Perfect: Football Books, Music, Art and More | Culture

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Justin Fashanu.
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Art

People stream from all corners of a smoky city in Going to the Match, a 1953 painting by famed match master LS Lowry. Everyone seems to be pulled by a magnetic pull, approaching the soccer field as if it contained the Holy Grail or a UFO. And Lowry shows us why this game is such an important part of their lives. What else do they have? Gray chimneys hang in the milky air above a landscape of dreary toil. The lack of color is shocking. But the crowd is all individuals: women and men, workers and employees, all driven by the common passion that makes a Saturday afternoon a special moment of excitement. That is why football has become the sport of the people. jonathan jones


Television

Justin Fashanu. Photo: /Allsport

Much has been written and will be written about Qatar’s human rights record, particularly in relation to the freedoms of LGBTQ+ people and their treatment by the state. For that reason, a look back at Britain’s complicated relationship with football and homophobia seems timely – and the 2017 documentary Forbidden Games: The Justin Fashanu Story shines a light on the first man to publicly cross the line. storm. A remarkable patchwork of black football history, political gossip and cross-racial adoption, this film will have you mourning Britain’s first million-pound black footballer, who died aged just 37. Jason Okundaye


Music

Jxl Remix Of The Elvis Classic A Little Less Conversation.

For someone who isn’t too preoccupied with football, a World Cup is much more about feelings and atmosphere than true affiliation with a particular team. Nonetheless, when I think of the beautiful game, my mind instantly goes to the 2002 JXL remix of Elvis’ classic A Little Less Conversation. Ever synonymous with Nike’s big-budget “secret tournament” ad, the song is as light and nimble on its feet as the countless big-name stars featured in the ad, uniting the pitch and the dance floor in dizzying euphoria and moist. It’s a formative World Cup memory for millennials – I’d pick it up on World in Motion or Sweet Caroline any day. jenessa williams


Film

Corneliu Porumboiu, Right, With Laurențiu Ginghină In Infinite Football.
Corneliu Porumboiu, right, with Laurențiu Ginghină in Infinite Football. Photo: MK2 Films

Corneliu Porumboiu’s deliciously deadpan film Infinite Football understands that the beautiful game is about more than the movement of a ball across a pitch. Ironically, however, that fact eluded its fun and sad star, Laurentiu Ginghină. A mid-level Romanian civil servant, he spends his free time frowning at a whiteboard on which he describes increasingly hilarious and impractical ways to reform the sport, from octagonal pitches to seven-man squads to construction of a wall on the center line. But the deeper truth at work here is not that football is a matter of life and death, it’s that life and death is a matter of football: when Ginghină dreams, more and more erratic and inapplicable, to “perfect” the game, it is really dreaming to perfect the world. Jessica Kiang


Book

The Damned Utd By David Peace.

In 1974, great manager Brian Clough lasted just 44 days in charge of Leeds United (even less than Liz Truss as Premier). Even so, the repercussions of his short tenure have been felt ever since. Not least because author David Peace captured this brutal chapter in footballing history so well in The Damned Utd. His novel takes us deep inside the “boss”‘s head as he berates his own players for their thuggish and cheating ways. These (quite understandably) players are revolting against him and so far conquering Leeds are rushing down the table. The football was disastrous, but the resulting romance is intense, thrilling and unforgettable. Sam Jordan

theguardian

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