Football and philosophy

Football and Philosophy man seem like strange bedfellows but they have a surprising amount in common. Jean-Paul Satre, once said, “In a football match, everything is complicated by the presence of the other team.” And Albert Camus, the existential novelist who played goalkeeper as a young man in Algeria made this famous claim: “All that I know of morality I learnt from football.

And who can forget that glorious Monty Python sketch of a football match between Greece and Germany featuring Plato, Archimedes, Aristotle, Heidegger, Nietzsche Wittgenstein and Beckenbauer. In the end after a cagey opening spell the Greeks just had too much for the Germans. The winner a diving header by Socrates was bitterly disputed by the German team. Hegel argued in vain with that the reality of Socrates’ goal is merely an a priori adjunct of non-naturalistic ethics, while Kant maintained that, ontologically, the goal existed only in the imagination via the categorical imperative. For Karl Marx Socrates had clearly y been offside. This match was recreated by The Philosophy Shop, a group which promotes philosophy among primary schoolchildren. Socrates Wanderers, coached by former England manager Graham Taylor and Nietzsche Albion, coached by AC Grayling, a philosopher who has specialised in the theory of knowledge, metaphysics, and philosophical logic. This know-how was to prove decisive and Germany got revenge and ran out comfortable 3-1 winners.

Football has had many (cod) philosophers over the years. In The Oxford Companion to Philosophy Nicholas Rescher defines pseudo-philosophy as “deliberations that masquerade as philosophical but are inept, incompetent, deficient in intellectual seriousness, and reflective of an insufficient commitment to the pursuit of truth.” I think you will find that the examples below fit this description perfectly:

Rafa Benitez

And some people cannot see a priest on a mountain of sugar. (On Roy Hodgson)

We have a saying in Spanish….’white liquid in a bottle has to be milk’. So, white liquid in a bottle: milk. You will know who is to blame. If I see John the milkman in the Wirral, where I was living, with this bottle, I’d say, ‘It’s milk, sure’.

Jose Mourinho

It is like having a blanket that is too small for the bed. You pull the blanket up to keep your chest warm and your feet stick out. I cannot buy a bigger blanket because the supermarket is closed. But I am content because the blanket is cashmere. It is no ordinary blanket. (Talking about the size of his squad at Chelsea)

I think he is one of these people who is a voyeur. He likes to watch other people. There are some guys who, when they are at home, have a big telescope to see what happens in other families. (Having a go at Arsene Wenger.)

‘In the supermarket you have class one, two or class three eggs and some are more expensive than others and some give you better omelettes. So when the class one eggs are in Waitrose and you cannot go there, you have a problem. (Explaining why it would be difficult to play sexy football at Chelsea)

Eric Cantona

When the seagulls follow the trawler, it is because they think sardines will be dropped into the sea

Arsene Wenger

When you’re dealing with someone who only has a pair of underpants on, if you take his underpants off, he has nothing left – he’s naked. You’re better off trying to find him a pair of trousers to complement him rather than change him. (On Arsenal’s attacking style.)

Ian Holloway

If you’re a burglar, it’s no good poncing about outside somebody’s house, looking good with your swag bag ready. Just get in there, burgle them and come out. I don’t advocate that obviously, it’s just an analogy.

Claudio Ranieri

If it is the case that you need just a first eleven and three or four more players, then why did Christopher Columbus sail to India to discover America?

Alex Ferguson

Sometimes you look in a field and you see a cow and you think it’s a better cow than the one you’ve got in the field. It’s a fact, right, and it never really works out that way. It’s probably the same cow and it’s not as good as your own cow. Some players like to think there’s a better world somewhere else. It never really works

Chris Coleman

Beans are as they are as they come from a can – you can`t see the beans before they are open but, once they are open, you can see the beans.

Jorge Valdano

The bacillus of efficiency has also attacked football, and some dare to ask what’s the point in playing well. I feel tempted to tell about the time they dared to ask Borges what is poetry for, to which he answered: What is a sunrise for? What are caresses for? what is the smell of coffee for? Each question sounded like a sentence: they are for pleasure, for emotion, for living.


One Response to Football and philosophy

  1. Alberto says:

    Valdano speaks better than he trains…

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