For the past seven years, Chris Stride, an applied statistician and peripatetic statistics trainer/consultant with a sideline in sport history, has researched the development of monuments of sports people under the guise of the Sporting Statues Project, resulting in a sprawling online database that is a joint effort with Ffion Thomas, several academic papers, magazine articles and a strange array of press coverage, including the New York Times.
Stride will be in Sydney in a few week’s time to give a talk titled: “Around The World In Ten Soccer Statues“
EVENT DATE: Thursday 21 March 2019
A Few Stats About Statues
- The great Pelé has got thirteen – though one has had its arms cut off and another has been hit by a truck.
- Former Real Madrid and Mexico striker Hugo Sanchez has two on the roof of his house.
- Former England manager Sven Goran Eriksson has one in his local swimming pool.
- Samuel Eto’o also has one – but it has now lost its head.
- There are now over 600 football statues located around the globe, across over 70 nations, 95% of them erected in the past two decades.
Chris will be discussing why clubs, fans and local authorities have acquired this taste for populist, traditional and often kitsch figurative sculpture through ten examples that reference sports marketing, art history, civic identity, mourning cultures, gender, reparations and fan activism.
He says: “A statue can tell us as much, if not more about the society that erects it as it can about its subject – so what do these bronze ballplayers say about ‘the football world’, its past, and its present?
Stride became interested in sports statues after a colleague of his took some photos of UK sports statues, “It set me off thinking how many of them there actually were.
“I’m a statistician, I like counting things!
“It sort of spiralled from there!”
Chris is doing these talks because he believes so many of the football statues out there have interesting and entertaining stories.
He also says: “Australia is very big on sports statues, albeit less so football statues. It only has 4.
“As a young country, Australia doesn’t have such a long history of Kings, Queens, religious figures; the types of people who often get given statues; however, it does have an amazing modern sporting heritage, and so celebrates those heroes through sculpture.
Chris is on a round the world trip watching football and tracking down football statues in Argentina, hiking and running statistics courses in NZ, giving this talk and wildlife spotting in Australia.
When asked about his favourite statue, he says: “Too many to mention. But if I had to pick, it would be the statue at BSG Chemie Leipzig in Germany (pictured below) – it’s the whole of their 1963/64 team lined up, overlooking the pitch.
“They are celebrated because they won the East German League that year, even though the communist authorities had moved their best players to the rival Leipzig team, who they preferred.
“The sculptor who produced it was renowned as being subversive and poking fun at the government, I’m surprised the authorities didn’t have it demolished.”
Football statues are the most common and more countries have them, which reflects the worldwide popularity of the sport, and also the fact that it’s a team sport.
“To get a statue made requires money, organisation, and a place to put it.
“Football has stadiums to erect statues at, and fans and sponsors to contribute funds to, and organise statue campaigns.
When asked why football fans should attend, he says: “Why wouldn’t you want to know why Pele once had his arms cut off, why River Plate fans donated their house-keys to build a statue of their hero, or why former England manager Sven Goran Eriksson has a statue in a Swedish swimming pool?”
In two weeks time I’ll be talking about the world’s football (or soccer in Australia) statues @SportHistoryAus Sydney Chapter… Thurs 21 March, 6.45pm, @UTSEngage. Maybe of interest to @GoalAustralia @official_lesdog @theworldgame @ALeague @AustFootball @Socceroos RT welcome 😉 pic.twitter.com/rkjOiEsksB— From Pitch to Plinth (@SportingStatues) March 7, 2019