Martin Gessmann interviewed about Philosophie des Fußballs.
You describe the next step in the development of football as the invention of the sweeper or ‘libero’ in the form of Franz Beckenbauer. Why do you link the libero with the existentialism of the German philosopher Martin Heidegger in your book?
Existentialism is a response to the challenge of how we can free ourselves from the constraints of technology in which we’re hopelessly trapped – like Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times. Heidegger’s idea was that, by shifting a lever, everything could be set right again.
Applied to football, this means that, where the game is dominated by a routine but meaningless pushing of the ball back and forth, it must be given a brilliant twist by a decisive pass. For Heidegger, Beckenbauer was such a passer, a libero who was above the technical constraints of the game.
Heidegger, though he was something of a technophobe, even watched the caps of the German team on TV!
Some philosophers never looked into his books again after they became ware of this. History had said ‘No’ to Heidegger. Yet when he saw Beckenbauer on TV, perhaps he muttered to himself: ‘You see, I was right’.