June 08, 2006

Anarchist Soccer Rules

Let's get one thing straight about anarchism: Though there is little doubt that those who call themselves anarchists want to drastically change the way the world is run, they're not a bunch of black-clad nihilists plotting their way toward chaos. At the most basic, anarchism (derived from the Greek "without ruler") is the belief that an anti-authoritarian society based on mutual aid and self-governance is not only preferable to what we've got now, but also a viable alternative. Not surprisingly, the folks in charge of "what we've got now" don't exactly cotton to that idea, and anarchism has long been given a bad rap. Recently, local groups associated with anarchism got a scare when it was revealed to a UT law class that Food Not Bombs and Austin Indymedia – two examples of everyday folks creating parallel structures outside of state-sponsored society – were considered worthy of inclusion the FBI's Central Texas "Terrorist Watch List." (Immediately following the incident, spokespeople for the FBI, both local and national, claimed they weren't aware of any such list, though UT student Elizabeth Waggoner wrote a detailed recounting of Special Agent Charles Rasner's presentation to her class on … Austin Indymedia!)

With that sort of heat, one wouldn't necessarily expect local anarchists to gather in public parks thrice weekly for a friendly game of soccer. But, in an attempt to bridge the gap between alternative and mainstream social groups, gather they do. According to a 33-year-old anarcho-athlete named Simon, the Sunday games at the Rosewood Recreation Center are best for newcomers to attend, regularly attracting anywhere from 45 to 70 folks of varying ages, genders, ethnicities, and skill levels. "Everyone compliments everyone else, even if it's someone on the opposing team who has made a great play," Simon says of the anarchist model of competitive sportsmanship. "And, it's not like people are running around with the ball in their hands. On the field, there are rules. Just no rulers."

It is from this weekly phenomenon of people playing friendlylike that Austin's anarchist soccer team, the Texas Anti-Border(s) Patrol, formed. This July, the TABP will head to the 10th annual Mondiali Antirazzisti (Anti-Racist World Cup) in Montecchio, Italy, the first team from the Americas to do so.

"A central part of the Anti-Racist World Cup is to share information on local struggles," says Cale Layton, an organizer of the upcoming Anarchist Soccer Movie Screening and Fundraiser at MonkeyWrench Books. "We're planning on bringing a multimedia presentation on the Minutemen and the increasing xenophobia in the US, and we're asking people in Austin to [come] share their ideas on what we should present about these issues." Though the players will be paying their own way to and from the Mondiali, this outdoor screening of the documentary Football and Fascism (with beer!) hopes to raise money for the team's print materials, which will be shared with 192 teams from all over the world, including Albania, Germany, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Czech Republic, Urkraine, Israel, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.


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