The Powerful Globalization of Football

Bill Sund
Dept. of History, Stockholm University

Football has a unique position in the world of sports and it is especially true of its degree of globalization, including commercial aspects, which has increased over the years, and in addition, football has proved to have a progressive role in various countries. Obviously, there has been antagonism and conflict within and between countries in the name of football – but such conflicts can also push development forward. Women’s football, for instance, has a very strong position in Japan and football is also played in Muslim countries in the Middle East where it represents a link between Israel and Palestine, which is very interesting. However, much of the positive image is tainted by corruption within the international football association FIFA; this however is not discussed in this essay, which reviews and discusses three books published by the British publisher Routledge in its series “Sport in the Global Society” and treats football in Africa, Asia and Australia, and the Middle East. On the whole, football’s globalization and its progressive role as well as the existence of corruption a major challenge for sports scholars, but in Sweden research is still lagging slightly behind in these areas. Two exceptions are the economists Harald Dolles and Sten Söderman, who are involved in one of the books considered here.

The following three books are reviewed in this essay: Global Perspectives on Football in Afrika: Visualising the Game by Susann Baller, Giorgio Miescher & Ciraj Rassool (eds.); Football in Asia: History, Culture and Business by Younghan Cho (ed.); and Soccer in the Middle East by Alon Raab & Issam Khalidi (eds.), all from Routledge.

Download the full text article in Swedish!

BILL SUND is professor emeritus at the University of Stockholm, where he primarily worked at The Swedish Institute for Social Research, SOFI, but also at the Department of History, as well as at other universities in Sweden and beyond. Sund’s research moves across three areas: (1) employment, working environment and labor, (2) organized and financial crime, and (3) history of sport and sport management, and basically all of it in an international and historical perspective of power. His extensively published research on sports deals mainly with football and cycling. The latest book in the series, The Football Strategists (2015) focuses game systems and leadership in a social, international context. Bill Sund also has extensive experience in the major ball sports as a player, coach and chairman. In 2013 he received the Annual Award of the Swedish Association of Sport History.

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