In 1985 Antonio Lizarrage published Anatomia do Gol, a book of abstract art based on Haroldo de Campos‟ poem of the same name. The conceptualization of one part of the poem, called Carrossel Holandês
or Dutch Carousel, was particularly interesting to me. The Dutch Carousel was the name given to a play where players did not have a fixed position, but rather moved around in order to score a goal. The whole point of the play was that while it looked unplanned and spontaneous, in reality, it was well thought out and tactical. The method behind The Dutch Carousel was to focus on the goal, which was believed to be the centre and the most important aspect of the game. This focus on the goal is not a new concept in soccer, it is, after all, how you win games. But after seeing this particular image, I could not help but to be reminded of a similar image: the rosette stained glass in the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France
The similarities between the two became so overwhelming to me, I decided to research further what connection soccer has with the Catholic Church.
[Here’s bits from a paper I wrote a while ago. It’s a bit fragmented and deformed, but it’s a general idea].
Sym-ball-ism: How Soccer Matches Became the New Catholic Masses
The idea of soccer as a religion is not a new concept, many people publicly swear that, after God and family, it is the most important thing in their lives. Soccer is an international language across the globe; my father constantly reminds me that the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) has membership of 208 countries, 16 more than the United Nation's 192. Soccer is infallible, while people may not agree on teams or leagues, they agree on the concept of the sport: it is The World's Game. Religion and soccer has always been intermingled throughout its organized history, provoking religious images from specific events (Maradona and The Hand of God) to simple terminology (playbooks become The Bible). Religion can also cause contentions in soccer, especially between religiously fuelled countries.
However, there is more than these simplistic parallels, especially when viewed in relation to the Catholic Church. For you to get my point, or at least, follow along, I’ll have to pull straight from The Bible (10 years of Catholic school will get you that):
“but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Act 1:8).
Keep the above in mind as we continue. Soccer, like the Catholic Church, has reached all the parts of the world, penetrating—or at least attempting to penetrate—every corner of the earth. That is because the game is inexpensive to play, equipment light, and easy to learn; like Catholicism, the message of soccer has spread from beyond its European centre. What I want you to consider is that the entire match has become a mass. From reading the program throughout the game, to knowing what bits to stand up for, the match is ceremoniously run like the Catholic Church.
I plan to convince you this in two parts: first through the implication of the Three Theological Virtues applied to the spectators’ team and second through the relics, rituals and prayer that have been pulled from the Catholic Church and adapted into soccer. In other words: symbolism of the Sunday Mass has been institutionalized into the Sunday Match.
[Should I continue? Or are my non-rants boring? Do people still read me? I like it when you read me]