‘THE MOST SPECTACULAR LEFT-WING ACTION SINCE THE DAYS OF BEST’
http://anarchistsoccer.org compiles left, anarcho, anti-fascist football stories such as the establishment of two anarchist professional league teams in Buenos Aires – Chacarita Juniors and the Martyrs of Chicago (later renamed Argentinos Juniors, as well as the European Teams with anti-authoritarian roots such as FC Sankt Pauli and SC Frieburg in Germnay and FC Barcelona in Spain. It also has information on the Antifa Ultras, the Mondiali Antirazzisti (The anti-racist World Cup), and a list of soccer/culture books and films, and articles on football on women’s football in Iran, modern-day slavery in soccer ball production and football under Pinochet’s Chile.
Read Steven Well’s account of left-wing soccer leagues in the US http://anarchistsoccer.org/?q=node/22
Four years ago I swapped broken, parochial, boring Blair-blighted Britain for super-shiny America. And like thousands of limey-fugees before me, I was stunned to find the deer and the antelope roam not on the range, but on the soccer pitch. Of which there are thousands, interlocked, from sea to shining sea – so many that one could start dribbling in New York and finish in LA without once having to take one’s boots off. Nearly.
And who plays on these pitches? Thousands of unwashed 300-pound macho alcoholic psychopaths like back in England? Not so much. Women? Check. Kids? Check. Communists – oh my god, check. Uncountable hordes of them.
In Duluth, Minnesota, you’ll find the Commie Soccer League (“all rules are democratically voted on”). In Chicago an anarchist team called Arsenal organise an annual ‘Matches and Mayhem’ soccer tournament. Baltimore is blessed by a “punk-rock soccer team” called CCCP FC (although since this stands for Charm City Cunt Punchers, the club’s political credentials might be considered slightly suspect by those of a feminist persuasion).
In Portland, there’s a game organised by self-described “lazy stinking leftist hippies”, while in Cape Cod the Socialist Saturday Morning Sandy Pond Soccer League have a website that plays the old Soviet national anthem. And I personally played in a 20-a-side indoor game between Philadelphia’s RASH (Red Action Skinheads) and SPAR (Skins and Punks against Racism).
There are leftist games in Winnipeg (“no refs, no masters!”), Calgary (home of Calgary Libre! FC), Wilmington and Austin. And in New Brunswick, Denver, Seattle, East Lansing, San Diego, Maine and Washington DC (which has a costumed Halloween game every October). And there’s been a Sunday anarcho-commie soccer game played in New York’s Tompkins Square Park for years now.
But it’s San Francisco that American anarcho-commie soccer has really taken off. Since 2002, the communist Left Wing Futbol Club have regularly been handed their scarlet asses on a plate by the black-clad anarchists of Krondstadt FC, And more recently the teams have participated in the annual BADASS (Bay Area Direct Action Soccer Series) tournament (part of the BASTARD – Berkeley Anarchist Students of Theory And Research & Development – anarchist conference).
The first-ever game between Left Wing and Krondstadt was broken up by a lone police officer while an anarchist mascot ran the touchline carrying a huge black flag and chanting “Agitate! Agitate! Score a goal and smash the state!” It was the stuff of leftist sporting legend.
The annual contest then developed into something of a bizarro-American sporting institution. At one match, the Brass Liberation Orchestra marching band played The Internationale while pogoing players punched the air and black-clad anarcho-cheerleaders in biker boots waved pom-poms made out of garbage sacks and yelled: “Give me an A! A! A for anarchy!”
And no, this wasn’t your boring patriarchal grandad’s futbol. “I grew up in Argentina, where the best player does a little dance with the ball and then only passes it to the next best player,” Left Wing player Marie Poblet told the West Bay Express. “If we want to change the world, we have to change the way we play.”
There were also some fun crowd chants, the best being: “You say you look to Mao for salvation? What about the Xinjiang workers’ situation?!” And rolling substitutions were allowed, at least partly to make sure “women, queers and people of color, etc.” were fully represented. (But this could be a joke. It’s hard to tell.)
Why soccer? “The nature of the game is such that it allows people with different skill levels and abilities to play at the same time,” says Paul Royal of the anarchist Detroit Riot FC. “This is important because we lefties try to be inclusive and compassionate with our political beliefs. And because there’s is no better way to block off a street during a demonstration than with an impromptu soccer match.”
The US left’s curious love affair with soccer might have started in 2000 when the Washington DC based Anarchist Soccer League challenged the World Bank to a “soccer showdown”. The running dogs of capitalism failed to turn up and therefore forfeited the game. Unsportingly, they also failed to cancel world debt. Since then, impromptu soccer games have regularly broken out at anti-capitalist and anti-war demonstrations across the US.
But you’ll notice that much of this article is written in the past tense. There’s a reason for that. When I restarted my research into American anarcho-commie soccer (which will form part of the book Soccer Revolution: The Girly Gay Commie Soccer Threat To The American Way Of Life – publishers and agents beat a path to my door now) I stumbled into a bleak, windswept, tumbleweed-blown wilderness of busted links, defunct websites and ancient, creaking anarcho-commie soccer chat rooms, meet-up groups and proto-blogs. Most hadn’t been updated for months (and in some cases years).
Had American anarcho-commie soccer been merely a turn-of-the-century flash in the radical-chic pan? Or was this lack of activity something more sinister? Had the scene been stamped out by the vicious neo-con-steered apparatus of state oppression? Had anarcho-commie soccer fallen foul of CIA “wet work” hit-squads, FBI infiltrators, reformist quislings and Department of Homeland Security hackers?
I phoned. I emailed. I nailed flyers to lampposts. I left coded messages in hollowed-out trees. And then – as slow as the first snowdrop nudging its way sunwards in spring – the replies started to trickle in. From Maoists and Trots and anarchists and feminists, anti-war activists, anti-racists, anti-imperialists and anarchists of all hyphenated stripes. And they all said the same thing: “We’re here, comrade! And we’re ready to play futbol! But when it gets a bit warmer. Have you been outside recently? It’s still bloody freezing.”
American anarcho-commie soccer is alive and well. It’s just been hibernating. Now it’s spring they’ll start once again changing America – one democratically refereed game (with rolling substitutions) at a time.