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Building Europe with the Ball

Turning Points in the Europeanization of Football, 1905–1995


Edited By Philippe Vonnard, Grégory Quin and Nicolas Bancel

Since 1990, football history has become increasingly important within the field of sport science, yet few studies have centred on the Europeanization of the game from the interwar period onwards. This period saw the creation of a sovereign institution dedicated to European football, the establishment of specific rules about players’ transfers and contracts and, in particular, the development of competitions.
This book examines the development of European football between 1905 and 1995 from a transnational perspective. It offers a space for discussion to both early-career and established historians from a range of different countries, leading to a better understanding of the crucial turning points in the Europeanization of the game. The volume aims to promote valuable new reflections on the role of football in the European integration process.


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Part I: The First Europeanization: A Pre-EuropeanFootball Sphere (1910s to the 1940s)


Part I The First Europeanization: A Pre-European Football Sphere (1910s to the 1940s) Paul Dietschy 1 Football during the Belle Époque: The First ‘Europe of football’ (1903–1914) Introduction In September 1903, Tous les Sports, the mouthpiece of the Union des sociétés françaises de sports athlétiques (USFSA), expressed surprise at the dearth of football in Lyon. Noting that rugby was more firmly established, the weekly publication observed that all the conditions were ripe for football to flourish there: The population of Lyon is 500,000; there are a number of Swiss residents and a small English colony, and there are young Frenchmen who have played football in England; nothing seems to be missing. Moreover, Switzerland isn’t far away, nor is Italy and we will gladly wager that it won’t be long before FC Lyon receives match invitations from FC Servette or FC Turin.1 While being very much of its time, the geopolitical sports analysis in Tous les Sports turned out to be prophetic. Its author had understood the foundations needed for the game to expand to a continental level: a city (football at the time was primarily a game played in cities, even though it had not yet become a mass spectator sport), the presence of foreigners to act as instigators, and young middle class residents who had travelled to and lived in the sport’s home country, the United Kingdom. Football was a sport founded on the movement of people (namely the players) and was already...

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