Football as an Instrument of Nation-Building II

(South-)East-Europe and Overseas Countries

„Some people believe football is a matter of life and death; I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.”

The statement by former FC Liverpool manager Bill Shankly proved true when the European Championship qualifying match in Belgrade on October 14th, 2014 between Serbia and Albania had to be cut short after a drone carrying the flag of “greater Albania” was flown over the stadium by Albanian nationalists, provoking violence between players on both sides.

As this incident demonstrates, the narrative that associates football with understanding between nations falls short of the mark. The fields of social science and history have dealt extensively with the topic of “football and violence.” Social psychologists have also researched the role of football in the construction of social as well as regional and national identities. However, one aspect that has gained very little attraction until now is Eric Hobsbawm’s theory that the sport of football takes on meaning in the context of the formation of the concept of the nation: „The imagined community of millions seems more real as a team of eleven named people.”

Both world wars, decolonization and the end of the Cold War have brought forth a new international order in the 20th century, the basic building block of which is the nation-state. Nation-building is a complex process that comprises both the establishment of shared cultural standards and the arbitrary creation of national identity (keyword: “invention of tradition”).

The 10th Irsee Sports Historical Conference on „Football as an Instrument of Nation-Building” will discuss, from a contemporary and global history perspective, to what extent the game of football with its mass media appeal has become a central element and instrument of nation-building.

No. 17009

17.02.2017 bis 19.02.2017

Beginn 17.00 Uhr
Ende ca. 12.00 Uhr


Free of charge


Participants are requested to organise accommodation themselves.


Home of FIFA
Fédération Internationale de Football Association
FIFA-Strasse 20
8044 Zurich


Schwabenakademie Irsee
Klosterring 4
87660 Irsee
phone 08341 906-661


Dr. Markwart Herzog
Direktor der Schwabenakademie Irsee.

Dominik J. Schaller
Universität Heidelberg.


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