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Football displaces religion

By Martin Pütter (Photo: hmb / Natascha Jansen)

The exhibition “Football – Faith. Love. Hope” at the Historical Museum Basel, mixing traditional and modern exhibition methods, gives an insight into what this sport really means for many fans.

“Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.” Almost every British football fan will know this quote by former Liverpool FC Manager Bill Shankly (1913-1981), whether in this form or in another, abbreviated version. So, what is football really, then? The Historical Museum in Basel has made a laudable effort to find an answer, with its exhibition “Football – Faith. Love Hope” that runs from 13 March until 16 August 2015.

It is both fitting and ironic that this exhibition takes place in what once was the church (the Barfüsserkirche) of a mendicant order, the Franciscans. Football (or soccer, for expats from across the pond or down under) has long been a multi-billion dollar business, and its primary performers, the players, have been idolised all over the world – to put it mildly. Football has replaced religion, and not just in isolated corners. Even in Basel, to many fans football seems to matter more than anything else – and the exhibition tries to highlight that by placing its FC Basel section next to the altar of the former church.

“Football – Faith. Love. Hope” mixes traditional and modern exhibition methods. For example, some events during this interactive exhibition (in German, English and French) can be followed via smartphone. It is in fact the first time the Historical Museum Basel is consciously using new media in this way. The exhibition actually covers so many different aspects that it touches on some only superficially or not at all. Football and its relationship with Islam, Judaism, Hinduism or Buddhism plays a minimal part, and the football war between Honduras and El Salvador in July 1969 (also called the “100 hours’ war”) gets no mention in the section “Use and Misuse”.

“Football – Faith. Love. Hope”, which runs until 16 August, is the second stage of an exhibition tour that started in Amsterdam in September 2014. After Basel it moves on to the Focke Museum in Bremen, followed by Lyon, Luxemburg and Barcelona, before it reaches its final venue in Moscow, in time for the 2018 Football World Cup in Russia.

Football – Faith. Hope. Love.

Historical Museum Basel, Barfüsserkirche, Basel, 13 March – 16 August 2015.

Opening times: 10 am – 5 pm

Entry: CHF 12.00 per person or CHF 24.00 for a team of four.

Further information: www.hmb.ch

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