Change in UEFA?

By Jan Bogaarts


The president of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), Michel Platini is not convinced of the value of technology in football and therefore prefers to keep the decision making power in the hands of referees. Other football organizations such as FIFA and the English Premier League have already adopted what is called Goal Line Technology (GLT), a system that detects whether a ball has or has not fully crossed the goal line. Given that this technology is being implemented by other organizations and is more accurate than the human referee, will the UEFA implement it and, if so, when?

Institutions like the UEFA are often very stable (only two minor changes in the last 25 years). Unless there is some exogenous occurrence that affects football directly it is hard to imagine a change in the rules of the game. In this case there has been an exogenous change, namely the birth of GLT, but that has been available since 2006. Mahoney and Thelen (2010), propose that institutional change can also happen endogenously. They suggest that the internal power distributions are what trigger institutional change. So who has power in european football?

Football players and coaches work for clubs and national teams that are organized by each country’s football association. These football associations then come together at the UEFA congress that is led by a committee with its president. The committee and the president are the only actors who can change rules but they are voted in by the member associations every 4 years. The immediate decision making power is held by the committee but all the associations have the power to remove them.

The English Association has already decided for GLT but others have not. The power now lies in the hands of those that do not want the change. Only if the power distribution between associations shifts, such that Platini is no longer voted president, will GLT stand a chance in UEFA competitions such as the Champions League and the European Championships.

Obama’s opportunity

By Jan Bogaarts

On June 26th 2015 the United States Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage a constitutional right in the case of Obergefell et al. v. Hodges. This decision was supported by 5 of the 4 justices, a small but huge difference. Gay marriage and LGBT rights have played an important role in american politics especially since the 1970´s. Activists, politicians and celebrities have stood in the face of injustice when the odds were against them. Harvey Milk, Harry Hay and many others paved what has been the path of change for the institution of marriage.

The last notorious civil rights movement in the United States was that against racial discrimination and segregation. Today the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is seen by many as the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Rosa Parks. However the man who signed the Act was Lyndon Baines Johnson, the democratic president of the United States between 1963 and 1969. Not only did Johnson sign, he closely worked with Dr. King to design the act and put it in motion.

Often U.S. presidents are judged by their legacy. LBJ’s legacy is civil rights (and the Vietnam war). The civil rights movement opened a political space for Lyndon Johnson and the democratic party to move into. The democratic party is seen today as the more progressive one and is more likely to be chosen by minorities. If the U.S. president at the time had been republican, the democratic party may not have had an edge over the them. This shows the importance of timing in politics.

The timing of the Supreme Court ruling gives president Obama a chance building his “legacy”. In other words, the Supreme Court ruling has created a political space in which president Obama has a first mover advantage to create a legacy for him and the democratic party. Occupying this political space reinforces the image of democrats as progressive and open minded but the fact that it happened during their presidency is just a coincidence.

Evolution of slavery

By Jan Bogaarts

Paul E. Lovejoy explains about the three timeframes of slavery expansion in history. In the first chapter of “Transformations in Slavery” Lovejoy describes these three periods 1350 - 1600, 1600 - 1800 and 1800 - 1900. The last of these three stages is the transatlantic slave trade. At the time, the U.S was the main importer of slaves. The end of the american civil war was the end of the last expansion of slave-trading. However, this did not conclude the existence of slavery in the world. Today I ask myself and all the readers of this blog what happened between the years 1900 and 2000 and what stage of slavery we are in today?

The institution of slavery has been outlawed in all countries. Perhaps the most famous of all abolitionist movements is the one that caused the American civil war. The Thirteenth amendment to the constitution was passed in 1865 and since then many countries have followed. The last nation to outlaw slavery was Mauritania in 2007. On paper slavery was beaten between 1900 and 2000 but in reality it persists in smaller numbers. Many forms of modern slavery can be found today in countries that seem to have outlawed it.

Bonded labour and forced migrant labour are two modern types of slavery prevalent in Asia. People who are supposedly free workers are in a situation where the alternative to working is death. In many European countries sex-workers are blackmailed into working their whole lives as prostitutes. According to the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe), human trafficking has increased in the last years.

Are we then in a fourth period of slavery expansion? Is it possible that after the decline of slavery between 1900 and 2000, it is picking up again? What can we do to stop slavery besides outlawing it?