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Global Players? Football, Migration and Globalization, c. 1930-2000

Matthew Taylor
Historical Social Research / Historische Sozialforschung
Vol. 31, No. 1 (115), Football History: International Perspectives / Fußball-Geschichte: Internationale Perspektiven (2006), pp. 7-30
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20762099
Page Count: 24
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Global Players? Football, Migration and Globalization, c. 1930-2000
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Abstract

The migration of professional footballers has become a popular subject of late. Not only has it formed the basis of a number of books and journal articles over the last ten years or so, it has also emerged as a key debating point for newspaper, radio and television journalists. Attitudes to the migration of footballers raise a number of issues relating to the political economy of top-level sport but also pose broader questions about national identity, citizenship, freedom of labour and the inclusion or exclusion of 'outsiders'. This paper summarizes some of the key writing on the subject, critically analyzing the way in which the concept of 'globalization', in particular, has been employed. It also adds a historical perspective to our understanding of the phenomenon of football player migration. At the heart of the argument are two basic contentions: first, that football migration is nothing new, but has a long and complicated history; and second, that it should not be isolated from general migratory trends and patterns. The movement of footballers from country to country and continent to continent is thus much more than the product of the current economic and power relations of world football. It reflects a complex set of linkages between specific countries, or sets of countries — linkages that often have deep social, cultural and historical roots.

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