FREE – Football Research in an Enlarged Europe is an innovative and collaborative European research project on football! Our academic team is composed of players from very different disciplinary backgrounds and national origins. Some of them have been football fans for as long as they can think, others are far from being supporters or even followers of the sport. What we all have in common is the belief that this amazing game has something important to say about Europe and its citizens, about their perceptions of themselves and of others, about a deeply rooted sense of belonging and identity, and about the way these feelings and perceptions evolve and change over time.
FREE brings together researchers from nine universities in eight different European states and from a range of scholarly disciplines (including anthropology, history, international relations, political science, sociology). In a truly interdisciplinary perspective, FREE adopts different approaches to this European public space:
- it studies how collective memories of popular culture have emerged during the history of European football, what trace they have left in mutual perception patterns across the continent and the extent to which cultural commonality may grow out of historically grown diversity in the field of everyday culture;
- it carries out multi-dimensional empirical research work that is innovative both in design and scope, in order to produce new insight into the complex identity dynamics resulting from various processes of Europeanisation of football as well as strongly increased mobility over the last two decades;
- it seeks to shed light on the issues raised by the growing feminisation of the game such as gender construction and attitudes toward traditional patterns of identification;
- it will provide an in-depth analysis of changing perceptions of European approaches to football governance as a legitimacy-enhancing project and produce strategic recommendations for policy-makers and other stakeholders in this field.
The grant from the European Commission’s 7th European Framework Programme for Research (FP7) gives increased legitimacy to football as a relevant research territory in the social sciences and humanities. Its support provides us with the ability to explore the multiple dimensions of ‘The People’s Game’ in a way that may produce a different perspective on how ordinary people experience diversity and commonality in their everyday life.
Feel FREE to join us in our academic adventure: follow our work on the FREE website, attend one of our events or leave a comment on our blog or our pages on the social networks.