by David Falk
If soccer is the sport of the people and the pulse of the streets around the world, it only makes sense then that “football” also is a major subject for graffiti artists as well.
How do you see graffiti? As expression? Art? Vandalism? Hooliganism?
The world looks at sports differently than the United States does, so it might not come as much of a surprise that the world also looks at the art of graffiti differently, too.
Around the world football (soccer) is the sport of the poor, the average man, mixing indistinguishably with life, view points of the world, even the very sounds of the streets. In some places in Europe, notably Italy, Poland and Holland, football graffiti is revered and prominent. Even in Mexico and down into South America this is true. This 2008 video shows football fans descending upon Estadio Azteca in an organzined graffiti art movement. A contest organized for the best graffiti artists of South America, transformed the outer stadium structure into a veritable outdoor museum, which now exhibits artwork pieces illustrating the greats of soccer history, from Pelé and Maradona, to Ronaldo and Ronaldinho.
Other stadiums around the world have welcomed graffiti as a way of brightening up outside walls. This stadium in Belgrade is an example.
Graffiti, as a vibrant street art form, always walks the line between art and disobediance, beauty and crime, support and outright football ‘gang culture.’ Recently in Belgrade graffiti was denounced by two football clubs after an outcry from a local organization. Football graffiti has also become politcial in Denmark. You can guess football graffiti has transitioned over to accepted art form when Wikipedia pages it.
While graffiti and football gang violence are linked in some cultures, in others the art stands as a sign of support for a given player or club and doesn’t have ultras connections, just as not all ultras are connected to gangs and violence.
We’ve collected some videos below that visit the subject of soccer graffiti. If you have any photos of of such work in the state of Washington, send them to us at goalWA@gmail.com.
There is a line between graffiti and vandalism. The social motives and implications of graffiti have legitimized some forms of graffiti as art. Further, aesthetic qualities of the work fully validate graffiti art as an art form.
The average reaction to the sight of graffiti tags by someone who is unfamiliar with graffiti is that it is a cause of urban decay and a detriment the quality of life in the city. In reality, the opposite is occurring. A large number of graffiti tags is a response to urban decay; a cry for help from the disenfranchised masses that are struggling to survive. Though a clean city may superficially seem in better condition, this is because the working class (those who make the city work) have not yet been pushed to a point where they need to turn to the streets to express their frustration and resentment, or because graffiti has been suppressed to a point where it is no longer noticeable.
Although it is the most significant aspect of legitimizing graffiti as an art form, the attraction for most fans of graffiti art today is no longer in the social motives. The artistic creativeness and originality of graffiti art catches the eye of potential artists that are looking for new ways to express themselves. A new generation of people has connected with graffiti because it has been developed outside of the traditional avenues for artistic expression and has been brought to them by new and improved ways for people to communicate with each other.