The Limits of Soccer for Development: Xhosa Maradona and the “Hand of God”

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.

FSF November – Football in the Classroom

Please join us for the Football Scholars Forum session on Soccer in the Classroom, Wednesday, November 9, at 2pm Eastern Time. Peter Alegi, Alon Raab, Tom McCabe, Steven Apostolov, and Sean Jacobs will each make 5 minute presentations on their courses to jump start a discussion about syllabi, sources, readings, pedagogy, and how to include a unit/section/lecture on soccer in  humanities or social science courses. We’re using the FSF website to pre-circulate course designs and syllabi, so please send me any syllabi or reading lists you would like to share to:

Some questions to spark discussion: (1) How can teaching a course or unit on soccer expand or contribute to disciplinary knowledge? (2) What are the challenges and opportunities of teaching a fútbol class filled with everyone from fantasy soccer geeks to soccer neophytes? (3) How can students apply what they learn in a soccer course outside the classroom?

As always, please RSVP if you plan on attending via Skype (provide your username). Soccer in the Classroom promises to be one of our most exciting and productive, so don’t miss out.

In other news, FSF will be included in a poster session at HASTAC 2011, a conference on digital scholarly communication hosted at the University of Michigan in December. We are very excited to share our experiences with FSF at the conference; thanks to everyone who has helped us grow and learn!

¡Adelante! Fútbol and Politics in Chile

elseybookIn a vibrant opening to the 2011-12 FSF season, we discussed Brenda Elsey’s book Citizens and Sportsmen.  Brenda made FSF history by being the first author to visit Michigan State University in person, for which she received a stylish FSF t-shirt and a dinner in her honor! Situating her study in the context of Latin American historiography’s concerns with the question of how democratic Chile was before the 1973 coup, Elsey uses football to convincingly argue that the country was strongly democratic before Pinochet’s rise to power.  The group explored topics such as sources and methodology; gender, class and race; the 1962 World Cup; football clubs as conduits for political mobilization; and the secularization of public space. The participants were: Alon Raab, Chris Gaffney, David Kilpatrick, Ingrid Bolivar, Brenda Elsey, Alex Galarza, and Peter Alegi. Unfortunately, the audio from the session is flawed, but is nevertheless available for listening here.

On Thursday (9/22), Brenda gave a campus talk introducing her book on Chilean football and politics. The next day she attended a grad seminar where we discussed her article from the Journal of Social History, “The Independent Republic of Football: The Politics of Neighborhood Clubs in Santiago, Chile, 1948-1960.

Our next session on Wednesday, November 9th will focus on football in the classroom. Peter Alegi, Tom McCabe, Steven Apostolov, and Alon Raab will lead the discussion. This will be an excellent opportunity to exchange syllabi, sources, reading lists, and teaching perspectives. Our discussion will not necessarily center on soccer-specific courses; if you would like to include a unit/section/lecture on soccer in your humanities or social science course, be sure to join the discussion.

Fall 2011 Lineup

The schedule page has been updated with our new fall schedule, our fourth semester of FSF sessions! On Friday, September 23, at 3pm EDT we will be discussing Brenda Elsey’s Citizens and Sportsmen: Fútbol and Politics in Twentieth-Century Chile. Dr. Elsey will visit Michigan State on September 22-23 to give a public lecture and host a seminar for graduate students.

On November 9, FSF will host a session on “Soccer in the Classroom.” Peter Alegi, Tom McCabe, Steven Apostolov, and Alon Raab will lead the discussion. This will be an excellent opportunity to exchange syllabi, sources, reading lists, and teaching perspectives. Our discussion will not necessarily center on soccer-specific courses; if you would like to include a unit/section/lecture on soccer in your humanities or social science course, be sure to join the discussion.

Women’s Football Session Breaks New Ground

With the 2011 Women’s World Cup around the corner, it seemed especially appropriate to hold our first session on the women’s game on April 18. Facilitated by Jennifer Doyle and featuring author Cynthia Pelak, the group covered some key issues and topics, including the hidden history of women’s football; gender, sexuality, and class; media disinterest about women’s sports; the impact of FIFA’s takeover of the women’s game; South African dynamics; law and government policy; coaching and playing styles; empowerment and disempowerment.

The audio for the meeting is available here.

In attendance:
Jennifer Doyle
Cynthia Pelak
Martha Saavedra
David Toms
Tom McCabe
Laurent Dubois
John Turnbull
Andrew Guest
David Roberts
David Keyes
Alex Galarza
Peter Alegi

FSF April 18: Women’s Football

Change of date: The  date for our next session is Monday April 18 at 4pm Eastern Time.

  • Longman, Jere. The Girls of Summer: the U.S. women’s soccer team and how it changed the world. New York: HarperCollins, 2000.
  • Pelak, Cynthia. “Women and gender in South African soccer: A brief history,” Soccer and Society 11, no. 1-2 (2010): 63-78.
  • Williams, Jean.  A Beautiful Game: international perspectives on women’s football. Oxford and New York: Berg, 2007. 

Fútbol, Historia, y Política – triunfo en español

Our first bilingual session was a great success. After some initial audio issues, we had just over 90 minutes of fantastic discussion regarding Fútbol, Historia, y Política. The three chapter authors in attendance were Julio Frydenberg, Rodrigo Daskal, and Mariano Gruschetsky.

Our conversation revolved around one of the central themes of the book: the tensions between public and private logics in Argentine football clubs. We also discussed possibilities of comparative research in Argentine football when the conversation turned towards parallels with Chilean and English football.

The audio for the meeting is available here

In attendance:
Julio Frydenberg
Rodrigo Daskal
Mariano Gruschetsky
Marcela Mora y Araujo
James Dorsey
Rwany Sibaja
Edward Murphy
Alejandro González
Ben Sawyer
Peter Alegi
Alex Galarza

FSF Feb – Fútbol, Historia, y Política

The first session of spring 2011 will be held on Thursday February 17th at 1800 (6pm) Eastern time. Here are a few materials regarding the book, Fútbol, Historia, y Política edited by Julio Frydenberg and Rodrigo Daskal.

“‘Fútbol, Historia y Política’ es fruto del esfuerzo de incorporar nuevas cuestiones en el estudio del deporte; y en realidad no hace más que continuar con las inquietudes contempladas por Archetti, quien consideraba al deporte como parte integral de la sociedad, y que nos permite reflexionar acerca de lo social” – Julio Frydenberg

Pagina 12 Review
Presentation at the Universidad de San Martín
Publisher’s page

Short piece on the passing of Eduardo Archetti

Football Panel at American Studies Association – Baltimore

via Jennifer Doyle:

The call for papers just came out – the conference in the fall (Oct 20-23), and is in Baltimore. I’d like to put together a football panel for this – papers need to fit within the flexible framework of the ASA.  There are rarely panels that take on sports generally at this conference, never mind a specific sport – I think a proposal from footie scholars would fare well in the selection process.  Deadline is January 26th… This is purely selfish, as I’m eager to present my own work on sports in this context (it’s a great conference).

The conference website and proposal criteria are here. Jennifer Doyle can be reached at

Fall Season Ends with Soccer Empire

DuboisSoccerEmpireThe first year of FSF ended today in triumphant fashion with Laurent Dubois’ Soccer Empire. Participants: Laurent Dubois, Peter Alegi, Alex Galarza, Andrew Guest, Steven Apostolov, and David Roberts.

The audio of the discussion is available here.

Stay tuned for updates on the Spring lineup! We have had an excellent discussion over email about a session on the women’s game and will decide soon on materials and a date. We will also be doing our first FSF session en español when we discuss Frydenberg and Daskal’s Fútbol, Historia, y Política.