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Professional football clubs and associations under pressure: COVID-19 as a precursor of structural change in European sport

In: Research Handbook on Sport and COVID-19


  • Jürgen Mittag
  • Jörg-Uwe Nieland


This paper explores whether COVID-19 has fostered structural changes in European professional football. During the crisis, the traditionally strong and largely autonomous professional football in Europe felt limited in its ability to respond to the increasingly difficult situation. In the course of the following weeks, politics and administration increasingly took the lead and left organized football little room for manuever. Associations and clubs increasingly found themselves on the defensive. Although numerous football clubs became socially involved during the lockdown phase, organized football faced a lot of criticism. In the absence of regular professional football activities, the crisis was used to reflect on football. The result is very critical and seems like a crisis of acceptance and legitimacy. This chapter analyzes from different theoretical perspectives which organizational activities and communicative strategies football organizations as well as politics, administration, and media developed and implemented during the COVID-19 crisis. The role of the media is considered particularly relevant.

Suggested Citation

  • Jürgen Mittag & Jörg-Uwe Nieland, 2022. "Professional football clubs and associations under pressure: COVID-19 as a precursor of structural change in European sport," Chapters, in: Paul M. Pedersen (ed.), Research Handbook on Sport and COVID-19, chapter 11, pages 125-137, Edward Elgar Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:elg:eechap:21289_11

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