Magazine
Latest Issue

Football’s empty pleasure

As the European championship begins, Mario Vargas Llosa aims a gentle kick at those who spin fancy theories to explain the passion for football

A couple of years ago, I heard the Brazilian anthropologist Roberto da Matta give a brilliant lecture in which he explained that the popularity of football expresses an innate desire for legality, equality and freedom.

His argument was clever and amusing. According to him, the public sees football as a sort of model society-one governed by clear and simple laws which everyone understands and observes and which, if violated, bring immediate punishment to the guilty party. A football field is an egalitarian space which excludes all favouritism and privilege. Here, on this grass marked out by white lines, a person…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to letters@prospect-magazine.co.uk

More From Prospect