Football and politics – Les Cahiers du football |


(Part IV. I’ll answer your last question later, about storms in the North East, this weekend maybe)

That’s for sure that Greta didn’t invent anything and that the 70s were a pivotal decade in a lot of areas.

English football for example link, without the hooliganism of the Seventies, there would not have been this rotting and this decay which engendered a great disaffection of the public and the media, synonymous with a sharp drop in income for the clubs, which allied themselves at the beginning of the 1980s (first the « Big Five » locomotive of the time – Arsenal, Tottenham, Everton, Liverpool, Man United – then the rest of the wagons) to force the authorities to review the model, especially that of the distribution of income, then shared collectively between the 92 professional Football League clubs, D1-D4. This led to threats to create a « breakaway league » (under the aegis of the FA, so bye bye the Football League which was forced to negotiate), a secessionist championship nicknamed by the media « Super League »… All that gave birth of the Premier League revolution, created administratively in February 1992, 30 years ago this month.

In the USA, the green movement was also pronounced, especially at the end of the Sixties and the hippie wave, strong planetary enthusiasm for the environment & affiliated then. I mentioned « Earth Day/Jour de la Terre » in Part III, this movement really refers link, 20 million people for the planet on 04/22/1970 in demonstrations and countless events across the USA (see clip link, lots of students). But it was mainly confined to the USA in the Seventies I believe (perhaps Germany and Scandinavia too?). An Earth Day revived in 1990 for the 20th anniversary, in 141 countries, 200m participants.

In France, we had René Dumont at that time, mid-1970s, I was not old (young teenager) but I remember him well, he had a very sixty-eight touch. First eco-friendly presidential candidate (1974), a brilliant guy who had campaigned on a bike I believe, and a hell of a visionary… link. Worse, the Sixty-eighters have settled down, gentrified, and ecology has become a little old-fashioned in France, we didn’t care a lot about it (« the weirdos », the « illuminated »), that’s the memory I have of it I have anyway.

The times started to become more individualistic, more consumerist and all of this polarized and tribalized the situation even more, an antagonism which the eco-movements in the UK exploited to grow activism. There was a fascination for the USA, temple of consumption and more or less manufactured popular cultures. MTV, hip hop and rap came along, followed by McDonald’s. The Eighties what, finance, materialism, computers, Silicon Valley, the Yuppies/Golden Boys and cough. A whole bunch of Anglo-American slogans flourished, « Greed is good », « Shop ’til you drop », « If you’ve got it, flaunt it ».

In the United Kingdom, there was obviously all that (individualism, yuppization, Americanization, hard capitalism, Thatcherism) but an ecological counter-culture emerged as I explained, by filiation and osmosis (with the period 1960-1970) and by contrast, the belief that much healthier alternatives existed.

The wiki on the history of the environmental movement and « direct » (= confrontational, muscular) activism in the UK: « Environmental direct action in the United Kingdom »
link.) places the beginnings in 1991, and then fairly rapid development, with more professionalized campaigns and camps occupying construction sites with various infrastructures.

Like everyone here in England, I remember ‘Swampy’ well. link), a particularly fervent eco warrior! The guy dug tunnels under construction sites built on sites to be protected, like highways or airport runways under construction, and lived in these underground galleries link

He resurfaced (pun intended) a few months ago, with his son (!), again in tunnels (and he was emulated. link). This time under construction sites related to the construction of the LVG of the HS2 of which I have already spoken here.

In France, at that time, at the counter-culture level, we rather remember the anti-racist movements than an ecological wave. SOS Racisme, « Don’t touch my friend », the « March of the Beurs », etc. in reaction to the rise of the National Front, police violence, and racism in general. It was also worn and by stars (Balavoine, Renaud, Coluche), therefore very publicized.

High school and student movements too, high school protests in 1983 and especially November-December 1986, the Devaquet Law, a huge thing that paralyzed the universities for a month. The biggest Parisian demonstration (national demonstration) stretched over almost 10 kms, the figure of one million participants circulated. I was in the Latin Quarter the evening Malik Oussekine was assassinated by « Voltigeurs », rue Monsieur-Le-Prince, there is a plaque on the ground in his name (the poor man was not even involved in the demonstration , he was coming back from a jazz concert. As we say here « (There) but for the grace of God… » (= it might as well have been me/one of us, we were a group of ‘a dozen people).

We had been chased from the Esplanade des Invalides by the CRS (tear gas, charges), a peaceful sit-in until it started to heat up, Air France’s windows shattered and clusters of more radical demonstrators tried to force the CRS cord to cross the Pont Alexandre III (to reach the ministry of education, or that of higher education, I don’t know anymore). We landed in a South American restaurant that kindly welcomed us and gave us half price, south of Paris (where we parked our boxes, we came from Orleans). In the panic at the Invalides, I had recovered a megaphone thrown on the ground, which I then used on the campus of the university of Orleans for various happenings and parties, it had ended up under the wheels of a 2 CV elsewhere .

I even used this megaphone to scare away attackers, a strange incident.

Two o’clock in the morning, we come back from campus with a friend (very stuffed, after a party) to Olivet, where I was staying at his place for the night. I had this megaphone, in a backpack, and walking along the walls of the Parc Floral de la Source, just outside the campus, we hear shouts (of a man) coming from inside the floral park , quite distant, as if someone was being beaten up.

The floral park was closed, so it was impossible to enter, and in our condition there was no question of climbing the walls or gates anyway. Worse, venturing, drunk and in the dark, towards hidden guys and perhaps armed with baseball bats, we were tempted to do so. There was a phone booth, we dial 17, and we are answered (truly) « Ah, sorry, but you have to call Gendarmerie X, we don’t cover this sector » (!). Maybe the guy didn’t take us seriously, I don’t know, but I remember his answer blew us away. The cries continue, sporadically and always quite distant. And then we yell something like « Stop, we’re going to call the police ».

But the screams continue. Did they even hear us? No idea but there I have the idea to take out my megaphone and I yell several times something like: « Police, we’re coming, you’re surrounded, go ». Bingo. That must have scared them away (or stopped their bullshit if it was a « prank », an idiot prank) because silence… We stayed there for 10 minutes but nothing. We never found out what happened that night in the floral park.

There was nevertheless also in England a movement of revolt of young people (especially those of « difficult origin » as sociologists say) throughout the 1980s. We especially remember the series of riots in 1981 (big recession of the early Eighties), demos or protests against racism, inequality, chronic unemployment, police brutality, housing shortages, etc. which often degenerated into riots.

link., the main ones were Toxteth (Liverpool), Handsworth (Birmingham), Moss Side (Manchester) and Brixton (south of London, see « The Guns of Brixton » by the Clash).

The whole decade was marked by riots. I was going to London a lot at the time, in particular, and I remember episodes of race riots in 1985 in Brixton and especially that of the Broadwater Farm city in Tottenham link where there had been two deaths, including a policeman, a case which was still in the news 30 years later (2014) with the trial of the accused link.

It continued in the 1990s, everywhere. In Newcastle there were the Meadow Well riots, summer 1991 for three days, which inflamed the entire west of the city link, the most impoverished (and where were shot the scenes of housing estates, and those of the food banks in « I, Daniel Blake » by Ken Loach). Some notable horrific racist incidents – anti-Pakistanis, among others – during these riots by the way (the wiki: « Rioters forced Asian shopkeepers out of their homes before setting them on fire shouting, « Let’s burn out the Pakis! »). Monde also made an interesting paper of it, here link

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