The Age of Football, Part 5

The curtain has come down on the Football Scholars Forum’s summer series featuring David Goldblatt and his sparkling new book, The Age of Football: The Global Game in the Twenty-first Century. A cumulative attendance of more than 50 people from Africa, Asia, North America, and Europe made it the most popular event in FSF’s ten-year history.

On July 14, 25 participants discussed the final chapters, which focused on FIFA corruption, Putin’s Russia and the 2018 World Cup. Historians Simon Rofe and Matthew Pauly helped steer the discussion with opening comments and questions.

“It’s the hardest book I’ve every written, in all sorts of ways,” Goldblatt observed. “A combination of Brexit and COVID kind of ate its public reception alive,” he said. “That was quite hard to process and this [series] has been a fabulous corrective to that. [. . .] It means a lot to have you read it, to know that it held your attention, entertained you and maybe enlightened you along the way.”

Indeed, the series was so extraordinarily fulfilling that we (almost) forgot about the postponement of Euro 2020.

Click below to listen to the audio recording of the July 14th session (personal/educational use only).

Looking ahead to the 2020-21 season, our first convo will feature James Montague and his new book, 1312: Among the Ultras. See you then!

The Age of Football, Part 4

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The fourth session of FSF’s 5-part series on David Goldblatt’s The Age of Football: The Global Game in the Twenty-first Century covered East Asia, South and South East Asia, as well as North and Central America, and the Caribbean (aka CONCACAF in FIFA-speak). This tour-de-force across time and space featured 32 participants in a conversation moderated by Andrew Guest.

The series finale takes place on Tuesday, July 14, again at 2pm US Eastern (7pm UK). We will discuss the final chapters, on FIFA corruption and the game in Putin’s Russia, including a look inside the “Global Potemkin Village” of the 2018 World Cup.

Click below to listen to the audio recording of the June 30th session (personal/educational use only).

The Age of Football, Part 3

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The third session of FSF’s 5-part series on David Goldblatt’s The Age of Football: The Global Game in the Twenty-first Century focused on the 119-page chapter 4 titled: “This Storm Is What We Call Progress: Football and the European Project.”

Moderated by Lindsay Krasnoff [read her comments here], the 29 participants grappled with a variety of themes in the work. Not only did Goldblatt ably respond to questions from around the world on a rich set of topics and countries, but the Spurs supporter also lavished praise on ex-Arsenal striker Ian Wright’s performance on BBC Radio 4’s “Desert Island Discs”!

The series continues on Tuesday, June 30, again at 2pm US Eastern (7pm UK). We will discuss “The Fragmented Worlds of Asian Football” and “Football in the Americas” (that is, CONCACAF), with Andrew Guest as moderator.

Click below to listen to the audio recording of the June 23rd session (personal/educational use only).

The Age of Football, Part 2

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The second session of FSF’s 5-part series on David Goldblatt’s The Age of Football: The Global Game in the Twenty-first Century [UK here / US here] drew another large international crowd: 45 participants!

Moderated by Danyel Reiche and Alex Galarza, our lively conversation with Goldblatt explored themes and questions raised by the chapters titled “Regime vs Street vs Mosque: Three-sided Football in the Middle East” and “From the Left Wing: South American Fútbol and the Pink Tide.”

The next session is scheduled for Tuesday, June 23, at 2pm US Eastern (7pm UK). We will discuss the book’s chapter on Europe, almost a book in its own right, with Lindsay Krasnoff serving as moderator.

Click below to listen to the recording of the June 16th session (personal/educational use only).

The Age of Football, Part 1

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The first session of FSF’s five-part series on David Goldblatt’s new book, The Age of Football: The Global Game in the Twenty-first Century [UK here / US here] attracted 40 participants.

The inaugural 90-minute conversation with the author was moderated by Peter Alegi. It focused on the book’s Introduction and Chapter 1 titled “The Living and the Dead: Afro Football Fever.”

The second session is set for June 16 (2pm US Eastern, 7pm UK). We will read and discuss Chapters 2-3 (on the Middle East and South America), with Danyel Reiche and Alex Galarza serving as our able moderators.

Below is an audio recording of the first session (for personal/educational use only).

Summer Series: The Age of Football

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With Euros 2020 postponed until 2021 due to COVID-19, FSF has found a way to stay fútbologically engaged during June and July.

We are very pleased to announce a 5-part series featuring David Goldblatt and his massive new book, The Age of Football: The Global Game in the Twenty-first Century [UK edition here / US edition here].

In many ways, this book is a sequel to Goldblatt’s acclaimed The Ball is Round: A Global History of Football, which FSF discussed here and here. “David Goldblatt’s globe-trotting magnum opus about football is both jaundiced and idealistic about the sport,” Tobias Jones noted in his review of The Age of Football in The Times of London. “He admits in his introduction that the game nurtures ‘monomania, ignorance, atavistic loathing and mindless stupefaction’. But he also believes that, through its fans, football can be a place of ‘resistance to the intrusion and overweening importance of economic and political power’. It can, he suggests, ‘serve as a collective insistence that there are other moral logics and priorities in this world’.”

Goldblatt will join us for five 90-minute Zoom sessions focused on different chapters as per the schedule below:

All sessions begin promptly at 2pm US Eastern Time (7pm UK time).

There are a limited number of Zoom invitations available on a first-come, first-serve basis. RSVP to Peter Alegi (alegi AT msu DOT edu) or Alex Galarza (galarza DOT alex AT gmail DOT com) by June 8, 2020.

FSF Soccertown USA

On April 18, the Football Scholars Forum held a discussion on the recently released documentary SOCCERTOWN, USA, an award-winning film about how Kearny, New Jersey, helped nurture three friends—USMNT legends John Harkes, Tony Meola and Tab Ramos—on their way to successive World Cups. 

Tom McCabe, a historian, and Kirk Rudell, a Hollywood writer and producer, shared insights and experiences in making soccer documentaries, from writing the script by “letting the story tell itself” to interviewing people and “making it seem like a conversation in the bar.”

Several rounds of questions about the documentary’s key topics and themes followed, including how “Scotch professors” spread the game in the United States, what constitutes a “soccer town,” the role of class and gender, how street soccer develops players, the importance of high school soccer in community building, the making of an organic American soccer culture and more.

On another Saturday without live football due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 20 participants in three continents were left with a deep appreciation for this cinematographic “love letter” to the game.

Listen to an audio recording of the session (for educational/personal use only):

FSF Saturday Football Films: Soccertown USA

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Sadly, there will be no live football on Saturday, April 18, but there will be a Football Scholars Forum! 

At 2pm Eastern (7pm in London), FSF welcomes Tom McCabe, a historian, and Kirk Rudell, a Hollywood writer and producer, for a Zoom session on their film “Soccertown USA.” It was released last week on YouTube and is freely available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=havPy5C2XIU.

In the 1870s, Scottish immigrants brought soccer to Kearny, New Jersey. A few years later, they brought it to Brazil. While the game was spreading across Europe and South America, it was being played in the streets, parks, and playgrounds of a small town just across the meadows from New York City . . . but a world away. And in the 1980s, when the flame of American soccer was flickering, it was three kids from Kearny who helped save it.

“Soccertown USA” is the story of Tab Ramos, John Harkes, and Tony Meola, who grew up with a passion for the game in a country that didn’t share it. It’s the story of the USA team at the 1990 and 1994 World Cups, when these childhood friends formed the backbone of a team that willed its way to famous victories and inspired the generations that would come after. But it’s also the story of a town – an American town – in which we can see the past, the present, and the future of the world’s game.

“Soccertown USA” premiered last year at the Kicking + Screening Soccer Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award. Join the writers and producers for a lively discussion about making soccer documentaries, from writing the script to interviewing subjects, and from taking it to film festivals to looking for distribution and using it in our teaching.

RSVP to Peter Alegi (@futbolprof) or Alex Galarza (@galarzaalex) by April 16. 

“The English Game” Sets Record

Darwen FC (The English Game)

A record crowd of 37 turned out for the Football Scholars Forum (FSF) and Society for American Soccer History (SASH) joint session devoted to The English Game miniseries, developed by Julian Fellowes for Netflix. 

In the absence of live football due to the global COVID19 pandemic, the session started at the traditional 3:00pm UK kickoff time. Moderated by David Kilpatrick and Tom McCabe of SASH, with opening remarks from Peter Alegi and Alex Galarza representing FSF, an all-star squad of 19th-century fútbologists offered five-minute comments on the historical drama. 

Old Etonians (The English Game)

Andy Mitchell, author of the biography on the series’ protagonist, Arthur Kinnaird: First Lord of Football, shared his insight as a consultant to The English Game. Ged O’Brien, author of Played in Glasgow and Chief Historian of The Hampden Collection, discussed the role of “the Scotch Professors” in the series. Martin Westby, author of England’s Oldest Football Clubs 1815-1889 and A History of Sheffield Football 1857-1889, provided more context on the emergence of clubs in mid-19th century competition.

Tony Collins, Emeritus Professor of History at DeMontfort University and author of How Football Began, discussed the emergence of tactics as various football codes evolved. Jean Williams, Professor of Sport at the University of Wolverhampton, addressed literary elements of the drama. Then Club Historian of Rangers Football Club, David Mason, provided a sense of how English clubs drew from Scottish football’s talent pool at the time. With the constituent elements of drama as outlined in Aristotle’s Poetics providing a framework, the ensuing discussion addressed issues like authenticity, class conflict, sport governance, and pedagogical uses for the film.

Click here for an audio recording of the session (for educational use only).

No Live Football? FSF to the Rescue!

While football is on pause in this time of pandemic and social distancing, the Football Scholars Forum and the Society for American Soccer History intend to bridge our physical distance with an online discussion devoted to The English Game, the Netflix miniseries that made its debut on March 20, 2020. 

Join other fútbologists as we discuss the cinematic and historic merits (and demerits) of this deep dive into the origins of the modern game. Spoiler alert: all six episodes of season one will be discussed. David Kilpatrick and Tom McCabe will moderate the session. Kickoff is set for the traditional UK match time  of 3:00pm (London time) on Saturday, March 28 (11:00am US EDT). 

As usual, the 90-minute teleconference session will be conducted via Zoom. RSVP to Peter Alegi (alegi.peter@gmail.com) or Alex Galarza (galarza.alex@gmail.com) to receive a Zoom invitation. Another email will be sent to confirmed participants by Friday, March 27.

For more info: 

The English Game – https://www.netflix.com/title/80244928 

Football Scholars Forum – http://footballscholars.org/

Society for American Soccer History – https://www.ussoccerhistory.org/