About the book
Euro 2020 (in 2021) was not what Michel Platini had in mind when he conceived of a European Championship spread across 12 nations. It will be a grand test for the rebirth of football as a spectator sport, or, as the German philosopher, Wolfram Eilenberger, calls it in his exclusive interview, a “laboratory for the future”. There will be fans present, but not as many as hoped for, so this will be a strange tournament. The German word ‘Geisterspiele’ sums up the experience best. ‘Ghost games.’ But in his essay one of the world’s great football writers, David Winner, says that the basics, the infinite web of stories we tell about football, are unchanged. Just that the mediums we consume it through are different. He argues that the game will always endure. But as is shown by the problematic hosts Baku as well as Budapest the old idea of using sport to enhance a government’s image abroad or at home is still being used to great effect. Football has certainly helped shine a light upon the fight against the corrupt regime in Belarus, just as it makes us face hard truths about nationalism in the Balkans.
If the game itself is fast, sometimes football can also move at too glacial a pace. Nicole Selmer and Gerrit-Jan van Heemst show football’s fight against the ills being done to our environment has begun, but that it still has far to go. Just as the voices in the fight against racism from the footballing establishment grow louder, but their actions still leave much to be desired. Samindra Kunti puts the Black Lives Matter movement into the context of the pandemic through a personal essay about football in a year of crisis. Meanwhile the pernicious effects of Brexit are an inevitable theme, with London hosting the Euro semi-finals and final and three UK nations represented in the tournament. However, first-time participants Finland and North Macedonia would argue against much of this negativity. They want to enjoy themselves, to show there is still a place for romance.