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What is football without its people? It is the most followed sport in the world and is played in almost all the countries. It has the influence to change people’s perception, change lives, and change communities for better or worse. Football shifts the paradigm and the people who run it know it better than anyone else. In fact football has often become an arena for politics and nationalism.



The recent gesture by Germany showing solidarity with the LGBTQ community in the match against Hungary is a prime example. Germany sought UEFA’s permission to light the Allianz Arena in rainbow colours in the match against Hungary in the European Championships. The Hungarian government had passed a law banning all content related to homosexuality in schools and television.


Ruud Gullit once said “Politics and football don’t mix”, while he may be right in one sense, politics has been a major influencer ever since the sport drew popularity. The rise of politics in football took root during the second World War. Local clubs and national footballing bodies started to propagate political ideas through gestures and signs. Soon, the people started identifying themselves with the political agenda and the clubs started to associate with their ideologies.



Football was driven by the working class and soon became a source of political propaganda. It then grew to become an agent of international affairs and also a tool to pacify constituents. One of football’s biggest rivalries between the Scottish club’s Rangers and Celtic being a prime example for the same. The two clubs had differentiating opinions on religion, political ideology, social ideology and even national identity. A rivalry that still bears the heat in this modern era!

You can change your wife, your politics, your religion, but never, never can you change your favourite football team. — Eric Cantona

Fascists governments like Hitler’s Germany, Mussolini’s Italy and Stalin’s Soviet Union all understood the importance of sport. They realised the influence the sport had on the common people and capitalised on it by exerting their sentiments. These governments strengthened their national teams in order to attract a bigger audience. Solidarity through football and a rivalry among nations helped them strengthen the nation’s pride. Even though it was selfish and rudimentary, those steps helped shape the global sport as we know it today.


Many who understand the world of business and its inner waves might not fully agree that a footballer caused a 4-billion-dollar dip for Coca Cola. But, for the vast majority, that simple gesture is worth remembering. That seemingly imprudent five seconds became a global phenomenon. Instagram’s star child did a bold move denouncing Coca Cola (FIFA’s official partner) and replacing it with aqua. Its repercussions have been nothing short of phenomenal. Such is the influence of football.



Football’s success in overcoming apartheid in South Africa is a story that warrants notice. Once considered to be a leisure and competition for only the “racially supreme”, Africa no longer bears that symbol. “The beautiful game” deified those barriers set by men and brought about a seemingly impossible change. A story worth revisiting!

The thing about football – the important thing about football – is that it is not just about football.”- Sir Terence Pratchett

The El Classico is yet another example of the sporting rivalry that extends beyond the sport. The Catalan way of thinking to the regimes of Spanish ideologies. Barcelona identifies itself as the rebellions while Real Madrid is considered to be the conservatives. The two biggest cities in Spain have been as still spews a rivalry that has paramount importance outside the sport as well. Their political agenda is voiced through these intense rivalries, a platform to express their vigour. It’s simply more than a club!


The players, the managers, the authorities, the fans and the club as a whole represent a way of thinking that has time and again proved to bring about change. The rise of clubs like Liverpool and Manchester United are the result of such unwavering support for their political, social, economic and most importantly, nationalist tenets.

The socialism I believe in isn’t really politics. It is a way of living. It is humanity. I believe the only way to live and to be truly successful is by collective effort, with everyone working for each other, everyone helping each other, and everyone having a share of the rewards at the end of the day. That might be asking a lot, but it’s the way I see football and the way I see life. — Bill Shankly

The most recent pledge by the vast majority of the football community to take the knee in support of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement in America expressing the very core of football’s impact. Even the most diminutive of gestures have caused an uproar. Even in the face of constant death threats and humiliating public behaviour, the small steps taken by these footballers are nothing short of praiseworthy. A simple reminder that points to the inexplicable behaviour shown by some sections of society to even the most basic of human rights.

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