Few cultural activities speak more powerfully to international histories of the modern world than football. In the late nineteenth century, this cheap and simple sport emerged as a major legacy of Britain’s formal and informal empires and spread quickly across Europe, South America, and Africa. More slowly and hesitantly, it made inroads into the sports cultures of North America and Australasia. Today, football (known to many as soccer) is arguably the world’s most popular pastime, an activity played and watched by millions of people around the globe. It has also become the focus of a rich and diverse body of scholarly research.
Contested Fields introduces readers to key aspects of the global game, synthesizing research on football’s transnational role in reflecting and shaping political, socio-economic, and cultural developments over the past 150 years. Each chapter uses case studies and cutting-edge scholarship to analyze an important element of football’s international story: migration, money, competition, gender, race, space, spectatorship, and confrontation.