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Globalised sports in a historical perspective


  • Christer Ericsson

    (School of Health and Medical Sciences, Orebro University)

  • Bjorn Horgby

    (School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences, Orebro University)


The great interest in Asia for European, male football is an expression of globalised sports. Here globalisation and processes of globalisation stands for the economical, social and cultural processes, which link and affect globally. Global capitalism created a world hegemony. As a consequence the hegemonic power of the western world (including Japan) until now will be the norm of interpretation. A precondition for the development of globalised sports as an industry of entertainment is the developing of a global infrastructure - especially in the shape of cable and satellite television. This infra structure, developed in the 80s and 90s, made it possible to worldwide watching of Olympic games, European Championships and World Championships in male football. The expansion of media played an important role for especially European football being global. The heavy interest was capitalized in the rights of broadcasting, which rapidly became substantial costly as the requests on the market grew. Global attention made well-known athletics as the British footballer David Beckham becoming symbols of public relations twinning sports, entertainment and advertising in their brand names. Also the leading football clubs (or entertainment enterprises) as Manchester United and Barcelona became actors on a global commercial market. The season 1992/93 the Champions League became a formidable success. On the expanding broadcasting market the prime European football soon became a global matter. The combination of TV-rights and the logic of competition and success resulted in strengthening of the already economically strong clubs, which made them even more successful both sporting and economically. The broadcasting rights play an important role in the formation of the leading clubs as profitdriven companies. Financially strong interests of owners now compete of purchasing clubs in the British Premier League. Another consequence of the global infra structure were the effects on the conditions of the labour market of sports. The new economical preconditions created assumptions for them to buy the best players on the market. The direction of the mobility from the economical periphery to the economical centre implies that the players move to Western Europe and the leading leagues there. The processes of globalisation got many cultural consequences. Traditionalistic reactions in the Western World resulted in growing national and specific local identities. Sports are important fields for the interpretation of these identities. The use of national symbols connected to sports has been more common. Firsthand supporting the national team has become more common. The interest from media has increast distinctly. The national celebration of the successes has increased - especially in the form of celebrating the heroes in a carnivalesque way. The local identities are mostly expressed as the cultures of supporters. Hooliganism is an extreme form of this, which heavily has affected European male football. Hooliganism is a social problem, but when comes to the audience's behaviour it is a relative marginal phenomenon. Historically the male football interpreted class and local identities. As a result of this processes the audience was considered as an uncontrolled mass, which express community, carnival and ritual with tifon's, supporting chants and songs. Hooliganism has existed all through the football's history, as one undercurrent. It got increased attention after England's victory in the World Championships of 1966. As a consequence of the mediated interest modern British style of football hooliganism in 1971 came to Sweden. In the 90s the problem grew, when the hooligan firms expanded. But, the historical perspective shows that the western problem with hooliganism is old and cannot be distinguished from the practice of football. The violent European fans treat the British hooligans as role-models, which inspired them and told them how to develop their own culture. The hooligans also are inspired by the increasing media coverage of football related violence.

Suggested Citation

  • Christer Ericsson & Bjorn Horgby, 2010. "Globalised sports in a historical perspective," CIRJE F-Series CIRJE-F-772, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.
  • Handle: RePEc:tky:fseres:2010cf772

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