We won over Europe – primitivism won over us
The political underworld, on this occasion, affected young fans and its party soldiers.
writes: Zoran Ivanov
The airport and square events related to the Sunday mass welcome of European handball champions caused many reactions and controversies.
Firstly about Vardar as a sports club. In this sports collective, besides sport, Macedonianism has always been grown, cherished, nurtured and supported. Even stricter, Macedonian patriotism. Even much stricter, the Macedonian national specialty, and even the strictest, a good dose of Macedonian nationalism. Above all in the football club and somewhat further in the association of different sports disciplines with that name. Undoubtedly the brand Vardar, especially for the citizens of Skopje, is a national symbol.
So the handball club featuring players, coaches, owners from everywhere, is portraying that national patriotic agenda. Fans and fan groups are adhering to it, manifesting patriotism with a particularly excellently emphasized Macedonian ethnic nationality.
Indeed, the sporting and in general the fan world has always reflected an identity with more or less emphasized national label. From the Olympic antiquity onward, the sport was also a field for tribal, later for ethnical and national measurement of the power of one another on a collectivity. Something like controlling the passions and as prevention against the challenges of historical but also ethno-military conflicts in recent times.
And today, more or less emphasized, everywhere in Europe and the world, sport is still a field for national competition. It is the modern gladiator arena and the national scoring of the international championship forces, including the most sophisticated sports events such as the Olympics. Sport is a field for fighting between individuals, teams, and even nations. As here, so everywhere in the world, sports competitions are in the presence of national audiences spread in arenas, the media, now and on the social networks. We cheer and pour both sports and national passions.
Seen through the example of the recent events on the Skopje square, however, the issue is not about the value of sports success, but about the cultural understanding of the success in sport. Especially in the manifestation of emotional grandeur and the extent of emotional primitiveness that it encourages. And especially in the civilization understanding of sports and sporting successes.
The uniqueness of the passionate cheering matrix is that on the one hand it is somewhat done with cheering for own team, and somewhere against the rival of own team. In the difference of those outbursts of cheering emotions, the current level of the general culture of the audience, the fans, and the fan groups is also defined. Ultimately, the level of sports, but also of the political and general culture in the society is seen.
The answer to where we are in all this is simple and complex. Judging by some Sunday events at the Skopje airport and the Skopje square, we are still on a low, very vulgar level of cheering. The welcome of the European handball champions in those dozen hours was in many elements an instinctive civic urge to massively manifest the Macedonian pride and Macedonian national specialty. But at the same time, it was also a traumatic provocation of Macedonian chauvinism and the accumulated Macedonian primitivism.
While that Sunday evening people massively wished to be together, to share their joy, to receive and send vibrations of unity, the party supplemented with the bad and currently inadequate scenario was usurped, privatized by centers which have nothing to do with sport. Nor with patriotism and collective emotions blazed out of the great sporting victory in Cologne. The events at the airport and the square just confirmed that, when it is about the national and the state, we still cannot be framed in the European cultural standards.
And of course, it is not a matter of provocations by some small groups of city boys euphorically driven by the great success of their favorite sportsmen. It is about subjugation of vulgar chauvinism whose base, whose platform originates from certain party factions and religious centers. Contrary to the multiculturalism of the society, instead of producing a necessary union, they nourish prisms. They do this to everything that, on any basis, ethnic, national, cultural, sports, religious or social, whatever, does not identify itself with their own selfish interests. Party politicization, party fostering divisions, party intentions for domination and above all in society, will continue to keep us at the bottom of the desirable mental practice and understanding of the successes in general and the achievements in sports.
But what else to expect when, instead of creating unification events, nationalisms and national divisions continue to be packaged. How should young people behave in fan groups, what to expect from them when, for example, when in the office of the head of the MOC, for example, a flag with sixteen rays has been placed for years. Who to and what message does the Orthodox religious leader send. Or with what motives and in what direction are the verbal deeds of the head of the Islamic Religious Community about the identity of their fellow Macedonians. Or, what is the message of coexistence with not just placing the Macedonian national flag at DUI’s party seat. And who and what purpose did he have with the hundreds of overnight printed signs with the Vergina sun that provocatively placed at the national sports celebration the night on the square of Macedonia. And who did all these instructed political and nationalistic vulgarities serve to, exclaimed only one day after the one of the brightest successes in Macedonian sports history.
After all, the children were impolite and unrepentant. They were politically vulgar and nationally aggressive. In fact, primitivism comes from the constitutional institutional dens. The political underworld, even in this celebratory occasion, affected young fans and its party soldiers. Hence, it was evident that the cowardice attempted to draw a picture that the Vardar’s brilliant success was actually the result of some natural ethno-national supremacy.
Of course, there is a remedy for the elimination of abuses in sports and about sports in political or other non-sporting purposes. One should only follow, accept and apply the recipes from others. From those who are more experienced and who also face similar antagonisms but succeed to model the euphoria of sports successes and the traumas of sporting failures on a matrix that implies support and love for their own, not negation and hatred towards others.
Institutions, sports workers and of course the top athletes with their authority are obliged to close the sport for all unsportsmanlike occurrences. To expel them first from their ranks and then widely into society.
As many times before, as now with Vardar and a bit earlier with Tamara, we will continue to win over Europe and the world in something after all.
We will win, of course, but it would be cleverer to prevent primitivism from defeating us.
*The text is written exclusively for the purposes of Inbox 7. For each republishing, a consent by the editors must be obtained. Inbox 7 does not always agree with the opinions and views of the authors in the debate section.
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