Somalia takes center stage in our final gathering of 2016.
On Thursday, December 15, at 2pm Eastern U.S. time, FSF will host a discussion of the new film “Men in the Arena” with director and producer, J. R. Biersmith. The film tracks the stories of two young Somali men chasing their dreams of soccer stardom in the toughest of circumstances.
Contact Alex Galarza (galarza1 AT msu DOT edu) to participate in the online session.
On October 27, 2016, FSF welcomed Dr. Tarminder Kaur (University of the Free State) for a discussion of her paper: “AmaXhosa Maradona: Global Icons, Local Following and Soccer Talent as a Gift and Curse for South African Youth.”
This ethnographic exploration of soccer and development in the rural Western Cape of South Africa sparked a critique of sport-for-development programs and highlighted the human drama of “Maradona” (aka Abongile Qobisa), a talented footballer with a promising future who died tragically at the age of 19. The paper is part of an evolving book-length manuscript that grapples not just with sports, but also with broader themes such as the history of agricultural labor migration, regimes of labor extraction in South African “Homelands”, and structural, interpersonal, everyday, and “invisible” forms of violence.
“What a privilege this was to have such engaged scholars to read my paper,” said Dr. Kaur after the session. “It is this kind of engagement that every scholar craves. It was not only gratifying, the discussion and conversations [also] gave me so much to work with to improve this paper.”
In addition to the author, participants in the forum included: Emmanuel Yolo Thoba, Danyel Reiche, Andrew Guest, Alejandro Gonzalez, Gerard Akindes, Chris Bolsmann, Tom McCabe, Itamar Dubinsky, Hikabwa Chipande, Alex Galarza, and Peter Alegi.
Listen to the audio here.
On October 27, 2016, at 1:30pm Eastern (-5 GMT, note the new time), the Football Scholars Forum holds its 37th session. The group will discuss Dr. Tarminder Kaur’s paper “AmaXhosa Maradona: Global Icons, Local Following and Soccer Talent as a Gift and Curse for South African Youth.”
Dr. Kaur is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the University of the Free State’s Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice in South Africa. Her study tells the moving story of Abongile Elton Qobisa (aka Maradona), a very promising young black footballer from the Western Cape region. Based on extensive ethnographic fieldwork, the paper engages critically with “sport-for-development” discourses and reveals how talent and opportunities in soccer were both a gift and a curse for the Xhosa Maradona.
For more information and to participate in the online session, please contact Alex Galarza (galarza1 AT msu DOT edu).
Dorsey is a journalist and a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University. His blog on Middle East soccer “(has) become a reference point for those seeking the latest information as well as looking at the broader picture,” notes FSF member Alon Raab.
The book, according to the publisher’s website, examines the game “as an arena where struggles for political control, protest and resistance, self-respect and gender rights are played out. Football evokes deep-seated passions and offers unique insight into the region. Examples include clandestine Saudi women football clubs; political demonstrations at Algerian matches; Somali child solders turned soccer stars; and Iranian women who disguise themselves as men to watch matches.”
For more information about this event and to participate via Skype contact Alex Galarza (galarza1 AT msu DOT edu).
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).
After 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.
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
- Jean Williams, “Women and Soccer: Research Agendas and Policy Debates,” plenary lecture at The Futures of Women’s Soccer Symposium, Duke University Forum for Scholars and Publics, April 10, 2015 [watch]
- Jean Williams, “Women’s soccer evolution a product of pre-World-Cup-era resolve,” Upfront & Onside/SI.com, June 9, 2015
- Brian Oliver, “All is not as rosy as it seems in the world of women’s football ahead of World Cup,” Inside The Games, June 7, 2015
- Laurent Dubois and Brenda Elsey, “As Women’s World Cup nears its end, perspective on a month in Canada,” Upfront & Onside/SI.com, July 3, 2015
- Shireen Ahmed and Dave Zirin, “African Artistry and Anger at the Women’s World Cup,” The Nation, July 1, 2015
- Laurent Dubois, “France vs. Germany quarterfinal highlights best of women’s soccer,” Upfront & Onside/SI.com, June 27, 2015
- Brenda Elsey, “A first-hand account of Brazil’s Women’s World Cup clash with Spain,” Upfront & Onside/SI.com, June 17, 2015
- Moya Dodd, “FIFA, football and women: why reform must specify inclusion and investment,” Submission to Francois Carrard, Chair of FIFA Reform Committee, October 2015
- Rose Eveleth, “An Ode to Sydney Leroux’s Eyelashes,” Screamer, June 30, 2015
- Andrew Guest, “Field Notes: An Anthropology of the Women’s World Cup” The Allrounder 26 June 2015
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 Cup” The 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.
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.
The 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.
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.