Racisms and the Experiences of Minorities in Amateur Football in the UK and Europe

Authored by: Steven Bradbury

Routledge Handbook of Leisure Studies

Print publication date:  April  2013
Online publication date:  July  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415697170
eBook ISBN: 9780203140505
Adobe ISBN: 9781136495595

10.4324/9780203140505.ch19

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Abstract

Since the early 1990s there has been a steadily growing body of academic research which has focused on issues of racism in professional football in the UK and Europe. What distinguishes the approach developed in this chapter is its focus on the previously under-researched area of racism and minority experiences in amateur football. Around 21 million people are registered to take part in organized amateur football in the UK and Europe and a further 40 million people are estimated to play football recreationally without being registered at amateur clubs. To this end, amateur football can be understood to be a prominent leisure activity for a significant percentage of the populations of Europe, including large numbers drawn from minority backgrounds. This is important, since, as Carrington points out, football, in common with many other sports, ‘remains a critical site for the reproduction and re-articulation of forms of racial knowledge and common-sense and is an important location in the contested struggles over ideology, politics and identity’ (Carrington, 2010: 175). From this inherently sociological perspective, sporting practice does not take place in a social, cultural or political vacuum, but, rather, it is reflective of and reflects back upon a series of historically inscribed and deeply racialized power relations embedded within the societies in which it takes place. Further, the development, organization and practice of sport can be understood as a distinctly racial formation within which a series of dominant social, economic and political forces have shaped the content and importance of racial meanings and categories. To this end, sport is both receptive to and productive of racial meanings and, through the lens of sport, social relations between peoples have become structured by the signification of human biological and cultural characteristics in such a way as to define and construct differential social collectivities along distinctly racial, ethnic and cultural lines.

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