Laurent Dubois’ The Language of the Game

FSF held its sixth and final session of the 2017-18 season on Thursday, April 26th.

The group welcomed longtime FSF member Laurent Dubois, Professor of Romance Studies and History at Duke University, to discuss his new book, The Language of the Game: How to Understand Soccer ”a passionate and engaging introduction to soccer’s history, tactics, and human drama.” The session was made more special by the fact that the author graciously included FSF in the book’s acknowledgments!

Dubois provided background on the book’s genesis and the way that his teaching, blogging, and writing for a broad audience shaped it. The group discussion touched on the structure of Language of the Game, video assisted refereeing (VAR), soccer in the classroom, and writing style.

Participants included: Andrew Guest, Andrew Lee, Melissa Forbis, Lindsay Krasnoff, Adam Winkel, Patrick Ridge, Danyel Reiche, Anakwa Dwamena, Shawn Stein, Alex Galarza, and Peter Alegi.

Listen to the recording here.

#FSFDocFilms – Fútbol Documentaries in Zanzibar and Buenos Aires

We began our 2018 session with two documentary films from Megan Shutzer and Alex Galarza.

Megan’s film, “New Generation Queens“, tells the story of Zanzibar’s women’s soccer team, the New Generation Queens. The movie examines the history and culture around women’s soccer in Zanzibar. It also follows the team to mainland Tanzania, where the Queens participate in a tournament for the first time and several hope to be recruited to the Tanzanian national team.

Alex co-produced his film, “Ciudad Deportiva – El Documental“, with four Argentine journalists. It tells the story of Boca Juniors’ attempt to build a massive stadium and sports/recreational complex in the1960s. The documentary focuses on the history of this project and the fascinating links between soccer and the city.

Alex and Megan began by sharing their experiences of making their first films. Both took time to explain how they worked collaboratively with the people featured in the documentaries. Questions from the group touched on the technical aspects of filmmaking, storytelling techniques, and the process of distributing the documentaries. Additional themes covered were audience reception, the positionality of filmmakers, gender and sexuality, and the politics of sport.

Participants included: Peter Alegi, Melissa Forbis, Andrew Guest, Jessica Kessler, Itamar Dubinsky, Shawn Stein, Javier Pescador, Tom McCabe, and Danyel Reiche

A recording of the February 23 session can be found here. Apologies for the mediocre quality of the audio at the beginning; it improves noticeably around the 20 minute mark.

#FSF Obrigado – Soccer Poetry

On February 28th, 2017, FSF stalwart David Kilpatrick joined the group to discuss his book of soccer poetry: Obrigado: A Futebol EpicObrigado offers a poetic take on the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, with a poem from each of the sixty-four matches plus an introductory poem: “an epic narrative of heroic emergence from conflicts between nations, promoting cosmopolitan awareness through the spirit of play.”

David began by sharing the experience of planning and writing the book during the 2014 World Cup. He talked about the literary influences and devices present in his poetry and the difficulty in writing during the compressed drama of a one-month tournament. Participants asked about the book’s structure, themes, adventures in language, and the wider relationship between football and art. Our conversation also touched on the study of soccer’s history and how it influences the production of poetry

Participants included: Andrew Guest, Danyel Reiche, Brenda Elsey, Laurent Dubois, Steven Apostolov, Itamar Dubinsky, Alon Raab, Alex Galarza, and Peter Alegi.

Audio of the session can be found here

James Dorsey on Soccer and Politics in the Middle East

FSF began the 2016/2017 season by discussing James Dorsey’s The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer. A longtime FSF member, Dorsey shared insights on writing the book in addition to answering questions from the many participants in our online session. Our wide-ranging discussion touched on a number of issues in the book including cyber-ethnography, women’s sport, the Olympics, and soccer and Islam.

Peter has posted an extended summary on his blog.

Participants included: Chris Brown, David Kilpatrick, Sean Jacobs, Simon Rofe, Lindsay Krasnoff, Tarminder Kaur, Deirdre Dorsey, Dr. Teresita Cruz-Del Rosario, Osasu Obayiuwana, Itamar Dubinsky, Aubrey Bloomfield, Ildefonso Correas Apelanz, Liz Timbs, Alon Raab, Andrew Guest, Daniel Makagon, Danyel Reiche, and Shireen Ahmed.

Audio of the session can be found here.

Two more FSF members win FIFA scholarship

gaby gerkem_bwGaby Garton and Markus Gerke have joined the growing list of FSF members who have won the prestigious FIFA João Havelange Scholarship to conduct academic research on football.

Gaby Garton is a goalkeeper for UAI Urquiza as well as the recent recipient of a national doctoral fellowship from the CONICET in Argentina. Her project is titled “Messi’s Countrywomen: A Sociological Analysis of Women’s Association Club Football in Argentina.” Markus Gerke is a PhD Student at Stony Brook working with Melissa Forbis and his project is titled “Masculinities, Violence and Politics in the Ultra Football Fan Subculture in Germany: Between Radicalism, Civic Engagement and ‘Apolitical’ Politics.” You can read their full abstracts below.

We look forward to future sessions on their exciting work!

“Messi’s Countrywomen: A Sociological Analysis of Women’s Association Club Football in Argentina,” by Gabi Garton

Argentina is a powerhouse of international football, winning the World Cup twice and the Copa América fourteen times while producing some of history’s greatest football talents, including Diego Maradona and Leonel Messi; the women’s side, however, has never even managed a point in World Cup competition and has failed to qualify for the last two Women’s World Cups in 2011 and 2015. Though women’s soccer has grown rapidly around the globe with new contenders appearing, such as 2011 champions and 2015 runners-up Japan, Argentina and most of South America remain behind. In order to understand this disparity, my research will consider women’s participation in Argentine football culture through an ethnographic analysis of the Argentine Football Association’s Women’s League and the competing clubs, the highest level of women’s football in the country. Players, coaches, and administrators will be interviewed from AFA and from a diverse range of clubs, including Buenos Aires’s largest and most illustrious clubs, clubes de barrio (neighborhood clubs), and even universities. I will also examine how the effects of “machismo” and traditional gender stereotypes have affected women’s participation in sports in a variety of roles including as players, coaches, administrators, and spectators. My project will serve as a localized investigation to consider what motivates Argentine female players to adhere to their sport, what motivates an Argentine football club to maintain a women’s program, and why there is such a difference with men’s football in the country.

“Masculinities, Violence and Politics in the Ultra Football Fan Subculture in Germany: Between Radicalism, Civic Engagement and ‘Apolitical’ Politics,” by Markus Gerke

Through chants, songs and visual tifo choreographies, as well as through the use of pyrotechnics and physical altercations, Ultras have become the most (in)famous football fans in Germany today. Beyond engaging in stereotypical fan behaviors, however, Ultra groups have started to engage in ‘football politics.’ They have protested against perceived police brutality, have engaged in lobbying and have boycotted games. At times, they have even formed coalitions with rival supporters to assert their interests as fans, as exemplified by a 2012 campaign against new security guidelines. Moreover, different Ultra groups are engaging in both left-wing and right-wing politics. For instance, various Ultra groups have been involved in protests against the deportation of refugees, while in October 2014, more than 3,000 right-wing Ultras and Hooligans from across Germany organized an anti-Muslim rally. As a result of these frictions, local fan scenes experience open conflicts rooted in ideological differences. In the cities of Aachen, Braunschweig and Duisburg, for example, anti-racist Ultra groups were physically attacked by neo-fascist fans of the same team in the past years.

While a growing number of researchers has started to investigate the Ultras as a novel youth culture, few have focused on the role of political activism and ideologies. Yet, without an in-depth analysis of the role of politics within the Ultra subculture, we fail to understand Ultra groups as political actors and risk falling back into viewing their members through a conceptual framework of deviance only.

My research takes Ultra groups seriously as spaces of political socialization and activism of (primarily male) youths and young adults. I examine what role political activism and political ideologies play among members of the Ultra subculture. Does political activism and civic engagement of Ultras stop with football politics, or are these fans being drawn towards activism in other arenas of their lives as well? Moreover, I am exploring whether and how these fans are being politically socialized within Ultra groups into broader political traditions and ideologies. What makes these Ultra groups receptive to humanistic or racist ideologies? Lastly, given the predominance of men in the Ultra subculture, I am asking how conceptions of gender play into the Ultras’ political ideologies.

To answer these questions, I will conduct ethnographic fieldwork among the Ultra subculture in Germany. Spending six months each with two contrasting Ultra groups, I will observe and participate in their activities inside and outside the stadium, formally interview group members, analyze documents (such as internet message boards, fanzines, and media coverage), and witness first-hand their political activism and interaction with ‘their’ football club. I anticipate my research to not only contribute to the sociological literatures on sports, fandom, culture, social movements and masculinities but to also provide valuable insights for social workers and educators who engage football supporters.”

Chris Brown on Soccer in Manaus

2015.04-Rio-Negro-no-Campeonato-Brasileiro-de-1973-2 copyFSF met once again on March 31st to discuss Chris Brown’s paper, “Envisioning the City through Soccer in the Brazilian Amazon, 1914-2014.” Chris, a longtime FSF member and PhD Candidate in Latin American History at Emory University, shared with the group his fresh research funded by a FIFA João Havelange Fellowship. Our discussion touched on many topics including stadium construction, gendered conceptions of modernity and progress, the clubs of Manaus, and comparisons to other cities in Latin America.

Participants included: Brenda Elsey, Danyel Reiche, David Kilpatrick, George Kioussis, Jennifer Schaefer, Matt Hawkins, Tarminder Kaur, Peter Alegi, and Alex Galarza.

Audio of the conversation can be found here.

FSF March: Soccer in the Amazon

By Brazilian Government - Portal da Copa - Atribuição 3.0 Brasil
By Brazilian Government – Portal da Copa – Atribuição 3.0 Brasil

FSF continues the spring season on Thursday, March 31st at 2:30pm Eastern U.S. Time with a discussion of Chris Brown’s paper: “Envisioning the City through Soccer in the Brazilian Amazon, 1914-2014.” Chris is a longtime FSF member and PhD Candidate in Latin American History at Emory University researching the history of Manaus, Brazil, through the lens of soccer (1914-2014)

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.

FSF November: Galarza on Clubs in Buenos Aires

Co-founder Alex Galarza featured in FSF’s second session of the 2015-16 season. Alex shared the first chapter from his dissertation, “Dreaming of Sports City: Consumption, Urban Transformation, and Soccer Clubs in Buenos Aires.” Participants also watched a trailer for his collaboratively-produced documentary and (click to view) read a blog post on his broader project.

A number of questions focused on the broader connections that Alex’s research may shed on soccer in other Latin American cities, modernization and state formation, and notions of race, whiteness, and gender. The author and participants also discussed the politics of club governance and the project’s methodology.

Participants included: Andrew Guest, Brenda Elsey, Chris Brown, Chris Henderson, Christoph Wagner, Daniel Makagon, Danyel Reiche, Edward Murphy, Matt Hawkins, Martha Saavedra, Melissa Forbis, Javier Pescador, Alex Galarza, and Peter Alegi.

Listen to or download the audio recording here.

Season Opener on England, Germany, and the Press

Christoph Wagner got the 2015/2015 season underway on Wednesday, October 14, with ten members on three continents discussing his DeMontfort University doctoral thesis entitled “Crossing The Line: The English Press and Anglo-German Football, 1954-1996.”

A number of points engaged with the rich detail Christoph provided in his thorough investigation of representations of Germany and Germans in the English press. Among the issues raised were the militarization of language in football press coverage; narratives of English decline; national stereotypes; media ownership, and xenophobia. The conversation also grappled with the study’s methodology and sources, how oral histories might have added to the analysis, and insights that could be gleaned from new and social media in contemporary times.

Participants included: Andrew Guest, Chris Brown, Chris Henderson, Danyel Reiche, Derek Catsam, Hikabwa Chipande, Steven Apostolov, Alex Galarza, and Peter Alegi.

Follow Christoph on Twitter at @wagnerc23 and via his blog An Old International.

Listen to the audio recording or download here.