The recent big-name signings by previously unheard-of Chinese football teams are just the latest symptom of the sport’s increasing international reach. And while the English Premier League has played a major part in this spread, the increase in coverage of US Major League Soccer and other newer leagues have played their part too.
Most independent football magazines – of which there are ever-increasing numbers – now reflect the global stature of the sport, following players from league to league. One of the best is Japan’s Shukyu, which might once have focussed only on the local J-League but instead offers a Japanese point of view on the more general culture of football as well its local competition. The magazine’s unique outlook on such a popular subject makes it this week’s Magazine of the Week.
Perhaps the use of Japanese language throughout exaggerates the continuity, but the jackdaw-like collection of stories in this third issue hang together really well despite their many origins. It’s great to see Flora Maclean’s images of grass roots woman’s football alongside a piece by Felicia Pennant, reprinted from her mag (and magCulture favourite) Season Zine. Both have added value in this new context, and help define the ‘Identity’ theme of the issue.
There is also new material; we’ve all seen the shaky examples of robot footballers in Youtube clips, but here’s a more definitive look at developments in that area. There’s the fascinating story of Paris’s Galerie du Ballon and how it’s developed from football bar to international tournament and art gallery, along with asides about Japanese players and references to the early J-League, the relatively obscure ConIFA international tournament and Thai football. There’s a reflection on the nature of the rules of football and what their continual breaking means to the game.
Everything’s presented in Kanji, but a small insert has English translations of some of the writing. Also included is an iron-on badge based on beautiful black and white football designs from Galerie du Ballon.
As I’ve already hinted, there’s an element of ‘its in Japanese so it’s cool’ at play here, but Shukyu is better than that superficial first impression. It looks great, the blend of east and west design tropes works and the mix of content serves the sport well. My only regret about the issue is that not all the writing is fully translated – I’d love to have been able to read the piece about German football club branding.