The apparent globalisation and commercialisation of sport has led to much criticism from both academic and media commentators that it is no longer the People’s Game. For instance, the changing structures of ownership within top level football is characterised by the increasing of international financial investors keen to associates themselves and their businesses with globally recognised club brands, personified by teams such as Manchester United and Real Madrid. That said, most sport clubs continue to be firmly embedded within local contexts and often within close geographical proximity to traditional fan bases. Despite commercialisation, even the biggest clubs remain committed to local community development, contributing huge social value in otherwise deprived neighbourhoods and cities.
In a context where sport is embedded in multi-scalar local and global networks, which tie together a multiplicity of stakeholders from international business to a variety of local interests, binary conceptualisations of sport such as local/global or authentic/inauthentic, are no longer appropriate to interrogate the complex and dynamic relationship between the club and its communities. But what are the new terms by which we might understand the nature and implications of the interplay between football’s various codes and the communities associated with them? What is football’s place in a community and how do communities influence the game, its institutions and its cultural currency? How has the relationship between football and community changed across time and geographical spaces–and what might it look like in the future?
The project will explore these and other questions in an ongoing series of global conferences, publications, workshops and other programming formats aimed at engaging academics, practitioners, and fans in inter-, cross- and multi-disciplinary dialogues designed to foster a broader and deeper understanding of the themes and issues associated with football and communities around the world.
The Global Project on Football and Communities is a joint collaboration between Inter-Disciplinary.Net and the Manchester Metropolitan University (UK) Football Cluster, coordinated by Deirdre Hynes, Annabel Kiernan and Steve Millington.