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An Introduction To Three-Sided Football

(Note: Three-sided football is used by the AAA as a valueable training exercise for Autonomous Astronauts. This introduction is by East London AAA)


It appears that the first person to come up with the idea of 3-sided football was Asger Jorn, who saw it as a means of conveying his notion of trialectics - a trinitarian supercession of the binary structure of dialectics. We are still trying to discover if there were any actual games organised by him. Before the London Psychogeographic Association organised its first game at the Glasgow Anarchist Summer School in 1993, there is little evidence of any games being played.

There is, of course, the rumour that Luther Blissett organised an informal league of youth clubs which played 3-sided football during his stint at Watford in the early eighties. Unfortunately, our research has found no evidence to support this. Nevertheless, Blissett's name will probably remain frimly linked to the 3-sided version of the game, even if in an apocryphal fashion.

The key to the game is that it does not foster aggression or competitiveness. Unlike two-sided football, no team keeps a record of the number of goals they score. However they do keep a tally of the goals they concede, and the winner is determined as the team which concedes least goals. The game deconstructs the mythic bi-polar strucuture of conventional football, where an us-and-them struggle mediated by the referee mimics the way the media and the state pose themselves as "neutral" elements in the class struggle. Likewise, it is no psycho-sexual drama of the fuckers and fucked - the possibilities are greatly expanded!

The pitch is hexagonal each team being assigned two opposite sides for bureaucratical purposes should the ball be kicked out of the play. The blank side is called the front side. The side containing the orifice is called the backside, and the orifice is called a goal. Should the ball be thrust through a team's orifice, the team is deemed to have conceded a goal - so in an emblematic fashion this perpetuates the anal-retentive homophobic techniques of conventional football whereby homo-erotic tension is built up, only to be sublimated and repressed.

However the trialectic appropriation of this technique dissolves the homo-erotic/homo-phobic bipolarity as a successful attack will generally imply co-operation with the third team. This should overcome the prominent resistance to women taking their full part in football.

Meanwhile the penetration of the defence by two opposing teams imposes upon the defence the task of counterbalancing their disadvantage through sowing the seeds of discord in an alliance which can only be temporary. This will be achieved through exhortation, body language, and an ability to manoeuvre the ball and players into such a position that one opposing team will realise that its interests are better served by breaking off the attack and allying themselves with the defending team.

Bearing in mind that such a decision will not necessarily be immediate, a team may well find itself split between two alliances. Such a situation opens them up to the possibility of their enemies uniting, making maximum use of this confusion. 3-sided football is a game of skill, persuasion and psychogeography. When the ball goes out of the play on the frontside, a throw-in is conceded. This is carried out by the team whose frontside it is, unless they had last touch. In that case the throw in is taken by the team whose goal is the nearest. When the ball goes out of the play at the backside, the defening team has a goal kick, unless they had last touch, in which case a corner is taken by the team whose goal is nearest. The semicircle around the goal functions as a penalty area and it may be necessary to use it for some sort of offside rule which has yet to be developed.


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