Football, or as it is commonly known in the United States soccer, is the world’s most popular sport. Football is played at the professional level all over the world, but with a strict dominance in Europe. The leagues in England, Spain, Italy, Germany, and France are classified as the top divisions that feature the most coveted and highly paid players. In Europe, football is a subculture that most people engage in, whether it be through attendance of an actual game or through a practically religious following on television. Football is more than just a sport, but rather it can be described as a cultural industry. In many parts of the world football has proven to evoke great passions and plays a very important role in the lives of individuals, communities, and nations. Greg Akcelrod is one such individual. With his ingenious plan to convince the world of his superior athletic ability through social media such as youtube and his website, akcelrod.tk he hoped to become one of the highly regarded sports icons. Akcelrod embodies the true essence of the subculture that is football. Football invoked in him a great passion to aspire to be a bigger part of it than just a viewer of the phenomenon and used social media to change not only his own individual life but also the beliefs of communities and nations alike.
In 2009, Greg Akcelrod created an elaborate scheme in which he convinced not only himself, but the rest of the world that he was a legitimate soccer player. Akcelrod created an impressive resume that made him irresistible to many of the lower football division throughout Europe. His resume was quite striking as it stated that, “Akcelrod grew up playing for Racing Club de France, then had a trial with River Plate, one season in Whales with Cwmbran, then was signed by Paris Saint Germain and he was also an ambassador for the Lance Armstrong’s Live Strong Foundation.” (Stucazo) Along with his resume there were multiple media outlets claiming the legitimacy and desire for the player. In a 2006, BigSoccer.com article, it was confirmed that Greg Akcelrod from Cwmbran had been signed by the Paris Saint Germain team after having been on trail with both the New York Red Bull and Dundee United. The official website of Greg Akcelrod provided viewers with images of the star, interviews and even videos of him on trial with high-profile football teams. Akcelrod’s use of social media and his fabricated resume, granted him a trial with a CSKA Sofia, a highly decorated Bulgarian team. The hoax was not discovered by CSKA Sofia until after Greg Akcelrod was on trial with the team in Austria.
Greg Akcelrod’s hoax was more than just the scheme of a pathological liar, but rather it was an individual’s effort to become directly involved in football’s subculture. Akcelrod was able to use social media to obscure reality and create for himself the opportunity to demonstrate to the world that he had the capacity to play soccer at a professional level if given the opportunity. His desire to impersonate a notable French soccer player was not malignant in any way, but rather he wanted to be a central part of the subculture that had proven to be ubiquitous to European identity.
Media sources have transformed football into a national subculture that everyone can identify with. The players not only represent themselves on the pitch, but their communities and nations. Akcelrod’s desire to take a more prominent role in the subculture cements the idea that football is more than a simple game, it is a cultural industry that is celebrated around the world. Individuals feel a sense of pride when they wear the jersey of their favorite players as they too feel that their accomplishments as their own. Greg Akcelrod’s scheme to engage in the sport as more than just a fan comes from the desire to identify with the subculture at a more personal level.
Football is found everywhere in Europe, it is newspapers, magazines, television and the internet. Robert E. Washington and David Karen wrote an article in which they stated the importance of sports within society, “Sports get a separate section in every major daily newspaper; they fill stadiums and arenas around the world on a regular basis as people root, often manically, for their home teams; they spawned thousands of rotisserie leagues along with debates about the best players, teams and etc.; they occupy the weekends and evenings of parents and children and they occupy hours and hours of weekly commercial radio and television air time.” (188) Football embodies the description of Washington and Karen and upholds football’s role as a societal subculture.
Football plays a prominent role in European culture and national identity. It is a highly viewed sport that attracts an enormous amount of media attention. In 2010 the FIFA World Cup was played in South Africa. The FIFA World Cup is a highly anticipated competition in which the majority of all world renown players participate each representing his country. For a total of four weeks, 32 nations compete to be named the best football team in the world. Football has the highest global audience in sport with approximately 720 million people watching the final game of the FIFA World Cup. During the 2010 World Cup, the French national football team was under an incredible amount of media scrutiny after they failed to advance to round of sixteen and openly boycotted team practices. The majority of the French people where utterly disappointed in their national team, with President Sarkozy reprimanding the team for their behavior and negative portrayal of the French national identity.
Football is a fundamental aspect of European culture and as such, it has come to create a subculture that most individuals are members of. Individuals feel themselves as identifiable with these iconic sport stars either through cultural or national similarities. Greg Akcelrod’s identified himself so much with the sport that he chose to create an identity that would allow him the accessibility of being a part of the much coveted realm.
Greg Akcelrod’s website : http://www.akcelrod.tk/
Wikipedia- Greg Akcelrod’s: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greg_Akcelrod
Man of the Match: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmhhygilcAs
Bulgarian Move Report: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHGD1BmtRbA&feature=related