Elko Born explores some recent trends in the globalization of football, including the interesting case of Mike Havenaar…
Some scholars argue that the process of ‘globalization’ (broadly defined as the global integration of various aspects of culture) started in the 16th Century, when maritime empires such as Portugal and the Dutch Republic started colonizing parts of Asia and the Americas, setting up trade routes and kickstarting modern capitalism along the way.
Others argue that it wasn’t Columbus who ‘discovered’ the Americas, that the ancient Greeks and the Romans used the so-called ‘Silk Route’ to trade with China, and that the process of ‘globalization’ started when humans first started interacting with others of their kind.
Nonetheless, it’s fair to state that in recent decades, the process of globalization – whenever it may have started – reached a new phase: the phase of automatization and the gradual diminishing of the relevance of national borders. Just think of the Internet, the EU, and of eating Kettle crisps whilst crossing the border between France and Belgium without showing anyone your passport.
The birth of modern football, of course, largely coincided with this new phase in globalization. During the 1960s, when politicians were negotiating the supranational perimeters of the European Union (dubbed by some as the modern day Habsburg Empire), football produced its first superstars.
The fame of footballers like Pelé reached far beyond Brazil, and across the world, people took time off to sit in front of their black and white television sets to watch the South American legend play. Indeed, when Pelé jokingly put himself ahead of Jesus Christ by telling a reporter that “there are parts of the world where Jesus Christ is not so well known”, he wasn’t even being absurd. Continue reading