June 2018

Last modified: 05.09.2018


Spomi-net members Alan Klein, Niko Besnier and Sine Agergaard took part in the conference: Participation, Inclusion and Social Responsibility in Global Sports hosted by the Weatherhead Initiative on Global History, Harvard University.

This was the third conference in a series on Soccer and Globalization. This conference was set up to promote dialogue between academics and key stakeholders in world sport, on the need for enhancing social responsibility and inclusion in sports. The conference focused on four themes: Race in sports; gender and inclusion; migration and child welfare in sport; and social responsibility in sport.

Klein, Besnier and Agergaard presented papers in the academic session that led to the panel discussion on migration and child welfare in sport. This panel examined the precarious realities that follow with migrating through sports, asking critical and policy-oriented questions about the welfare risks posed to young athletes such as West African footballers who aspire to move to Europe, and baseball players recruited from the Dominican Republic by Major League Baseball franchises in North America.

The following panel discussion included Christian Karembeu, Strategic Advisor, Olympiacos FC, Former French National Team Player; Joe Mulberry, Director of Recruitment, The Right to Dream Academy, FC Nordsjælland; Sebasian Abbot, Author of the book: The Away Game: The Epic Search for Soccer's Next Superstars; and Adam Sobel, Film Director, The Workers Cup. The facilitator of this part of the conference was: Darragh McGee, Assistant Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Bath, UK.

Expatriate Players in Men’s and Women’s Global Football – CIES Reports

Two recent CIES Football Observatory reports have analyzed the role of migration in global football. While Monthly Report No. 35 sheds light on the presence of male expatriate players in the world the following issue No. 36 reveals the growth of the expatriate presence in women’s football in the five biggest leagues of the globe (Germany, Sweden, France, England and USA).

With 1,236 representatives abroad, Brazil is the top exporting nation in men’s football followed by France (821) and Argentina (760). The major international pathway of expatriates goes from Brazil to Portugal with 240 players. The main destination for French players is England (99 players), while that of the Argentineans is Chile (106).

In women’s football, international migration of players is an increasing phenomenon. In 2018, 348 expatriate players were active in the five leagues studied (compared to 300 in the previous year). Regardless of inner UK migration, Canada is the main exporter of footballers to the leagues surveyed with 27 players, followed by players from the USA (22, 10 in Sweden) and the Netherlands (20 players, 9 in England).

The full reports (No. 35 & No. 36) can be downloaded here

New book

Rethinking Sports and Integration - Developing a Transnational Perspective on Migrants and Descendants in Sports

Sine Agergaard, Sport Sciences, Aalborg University, Denmark

Series: Routledge Focus on Sport, Culture and Society

This book offers a critical cultural analysis of the idea that sport promotes integration of migrants and their descendants. Examining the origins of this idea and the concept of integration, it analyses the problems, methods, and results of sports-related integration programs. The text redefines sports-related integration with perspectives from migration studies that highlight super-diversity within migrant groups, and explore various ways in which transnational links influence participation in sport within these communities. It is important reading for students and researchers, as well as sports governing bodies, policy makers and project workers.

Please click on the book for further information or contact Sine Agergaard.

Special issue on ball games, transculturality and gender

Panama Verlag/ Berliner Blätter/ Ethnographische und ethnologische Beiträge/ Journal 77/2018.
Edited by Stephanie Schütze and Julia Haß

Ball games, Transculturality and Gender – Anthropological Perspectives

Today ball games – such as football and basketball – are widespread as professional sports, in the leisure sector, in schools as well as in media coverage, and are of central social significance. They have specific local origins and have spread in different ways in different parts of the world. The cultural and social anthropological contributions of this special issue examine ball games in Europe and Latin America, in the context of globalization, migration and myth building and with focus on gender.

Forerunners of contemporary ball sports already are to be found in early cultures of Europe, America and Asia. In Latin America, the tradition of ball games dates back to pre-Columbian times. There are no direct continuities between these early ball games and the modern variants, such as the mass sports football and basketball. However – as in earlier times – the modern ball games interact closely with other social and political processes. In this special issue we assume that power relations become visible in ‘sport spaces’ in a special way: gender, social class and cultural origin are criteria for difference and exclusion. In Latin America and Europe, modern ball games were privileged spaces for formations of hegemonic masculinities. Today, male protagonists – players, coaches, sports officials, fan groups and spectators – still dominate in these spaces. In addition to gender inequality, cultural and socioeconomic discrimination takes place in globalized ball games. And, since the second half of the 20th century, temporary migration, transnational exchange and ‘sale’ of players characterize the globalization of mass sports. But not only professional sports are marked by migration and inequality processes. In global cities amateur migrant ball sports are widespread. Through the organization of amateur leagues – as football and basketball leagues – migrants claim urban spaces. This has potential for empowerment as well as for conflicts. When migrant women participate in male-dominated sports, gender relations are renegotiated. The authors of this special issue focus on gender-specific and transcultural negotiation processes in the context of globalization, migration, rituals and myth building. Most of the works are characterized by a strong ethnographical approach. In doing so, they make previously unobserved actors visible. At the same time, they show that marginalized groups have to take new and original ways to conquer sports spaces.

Please click on the book for further information