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30 years ago – European football’s major lieu de mémoire

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It has been sixty years between the idea to create a truly pan-European competition for football clubs and the Champions League final in Berlin between Barcelona and Juventus next week. But it has not been a linear evolution from the first tournament launched with sixteen clubs handpicked by the journalists from L’Equipe and today’s huge […]

Too good not to be true

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  Just in case you don’t know what to do over Christmas, you can still book the ‘Christmas Truce Centenary Tour’ from 23 to 27 December sold by the Edinburgh-based tour operators Mercat Tours. The programme includes of course a football match on the Flanders fields where the famous Christmas Truce matches between British and […]

Four days that changed Europe

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Monday 13 December 1954 : An Anglo-Hungarian summit Sixty years ago, on 13 December 1954, the English champion Wolverhampton Wanderers welcomed the great Honved Budapest for a friendly at Molineux stadium. For teams from Eastern Europe, such matches were an opportunity to generate some revenues (though as stressful one given they travelled back on train […]

Fake neutrality

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For better or for worse, sport, politics and big business are closely linked. Nowhere is this more apparent than around  sport mega-events, where political and economic agendas are omnipresent. Between Sochi and Rio de Janeiro, the year 2014 has again provided ample illustration for how the immense social reach of sport is instrumentalised for global […]

Fair competition and legitimacy

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  Like many team sports football is essentially competitive. Even among friends the game provides more pleasure if played with the aim of winning. But each competition needs rules that are perceived as just. Nothing is as likely to kill the interest of the game than the perception that there is no level playing field […]

The good old Panzer stereotype

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Football has always been a major producer of stereotypes. The invention of ‘national playing styles’ at the beginning of 20th century drew, inevitably, massively on extra-sportive stereotypes accumulated over the centuries and safely stored in national narratives of perception and self-perception. The fact that for over a century, football discourse has been produced (and endlessly […]

Coronation Day

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Watched by approximately 180 million viewers, the (Men’s) Champions League final on Saturday will be once again the annual sports event most followed across the continent and worldwide. It is ‘coronation day’ for the new European football monarch and it seems therefore perfectly appropriate that the ‘anointment’, as each single Champions League evening for over […]

Business as usual

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While European political leaders are trying to find suitable responses to Russia’s quiet annexion of Crimea, going so far as to cancel the planned G8 meeting in Sochi, European football leaders carry on business as usual. In living rooms all across the continent this week’s broadcasts of the Champions League quarter finals will be opened […]

Populist own goals

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  On 9 February, a small majority of Swiss voted in favour of taking measures to ‘curb mass immigration’. For a country whose economy and public services rely heavily on immigration, this was an astonishing sign of abandoning common sense and rational thinking to emotional fear-mongering by the leaders of the nationalist SVP. It’s what […]

Model Bavaria

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  The most impressive ‘permanent representation’ to the European Union in Brussels is not the French, British of German one, but that of a region: Bavaria. The beautiful ‘château’ just some meters from the European Parliament has been considered megalomaniac by some observers, but is calmly defended by its inhabitants as an excellent real estate […]

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