The Flat Earth FC chairman says he is ‘using the club to make sure that people reconsider their lives’
Javi Poves was a promising young footballer. Having risen through the ranks at Sporting Gijón, the Spanish defender made his La Liga debut in 2011 on the final day of the season. He retired that summer having made that one appearance for the club. He was 23 years old.
“What I’ve seen from within makes it clear: professional football is only money and corruption. It’s capitalism, and capitalism is death,” said Proves. “I don’t want to be part of a system based on people earning money at the expense of the deaths of others in South America, Africa and Asia. To put it simply, my conscience will not let me continue with this.”
Disillusioned and resentful, Poves hung up his boots and decided to travel the world. He made a brief return to football three years later with SS Reyes before eventually stumbling upon CD Móstoles, a club based 15 miles south of central Madrid. Poves became the club’s president in 2016 and took them up to the fourth division last season. With his club’s status on the rise, he decided it was time for a rebrand. It wasn’t just any rebrand, though: Poves renamed the club Flat Earth FC.
Football clubs have always represented their local communities. More recently, some clubs have taken on bolder messaging, such as Deportivo Palestino in Chile, who were founded by a group of Palestinian immigrants, or St Pauli in Germany, who represent their politically left-leaning fanbase. Flat Earth FC is the first professional football club that represents a conspiracy theory.
“Football is the most popular sport and has the most impact worldwide, so creating a club dedicated to the flat earth movement is the best way to have a constant presence in the media,” said Poves earlier this year. “Flat Earth FC is the first football club whose followers are united by the most important thing, which is an idea.”
The club’s crest is now a circular image of the earth, pressed flat on to all kits, and fans are encouraged to spark regular conversations in their pursuit of answers from the powers that be. The team mascot? An astronaut. It’s a radical move, but the club is bringing in supporters from afar. “It’s really amazing to be part of this amazing movement,” says Flat Earth player Mario Cardete. “I think it’s more than a club.”
“More than a club” is a familiar phrase in Spain, given it is the adopted club motto of current La Liga champions, Barcelona. But, as journalist Rodrigo Fáez explains, Flat Earth FC are trying to push an even more radical message. “The rest of the clubs try to change something in people’s lives,” said Fáez in our film. “Poves tries to change everything in people’s minds.” What started out as local controversy may soon become national debate. Who knows, in years to come we may well see Flat Earth FC lining up at the Camp Nou, as “més que un club” meet “mas que un planeta”.
This article originally appeared at https://www.theguardian.com/football/copa90/2020/jan/21/flat-earth-fc-ball-round-world-is-not