Manifesto against the Dictatorship of Sport

/ by Klaus Zeyringer and Ilija Trojanow

Once sport was about dedication and passion, about community and identity. Today it’s all about power and money. Major events like Football World Cups and Olympic Games are in the hands of a tiny clique, many of its members strikingly mafia-like and authoritarian. Fifa and IOC are scarcely subject to outside control; they are associations under Swiss law while pretending to be supranational. Host countries surrender crucial sovereign powers, invalidating border controls, tax law, labor law, and money laundering law for them. Stadiums and their surroundings become their territory, in which IOC and Fifa law applies.


Fifa and IOC conduct “humanity’s cultural assets“ as the monopoly of an elitistic, neofeudally organized clique. While the hosts, really the respective tax payers, have been running ever higher deficits for decades, IOC and Fifa are making gigantic gains, whose appropriation is not really subject to public control. Recurring stories about corruption are no coincidence, but rooted in the system itself.


Moreover, omnipresent top-class-sport, especially football, has reached financial dimensions that are no longer bearable for society. It really is not simply a free market without subsidies, since the public pays for infrastructure — stadiums, streets, public transport — and police operations. Football players meanwhile earn wages that pay thousands of times more than those of teachers and nurses, bus drivers and civil servants.


This system is made possible not only by public authorities, but first and foremost by the compensation of media rights. In other words: by us spectators. However dearly we hold this sport, however fascinated by football we may be — it has become urgently necessary to withdraw our support for these conditions. We should no longer support these neofeudal schemings and dark businesses, this system’s absurd social injustice. Lack of transparency and corruption should no longer be condoned by a democratic society.


Let’s boycott the Fifa World Cup 2018 in Russia!

Let’s not watch a single game!

We’re not ratings boosters, not stupid sheep, not stupid consumers —

we are true football fans!


Excerpt from: Stefan Gmünder/Klaus Zeyringer: Das wunde Leder. Wie Kommerz und Korruption den Fußball kaputt machen. pp. 127-128. © Suhrkamp Verlag Berlin 2018.


Translated by Clemens Berger

Klaus Zeyringer

was Univ.-Prof. of German studies in France. He is a literary critic, active with Der Standard (Vienna) and a jury member for „ORF-Bestenliste“. His latest books are: Eine Literaturgeschichte: Österreich seit 1650 (2012); Fußball. Eine Kulturgeschichte (S. Fischer 2014; expanded in Tb 2016); Olympische Spiele. Eine Kulturgeschichte von 1896 bis heute. Bd. 1: Sommer (S. Fischer 2016); Bd. 2: Winter (S. Fischer 2018); (with Stefan Gmünder) Das wunde Leder. Wie Kommerz und Korruption den Fußball kaputt machen (Suhrkamp 2018).

Ilija Trojanow

is a Bulgarian-German writer, translator and publisher. Since 2002 Ilija Trojanow has been member of the PEN centre of the Federal Republic of Germany. Among other awards he received the Bertelsmann Literature Prize at the Ingeborg Bachmann competition in Klagenfurt in 1995, the Marburg Literature Prize in 1996, the Thomas Valentin Prize in 1997, the Adelbert von Chamisso Prize in 2000 and the Leipzig Book Fair in the category of fiction for his novel "Der Weltensammler" (The Collector of Worlds) in 2006.