Soccer is the most popular mass spectator sport in the world, gaining huge media coverage and reaching all levels of society in countries all around the world. More than just entertainment, soccer has proved to be a reflection of national, cultural, community and ethnic identity as well as an indication of the development and international status of post-colonial nation states. For those nations still at the fringes of the modern global game, soccer represents a vision of potential commercialisation, capable of generating foreign reserves and bringing in considerable economic power.
This book explores aspects of the development of soccer in countries which have recently been marginalised in world soccer or have only erratic success on the international stage. These fringe nations include a greater part of Africa, the USA, Australia, Israel, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Burma, Indonesia, Thailand, Maldives and Sri Lanka, and while these countries are rarely noticed by the global football media, they nonetheless have great potential to excel, and many have a rich soccer heritage that still holds a place of central importance in the every day life of the people.
This book was previously published as a special issue of Soccer and Society.
Over the last two decades soccer has become a major institution within the popular culture of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel. They have attained disproportionate success in this field. Given their marginalization from many areas of Israeli society as well as the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, such a prominent Arab presence highlights the tension between their Israeli citizenship and their belonging to the Palestinian people. Bringing together sociological, anthropological and historical approaches, Sorek examines how soccer can potentially be utilized by ethnic and national minorities as a field of social protest, a stage for demonstrating distinctive identity, or as a channel for social and political integration. Relying on a rich combination of quantitative and qualitative methods, he argues that equality in the soccer sphere legitimizes contemporary inequality between Jews and Arabs in Israel and pursues wider arguments about the role of sport in ethno-national conflicts. Ideal for researchers and graduate students.