The diversity of organised grassroots football in Denmark

Søren Bennike1, Nikolaj Schelde1, Adam B. Evans2
1 Danish Football Association, Brøndby, Denmark; 2 Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports, University of Copenhagen, Denmark


This article presents selected results from the most comprehensive mapping of diversity in Danish grassroots football ever conducted. Results reflect quantitative measures of diversity amongst 8053 respondents, including club members (players), club boards, educated licensed coaches, educated licensed referees and the Danish Football Association’s political level. Results illustrate multiple measures of diversity, including age, gender, sexuality, ethnic origin, and attitudes to and experiences of participation. Results demonstrate the existence of inequality in the DFA football landscape, particularly related to gender, whilst those outside the ‘dominant’ group experienced discriminatory language and perceived their membership and participation to be more challenging. Although such perceptions were lower within the dominant group, results suggested a level of awareness that such issues exist and could be problematic amongst them. The causative mechanisms behind these results require further investigation, and we hope the results stimulate interest, debate, and further research. Specifically, we see a need to investigate the underlying causes of the structures and mechanisms which drive trends in these data, and in grassroots football globally, in order to generate solutions or best practice for increasing diversity.


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SØREN BENNIKE holds a position as Research Lead at the Danish Football Association. He leads on the area of applied football science in collaboration with several domestic and international academic institutions. He received his PhD in 2016 in Humanities and Social Sport Sciences at the University of Copenhagen, and continued his academic work for a two-year period as a Post-Doctoral researcher. His main research areas of interest are rooted in policy and politics, institutions and organisations, implementation and innovation – all related to sport and, in particular, football.

NIKOLAJ SCHELDE holds a position as Insights Lead at the Danish Football Association. He is leading several analyses, among others, regarding brand value, spectators experience, fan involvement and sponsorship issues. He received a Master’s degree in Communication and Performance Design from Roskilde University in 2016.

ADAM B. EVANS is Associate Professor in sociology of sport at the Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sport Science (NEXS), where he is currently director of the Sport, Health and Implementation Research group. He is also visiting Professor at the University of Lincoln, UK, the current Editor in Chief of the European Journal for Sport and Society, and a Board member of the QRSE Network and EASS. His research centers around understanding the lived experiences of active lifestyles amongst several marginalized groups, particularly older adults and those in ill-health.


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