Behind Closed Doors #5

Göztepe v Trabzonspor 12062020 : Napoli v Inter 13062020

As the phenomenon of games being played behind closed doors continues I will document the situations in which I experience the matches. Listening to the resonance of the empty stadium seeping into domestic space and then, in turn, imagining the thousands of domestic environments in which the game is being watched, returning to the stadium, resonating, filling the stadium with domestic noise and action.

…the collective song and intoxicating sound of the crowd does not just provide an accompaniment to the beautiful action of the players, but is the sublime matrix out of which play emerges, the force field that energizes the action, taking the form of competitive song and counter-song, strophe and antistrophe. This is why games played in front of empty stadia, say as a punishment for the fans’ racist behaviour, are such an abomination. A game without fans is a kind of category mistake; a mere training ground exercise devoid of sense. The key to football is the complex, configured interaction between sublime music and the beautiful image, Dionysos and Apollo, the fans and the team.

Simon Critchley What We think About When We Think About Football (2017 : p.70-71)

Listening to Göztepe v Trabzonspor from the Gürzel Aksel Stadium in the Süper Lig was like taking a step back to a more innocent time, just a few short days ago, to a time when broadcasters hadn’t yet felt compelled to provide us with an audio carpet of simulated crowd noise to sooth our frayed nerves as we suddenly began to find the exalted spectacle of top class football a little – well – boring. It turns out that Apollo without Dionysus might not be quite what we are looking for. In trying to correct Simon Critchley’s ‘category mistake’ broadcasters have rushed to replace the living, breathing, sound making rush of stadium activity with a wafer thin simulacrum compressing the complexity and rich sounding beauty of the stadium into a stereo mix – the illusion of depth.

Göztepe v Trabzonspor

The following evening as the light faded I caught up with the Semi-Final of the Coppa Italia – Napoli v Inter – at the Stadio San Paolo. I sat outside the back door listening to late night gardening mingling with the intense verbal energy of Gattuso and Conte trying to physically wrestle their players into position weaponising their vocal chords, shaping the air with their gestures. There is no audio carpet here, the sound of traffic outside the stadium on Via Giambattista Marino becoming indistinguishable from the sound of the High Road and Syres Hill in Brightwell.

Napoli v Inter in the garden

As the dusk ebbed away I retreated to the kitchen to watch the closing stages of the match listening to the struggle between Gattuso and Conte, each crackling with energy and intensity energising the action. This is no audio carpet this is the power of desire, a force of nature echoing across the empty terraces of the Sao Paolo, through the streets of Naples and into the night air.

Napoli v Inter in the kitchen

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