of view. In itself, it is twofold: practice and spectacle, a practice sufficiently widespread to be itself considered as a mass phenomenon, a spectacle attractive enough for the number of spectators to increase during the whole of the period considered.
The author then develops several observations. The social phenomenon of soccer is complex. Like religious phenomena, we cannot analyze it finely enough if we reduce it to a few simple ideas. For some, soccer represents a form of manipulation by one another, a kind of new opium of the people. But soccer meets many other needs of modern societies, including the demand for representation, spectacular staging of social relations.
In a society marked by inequalities of all sorts, the sporting spectacle presents the example of supposedly pure competition between two opponents who start on equal terms. The interest of this show lies in the uncertainty of the result. The same does not always win. There is a hierarchy of soccer clubs or nations, but this hierarchy can be jostled. It is this possibility, this chance that it is important to put in the scene, the chance of perfect equality in front of the round ball. The divisions of social life are also outdated when a community feeling is updated in public. Here again, equality is only a facade because the social categories do not mix completely in the tribunes, but when a whole stage screams.
The spectators of a soccer match can hardly remain passive, away from these symbolic stakes. Certainly, there are audiences colder than others, but everywhere an interaction is established between what is played on the lawn and the alchemy that operates in the entire social group.
Is soccer a religion?
Perhaps the West is ahead of religion and does not know it. The time of the new phase of development of the great modern rituals is engendered by the soccer. Was the analysis premonitory? On the eve of the final phase of the World Cup in France, how to explain the particular success of this sport become global, if not by appealing to categories that go beyond the field of sport, even mass sports? The place that soccer holds in the lives of some people is also significant. More than a vague impression, a hypothesis can be proposed: at a particular stage of the development of societies, especially European.
The rite of the soccer match
A precaution is necessary. All is not ritual. It is easy enough to abuse the concept. A certain number of conditions must be met: a break with the daily routine, space and time apart, a scenario that is repeated, words and gestures, a busy place by the different categories of participants. That’s essential. No doubt, the soccer game is a kind of ritual.