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Parallel Myths, Popular Maps

The Europe of Soccer

Paul Dietschy, David Ranc and Albrecht Sonntag

Although history textbooks are highly revealing sources of what is considered worthy of being included in collective memory, they only tell half the story. The study of the non-official “parallel pantheons” of popular culture also contribute significantly to understanding patterns of perception and self-perception as well as mental representations of “Europe.” For more than a century, soccer, Europe's most widely shared social practice, has contributed to shaping perceptions of what can be encompassed under the term “Europe.” This article focuses on the “popular maps” of Europe that soccer has drawn over the last half-century and hints at the myths of cultural commonality that underpin them. It appears that while soccer represents a somewhat ambiguous metaphor for contemporary Europe, it can also supply interesting insights into the emergence of horizontal bonds between Europeans.

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