Ideas on Europe

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Does Europe need a sport diplomacy?

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The summer of 2016, between the French Euro and the Brazilian Olympics has demonstrated once more to what extent sport has become an important showcase for contemporary nation-states. Not only for the hosts, but also for the participants (ask the Portuguese or the Icelanders, the British or the Jamaicans). The historians of nationalism have well […]

So futile, so necessary

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Football means nothing. It is a fantastic game, and its symbolic complexity allows individuals and groups (and researchers!) to project a lot of things onto it, but it does not carry any deep meaning as such. As Borja Garcia never tires of pointing out, football makes people happy precisely because it’s a futile thing and […]

A kick-off to a quite particular kind of Europeanisation

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Over the last twenty years ‘Europeanisation’ has become a key concept in European Studies, almost a research field of its own. The current meaning of the term must have been introduced around 1994 in a seminal JCMS article by Robert Ladrech (possible that there are some earlier occurrences that I am unaware of). Prior to […]

30 years ago – European football’s major lieu de mémoire

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It has been sixty years between the idea to create a truly pan-European competition for football clubs and the Champions League final in Berlin between Barcelona and Juventus next week. But it has not been a linear evolution from the first tournament launched with sixteen clubs handpicked by the journalists from L’Equipe and today’s huge […]

Too good not to be true

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  Just in case you don’t know what to do over Christmas, you can still book the ‘Christmas Truce Centenary Tour’ from 23 to 27 December sold by the Edinburgh-based tour operators Mercat Tours. The programme includes of course a football match on the Flanders fields where the famous Christmas Truce matches between British and […]

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Four days that changed Europe

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Monday 13 December 1954 : An Anglo-Hungarian summit Sixty years ago, on 13 December 1954, the English champion Wolverhampton Wanderers welcomed the great Honved Budapest for a friendly at Molineux stadium. For teams from Eastern Europe, such matches were an opportunity to generate some revenues (though as stressful one given they travelled back on train […]

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Fake neutrality

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For better or for worse, sport, politics and big business are closely linked. Nowhere is this more apparent than around  sport mega-events, where political and economic agendas are omnipresent. Between Sochi and Rio de Janeiro, the year 2014 has again provided ample illustration for how the immense social reach of sport is instrumentalised for global […]

Fair competition and legitimacy

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  Like many team sports football is essentially competitive. Even among friends the game provides more pleasure if played with the aim of winning. But each competition needs rules that are perceived as just. Nothing is as likely to kill the interest of the game than the perception that there is no level playing field […]

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The good old Panzer stereotype

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Football has always been a major producer of stereotypes. The invention of ‘national playing styles’ at the beginning of 20th century drew, inevitably, massively on extra-sportive stereotypes accumulated over the centuries and safely stored in national narratives of perception and self-perception. The fact that for over a century, football discourse has been produced (and endlessly […]

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Coronation Day

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Watched by approximately 180 million viewers, the (Men’s) Champions League final on Saturday will be once again the annual sports event most followed across the continent and worldwide. It is ‘coronation day’ for the new European football monarch and it seems therefore perfectly appropriate that the ‘anointment’, as each single Champions League evening for over […]

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