FM21 | Creating Club and Country | #1 The Birth of a Nation

Introduction

In August 1991 leaders of the Soviet Union Communist Party tried to take control of the country from President Mikhail Gorbachev. After two days and three civilian casualties, the attempt to end the reform program collapsed and Gorbachev was reinstated as President. This was the beginning of the end. As the 1991 August coup was quenched, the proud Soviet Union and it’s communist party fell apart. In the following days and months, Soviet Republics started proclaiming independence, one after the other.

As the Soviet flag was lowered from the Kremlin for the last time on December 25, replaced by the flag of the Russian Federation, the Soviet Union had turned into Russia and 14 new Republics. Not everyone accepted this though. One small Republic closed their borders. In an attempt to escape reality they pulled their communist blanket over their head, turned their back to the world and simply went back to dreams of a Communist totalitarian Utopia. This exact place is where our adventure starts. What has this got to do with football, you might ask!? Well, so far not much, but this is actually the backdrop of my FM21 series.

Welcome to the birth of both a nation and a club. In this and coming posts you will get a chance to follow my thinking and decisions in the process of creating a new nation and club. They will be used for my main FM21 save that will span three platforms; YouTube, Twitch and WordPress.

So what do I need to make this happen? There are a lot of things that I need to do, so let’s start by creating a rough road map:

  • Create a new nation
    • Location
    • Demographics (Size, population etc)
    • Background story
    • Graphics (Map, flag etc)
  • Create a club
    • Name and location
    • Branding (Colours, badge, kits etc)
    • Background story

These are the things that I can think of off the top of my head, but as I start this journey I will probably stray from this as the story takes me in new directions. Let’s get this started and see where it leads!

Welcome to the nation of…yes, what?

So, how do you go about creating a new nation? One way to determine what you actually want is to start by looking at what you don’t want. If you read the introductory post you know that the series will take place somewhere in the former Soviet Union, and I’m gonna start by explaining why. For FM21 I didn’t want to go down the conventional road. No sleeping giant, no “Fixing Barcelona”, no typical MikaelinhoFM youth development series. No, I wanted something completely different.

When the idea of this series started spinning in my head during the summer months of 2020, the fictional nation of “Totalitaria” popped up as one of the early ideas. I had an idea of the setting to be that of a totalitarian nation and the tone to be at least semi-realistic. When I closed my eyes I saw hard-working and struggling footballers under a stern political rule. A country completely oblivious to the circus that modern football has become. The name of the series; “Totalitarian Football”, is of course a play of words with the term “Total Football” while still capturing the ambience of my series. But let’s start in a completely different place than football. Let’s start by looking into what totalitarianism actually means!?

“Totalitarianism is a term for a political system or form of government that prohibits opposition parties, restricts individual opposition to the state and its claims, and exercises an extremely high degree of control over public and private life. It is regarded as the most extreme and complete form of authoritarianism”

Could I possibly use an existing nation as the backdrop to my series? My first order of business was to start looking at actual totalitarian states in the world today. According to this Wikipedia article, only two totalitarian regimes exist in the modern world we currently live in. Eritrea and North Korea. Hmm, in all honesty neither of them felt like an exciting choice. These two countries are certainly not footballing hotspots and to create a save here would take countless hours of pre-game editor work. That would probably be the case for all Asian and African nations to be honest, so Asia and Africa. From the entire (pretty short) list of historical totalitarian regimes, only one stood out to me. The Soviet Union. I needed more options so I took one step back.

“It [Totalitarianism] is regarded as the most extreme and complete form of authoritarianism

What if I look into authoritarianism instead!? What’s the difference? The political scientist Juan Linz apparently defined authoritarianism as possessing four qualities:

  1. Limited political pluralism, realized with constraints on the legislature, political parties and interest groups.
  2. Political legitimacy based upon appeals to emotion and identification of the regime as a necessary evil to combat “easily recognizable societal problems, such as underdevelopment or insurgency”.
  3. Minimal political mobilization and suppression of anti-regime activities.
  4. Ill-defined executive powers, often vague and shifting, which extends the power of the executive.

Ok, this sounded good. Not good in the sense of opposite to evil, but you know what I mean. Ok, not actually good then. But fitting my idea of what I wanted. The list of authoritarian regimes offered more choices. Angola, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus… China… Hungary… Turkey. The taste in my mouth as I read the list became increasingly sour. This felt too real! I want the series to be semi-realistic but still fun. I don’t want to be constrained by to many real facts and I certainly don’t want to get involved in political discussions based on me inadvertently upsetting someone. No, I need to turn to the list of historical authoritarian regimes. I understand that they have probably been as unpleasant as the active ones, but at least a bit of time has passed. Healing wounds and giving me more “artistic freedom”.

authoritarian countries

After excluding African and Asian countries I had a list of a few South American and European countries to offer me a bit of inspiration. I really loved my time in Brazil with Santos on FM20, but when I saw the list of South American countries I felt that it was time for something else. So, South America.
That left me with ten-ish European countries. Five remained once I removed the more ancient ones. Portugal and Spain felt too good football wise, so they’re out as well. This left me with Croatia, FYR Macedonia, Yugoslavia and FR Yugoslavia. So basically former Yugoslavia.

So, the two final contenders are Soviet Union and Yugoslavia.

Two similar yet different options, both fitting my purposes. When I closed my eyes I saw stern military leaders, grayish tall buildings, a proud but poor people and technical football! This could certainly be the inspiration for my “Totalitaria”! But how do I decide between them? Well, that’s the beauty of fiction. I really don’t have to! I need to geographically place my nation somewhere, but except for that I guess I can borrow and steal as much as I want when it comes to inspiration. 

That’s it for this first episode. In the next one I’ll compare the two final contenders and make my decision!

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