“The Ugly Game” and the Future of FIFA

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).

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.

FIFA in Crisis

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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.

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).

When Two Elephants Fight, It is the Grass That Suffers

Williams_Blatter
A meeting of two great football minds

Dr. Jean Williams is a Senior Research Fellow at the International Centre for Sporting History and Culture De Montfort University in Leicester England. Having written on women’s football since 1998, Jean has recently published A Contemporary History of Women’s Sport 1850-1960 (Routledge, 2014). She is currently writing Send Her Victorious: A History of Britain’s Women Olympians 1900-2014 (Manchester UP, 2015).


In 1998 I spent some time in Namibia for the second World Conference on Women in Sport. I had a dual purpose to collect information on women’s football in Namibia for my PhD thesis and to raise my awareness of the issues facing African women who wanted to participate in sport. Several national women’s football teams were represented at the conference and they met as a group to protest at the lack of support from FIFA, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, the world governing body of football. Being present at the meeting of the African women’s national teams and FIFA representatives, I was invited to advise FIFA how the Women Sport International 1994 Brighton Declaration on Women’s Sport, a commitment to increase the number and visibility of women in world sport, could be applied specifically to international football. My research therefore anticipated pledges to increase gender equity in the football industry. The Los Angeles Declaration on Women’s Football was launched at the second FIFA World Symposium to coincide with the Los Angeles Women’s World Cup in 1999.  At the symposium, my academic work was showcased on a panel with presentations from the head of the Football Association of PR China, Zhang Jilong; the French Minister for Sport, Marie George Buffet and Anita De Frantz, a Vice President of the International Olympic Committee. All 203 FIFA member national associations attended, with over 500 delegates. It seemed like real change was about to come for women’s football and I was optimistic.

I was a little daunted about telling all those FIFA representative countries assembled at the symposium in 1999 about the institutionalized nature of sexism in the world game. In the end I should not have worried. I only spoke fifteen minutes and it was not as if my audience were going to be enlightened or challenged by my presentation. Kevan Pipe of the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) was one of the most supportive and friendly of the national representatives in LA. Some years later, I applauded the decision to host the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada, thinking of Kevan’s support for women’s soccer.  However, he has since retired from the CSA and I became gradually aware that some of the institutional attitudes towards women’s soccer I had spoken out against in 1999 were still very much in evidence almost sixteen years later.

Read More

From *Africa’s World Cup* to Brazil 2014

AfricasWorldCup_Cover 2FSF members from four continents convened online on October 24 for a lively discussion of Africa’s World Cup: Critical Reflections on Play, Patriotism, Spectatorship, and Space, a new collection edited by Peter Alegi and Chris Bolsmann.

With the editors and several chapter authors in attendance, the group considered the book’s attempt at blending scholarly and journalistic approaches, as well as the process of writing, editing, and publication. A fruitful comparison between South Africa 2010 and Brazil 2014 put the spotlight on how the FIFA World Cup is entangled in a web of national and international politics, economics, and culture. There was also a fair share of debate over Luis Suarez’s handball (against Ghana) and the contradictory legacies of this “African” World Cup.

The participants were: Andrew Guest, Chris Bolsmann
, Christoph Wagner
, David Patrick Lane, 
David Roberts, 
Derek Catsam, 
Jacqueline Mubanga, 
Raj Raman, 
Orli Bass
, Rwany Sibaja, 
Laurent Dubois
, Achille Mbembe
, Jordan Pearson, Sean Jacobs, and Alex Galarza (all via Skype); and Liz Timbs, 
Dave Glovsky, 
Alejandro Gonzalez, and 
Peter Alegi (in East Lansing).

The audio recording of the discussion is available here.