The Phantom Image

From Baudrillard's The Transparency of Evil (p.79):

Another recent episode forms a pendant to the events of the Heysel Stadium: in September 1987, in Madrid, a Real Madrid-Naples European Cup match took place at night in a completely empty stadium, without a single spectator, as a consequence of disciplinary action taken by the International Federation in response to the excesses of the Madrid supporters at an earlier game. Thousands of fans besieged the stadium, but no one got in. The match was relayed entirely via television.

A ban of this kind could never do away with the chauvinistic passions surrounding soccer, but it does perfectly exemplify the terroristic hypperrealism of our world, a world where a 'real' event occurs in a vacuum, stripped of its context and visible only from afar, televisually. Here we have a sort of surgically accurate prefigurement of the events of our future: events so minimal that they might well not need take place at all — along with their maximal enlargement on screens. No one will have directly experienced the actual course of such happenings, but everyone will have received an image of them. A pure event, in other words, devoid of any reference in nature, and readily susceptible to replacement by synthetic images.

This phantom football match should obviously be seen in conjunction with the Heysel Stadium game, when the real event, football, was once again eclipsed — on this occasion by a much more dramatic form of violence. There is always the danger that this kind of transition may occur, that spectators may cease to be spectators and slip into the role of victims or murderers, that sport may cease to be sport and be transformed into terrorism: that is why the public must simply be eliminated, to ensure that the only event occurring is strictly televisual in nature. Every real referent must disappear so that the event may become acceptable on television's mental screen.


2 responses to The Phantom Image

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  1. Melissa Fleishman says:

    The phantom image is a scary thought in the world of sports. Sport has continuously been evolving from informal folk games to formalized modern sport. The idea of reversing progress is frightening. In a society that is always moving forward in technological advancements, you would like to think it would continue to do so in sport. Taking away the dynamic of spectators, takes a lot away from the sport itself. In this case, it takes away the disastrous thought of having such enraged fans that they trample and kill one another, all rooted from the Heysel Disaster of 1985. But again we, as viewers of television, are strongly reminded of the power of technological advancements-fans were still able to watch the Real Madrid-Naples European Cup match from the comfort of their own homes. I still remain convinced that watching a game live is a much different experience then watching it blare from the black box in our living rooms.

  2. sportsBabel » On Diving says:

    [...] the fact that he is a figment of your imagination, but instead take him on his own terms (the dreamscape) and kill him there. Therefore, it does not matter if Eduardo dived or not, nor does it matter that [...]