This article reviews the history of Israeli football from 1948 to the present and argues that Israeli football is ‘made in Israel’ according to the particular historical opportunities that determine the ‘relative autonomy’ of the game in a given period. The first part deals with a period (the 1950s) in which football was subject to politics, the dominant force in Israeli society at the time. During that period, Israeli football was organized by three sports federations, each affiliated with a different political camp. The second part deals with the period from 1990 to the present, in which football clubs were privatized and players became commodities. The contrast between these two periods highlights how the political-economic milieu set effective limits on the structure and practice of Israeli football.
Amir Ben Porat
Anti-corporate, Anti-militarist and Martyrdom Masculinities
Manal Hamzeh and Heather Sykes
This article examines the masculinities of Ultras football fans during and after the January 25th Egyptian revolution, within the interlocking systems of power of neoliberalism, militarism and Islamism. The Ultras' anti-corporate masculinities were strengthened through protests against satellite TV and the Egyptian Football Association, while they also developed anti-militarist masculinities as they protested business elites, Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and Central Security Forces. The Ultras developed martyrdom masculinities due to their shock over the Port Said stadium massacre and subsequent retribution protests. The Ultras may be reiterating hegemonic masculinities operating within the same patriarchal logic of the three regimes. Their grief and shock may be limiting their self-reflexivity and capacity to build coalitions.
Three Fandom Autoethnographies
Tamar Rapoport and Efrat Noy
This article advocates autoethnography as a critical feminist methodology for using personal testimony to investigate women’s experience and performance of fandom The article’s centerpiece is an analysis of the personal testimonies of three women—researcher-fans of different ages—of a fan-owned club Hapoel Katamon Jerusalem. In addition to revealing women’s gendered-based experiences and the different ways in which women acquire and perform fandom, their personal stories prove valuable for exposing the gendered regime of the football field. Moreover, they reveal how women who are not fluent in the hegemonic language of fandom make their way in the fandom field as they seek their own voice and position in it. The analysis suggests that women’s participation can disrupt the hegemonic masculinity of fandom and challenge its established boundaries, thereby problematizing accepted definitions of the authentic fan.
Israeli Soccer, Fans, and Media Outlets
Yair Galily and Alex Nirenburg
This study traces, conceptually and historically, how the relationship between Israeli soccer, its fans, and the varied means of communications has evolved over the last century. We contend that these symbiotic relations, including their effects on soccer devotees, can be divided into four sub-epochs, each having a tremendous effect, not only on the development of soccer and media, but on other interrelated processes. Consequently, we argue that the development of soccer (association football), can be adequately understood only by presenting it in its historical context. The processes of state formation, population growth, urbanization, commercialization and, most germane for present purposes, the development of soccer-media-fan relations, are not isolated but rather interdependent, and therefore of significant importance when discussing soccer and media in the Israel context.
Football Links between the Two Yemens, 1970-1990
Thomas B. Stevenson and Abdul Karim Alaug
In the 1970s and 1980s, North and South Yemen appeared to be two states pursuing opposing, sometimes hostile, economic and political policies. Then, in 1990, they suddenly united. This article analyses sport diplomacy as an instrument in opening institutional contacts between the two governments and as a venue for conveying important socio-political and historical messages. Cross-border football contests reinforced the largely invented notion of a single Yemen derived from pre-Islamic kingdoms. This idea remains a foundation of Yemeni nationalism and a base of Yemeni national identity.
James F. Lee
Nettie Honeyball and Florence Dixie founded the British Ladies Football Club (BLFC) in 1894 with the aim to provide football-playing opportunities for girls and young women, but also as a means of making money. Theirs, in effect, was an attempt to create a professional football league for women. Public interest in 'the lady footballers' was enormous, at least in its early stages, and generated considerable attention from the press. Overall, press coverage of the BLFC was negative (football is a man's sport; football is a working-class sport; women are physically incapable of playing the game; women shouldn't appear publicly in bifurcated garments, etc.), with only a few notable exceptions. Did the stance adopted depend on the political leaning of the newspaper? Or were the reporters simply reflecting the social and economic realities of their time, struggling to 'explain' a marginal group - women athletes, or more specifically, middle-class women football players - engaging in a working-class male game? This article examines the press coverage of the BLFC. The double standard evident in the newspaper coverage was, on the surface, as one might expect: if a woman played well, she was a freak, possibly a man in disguise; if she didn't play well, it proved that women shouldn't play football. But on closer examination, the double standard was actually rather nuanced: if she played well and looked the part of a woman, she could be subject to praise; yet if she played well and didn't conform to the standard of feminine beauty, she faced ridicule, and her gender called into question.
Nicola Porro and Pippo Russo
Italian football officially entered into a phase of permanent crisis in
the summers of 2002 and 2003. The benefits of the “20-year boom”—
which began with the World Cup victory in Spain in 1982 and was
followed by the success of club sides in international play, after meager
results in the 1970s—have been exhausted, resulting in unprecedented
political and economic hardship for Italy’s most important
sport. Recent managerial folly, with clubs spending much beyond
their means, has been followed by an ebb tide of adversity, characterized
by institutional wreckage and an adventurous search for a
new equilibrium. With no solution in sight, the current situation does
not bode well. A marked tendency to protect particular interests, the
emergence of latent internal divisions, the daily delegitimation of
institutional actors, an apparently insurmountable difficulty in realizing
a mature market structure, the incapacity to renew the managerial
elite, and pockets of shady deals creeping into the structures
charged with overseeing the legality and economic-administrative
propriety within the game—these are just a few of the ills that are
troubling the game in Italy.
Modern sport was born at the same time as modern mobility. Sport became one of the biggest promotional tools, first through cycle competitions, then car races. First intended for the wealthy, motor sports soon invited the middle classes to enter into a culture of freedom and social advancement which accompanied new forms of mobility. However, the links between sport and mobility are not restricted to motor sport or publicity. Indeed modern sport is a child of modern mobility, and just as the spread of new forms of mobility played a fundamental role in the passage from rural to urban societies, the transport revolution accelerated the decline of the traditional games and made possible the invention of contemporary sport and of global sports culture and space.
The Westernization of Israeli Football in the Early Twenty-First Century
This article discusses the transformations in Israeli football over the last two decades, exploring the top-down and bottom-up motivations present in local football and characterizing foreign practices as more Western, or even more ‘civilized’, as Norbert Elias would describe it. Yet, the transformations of English and European football over the last three decades suggest that ‘Western’ is not so much a geographic term as it is a political, moral, and social status, one requiring English, European, and Israeli football to make dedicated political and cultural investments in numerous arenas.
Male West African Youth
Christian Ungruhe and James Esson
This article examines the present-day perception among boys and young men in West Africa that migration through football offers a way of achieving social standing and improving their life chances. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork among footballers in urban southern Ghana between 2010 and 2016, we argue that young people’s efforts to make it abroad and “become a somebody” through football is not merely an individual fantasy; it is rather a social negotiation of hope to overcome widespread social immobility in the region. It is this collective practice among a large cohort of young males—realistic or not—which qualifies conceptualizations of youth transitions such as waithood that dominate academic understanding of African youth today.