Call for Papers | “Football, Politics and Popular Culture” | Special Issue of Managing Sport and Leisure. Call ends February 22, 2019

Guest Editors:

    • Martin J. Power, University of Limerick, Department of Sociology
    • James Carr, University of Limerick, Department of Sociology
    • Stephen R. Millar, Cardiff University, School of Music
    • Dan Parnell, Manchester Metropolitan University, School of Business
    • Paul Widdop, Leeds Beckett University, Carnegie School of Sport
Hardcore Dinamo Zagreb supporters believe a riot at a match against Red Star Belgrade 26 years ago kicked off the war, while conspiracy theories still circulate about why the violence erupted.

Call for papers

Association Football has always been political; protesting, corruption, nationalism, military propaganda, political symbols, religious messages and more have intertwined with game since its conception. Perhaps, a symbolic example of these bedfellows happened on 13th May 1990, just weeks after parties favouring Croatian independence had won the majority of votes in an election. A riot between the fans of Dinamo Zagreb and Red Star Belgrade was notable for one event. Zvonimir Boban, the Zagreb captain and future AC Milan star kicked a police officer who had allegedly been mistreating Croatian fans. Some argue that this moment symbolically marked the end of Yugoslavia, with a devastating Civil War following soon after with many of the protagonists swapping the terraces for the front lines.

Clubs, players and fans are enmeshed within politics. Clubs have been born as a result of population upheavals and migration; have been associated with ethno-national and religious communities, political ideologies and parties to name but a few. In the contemporary context, football continues to be tied to political events and symbols. The ongoing migration of people seeking refuge in Europe has witnessed voices raised by football supporters both in support of and opposition to migration, whilst football has been a welcome form of escapism from refugee camps and social isolation on housing estates, it has also be a mobiliser for various factions of populism politics, especially those from the far right of the political spectrum. Racism and anti-racism practices play out on and off the pitch. Broader contemporary international political controversies such as the prohibition of the flag of the Palestinian State or the wearing of symbols such as the British poppy continue to spark controversy among player, fan and political communities alike. Media?

Football also manifests at times in artefacts of music and broader popular culture. Football chants for example are a sophisticated socio-political activity, which connect to early forms of communication where humans used music, chant, and dance to bond as social groups. ‘Performance’ also has a unique ability to make difference visible and audible, and songs in particular have been shown to have powerful agency in the negotiation of ‘Self’ and ‘Other’.

There is a growing body of literature exploring the management, marketing, and governance of association football. The purpose of this special issue of the journal is to provoke a broad, interdisciplinary, and critical discussion about the football politics and popular culture in association football (as a form of entertainment, recreational or occupational activity). To move the scholarship in these areas forward we encourage submissions from scholars both inside and outside of the sport management domain (e.g., sociology, social psychology, political science, gender studies, history, social media and fan studies, musicology criminology etc.).

Possible topics speaking to the management, marketing or governance of association football from elite, community and grassroots include (but are not limited to):

    • football and migration
    • football and racisms
    • football and ethno-national formation
    • football and conflict (ethno-national, ideological, sectarian etc.)
    • football and identities
    • football and class politics
    • football, gender and sexualities
    • football and fan culture

Submission Process

Submissions are due on or before 22 February 2019 via the MSL online submission system at To ensure that all manuscripts are correctly identified for review in relation to the special issue it is important that authors select ‘SI: Football, Politics and Popular Culture’ when they reach the ‘article type’ step in the submission process. All submissions must adhere to the Managing Sport and Leisure ‘Guide for authors’.

We anticipate finished papers to be submitted 17 May 2019 with publication of the special issue July 2019.

For further information or if you have any questions about this special issue call, please contact the guest editors via email:

Dr Martin J. Power
Dr James Carr
Dr Stephen R. Millar
Dr Dan Parnell
Dr Paul Widdop


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