September 2019

Last modified: 01.10.2019

Books & Reports

Rugby in Global Perspective

by John Harris and Nicholas Wise

This book critically examines how rugby union has developed in recent years, in nations on the periphery of the sport. Focusing on people and places on the fringes, it examines contemporary issues and challenges within the global game.

Such a collection is timely, as the sport’s governing body seeks to expand influence and participation beyond the eight core nations, with the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan being the first time that the tournament has taken place outside of the core. Presenting case studies from Europe, Africa, North and South America, Asia and the Middle East, this collection offers an interdisciplinary account of a sport that is undergoing a period of significant change. Through examination of topics such as the development of rugby sevens and the growth of women’s rugby, it considers what the future may hold for the sport.

Rugby in Global Perspective is important reading for students of sport in society, the globalisation of sport, sports studies, sport development and associated fields. It is also a valuable resource for academic researchers working in rugby union or sport in the peripheral rugby nations, as well as those with an interest in cultural geography, sociology, development studies, events studies, event management and sport management.

Read more about the book.


The European Association Sociology of Sport Annual Conference

Southampton Solent, 18-21 May 2020

The School of Sport, Health and Social Sciences at Solent University is pleased to invite you to the 17th European Association for Sociology of Sport Conference.

This is the first time the conference has been held in the UK and we look forward to welcoming you to Southampton.

Read more about the conference here.

The football Collective Conference; Spomi-net participation

Bramal Lane, Sheffield United, 29-30 November 2019

The annual Football Collective conference will be held at Bramall Lane, home of English Premier League team, Sheffield United, on 29-30 November. Members of Spomi-net will be in attendance and presenting their work. Zora Saskova and Paul Darby from Ulster University will be giving paper’s based on recent fieldwork in Sierra Leone and Denmark respectively.

Zora’s paper explores the life and expectations of Sierra Leonean players on their pursuit of transnational football mobility. The paper also discusses the realities of Sierra Leonean migrant players in Scandinavia. The data, based on a year-long, multi-sited-ethnographic study involving 50 interviews with players and football experts in Sierra Leone and Scandinavia, shows, that the expectations usually do not match the reality. Whereas the pre-migrant players' main fear is centered on adjustment to weather patterns especially winter, the players in Scandinavia revealed that what they mostly struggle with is social isolation, racism and some even with trafficking.

Paul’s paper will be part of a panel on children’s rights in football comprised of colleagues who worked on a project funded by UNICEF UK on child rights and the recruitment of children into the professional football industry. Paul focuses on fieldwork he undertook at the Danish club FC Nordsjaelland (FCN) which was purchased by the Ghanaian football academy Right to Dream (RtD) in December 2015. The paper seeks to uncover how senior club officials at FCN/RtD understand the risks to children’s rights in football and the extent to which their policies and practices correlate with the UN Convention on the Rights of Children.


Persistent discrimination and racism in European football

A study published by English football’s equality and inclusion organization Kick It Out reveals persistent and increasing discrimination in the game. In particular, racism, in all its facets, continues to be a severe and growing phenomenon at both the professional and the grassroots level, having significantly grown in the past 2018/19 season:

While a rise of reported cases may point to greater awareness of the problematic impact of racism in football, it nevertheless shows the urgency to further implement effective measures against the spread of racial discrimination. Recent incidents that have occurred in professional European football over the summer support this. Manchester United’s Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford along with Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham and Reading's Yakou Méïté all faced racial insults on social media after each missing a penalty during league matches. While racial abuse on social media is a growing problem, racism on the stands continues. During the first matches Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku played for his new club Inter Milan he repeatedly faced racist insults from opponent fans. However, after he was abused with monkey chants during a match in Cagliari, the Italian FA sanctioned the Sardinian club for fans throwing bottles but not for racial discrimination which would have led to a more severe punishment:

In German football, several incidents occurred on and off the pitch over the summer:

Third tier club Chemnitzer FC, troubled by a strong right-wing fan scene, fired top-scorer and captain Daniel Frahn after he had repeatedly shown his sympathy with right-wing supporters in public. The club, based in the East German city that received nation-wide attendance following right-wing rallies and violent assaults over the summer in 2018, intended to end an ongoing conflict at a severe sportive loss. Yet, Frahn’s dismissal caused opposition among many of the club’s supporters which culminated in threats of violence against Chemnitz’ coach and manager who resigned from their respective positions hereupon:

Bakery Jatta who came to Germany as a refugee and started a remarkable career with Hamburger SV was confronted with allegations from Germany’s leading yellow press sport paper Sport Bild that he plays under a false identity. Sport Bild claimed that Jatta, who never played organized football in his home country The Gambia, is rather the former Gambian U20 player Bakery Daffeh. However, Sport Bild could not prove their allegation and the responsible German authority closed the case after several weeks of investigation. During this time, the pending matter generally caused hostile sentiments towards refugees in Germany and Jatta himself was booed by opponent fans during a match against Karlsruher SC:

In a speech at an economic forum, FC Schalke 04’s boss Clemens Tönnies claimed that building power stations in Africa rather than increasing taxes on CO2 emissions in Germany would better to protect the environment since then “the Africans would stop cutting down trees and produce babies when it is dark”. Regardless the crude logic of his statement its racist message caused outrage in the German media and football business, including claims from Schalke 04 supporters and former players to step down from his position. Schalke 04’s honorary council, however, decided not to sanction him severely. Arguing that his statement was discriminating but not racist, he was penalized with a three month moratorium of executing his position after which business will continue as usually. Remarkably, the committee followed Tönnies’ own suggestion for a sanction:

Christian Ungruhe

new member of spomi-net

We are pleased to announce that Barbra Nalani Butler, Assistant professor, Exercise Science and Sport Management, Kennesaw State University, U.S.A. has joined our network. Dr. Butler’s experiences as an athlete, in combination with engaging the scholarship of sport studies and work within sport organizations, has helped her to shape a scholarly-professional trajectory focused on exploring sport and inequality locally and globally and to explore the myriad ways sport can be employed. Dr. Butler’s research in the discipline of sport studies includes: Globalization and Sport, Sport Labor Migration and Sport for Development. Within the area of Sport Labor Migration, Dr. Butler has focused on sport labor migration and basketball, women and sport labor migration, and international student-athletes.