Football as an Instrument of Nation-Building II: (South-)East-Europe and Overseas Countries

17.02.2017 to 19.02.2017 Add to calendar

10th Irsee Sports Historical Conference: 17.02.2017 - 19.02.2017

“Some people believe football is a matter of life and death; I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.”

The statement by former FC Liverpool manager Bill Shankly proved true when the European Championship qualifying match in Belgrade on October 14th, 2014 between Serbia and Albania had to be cut short after a drone carrying the flag of “greater Albania” was flown over the stadium by Albanian nationalists, provoking violence between players on both sides.

As this incident demonstrates, the narrative that associates football with understanding between nations falls short of the mark. The fields of social science and history have dealt extensively with the topic of “football and violence.” Social psychologists have also researched the role of football in the construction of social as well as regional and national identities. However, one aspect that has gained very little attraction until now is Eric Hobsbawm’s theory that the sport of football takes on meaning in the context of the formation of the concept of the nation: “The imagined community of millions seems more real as a team of eleven named people.”

Both world wars, decolonization and the end of the Cold War have brought forth a new international order in the 20th century, the basic building block of which is the nation-state. Nation-building is a complex process that comprises both the establishment of shared cultural standards and the arbitrary creation of national identity (keyword: “invention of tradition”).

The 10th Irsee Sports Historical Conference on “Football as an Instrument of Nation-Building” will discuss, from a contemporary and global history perspective, to what extent the game of football with its mass media appeal has become a central element and instrument of nation-building.

The conference is hosted and generously funded by FIFA.

Programm: Friday, 17 February 2017

5.00 pm
Markwart Herzog, Schwabenakademie Irsee, Germany/Dominik Schaller, Heidelberg University, Germany: Welcome and Introduction


5.15 pm
Enika Abazi/Albert Doja, University of Lille, France: The Global Politics of Pride and Prejudice. Hooliganism, Nationalism and Racism of a Local Football Game between Serbia and Albania

6.00 pm
Catalin Parfene, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris, France: National Identity and Nation-Building in Interwar Romania. The National Football Team between “Foreigners” and Romanianization

6.45 pm Dinner

Saturday, 18 February 2017

9.00 am
Luke Hodges-Ramon, University College London’s School of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies (SSEES), London, UK: Golden Team and Nationalist Dreams. The Politics of Hungarian Football Past, Present and Future

9.45 am
Octavian Ticu, Academy of Science of the Republic of Moldova, Chisinau, Moldova: Why the Moldovans don’t Play Football? Football and Empire/State-Building in the Moldovan SSR (1944–1989)

10.30 am Coffee Break

10.45 am
Mikayel Zolyan, Brusov State University of Linguistics and Social Sciences, Yerevan, Armenia: Football Nationalism in the USSR. Ararat-73 and Football Nationalism in Soviet Armenia

11.30 am
Can Evren, Duke University, Durham (North Carolina), USA: The Nation against “Europe”. Football and Nationalism in Turkey


12.15 pm
Christian Tagsold, Heinrich Heine University, Düsseldorf, Germany: The Samurai Spirit of Nadeshiko Japan. The Women’s National Team, 3/11 and Nationalism in Japan

1.00 pm Lunch

2.00 pm
Alexander Koch, FIFA, Communications & Public Affairs, Zurich, Switzerland: Guided Tour. The FIFA Headquarters

3.30 pm
Omer Einav, Tel Aviv University, Israel: Both Sides of the Field. Football and the Relations between Jews and Arabs in Palestine, 1917–1929

4.15 pm Coffee Break

4.30 pm
Ilan Rachum, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel: Brazilian "futebol". An Agent of Nation-Building that has Lost its Drive?

5.15 pm
Gary Armstrong/Holly Collison, Brunel University West London, UK: Settlers, Kings and Lesser Players. Football and the Nation of Liberia, West Africa

6.00 pm Key Note
Todd Cleveland, University of Arkansas, USA: Migrants and Patriots. Football Players and Nation-Building in Lusophone Africa across the Colonial/Post-Colonial Divide

6.45 pm Dinner

Sunday, 19 February 2017

9.00 am
Carl Rommel, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, UK: A Successful Bubble for the Nation’s Normal. Notes on the Emotional Politics of Football Mubarak’s Egypt

9.45 am
Sudipto Mitra, School of Cultural Texts and Records, Jadavpur University, India: The Nation and its Embodiments. Mohammedan Sporting in Bengal

10.30 am Coffee Break

10.45 am
Derek Catsam, University of Texas of the Permian Basin, USA: BRICS, Bats, and Balls. Nation-Building and the Politics of Mega-Sporting Events in the BRICS Countries

11.30 am
Round Table: Systematic Perspectives

12.00 Noon Lunch – End of Conference – Departure

– Program is Subject to Change –

Markwart Herzog, Schwabenakademie Irsee
Dominik J. Schaller, Heidelberg University

Participants are requested to organise accommodation themselves.

Organised by: 
Schwabenakademie Irsee
Fédération Internationale de Football Association
FIFA-Strasse 20
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Cost information
Event cost: 
0.00 CHF
Due to funds generously provided by FIFA no conference fee will be charged.
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