THE NEW SYMBOLS OF EUROPEAN FOOTBALL

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1 INTERNATIONAL REVIEW FOR THE SOCIOLOGY OF SPORT 39/3(2004) Copyright ISSA and SAGE Publications (London, Thousand Oaks, CA, New Delhi) / THE NEW SYMBOLS OF EUROPEAN FOOTBALL Anthony King University of Exeter, UK Abstract In 1992, UEFA, the Union of European Football Associations, replaced the final rounds of the European Cup with a mini-league competition called The Champions League and developed three symbols to market this new competition. This article draws on Barthes s semiology to examine the political significance of these symbols. It claims that the symbols developed by UEFA communicate a sense of tradition of which UEFA is the guardian. In this way, the symbols seek to suppress the current political tensions within European football between UEFA and the big European clubs. Key words Champions League European Cup football UEFA Introduction: The Champions League From its inception in 1955, the European Cup established itself as one of the most prestigious football tournaments in the world. Yet, despite its early successes, the European Cup attracted severe criticism from the 1970s and faced crisis in the 1980s. Hooliganism and the disaster at Heysel, when 39 Juventus fans were crushed to death at the European Cup Final, compromised the competition while the biggest clubs and newly privatized television broadcasters were finding the competition format increasingly restrictive. Silvio Berlusconi was the key figure at this conjuncture since he owned the private Italian media company, Mediaset, and held the majority stake in AC Milan from For him, the new powers of the television companies and the biggest European football clubs had to be recognized: The European Cup has become a historical anachronism. It is economic nonsense that a club such as Milan might be eliminated in the first round. It is not modern thinking (Hughes, 1993: 48). For Berlusconi, the knock-out structure of the European Cup favoured the smaller teams while the value of this competition was dependent on the biggest clubs which could attract large television audiences. Illustrating the point, in the season Juventus were eliminated by Real Madrid in the second round, while unattractive Besiktas, Brondby and Anderlecht all went through to the next round. From the late 1980s, Berlusconi and the big clubs pressurized UEFA 1 into transforming the European Cup. As a result of this pressure, UEFA eventually introduced a mini-league system into it in The eight quarter-finalists competed in two four-team mini-leagues in which each team played the others home and away. The winner

2 324 INTERNATIONAL REVIEW FOR THE SOCIOLOGY OF SPORT 39(3) of the two mini-leagues went on to the final. In the following year, UEFA ratified this change of format, calling it the Champions League (Fynn, 1992: 2.10; personal interview, 2 Nov. 1999). In the course of the 1990s, the Champions League expanded to 32 teams, involving two mini-league stages leading to quarter and semi-final stages. 2 In response to a drop in viewing and attendance figures, UEFA have abandoned the second mini-league stage, introducing an additional knockout round in its place. It seems unlikely that even the current format will remain stable for long. Although the institutionalization of the mini-league system was significant, one of the most interesting aspects of the Champions League was in the field of marketing. In 1991, UEFA instructed its commercial partner, Television Event and Media Marketing (TEAM), to develop ways of branding the league. 3 As TEAM itself has noted: one of the key successes of the UEFA Champions League has been the re-branding of the competition (1999: 56) and TEAM developed three new symbols, two visual and one musical, for this purpose. TEAM adopted a version of Handel s Zadok the Priest, rearranged by Tony Britten, as the competition s anthem. One of the most notable alterations in this anthem was the insertion of the word The Champions into the culminating chorus. This anthem is played on every television broadcast and in each stadium before Champions League games. TEAM also created house colours of black and white or silver and a logo. TEAM commissioned five companies to submit a design for a logo for the Champions League. In the event, a company based in London called Design Bridge won the competition with a concept which the company called The Starball (Figure 1). The starball, as the name suggests, consists of a football made up of eight black and white or silver stars under which the words, UEFA Champions League are written. The starball and house colours are closely related symbols as the starball is always depicted in the Champions League house colours. On a black background, the stars are silver or white, while on a white or silver background the stars are black. TEAM has ensured that these symbols have become intimately associated with the competition. For instance, TEAM have employed a specially trained venue team to guarantee that symbols are used in the same way at every ground (TEAM, 1999: 42). Irrespective of whether you are a spectator in Moscow or Milan, you will always see the same stadium dressing materials, the same opening ceremony featuring the starball centre circle ceremony and hear the same UEFA Champions League Anthem. (TEAM, 1999: 56) The upper fascia of the stands are papered with the starball logo, while starball flags are flown prominently from the stands. The starball is also printed on all the tickets and on the bibs of stewards. In addition, local children wave a large starball banner over the centre circle as the Champions League Anthem is played before the start of each match. Ingeniously, the black and white or silver starball has featured on a movable perspex panel, called the Superflash Interview Backdrop (TEAM, 1999: 42), which is positioned behind players or managers as they are interviewed on the pitch or in the tunnel, thereby maximizing the airtime

3 KING: THE NEW SYMBOLS OF EUROPEAN FOOTBALL 325 Figure 1 The Starball which the logo receives. The starball and black and white or silver house colours are also a central part of television broadcasts across Europe. These sequences, featuring the Champions League symbols, are always broadcast in the same way (see Sugden and Tomlinson, 1998: 74 7). If you watch the match on television in Manchester or Munich, the broadcaster will be different, but the score graphics, opening television sequence and Flash Interview Backdrops will always be the same (TEAM, 1999: 56). These three new symbols, the anthem, the starball and the house colours, form a constellation of signs which have become familiar with the large audience which watches the Champions League. 4 Significantly, the consistent implementation of the brand identity programme on a European basis has produced good results, as is shown by the most recent research findings of the European football report (TEAM, 1999: 56). By 1999, the starball logo had achieved a recognition rate of 94 percent among fans (TEAM, 1999: 56). Emphasizing the growing familiarity of these symbols, Richard Worth, a TEAM executive, has noted that the starball has now become an independent symbol in its own right. UEFA have always said that we want the star ball with the wording, UEFA Champions League. They said that at the start; Don t ever split those two things up. But now I think you can put a starball somewhere and people will say, That s the Champions League. You don t have to have the words underneath to remind people what it is. So in a sense, that says maturity. People are now comfortable with it, they recognize it. (Richard Worth, personal interview, 2 March 2000) Given the growing significance of football as a public ritual in Europe, an analysis of these widely recognized symbols may usefully throw light upon European football and, indeed, upon the European Union. These new signs provide a possible lens through which Europe can be brought into focus.

4 326 INTERNATIONAL REVIEW FOR THE SOCIOLOGY OF SPORT 39(3) The Significance of Signs In Mythologies, his famous critical work on contemporary symbols, Barthes argues that signs consist of a signifier which represents the signified object (2000: 117). For Barthes, however, there is no zero degree sign which merely denotes the signified neutrally (2000: 131). The signifier always represents the signified in a particular and partial way to reflect the interests of dominant groups. The task of Barthes s semiology is to illuminate the processes by which a signified object becomes a mythic sign. In Mythologies, Barthes reveals how apparently self-evident signs communicate social meanings in order to recreate bourgeois society. The most famous semiological critique comes towards the end of the book. I am at the barber s, and a copy of Paris-Match is offered to me. On the cover, a young Negro in a French uniform is saluting, with his eyes uplifted, probably fixed on a fold of the tricolour. All this is the meaning of the picture. (Barthes, 2000: 116) Barthes begins to examine the significance of this mythic sign. But, whether naively or not, I see very well what it signifies to me: that France is a great Empire, that all her sons, without any colour discrimination, faithfully serve under her flag, and that there is no better answer to the detractors of an alleged colonialism than the zeal shown by this Negro serving his so-called oppressors. (Barthes, 2000: 116) Barthes notes he is faced with a signifier ( a black soldier is giving the French salute ) and a signified ( a purposeful mixture of Frenchness and militariness ) (Barthes, 2000: 116). For Barthes, this mythic sign is powerful because by normalizing the allegiance of a black soldier to imperial France, it legitimates French colonialism. This myth overcomes a contradiction between the signifier and the signified to defuse the political issue of colonialism. Colonialism is represented as a benign force. The French African can express his allegiance to the flag, demonstrating his status as a loyal citizen because he is equal before the French state. The myth of a loyal African soldier is created only insofar as the sign conceals certain important political conditions (Barthes, 2000: 125). The most powerful myths will normalize themselves so that this semiotic distortion becomes invisible. The social meanings and implications of the myth are assumed. It s just a fact: look at this good Negro who salutes like one of our own boys (Barthes, 2000: 124) and, at this point, we reach here the very principle of myth: it transforms history into nature (Barthes, 2000: 129). The myth provides an alibi of coloniality (Barthes, 2000: 129). Since the 1990s, as Europe has accelerated towards ever closer union, the question of a common European culture has become more pressing. In an attempt to create European identity, the Commission has invented its own flag and Beethoven s famous setting of Schiller s Ode to Joy in the last movement of the Ninth Symphony has been chosen as the anthem of the new Europe. The Commission has also advocated the use of certain sporting events to promote cultural integration across the nations of the Union.

5 KING: THE NEW SYMBOLS OF EUROPEAN FOOTBALL 327 If the ultimate goal of a united, cohesive Europe is to be achieved, a European identity will have to be forged... As an integral part of our heritage, sport has always brought people together, transcending language differences and national stereotypes. In a changing Europe sport, with its ability to break down barriers, is a prime factor for integration. For this reasons alone it has earned its place in the New Europe. (Commission of the European Communities, 1992: 10) The symbols of the Champions League may have wider significance to the process of European integration. They may constitute some of the first common symbols of the emergent European Union. It is interesting that Rod Petrie, the Group Creative Director at Design Bridge, noted for instance that the stars of the starball have overtones of the European Union (Rod Petrie, communication, 5 June 2000). They echo the 15 stars of the European flag. However, while the Commission rightly recognizes the need for common symbols, social symbols cannot be created artificially. In opposition to the contrived attempts of the Commission to create common symbols and rituals through which a convenient European identity might be formed, the Champions League can be seen as an important ritual in which the emergent solidarities of the New Europe are expressed in Durkheimian fashion (1966). These symbols may become totems for new social groups in Europe. Interestingly, the stars symbolize a different kind of social order than the utopian vision of unified member states represented on the European flag. Inventing Tradition: The House Colours and the Anthem Barthes s critical semiotics is relevant to the analysis of the new symbols of the Champions League because his analysis highlights the political processes by which symbols are created. It is useful to see the Champions League signifiers as political myths of a similar if less oppressive nature. Following Barthes, the analysis here does not examine the way that fans have understood these images. This does not deny the manifest importance of fans nor their active appropriation of public symbols. Fans have a critical role in the creation of this extraordinary public ritual. However, this analysis focuses solely on the production of these signs and the way in which UEFA and TEAM, in particular, have created these symbols. It is an interpretation of the meanings which the producers of these signs have consciously invested in them. Conveniently, TEAM, Red Chili and the other design companies involved have all provided an insight into the significance of these signs. TEAM have produced extensive documents which describe how they produced their branding concept, while representatives of the other companies provided verbal explanations of their designs. Richard Worth, a TEAM executive, for instance, described the clear logic behind the development of these symbols. The whole thing was put together the branding element, including the music and the logo from the point of view of being completely different. So that if you look at a lot of sports coverage and you look at a lot of sports brands, it is all loud, young-style music, colourful, brash; it hits you in the face all the time. Again I wasn t party to this at the time but the decision was taken, Let s be different. Let s go for a classical style. Let s go for simple

6 328 INTERNATIONAL REVIEW FOR THE SOCIOLOGY OF SPORT 39(3) colours. Let s go for really precious silvery colours, black and white. (Richard Worth, personal interview, 2 March 2000, emphasis added) Unlike other competitions, the black-white-silver house colours and the classical feel, [demonstrate] that the competition has tradition, history, and sets itself apart from the ordinary (Richard Worth, communication, 12 July 2000). In their official documents, TEAM has affirmed Richard Worth s point. Careful usage of the specially developed branding elements, the name, the logo, the house colours, the music, the stadium decoration materials and the television graphics, have resulted in a high brand awareness and a clearly defined brand image that represents the quality, prestige and heritage of top European football. (TEAM, 1999: 56, emphasis added) A brief comparison with the English Premier League is instructive here. This league, which was inaugurated in August 1992, involved a separation of the top division of English football from the rest of the Football League (see King, 1998). In its first season, the Premier League was advertised under the slogan of a whole new ball game, explicitly disassociating itself from the tarnished image of the old Football League. The Premier League brand emphasized its newness. TEAM s symbols for the Champions League denote a different approach in which not the novelty but the heritage of this tournament has been prioritized. The Novocom introductory television sequence, which was broadcast between 1997 and 2000, usefully demonstrated the way in which the black and white house colours create a sense of heritage. In the course of the sequences, well-known moments from recent seasons of the Champions League were broadcast in grainy black and white, even though they had originally been televised in colour. These images appear to have been originally broadcast not in the 1990s but in the 1950s and 1960s before the introduction of the colour television. The use of blurred monochrome images creates the illusion of tradition. It is significant here that the early games in the European Cup which are familiar to many fans are remembered in black and white; Manchester United s success in 1968, for instance, was broadcast in black and white to large television audiences in Britain. To support their marketing of the Champions League, TEAM have produced a range of documents since the inauguration of the new competition, including reviews of the previous season. These reviews are circulated to sponsors, television companies, the media and to potential clients, describing the concept and the value of the competition. In TEAM s review of the 1998/9 season, the final part of the report includes a section entitled History which gives a brief account of the origins of the European Cup and the development of the Champions League. The section deliberately emphasizes the heritage of the Champions League:... the challenge, as European club football moves into the next millennium, is to continue to find the right equation between growth, social trends and the solid traditional values of entertaining football so firmly established by that great Real Madrid side more than four decades ago. (TEAM, 1999: 63) Significantly, this section includes eight photographs depicting historical highlights from the European Cup and the Champions League, including five from the

7 KING: THE NEW SYMBOLS OF EUROPEAN FOOTBALL 329 first two decades of the competition. These photographs from the early period depict Barcelona s first ever appearance in the Final, Inter s first victory, Milan s defeat of Ajax in 1969 and Johan Cruyff receiving the cup in All are in black and white. Like the Novocom sequence, these photographs demonstrate how black and white signify the historical origins of the competition. These colours evoke the collective memories of the black and white television broadcasts of the early era. Although closely related to the black and white house colours, the Champions League silver house colour enriches their historical connotations. As Richard Worth notes, silver is precious and it therefore symbolizes the richness of the competition. It denotes the quality of the clubs which participate in it. However, the value of silver is distinctive. It does not suggest mere market value but signifies wealth; it is the metal of aristocratic ornaments and tableware. It communicates a sense not of newly accumulated money but of long-established and venerable wealth. It denotes nobility. Silver has other important connotations. Although some of the earliest matches in the European Cup were played on mid-week afternoons, it quickly became the norm that games were played in the evening under floodlights. In this way, the competition did not interfere unduly with domestic competitions and it also ensured that the games attracted good attendances, unaffected by the working day. The games were played under a distinctive silver light which gave the pitch and the players a peculiar lustre. In the earliest years of the competition, commentators were impressed by this extraordinary illumination. Bees, it is said, will only work in the dark. Manchester United, on the other hand, seem to prefer the silvery sort of twilight produced by floodlighting on a mild October evening. As against Anderlecht, so against Borussia, the boyish English champions tore into their opponents with a zest amounting almost to voracity. (Guardian, 17 Oct. 1956, cited in Meek, 1988: 19) The Champions League introductory television sequences have used silver extensively. The Novocom opening sequence, for instance, employed backlighting, which silhouetted the starball and blurred the images somewhat, so that the whites appeared to shine and gleam as if seen under the silvery illumination of floodlights. Silver signifies these special European nights and, in this way, it is closely connected to the black and white house colours. Silver has other important significations. In the photograph of Cruyff receiving the cup in 1973 (TEAM, 1999: 62), the distinctively shaped cup dominates the photograph as UEFA president, Artemio Franchi, hands it to Johann Cruyff (see Figure 2). The entire scene is reflected in the cup, including Cruyff s face which is turned away from the camera but is visible in reflection in the trophy; his face can be discerned just below the lower rim of the cup, next to the silver reflection of the handle (see arrow). In this photograph, Johann Cruyff, one of the most famous players in world football, becomes inexorably associated with the European Cup. In this image, he is actually part of the cup. By extension, the other famous players from the earlier years of the competition are also part of this silver trophy. These players are reflected in the glow of the cup which in turn basks in the light of these luminous stars. Significantly, while the photograph is

8 330 INTERNATIONAL REVIEW FOR THE SOCIOLOGY OF SPORT 39(3) Figure 2 Johann Cruyff receives the cup in 1973 (Team, 1999: 62) black and white, the cup whose handles gleam in the floodlights is unmistakably silver. At the heart of the black and white memories of the European cup is a shining silver cup in which the collective memories of European football are endlessly reflected. The silver house colour, as the picture of Johan Cruyff demonstrates, signifies the trophy itself, adding resonance to silver as a sign. 5 It is notable that Red Chili, the company which produced the introductory television sequences in , used the cup extensively in the introductory sequence. In this an image of the cup appears inside the starball and footage from the previous season appears inside it; like the photograph in TEAM s review, the cup holds and reflects the collective memories of this competition. In this way, the black, white and silver imbue this new competition with historical depth. These colours signify tradition in general but more specifically they point directly back to the fans televisual memories of the European Cup in the 1950s and 1960s. The Zadok anthem affirms these significations of tradition and quality. Zadok the Priest was originally written as part of an anthem for George II s coronation in Westminster Abbey in 1727 and since that time, it has always been employed during the coronation ceremony of English monarchs. The majestic music which rises to an impressive major key crescendo signifies the installation of a new head of state. The baroque music of the Zadok anthem associates the Champions League with the monarchies of Ancien Regime Europe. The baroque music also interconnects with the silver house colours, for the aristocratic connotations evoked by the silver are reflected and affirmed in this noble music. It is notable

9 KING: THE NEW SYMBOLS OF EUROPEAN FOOTBALL 331 here that the anthem is associated with the (silver) cup itself because, in the introductory sequences, the music reaches its climax just as the footage of the Cup being lifted at the end of the previous year s competition is shown. It is interesting that the anthem is orchestrated so that the most prominent instruments at this climax are horns; they communicate a shining metallic sound which musically reflects the trophy itself. Music and colours merge together as one dense signifier, communicating a concept of silver in both sound and vision. The anthem and the house colours signify tradition and since the early 1990s this has been extremely important. Tradition is extremely important for the viability of the Champions League. Sports matches have meaning when there is a historical context which fans and players recognize. If there is no historical context and matches are simply artificial events, then games become simply meaningless displays of virtuosity like the Haarlem Globetrotters. As Kerry Packer s 1970s World Series Cricket revealed, when Packer signed most of the best cricketers in the world for contrived spectaculars, such artificial competition do not sustain supporter interest for long and, consequently, become valueless both for promoters and sponsors. Sporting competitions must not be contrived. Each new encounter should be part of a long-term relationship between the teams or part of a competition with its own recognizable history. These relationships give particular matches authenticity; new games are part of a recognizable sequence. Competitions become real by having a tradition which renders new games meaningful to supporters. Consequently, one of the most important tasks for UEFA in the early 1990s was to make the Champions League meaningful to fans by connecting it closely with the European Cup from which it developed. This tradition gives the Champions League meaning by providing it with a historical context. This appeal to tradition has been extremely important since the 1990s, as the legitimacy of this tournament has been threatened by the changing format of the competition. In the light of this threat, it is understandable that UEFA have emphasized the continuity between the Champions League and the European Cup. UEFA have been right to be concerned about the historical legitimacy of the new competition. The development of the Champions League has provoked extensive criticisms in the press and among fans who argue that the mini-league system destroys the uncertainty of the European Cup and produces games which are artificial, without historic precedent or sporting significance. According to these fans and commentators, financial imperatives have been illegitimately prioritized above sporting ones. The whole affair [expanding the Champions League to include domestic runners-up from major leagues] debases a wonderful tournament, the European Cup, that has been built up over 40 years... The logic is finance at the cost of merit... The marketing men who devised this bastardisation of European events will be the first to bale out when the price drops, as it will when customers see the devaluation. (Hughes, 1996: 46) The symbols are dense signifiers of the traditions of the European Cup. As such, they are specifically designed to defuse these criticisms of the Champions League by emphasizing continuity even in the face of radical structural transformation. The symbols are directed at fans and commentators, therefore, and by emphasizing the historical precedence of the Champions League, UEFA is

10 332 INTERNATIONAL REVIEW FOR THE SOCIOLOGY OF SPORT 39(3) attempting to stimulate a sense of familiarity and legitimacy. The symbols give the Champions League an alibi. They are evidence that the Champions League has not in fact broken tradition as critics claim. The Politics of the Champions League: The Starball Although UEFA created the Champions League, this competition was very substantially a defensive strategy on their part. If structural changes were not made to the European Cup, there was a threat that the biggest clubs would simply leave UEFA and create an independent European competition of their own. Berlusconi was an important figure in applying this pressure from the late 1980s. This threat became actual in the latter part of the decade. In 1998, a media rights group based in Milan called Media Partners proposed an independent and exclusive European superleague for selected European clubs, promising incredible financial rewards. In response to this breakaway threat in 1998, UEFA were impelled to restructure the Champions League dramatically. Nevertheless, the threat of a breakaway remains. Do we feel under threat? Yes, in a way of course, because at the end of the day it wouldn t be very difficult for any marketing agency if they have got a proper strategy to sit down with a group of top clubs and say, Do you fancy giving this a go? and they will say, Yes. And then the political fall-out will happen, the same as it did with Kerry Packer. Of course it can happen. If someone can say to a club, we will double or treble your money, it does not take a genius to work out that soon someone will say, All right, we ll give that a go. Yes, there is a threat. (Richard Worth, TEAM, personal interview, 2 March 2000) Although created by UEFA, the Champions League is a reflection of the political precariousness of UEFA. Because television revenue is dependent upon the appearance of the biggest European clubs they constitute the value of this competition UEFA have become increasingly reliant upon the biggest clubs. Despite UEFA s formal administration of this competition, the political power of the biggest European clubs cannot be ignored. Indeed, the biggest clubs are attempting to transform their informal political power into formal authority. The Media Partners initiative brought into existence an official grouping of the biggest European clubs, the so-called G14, which has acted as a powerful lobby group to UEFA and the European Commission. 6 The Champions League is ultimately the product of an uneasy compromise between increasingly dominant clubs and a dependent international federation. In this political context, the traditions of European competition are crucial to UEFA s survival; it is not just an alibi for UEFA against the accusations of the fans and journalists but more specifically an alibi against the threat of the G14. Although increasingly dependent upon the biggest clubs who command large television audiences, UEFA have one important political weapon in their favour; UEFA is effectively the guardian and representative of the traditions of European football. UEFA alone is associated with these traditions because it has administered the European Cup since its inception in By connecting it directly to the European Cup, UEFA s administration of the Champions League legitimates

11 KING: THE NEW SYMBOLS OF EUROPEAN FOOTBALL 333 it as a sporting event because these games remain, despite all the changes, part of a recognized and long-running sequence. Thus, although UEFA is a mere administrative body, dependent on the competing clubs, UEFA s administration remains critical to the biggest clubs. Only by pointing to this tradition does the Champions League remain attractive to the fans and, therefore, only under the administration of UEFA is the competition viable. Just like the saluting black soldier, the new symbols of the Champions League conveniently highlight UEFA s vital contribution to European football while suppressing the political tensions within the European game which in fact threaten the very existence of UEFA. The symbols conceal the growing dominance of the big city clubs. The starball is the critical signifier here. The eight stars were initially intended to represent the eight teams which played in the first Champions League competition. In their brief to the design companies, UEFA instructed them to produce a logo which reflected the fact that 8 star teams come together to form a new league (Rod Petrie, communication, 5 June 2000). In branding the new competition, UEFA consciously prioritized these star teams. They are the focus of this tournament. The eight stars of the starball now represent the biggest and most successful European clubs. The starball implicitly recognizes the power of the major European club. However, the starball is always in the Champions League house colours; the starball exists only in black and white or silver. The stars are unified and are the centre point of European football only insofar as they are part of a recognizable tradition administered by UEFA. The introductory broadcast sequence developed by Novocom emphasized this reference to the eight best teams in Europe but it also situated these teams harmoniously within the traditional structure of UEFA. The sequence began with a black and white image of Europe, on which eight stars at the sites of the most successful teams in Europe at the time were superimposed. These stars then flashed and moved together to form the starball which obscured the map of Europe. Black and white footage from the previous season as well as other more historical footage appeared in the central star, culminating in images of the previous season s champions raising the cup as the Zadok anthem reached its climax. The sequence linked the current star teams of European football with tradition and, in the form of the starball, unified them under the administration of UEFA. The subordination of the clubs under UEFA is further emphasized by the Champions League Anthem itself which has had to be employed by design companies in their introductory sequences. Handel s music involves a series of lesser chords symbolizing a diverse subject population below the monarch but, at its climax, the music reconciles these lower chords into a single major key fanfare; a sovereign nation is unified beneath a supreme monarch. The Champions League Anthem communicates the same message of diverse subordinate elements unified beneath a sovereign body; the clubs are represented by the lower chords which are brought together in a majestic union under UEFA. In the new Red Chili opening sequence introduced in 2000, the starball promotes a similar message but the tension between the clubs and UEFA is more strongly stressed. Richard Worth described this new sequence as upgraded and updated... it will be changed to take on a fresh look (Richard Worth, 2 March 2000, personal interview). The starball emerges from the middle of a silvery silk

12 334 INTERNATIONAL REVIEW FOR THE SOCIOLOGY OF SPORT 39(3) background, imprinted with a map of Europe, and moves to centre screen. Coloured footage from famous moments of the Champions League appear and then the coloured crests and names of major European teams revolve briefly inside the starball. The club badges of Borussia Dortmund, Manchester United, Barcelona, Internazionale, Paris St Germain and Juventus appear momentarily inside the starball. It is significant that all these clubs are members of the G14. In contrast to earlier Novocom sequence, the Red Chili sequence does not employ only the Champions League house colours. It does not confine itself to black, white and silver but employs bright colours for the club badges. Surprisingly, the Red Chili sequence formally contradicts the brief which design companies were given. As Richard Worth himself emphasized, TEAM originally wanted to avoid the use of brash colours. The Red Chili sequence, however, employs exactly those kinds of colours bright reds, blues and yellows. It is certainly true that the use of these colours against the black and white produces a fresh look. The colours of the club badges contrast strikingly with the silver and black starball and the silky background. They signify more than mere freshness, however. As TEAM themselves recognized, brash and bold colours symbolically represent thrusting and youthful commercialism and it was for this reason that these colours were rejected in favour of classical ones. In the first instance, UEFA wanted to suppress the connection between the Champions League and market forces in order to legitimate the competition. Here in this new sequence, however, those very forces, represented by bright colours, are prominent. The symbolic recognition of brash commercialism does not undermine the competition completely though. Significantly, in the Red Chili sequence, only the club names and crests are coloured. The symbolic implication is powerful; the clubs are examples of dynamic commercial forces. They stand opposed to the tradition embodied by UEFA and the European Cup which are represented by classical black, white and silver. Although the presence of the brash or fresh coloured crests symbolize the new power of the market and the clubs promoted by it, these crests are always confined within the starball. The badges, representing the most powerful clubs, are only as vivid and striking as they are within the black and silver context of tradition. The traditions of the tournament give these clubs their power and prestige. Only allied to the traditionalism of UEFA do the clubs enjoy their market power. In turn, the traditionalism of the competition is itself invigorated, not compromised, by the clubs and by commercial forces. The black, white and silver become more precious in contrast to the bold reds, blues and yellows. This contrast between the subtle house colours and the gaudy club crests symbolizes the tension between the clubs with their demand for financial rewards and UEFA which represents the traditions of European football. Yet, in this sequence, the vivid contrast between the club crests and the house colours is transformed from antagonism into symbiosis. Both opening sequences, drawing on this anthem and the starball, signify the political compromise between UEFA and the biggest clubs. The starball provides an alibi for UEFA, wherein the symbols recognize the power of the biggest clubs but simultaneously point to a tradition of which UEFA are the guardians. This tradition is essential even to the biggest clubs. It represents an idealized reconciliation of the clubs and the federation. Even the G14 clubs exert an influence only within the starball under the administration

13 KING: THE NEW SYMBOLS OF EUROPEAN FOOTBALL 335 of UEFA. The starball defuses the politics of this relationship with a utopian image of solidarity. It transforms history into nature. Conclusion The new symbols of European football have arisen in a specific political context. They connote history and tradition in order to buttress the position of UEFA both in relation to the fans and journalists and, in particular, in relation to the biggest European clubs. For the fans, the symbols are intended to legitimate the competition by linking it to the traditions of the European Cup. For the clubs, these symbols are intended to highlight the vital role which UEFA still serves; UEFA legitimates the biggest clubs by providing them with a tradition in which they can compete. Through the new symbols of Europe, the political contours of European football become visible. The growing dominance of the big city clubs and their increasing interconnection with each other becomes clear. A new geography of European football comes into view. However, these symbols may have a wider relevance than this. The Commission wants to develop shared symbols which will serve to unify the European Union culturally. The symbols of the Champions League may be among the first European symbols to emerge. However, against the supranational rhetoric of the Commission, the new symbols of European football do not represent the utopian union which the Commission sometimes envisages. On the contrary, these symbols signify a continent which is in ever greater internal competition with itself. The starball, as the key symbol of the Champions League, symbolizes the growing struggle between major football clubs promoted by global deregulation and a supranational regulatory institution, UEFA. The starball represents an emergent transnational order in which the biggest clubs are becoming increasingly dominant as the internal market becomes ever more competitive (see King, 2003). The starball implies that supranational institutions like UEFA can provide a broad regulatory framework for this dramatic struggle but the future of Europe will be primarily determined by dominant market institutions, such as major football clubs. In this way, the starball may be a new symbol not only of European football but of Europe itself. The European Union may be characterised less by political cohesion than by increasingly ferocious market competition. Notes The interviews cited in the article were carried out between 1999 and 2000 as part of a wider ESRCfunded project Football and Post-National Identity in the New Europe. 1. UEFA was established in 1954 as a forum for the football associations of Europe. In 1955, FIFA (the international federation of football associations) gave UEFA the role of administering the proposed European Club Champions Cup (later known as the European Cup). UEFA s important position in European and, indeed, world football is based on its administration of this and other subsequently developed European competitions. 2. UEFA changed the format again for the season, replacing the second mini-league phase

14 336 INTERNATIONAL REVIEW FOR THE SOCIOLOGY OF SPORT 39(3) with a straight knock-out competition. Although this is likely to have significant economic and political repercussions, it is not relevant to the analysis of the Champions League symbols. 3. The history of TEAM (Television Event and Media Marketing) is interesting. It was established by two key members of Adi Dassler s ISL marketing group, Klaus Hempel and Jurgen Lenz. After Dassler s premature death in 1987, these individuals stopped working ISL, formed a rival company, Hempel Lenz and Partner AG, and co-founded TEAM (Sugden and Tomlinson, 1998: 93 4). 4. The average audience for Champions League games in was 5.5 million. With the post format, this average has declined to just over 4 million. 5. The trophy is a particularly powerful symbol because it has a very distinctive shape; it consists of a large silver body from which two tear-shaped handles loop. Despite their quite radical transformation of the competition, UEFA retained the trophy which had been used since the late 1960s. The present Cup was introduced in 1967 after the original Cup had been awarded to Real Madrid on their sixth victory in the competition. The late introduction of the present Cup is usually forgotten and, for many fans and commentators, the Cup has come to connote even the victories of Real Madrid in the early years of the competition when the smaller original trophy was used. A tradition has been invented for this second Cup endowing it with a longer pedigree than it factually merits. 6. The G14 is presently undergoing expansion and it is possible that Arsenal and Valencia may join the group in the near future. However, at the moment the group consists of Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Juventus, Internazionale, AC Milan, Olympic Marseilles, Paris St Germain, Porto, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Ajax, PSV Eindhoven, Liverpool and Manchester United. References Barthes, R. (2000) Mythologies. London: Paladin. Commission of the European Communities (1992) The European Community and Sport. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications. Durkheim, E. (1966) The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, trans. J. Ward Swain. London: George Allen & Unwin. Fynn, A. (1992) Super League to Take Europe by Storm, The Sunday Times (6 Dec.): Hughes, R. (1993) Uefa Establishes European Cup Cartel, The Times (3 Dec.): 4. Hughes, R. (1996) Slick Men of Europe Devaluing Game s Honoured Traditions, The Times (10 Feb.): 46. King, A. (1998) The End of the Terraces: The Transformation of English Football in the 1990s. Leicester: Leicester University Press. King, A. (2003) The European Ritual: Football in the New Europe. Aldershot: Ashgate. Meek, D. (1988) Red Devils in Europe. London: Cockerel Books. Sugden, J. and Tomlinson, A. (1998) FIFA and the Contest for World Football. Cambridge: Polity. TEAM (1999) UEFA Champions League: Season Review 1998/9. Lucerne: TEAM. Anthony King is a reader in sociology at Exeter University. He has published books on football and social theory and is currently researching military culture and European defence policy. Address: Reader in Sociology, Department of Sociology, Amory Building, Rennes Drive, University of Exeter, Exeter EX4 4RJ, UK.

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