Nudity in art is very common, but not so in sports, except when it is inadvertent. However, an artist in Germany brought nudity into the sporting arena also by organizing a very unique football match where all the players were completely naked! This unique match was played in the city of Oer-Erkenschwick, which lies in the Ruhr region of North Rhine-Westphalia province.
The object of the match was not just to create a spectacle. The artist said he is trying to protest against the commercialization of football. This may seem like a complaint that fans of almost all major sports in the world have. However, not all sports can be played without protective gear, leave aside clothing.
Thinking behind the protest
The artist, Gerrit Starczewski, believes that money has become too central to the sport in its modern form and has taken away some of the organic joys associated with it. "The football system is sick, that's why we all get naked," he told a sports magazine. "Everybody wants to have authenticity. But I think you are only particularly authentic if you do without all the other stuff, really everything, from the advertising banners to the clothing."
The only thing players had on themselves during this match were boots and socks. The color of the latter garment was what delineated the teams. One team wore blue socks while the other black, in a match played at the Stimberg Stadium. The footballers had their jersey numbers on their back, painted on their skins.
Corruption in football
It's hard to know what professional footballers at the highest level of the sport would have thought of this 'protest' match. However, the criticism of excessive money-power in the game is very relevant in light of the corruption that seems to have plagued the game's main governing body FIFA.
Allegations of bribery, especially in relation to the awarding of 2022 FIFA World Cup hosting rights to Qatar, surfaced some years ago. Other charges were also levelled against officials at the highest level in FIFA. Prosecutors in Switzerland are already conducting an investigation into these charges.
Protesting stereotypes of beauty
But Starczewski's protest wasn't limited to financial aspects of the game. He was also raising his voice against what he perceives to be the "false ideals of beauty." In an argument similar to what some people have voiced in their criticism of the fashion world, the 34-year old thinks that players are forced to conform to stereotypes of body shape.
"With my nude actions, I also want to set an example for diversity and naturalness and against the dependence and influence of social media and false ideals of beauty... Everything has to be perfect there too, and in the end it's all about commercialization," the artist concluded.