“The Ugly Game” and the Future of FIFA

 

On February 11, two weeks before the FIFA election to select Sepp Blatter’s successor, the Football Scholars Forum discussed The Ugly Game: The Corruption of FIFA and the Qatari Plot to Buy the World Cup by Heidi Blake and Jonathan Calvert.

Qatar’s successful 2022 World Cup bid and the role of the now-disgraced ex-FIFA ExCo member Mohamed Bin Hammam came under close scrutiny. The authors’ reliance on leaked FIFA electronic files called attention to the challenges and opportunities for scholars working with “big data.” There was discussion about discourses of Western bias and even racism against Africans and Asians (especially Arabs) that are sometimes perceived to be embedded in corruption allegations. Among the other topics tackled in the event was the intriguing question of whether there should be a universal standard of human rights required for nations to host the World Cup.

The session closed with important contributions related to the upcoming FIFA presidential ballot. Will Sheikh Salman or Gianni Infantino win? And what kinds of reforms might the new leadership deliver? What is the likelihood that any changes introduced will meaningfully transform the structure and governance of the much-maligned world body? In a climate plagued by corruption and cynicism, is there any hope for a better future?

An audio recording of the session is available here.

Participants: Alon Raab, Kevin Tallec Marston, Tarminder Grover, Andrew Guest, Chris Brown, David Kilpatrick, Simon Kuper, Alex Galarza, and Peter Alegi.

The next FSF session is scheduled for March 31 (2pm U.S. Eastern time). Chris Brown will pre-circulate a paper drawn from his ongoing doctoral research on football in Manaus, Brazil. To join the conversation, please email Alex Galarza (galarza DOT alex AT gmail) or Peter Alegi (alegi AT msu DOT edu).

FSF February: The Ugly Game

the-ugly-game-9781501131493_lgAfter the mid-season break, FSF returns on Thursday, February 11, at 2pm Eastern U.S. time. with a discussion of The Ugly Game: The Corruption of FIFA and the Qatari Plot to Buy the World Cup by British reporters Heidi Blake and Jonathan Calvert.

The book selection is hardly random. As most fútbologists and many fans know, the FIFA special presidential election is scheduled to take place on February 26 in Zurich. The culture of corruption in world football unearthed by the investigative reporting of Blake and Calvert raises many troubling questions about football governance and the potential for meaningful institutional reforms in a post-Blatter FIFA.

To join the online conversation, please email Alex Galarza (galarza DOT alex AT gmail) and provide your Skype username if participating for the first time.

 

 

The 2015 Women’s World Cup: Impact and Aftermath

 

In the final session before taking a much-deserved mid-season holiday break, the Football Scholars Forum will discuss the impact and aftermath of the 2015 Women’s World Cup. The session is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, December 1, at 1:45pm Eastern U.S. Time (-5 GMT).

The online discussion is set to include many of the writers and scholars who expertly contributed to international media coverage of the tournament.

As is traditional with FSF, a common set of readings (and a video lecture!) will help spark and sustain conversation on a number of topics and questions related to the WWC: from FIFA,  plastic pitches, and global inequalities to match ethnographies, the first U.S. victory in 16 years, and what’s in store for women’s football in the years to come.

Please RSVP to Alex Galarza (galarza DOT alex AT gmail) and provide your Skype username if participating for the first time. Follow the convo on Twitter via the hashtag #FSFWWC15

 

Shared Resources

 

 

Additional Resources

 

Series Upfront & Onside/SI.com  Throughout the Women’s World Cup an array of accomplished writers and scholars filed regularly from Canada with an eye on bringing a wide-ranging scope to the 2015 tournament. The cast of writers featured many Football Scholars Forum members, including: Laurent Dubois, Jean Williams, Brenda Elsey, Jennifer Doyle, Shireen Ahmed, Joshua Nadel and Lindsay Sarah Krasnoff. 

Shireen Ahmed, “Women’s World Cup May Seem Like a Feminist Fairy Tale, But the Fight’s Not Over”RH Reality Check, July 10, 2015

Jean Williams, “When Two Elephants Fight, It is the Grass That Suffers,” Football Scholars Forum, December 1, 2015

Gwendolyn Oxenham, “Pinoe’s Biggest Fan,” Ussoccer.com, June 14, 2015

Andrew Guest, “A Thinking Fan’s Guide to the Women’s World CupThe Allrounder 4 June 2015

Margery Masterson, “Watching the Women’s World Cup in the USA,” womenworkvalue2015, June 2015

CIES, Women’s Football Survey 2014 [pdf]

More links forthcoming.

“Dreaming of Sports City” in Buenos Aires

On Thursday, November 12, at 3pm U.S. Eastern Time (-5 GMT), FSF co-founder Alex Galarza will discuss “Dreaming of Sports City: Consumption, Urban Transformation, and Soccer Clubs in Buenos Aires,” a chapter from his PhD dissertation in the History Department at Michigan State University. His advisor is Dr. Edward Murphy.

Galarza’s research in Buenos Aires was funded by Fulbright-IIE and FIFA Havelange scholarships. While in Argentina, he began working with Argentine journalists on a documentary film about the Ciudad Deportiva. As part of a Kickstarter campaign, the project produced a concise overview and trailer for the film (click to view).

Galarza has blogged about his doctoral research and the documentary on FSF member Manu Veth’s blog, Futebolcidade.com. The trailer and blog provide useful context on the research and help disseminate scholarly work beyond typical academic channels.

Please RSVP to galarza DOT alex AT gmail DOT com and send your Skype information if we don’t already have it.

2015-16 Season Opens! The English Press and Anglo-German Football

England_WestGermany_1954The 2015-16 season of the Football Scholars Forum opens on Wednesday, October 14, at 2pm EST. Historian Christoph Wagner joins us to discuss his freshly completed DeMontfort University PhD thesis entitled: “Crossing The Line: The English Press and Anglo-German Football, 1954-1996.”

This meticulously researched, intriguing history focuses on representations of Germany and Germans in the sports pages of English newspapers from the mid-1950s to the mid-1990s. It explores the role of national stereotyping and analyzes shifting UK press attitudes towards Germany within a changing historical context.

This is the first time FSF engages with a doctoral dissertation so we’re excited to be making a little history ourselves. We also encourage you to visit Christoph’s blog: An Old International: Football, Culture, History. Follow him on Twitter @wagnerc23. He can also be reached by email: christoph(at)anoldinternational.co.uk

Please send an RSVP to Alex Galarza (galarza.alex AT gmail) to be included in the Skype call.

FIFA in Crisis

zapiro_blatter_envelope

 

An impromptu FSF session took place on June 4 to discuss the impact and aftermath of Sepp Blatter’s announcement of his impending resignation as president of FIFA just four days after being reelected to a fifth term.

What are fútbologists saying and thinking about in relation to Blatter and the larger FIFA bribery and corruption scandal? Discussion topics ranged from institutional reform, global media coverage, and the role of Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean in the crisis to what may (or may not) happen at the world body in the coming months.

Participants: Chris Bolsmann, David Kilpatrick, Simon Kuper, Marcela Mora y Araujo, Dan Evans, Matt Hawkins, Rwany Sibaja, Steven Apostolov, Martha Saavedra, Agbenyega Tony Adedze, Chris Henderson, Alex Galarza, and Peter Alegi.

Download the audio of the session here.

FSF March: Zambian Fútbology

 

 

On March 26, Hikabwa Decius Chipande discussed a paper titled “Mining for Goals: Football and Social Change on the Zambian Copperbelt, 1940s to 1960s.” This study is part of Chipande’s doctoral dissertation at Michigan State University, which received research funding from the FIFA João Havelange Scholarship.

Among the topics of discussion were the changing structure of clubs on the Copperbelt; the place of sport in Africanist scholarship; situating Zambia in broader south-central and even southern African histories; fan culture; and using press sources and oral interviewing to represent multiple local voices and perspectives on the past.

Participants: Martha Saavedra, Andrew Guest, Chris Brown, Chris Henderson, Danyel Reiche, Sean Jacobs, Liz Timbs, Alex Galarza, and Peter Alegi

Audio of the session can be downloaded here.

Football on the Zambian Copperbelt with Hikabwa Chipande

Join us on Thursday, March 26, at 3pm EDT for a session on football in Zambia. FSF member Hikabwa Decius Chipande will discuss his paper “Mining for Goals: Football and Social Change on the Zambian Copperbelt, 1940s to 1960s.”

Chipande is a doctoral candidate working with Peter Alegi in the Department of History at Michigan State University. His paper is the result of recent archival research and fieldwork in Zambia, which was funded by a FIFA João Havelange Scholarship.

(The paper was available for download by all confirmed participants.) Please note that the author asks readers not to quote from the paper without permission and not to circulate it beyond FSF circles.

RSVP Alex Galarza (galarza1 AT msu DOT edu).

FSF February: Fútbol in Latin America with Joshua Nadel

NadelFSF action returns after the holiday break with Joshua Nadel’s Fútbol!: Why Soccer Matters in Latin America on Wednesday, February 11, at 2:30pm Eastern Time (-5 GMT).

“Here are the football cultures of Latin America in all their macho glory,” says David Goldblatt; “but here too is the story of women’s football and its challenge to Latino masculinities. Above all, here is an account of football and nationalism, erudite and engaged, that remains rooted in the realities of play.”

Please send an RSVP to Alex Galarza (galarza.alex AT gmail) to be included in the Skype call.

The following two gatherings in March and April will feature papers by Hikabwa Chipande on football in Zambia and Alex Galarza on fútbol clubs in Buenos Aires, both based on doctoral dissertations in progress at Michigan State University.

 

Women’s Football: Global Perspectives

FSF’s last session of the year featured a wide-ranging discussion of women’s soccer. Discussion focused on three posts written by Jean Williams, Martha Saavedra, Gwen Oxenham, and a co-written piece by Brenda Elsey and Joshua Nadel. The posts and conversations centered on local contexts for fútbol femenino, mixed football, a possible boycott of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, and strategies to connect our academic expertise on the women’s game to journalistic coverage.

Participants: Alon Raab, Brenda Elsey, Brian Bunk, Danyel Reiche, Gwen Oxenham, Hikabwa Chipande, Jean Williams, Joshua Nadel, Laurent Dubois, Lindsay Krasnoff, Martha Saavedra, Melissa Forbis, Roger Kittleson, Steven Apostolov, Liz Timbs, Peter Alegi, and Alex Galarza.

Audio can be downloaded here, and the four posts are below:

Martha Saavedra – A Pitch of Her Own
Gwen Oxenham – The National Teams We Know Nothing About
Brenda Elsey and Joshua Nadel – Marimachos*: On Women’s Football in Latin America
Jean Williams – When Two Elephants Fight, It is the Grass That Suffers