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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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Jérôme Berthoud and Stanislas Frenkiel: 9 The African Turning Point in European Football: Immigration Experiences of Cameroonian and Algerian Footballers in France during the 1980s


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9 The African Turning Point in European Football: Immigration Experiences of Cameroonian and Algerian Footballers in France during the 1980s


If the number of players sharing an African origin is now significant and relatively accepted in European football,1 it is the consequence of a story starting during the 1980s,2and part of the transformation of football in Europe. From this period, there was an increase in the number of African footballers playing for professional clubs. There were more diverse migration routes and geographical areas involved in an increasingly global football market3 and the profession of sports agent was created.4 According to the geographer Raffaele Poli, ‘between 1960 and 2005, there was a general increase in the number of footballers arriving in France that was closely linked to the relaxation of the legal restrictions that had long kept international movements of this kind at an artificially low level’.5 In the meantime, according to historian Paul Dietschy, ‘since the early 2000s, the number of African players in the European professional leagues has become huge. As of the 2002–3 season, there were 1,156 players’.6 It is therefore not surprising that the monthly Afrique Magazine in December 2004 listed 647 African footballers or players of African origin (of thirty-two different nationalities) who had been selected or were eligible for selection for an African national team, playing in Europe’s first divisions in the 2004–5...

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