Feyenoord is basically religion, this Erasmus philosopher says

Source: Wouter Engler
Source: Wouter Engler

And Judgement Day is near for the Rotterdam club...

The football stadium as a temple or church, the players holding the service: according to Robin van den Akker, Lecturer in Continental Philosophy and Cultural Studies at Erasmus University College Rotterdam, football is basically the same as religion. ‘The churches are emptying out, the stadiums are filling up. And although there’s no anthropological research, I’m not afraid to say that Feyenoord is the most religious club of all.’

‘The everyday life is put aside for a sacred moment’, explains Van den Akker, who’s currently working on a book about the increasing influence of sports on society, to Algemeen Dagblad. ‘People have this need to be included in a group, to be part of a bigger thing. In a secular, individualised society this need pops up in unexpected places, like stadium De Kuip’.

Ok… he’s a fan

Ok, Van den Akker is a Feyenoord fan himself, so not completely unbiased when it comes to that club. But he has some arguments to support his claim that Feyenoord takes the cake. ‘Suffering plays a central part; with Feyenoord the highs and lows are experienced most intensely’.

Feyenoord even has its own catechism, says Van den Akker: ‘The central message: suffering, hard work, and unconditional loyalty. And, of course, good football. These are central values that are being passed on.’ And clubs are increasingly behaving as organisations that are striving for the greater good. ‘Players even visit sick children in the hospital, like the priest would do in the past’.

Buried in Feyenoord-colours

Of course there are some differences. Feyenoord fans aren’t promised eternal life – just a championship. ‘But don’t underestimate it: supporters even have themselves buried in Feyenoord colours.’

And then there are some disadvantages to the religious vibe – violence, for example. ‘The group feeling and exclusion of others can turn into aggression towards people outside the group – comparable to religious disputes.’ But: because there are no big promises like heaven, there are fewer risks, says Van den Akker. ‘The biggest danger is a few paving stones flying over the Coolsingel. In that sense, progress is being made.’

Source: Algemeen Dagblad


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