Abstracts and bios

(in alphabetical order)

Blagojevic, Blanka

Talk: “The Beautiful and the Grim: British Cultural Discourses of the Eastern European Game


Abstract: Within the past two decades travel narratives related to sporting tourism have been on the rise resulting in the publication of dozens of narratives, many of them focusing on soccer, but they have not spurred an equally multifarious critical response yet. Simon Kuper’s Football Against the Enemy (1994) and Jonathan Wilson’s Behind the Curtain: Travels in Eastern European Football (2006) present examples of a travel book subgenre which mixes travel book style with the sports journalism optic. While Wilson’s narrative is topically situated in Eastern Europe in its entirety, Kuper’s text provides a much wider view of world soccer with Eastern European countries presenting only a portion of the book.

As a mode of representation, tourism and travel are motivated by the encounter with the different and extraordinary (Bonadei and Frediani 2007). The sporting travel narratives or “football book[s]” do fulfill travel book readership’s expectations in that they offer a substantial amount of exotic detail (Smith 2004). They also predictably emphasize and confirm the pervasive trope of soccer as a substitute for war – “a way to hate each other without hacking each other to pieces” (Auster 2001). Furthermore, they venture to touch on the themes of soccer as a symbol of global inequality, globalization, and political rivalry and the stereotype of Eastern European nations and clubs as heavily influenced by local mafias and state corruption.

Despite the presence of these staple themes, I argue that in their rhetorical trajectories between negation and aestheticization, Kuper’s and Wilson’s narratives offer more than just a stereotypical perspective on Eastern Europe and its soccer traditions (Spurr 1993). Both narratives manage to dismantle the often monolithic representations of Eastern European spaces and cultures by offering, at times anecdotal yet telling, insights into the intricacies of and differences between Eastern European soccer cultures.

This paper sets out to scrutinize both books’ depictions of Eastern European spaces and inhabitants through the soccer lens and test it against the standard repertoire of orientalist topoi and strategies of othering of Eastern Europe through the Cold War rhetoric traditionally related to the European East as one of the ‘Easts’ where these rhetorical figures apply.


Auster, Paul. “The Best Substitute for War”. Conjunctions 37 (2001): 355-358.

Beller, Manfred and Joep Leerssen, eds. Imagology: The Cultural Construction and Literary Representation of National Characters. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2007. 

Kuper, Simon. Football Against the Enemy. 1994. London: Orion, 1996.

Smith, Karen. Rev. of Football Against the Enemy by Simon Kuper. Third World Quarterly 25.7 (2004): 1339-1343.

Spurr, David. The Rhetoric of Empire: Colonial Discourse in Journalism, Travel Writing, and Imperial Administration. Durham: Duke University Press, 1993.

Wilson, Jonathan. Behind The Curtain: Travels in Eastern European Football. London: Orion, 2006.


Bio: Blanka Blagojevic holds a B.A. degree in English Language and Literature from the University of Belgrade, Serbia, and an M.A. degree in English Languages and Literatures from the University of Berne, Switzerland. In 2014, she started her doctoral thesis as a part of the "British Literary and Cultural Discourses of Europe" research project at the University of Basel, supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation. Her thesis, under the supervision of Professor Ina Habermann, examines British literary and cultural representations of Eastern Europe from the interwar period until today. Her research interests span British and Anglo-American literatures, particularly British and North American travel narratives and British, Anglo-American, and African-American poetry from the 19th to the 21st century. 

Chovanec, Jan

Talk: “Multimodal Rhetoric of Football on the Front Pages of British Newspapers”

Abstract: Despite the recent wealth of research on diverse social and cultural aspects of football in modern society, relatively little attention has been paid to the role of football news in daily newspapers. Based on data obtained from British newspapers at the time of several major international football competitions, the presentation analyzes the interplay between the verbal and the visual modes on the front pages and sports pages of popular as well as broadsheet papers.

     Adopting the approach of multimodal discourse analysis and pragmatics (O’Halloran et al. 2014), the paper probes text-image relations in stand-alone articles, i.e., image-nuclear news stories (Bednarek and Caple 2012) that have a dominant visual element. Arguably, this approach offers a more comprehensive view of media texts than discourse analysis, which has traditionally centered on language form. As complex semiotic communicative acts, stand-alone articles on football appear to have several distinct characteristics, with visual material having other functions than just documenting the sports event. Many visuals contain elements of humor, allusion, and visual metaphor, with all of these drawing heavily on national culture and myth (cf. Bishop and Jaworski 2003). The visual rhetoric is thus inextricably linked to the verbal component, particularly in headlines.

     The analysis of football stand-alone articles in the British press indicates that in addition to the verbal poetics of sports headlines (in the Jakobsonian sense of a focus on form), we may need to pay a more systematic attention to the visual poetics of photographs (and other visual material). The combined focus will thus help us to understand the current role of the multimodal rhetoric and aesthetics of football in modern papers, particularly during the run-up to major international events.


Bednarek, Monika and Helen Caple. News Discourse. London: Continuum, 2012.

Bishop, Hywel and Adam Jaworski. “‘We beat’em’: Nationalism and the Hegemony of Homogeneity in the British Press Reportage of Germany versus England during EURO 2000.” Discourse & Society 14.3 (2003): 243–271.

O’Halloran, Kay L., Sabine Tan, and Marissa K.L.E. “Multimodal Pragmatics.” Pragmatics of Discourse. Ed. Klaus P. Schneider and Anne Barron. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2014.




Critchley, Simon

Talk: “Jürgen Klopp’s Heideggerianism”


Bio: Simon Critchley is Hans Jonas Professor at the New School for Social Research. His books include Very Little...Almost Nothing, Infinitely Demanding, The Book of Dead Philosophers and The Faith of the Faithless. He recently published his first novel, Memory Theatre, and Notes on Suicide. He runs 'The Stone', a philosophy column in The New York Times and is 50% of an obscure musical combo called Critchley & Simmons.



Dankel, Philipp

Talk: “More than Style and Entertainment—The Formation of Grammatical Constructions in Latin-American Live Radio Soccer Commentary”

Abstract: Narrating soccer games on live radio broadcast has an 80-year-old tradition in Latin America. Soon after its start, this practice was actively developed from an information format into an entertainment format. Famous narrators like Victor Hugo Morales shaped the genre with their unique style. The popularity of the format leads to competition amongst the radio stations and their narrators that brings about linguistic innovation on various levels. The pressure for innovation combined with the basic parameters (derived from the intermediation of a visual experience by means of language and voice) of this well delimitable communicative genre offers the perfect conditions to investigate the formation and sedimentation of new linguistic constructions as claimed by theories of usage based grammar.

     The goal of this contribution is therefore to investigate the role of communicative genres for the emergence of new grammatical constructions. Based on theoretical approaches such as Construction Grammar and Emergent Grammar, it analyzes a corpus of eleven hours of Latin-American live radio soccer commentary. After delimiting four basic construction types, the analysis focuses on one exemplary construction, the projector construction pelota que+VP, which can be described as a new, autonomous grammatical unit in the sense of CxG.

     The results of the study show that the usage of linguistic structure in soccer commentary is bound to the specific conditions of the genre. This brings about new grammatical constructions. The discussion of these results concludes that communicative genres can be fertile grounds and even catalysts for linguistic innovation. However, for the investigated constructions a spread across the boundaries of the genre is expected to be marginal. Nevertheless, this contribution confirms emergentist ideas of the formation of linguistic structure in subsystems based on their repeated success in specific usage events. Therefore we can speak—at least partly—of a specific grammar of radio soccer commentary.


Bio: Philipp Dankel studied Intercultural European and American Studies (BA) in Halle an der Saale and holds an MA in Romance Linguistics from the University of Freiburg i.Br. He did his PhD in the DFG Research Training Group Frequency Effects in Language in Freiburg on the grammaticalization of evidentiality in Andean Spanish. At the moment he is working as a Postdoctoral Teaching and Research Fellow at the University of Basel. His research focuses on language contact and the grammar of spoken language.



Evren, Can

Talk: “Going ‘Away’ Going Astray: Away Game Travel and the Aesthetics of Derailment”

Abstract: This paper explores a new and popular genre of YouTube videos produced by soccer fans in Turkey. The videos in question are about away game travels: bus rides shared by groups of male fans traveling to nearby or distant cities following the supported team playing away from home. Mostly recorded by smartphones and shared via YouTube, these away travel videos have become viral means through which young and lower class men, fans and non-fans alike, collectively express emotional narratives about the dilemmas of lower class masculinity. The paper attempts to show how the videos consciously or unconsciously forge narrative and visual analogies between traveling away to support the team, and social exclusion and derailment. It explores how the videos express less about attachment to the teams than introspective stories about the emotional state of away-going fans. Away game travel becomes more than a loyal act of supporting the team: instead, it becomes a morally charged trope condensing the fundamental contradictions of manhood. Ultimately, the travel is represented as a sublime escape from the contradictions of a stigmatizing social life towards an indefinite “going away” as well as “going astray.” Such derailment is emphasized by contradictory images and confessions of alcohol and marijuana consumption on the one hand and pious references to Muslim cosmology on the other. Videos are replete with expressions of sinfulness and repentance for “ending up” as away-going fans yet present it as the only way out from a stigmatizing social environment. In analyzing the aesthetics of these away travel videos, the paper aims to decenter the image of fandom as primarily motivated by obsessive attachment and association with a beloved object (the team). Instead, I suggest that detachment, dissociation, and displacement are foundational tropes of fandom in Turkey today.



Haxall, Daniel

Talk: “Visualizing the Global Game: The Politics of Soccer in Contemporary Art”

Abstract: The sport of soccer has long been celebrated as “the beautiful game,” a reference to its artistry and aesthetic appeal. Indeed, the rich culture surrounding soccer includes tifos, kit designs, and the style of play itself. This visual quality also includes the fine arts, with the world’s most popular sport recurring as a subject in art since the nineteenth century. More recently, contemporary artists have utilized the game’s iconographic potential to contest the globalizing impact of soccer, ranging from international marketing and economic imperialism to the loss of cultural traditions. Where some challenge the sport’s homogenizing effect and commercial excess, others depict the local allegiances and regional identities fostered by the game. As such, today’s artists elucidate, in visual terms, the complexities and limitations of mass sport, namely soccer’s consequences for culture and society.

The vast popularity of soccer renders it a powerful trope for engaging the politics of globalization. In portraits of soccer stars commissioned by PUMA, African-American painter

Kehinde Wiley juxtaposes traditional African design with politically historicized representations of the African body. Likewise, Moroccan artist Hassan Hajjaj and the Czech group Pode-Bal juxtapose the logos of sportswear manufacturers Nike and Adidas with burkas and other attire evocative of Islamic and Arab cultures, representing the intersection of consumption and tradition that occurs via soccer and its branded empires. The global impact of football, particularly the exploitation of Africa for consumers and athletes, recurs in the installations of Romauld Hazoumè from Benin, while Ghanaian George Afedzi Hughes equates the proliferation of the English Premier League to colonialism and Western intervention. The financial implications of soccer’s global reach extends into the political realm, with Michael Shultis creating fictional matches between his native United States and their rivals China, Iraq, and Mexico, questioning America’s immigration policies, capitalist imperialism, and footballing aspirations in the process.


Bio: Daniel Haxall is Associate Professor of Art History at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania. A former fellow at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, he previously taught at the University at Buffalo and Pennsylvania State University. Haxall publishes widely on contemporary art, including collage, Abstract Expressionism, installation art, and the African diaspora. His research on soccer in contemporary art appears in Soccer & Society and two forthcoming Palgrave Macmillan collections, with lectures at the National Football Museum, Hofstra University, and College Art Association, among other venues. Haxall is currently editing a volume of essays, Picturing the Beautiful Game: Soccer and Visual Culture.



Hochbruck, Wolfgang & Philipp Züfle

Talk: “Questionable Aesthetics: Soccer, Rugby, and the Question of Fair Play”

Abstract: “Rugby is a game for barbarians, which is played by gentlemen. Football is a game for gentlemen played by barbarians.” This quote, which is sometimes attributed to Oscar Wilde, summarizes some of the essential differences between the two games, both in terms of their aesthetics, and in terms of the attitudes of the respective players.

In my paper, I will first return to the origins of the Wildean quotation in the spirit of the waning Victorian/Georgian period and the ideal of the English gentleman, but then in a second step try to address some of the further implications of this statement. How does it reflect on the situation of playing soccer football vs. rugby in certain colonial/postcolonial environments? And what does it say about them as, for instance, school sports?

In terms of theory, I will attempt a transfer of the approach Leon de Kock uses in “South Africa in the Global Imagination” (Poetics Today, 2001): integrating the games into a coherent system while leaving the “seams” visible.


Bios: Wolfgang Hochbruck is Professor of North American Philology and Cultural Studies at the Albert-Ludwigs University in Freiburg. He has published on a variety of subjects including Native American Studies, American and Canadian Literature, the American Civil War, and Security Studies. He is a former rugby player.

Philipp Züfle studied to become a teacher at the Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg. He graduated in English and Sports and will be doing his "Referendariat" in January 2017. He has a soccer trainer certification and has coached youth teams in Germany and Scotland. In Scotland he also played in the Scottish Third Division that included Glasgow Rangers FC at the time. Currently he is playing for the German Oberliga team Freiburger FC.




Hoffmann, Thomas

Talk: “Football Chants as Multimodal Constructions”

Abstract: When Northern Ireland was beating Spain in a friendly match in 2009, the Irish fans sang “Are you England, are you England, are you England in disguise, are you England in disguise.” Frequently, when winning, Arsenal fans sing “Are you Tottenham,…”—although they are playing against another team. In fact, many English football clubs have similar versions of the same chant. From a cognitive linguistic point of view, these various Are-you-X-in-disguise chants can be argued to give rise to a schematic constructional template such as (1):


(1) FORM:       [ɑː juː [FOOTBALL TEAM]1


ɑː juː [FOOTBALL TEAM]1 ɪn dɪsɡaɪz,

ɑː juː [FOOTBALL TEAM]1 ɪn dɪsɡaɪz]chant

MEANING: “our current opponent play like X1 and X1 is a crap football team”


The form part has the fixed elements [ɑː juː] and [ɪn dɪsɡaɪz] as well as a slot for the name of a football team that is repeated four times. Another property of the construction’s form, not shown in (1), is that it has a fixed tune associated with it (the religious hymn “Cwm Rhondda,” or “Bread of Heaven”; Shaw 2010: 7). Interestingly, as indexed on the meaning level of the construction, the football team that is inserted in the schematic slot is not the name of the current opponent. Drawing on a large on-line collection of British football chants (www.footballchants.org) as well as YouTube clips, I will present a multi-modal construction grammar analysis (Steen and Turner 2013) that provides a cognitive analysis of the rhythmic, metric as well as situational-contextual, social factors (cf. Kopiez and Brink 1999) that constrain the use of these template-based chants. As I will argue, this constructionist analysis not only provides an adequate analysis of football chants, but also yields important insights into the general cognitive grammatical system of speakers (as summarized in Hoffmann and Trousdale 2013; Hoffmann 2015).


Hoffmann, Thomas and Graeme Trousdale. “Construction Grammar: Introduction.” The Oxford Handbook of Construction Grammar. Ed. G. Trousdale and Th. Hoffmann. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013. 1-12.

Hoffmann, Thomas. “Cognitive Sociolinguistic Aspects of Football Chants: The Role of Social and Physical Context in Usage-based Construction Grammar.” Zeitschrift für Anglistik und Amerikanistik 63.3 (2015): 273-294.

Kopiez, Reinhard and Guido Brink. Fussball-Fangesänge: Eine Fanomenologie. Würzburg: Könighausen & Neumann, 1999.

Morris, Desmond. The Soccer Tribe. London: Jonathan Cape, 1981.

Shaw, Alex. Shall We Sing a Song for You? The Good, the Bad and the Downright Offensive—Britain’s Favourite Football Chants. London: John Blake, 2010.

Steen, Francis and Mark Turner. “Multimodal Construction Grammar.” Language and the Creative Mind. Ed. Michael Borkent, Barbara Dancygier, and Jennifer Hinnell. Stanford: CSLI Publications, 2013.


Bio: Prof. Dr. Thomas Hoffmann is Chair of the English Language and Linguistics section at the Catholic University Eichstätt-Ingolstadt. His main research interests are usage-based Construction Grammar, cognitive sociolinguistics, synchronic syntactic variation, and World Englishes. He has published articles in international journals such as Cognitive Linguistics, English World-Wide, and Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory, and his monograph Preposition Placement in English (2011) was published by Cambridge University Press. On top of that, he is also editor-in-chief of the open access on-line journal Constructions. Most recently he started exploring football chants as (multi-modal) form-meaning pairings, i.e. constructions.



Kadlac, Adam

Talk: “Appreciating the Not-Obviously-Beautiful Game”

Abstract: Beauty is not the first thing that comes to mind when we think of youth soccer. Anyone who has watched young children play the game is familiar with the sight of kids clustered around the ball, kicking furiously in the hopes that they might emerge from the pack and make a break for goal. However, as children progress, they improve their spacing on the pitch as well as their skills with the ball, and as a result, the game they play begins to more closely resemble soccer as it is played at higher levels of competition. It is, therefore, tempting to regard only those fleeting moments of resemblance as instances of genuine beauty in what is otherwise a decidedly unattractive endeavor.

Without denying this aspirational facet of the youth game, I want to examine some of the other ways in which youth soccer can be beautiful—ways which do not depend on its relationship to the aesthetic exemplars of the game. For my contention is that there are narrative facets of sport that heavily influence our perceptions of beauty. Thus, when a player of minimal skill who has never scored a goal finally breaks through, the event is beautiful, even if the player involved exhibits very little technical ability. It may not look anything like the classically beautiful goals scored by the greats of the game. Nevertheless, the story of that player’s efforts throughout the season make it an aesthetically pleasing moment.

While my focus is on the ways in which this kind of beauty is manifested in youth soccer, I think the basic idea applies to higher levels of soccer, other sports, as well as aspects of life that have nothing at all to do with sports. I therefore conclude by exploring some of these possible applications.


Bio: Adam Kadlac is Associate Teaching Professor of Philosophy at Wake Forest University where he teaches (among other things) a class on sports and society. He works broadly in ethics and political philosophy and has published papers in Philosophical Studies, Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, Social Theory and Practice, Public Affairs Quarterly, and the Southern Journal of Philosophy. A supporter of Tottenham Hotspur and Columbus Crew SC, he coaches a U12 youth team that he hopes will eventually learn to play beautiful soccer.   



Kattekola, Lara V.

Talk: “The Illusion of Inclusion: Football, National Identity, and Cultural Difference in Gurinder Chadha’s Bend it Like Beckham

Abstract: Ostensibly, a “feel-good” film involving a British-Asian girl’s rise to football success despite cultural/patriarchal limitations, the film’s narrative surface belies a complex undercurrent of uneasy questions involving the racialized other’s inclusion into the nation. I read Chadha’s use of football as a strategic narrative device that functions as a metaphor for the nation. Specifically, I argue that the protagonist’s inclusion into an English girls’ football team suggests white England’s superficial acceptance of the racialized other whose football prowess is celebrated but whose cultural difference is neglected when she experiences racism in the game.

I also discuss the film’s dual bildungsroman form, which illustrates the similarity and difference at play in the representation of the protagonist’s conditional inclusion into the nation as compared to that of her white teammate who suffers no racial oppression and who remains ignorant of the protagonist’s cultural difference.

Additionally, through discussing and showing several scenes from the film, I explore how cinematic strategies complement my interpretation. I focus on the cinematography and mise-en-scène of the opening “daydream” sequence that humorously underscores what I call the “illusion of inclusion,” which demonstrates the ignorance of cultural difference by the famous football commenters and former players who appear in the sequence as “representatives” of a unified, hegemonic nation.

Lastly, in exploring the film’s frequent airplane imagery and referring to the protagonist’s (and her teammate’s) ultimate departure from England in pursuit of football opportunities outside the nation, I argue that hegemonic promotions calling for unwavering loyalty to the nation are untenable in the face of an ever-increasingly globalized world.


Bio: Lara V. Kattekola is Assistant Professor of English at LaGuardia Community College of the City University of New York. Lara’s doctoral dissertation, The Politics of Friendship and the Politics of Multiculturalism, juxtaposes British novels of empire set in India with recent British-Asian narratives and explores how interracial friendships in these texts echo larger race relations and demonstrate the limited potential of multiculturalist discourses to catalyze progressive change. More recently, Lara focuses on sports and national identity.



Kilpatrick, David

Talk: “The Messianic Manager in Novels by David Peace”

Abstract: Sporting objectives often emphasize results at the expense of style and technique. If faced with the choice of playing well or simply winning, many if not most might well opt for the latter. Jonathan Wilson shows in Inverting the Pyramid (Orion, 2008) how the history of association football tactics may be understood as a dialectic between “two interlinked tensions: aesthetics versus results on the one side and technique versus physique on the other” (6). While this is a matter of how players play, their manner of play is determined by their manager, and in The Manager (Sphere, 2009), his history of the role in English football, Barney Ronay identifies the messianic manager as a leading archetype in the sport’s ongoing narrative.

In two hagiographic novels by David Peace, managers Brian Clough and Bill Shankly are missionaries of the Beautiful Game, striving desperately as puritanical martyrs of reform protesting the crass utility of anti-football. In both The Damned Utd (Faber & Faber, 2006) and Red or Dead (Faber & Faber, 2013) Peace’s protagonists defend the virtues of creativity borne from technical prowess while Don Revie is cast as the archvillain set upon winning through aggressivity and calculated deception. The essential goodness of both Clough and Shankly is rooted in their unshakeable belief in their purified vision of the Beautiful Game, how it should be played and the quest to secure glorious victory by vanquishing those that would promote anti-football. Crusaders for beauty, not only winning but winning well is the supreme virtue. This paper will explore the archetypal figure of the messianic manager as a martyr for the Beautiful Game in these novels, promoting an aesthetic ideal of how to play the game.


Bio: David Kilpatrick is Chair of the Department of Literature and Language at Mercy College and Club Historian of The New York Cosmos. He earned his PhD in Comparative Literature and MA in Philosophy at Binghamton University and his areas of specialization are modernism, the theory of criticism, and sport studies. The author of Obrigado: A Futebol Epic and a member of the editorial board of Soccer & Society (Routledge), he has written on soccer for The New York Times and The Journal of Sport History and appears on the recently released documentary film, A Bridge to Cuba



Kioussis, George N. & Chris Bolsmann

Talk: “Recycling Steel: Bethlehem Soccer and the Reinvention of Tradition”

Abstract: On 19 August 2015, the Philadelphia Union of Major League Soccer announced plans to sponsor an expansion side in the second-tier United Soccer League. Two months later, more than one hundred people filed into the historic Bethlehem Steel plant in eastern Pennsylvania for the new club’s unveiling. Against the backdrop of towering furnaces that evoked the region’s golden industrial past, Union representatives heralded the return of Bethlehem Steel FC. Under the banner “forged in tradition, built for the future,” Steel were introduced as a modern-day iteration of the early twentieth-century outfit that bore the same name. “We love it,” noted one Philadelphia supporter, perhaps recalling Steel’s record five U.S. Open Cup titles. “We were hoping they would link the Union and Bethlehem Steel together, and they did.”

Drawing upon E.J. Hobsbawm and T.O. Ranger’s concept of “invented traditions,” this paper explores the curious nexus between past and present in BSFC’s (re)branding. More specifically, it focuses on the club’s use of colors and symbols, which were, in the words of one executive, the product of “thoughtful deliberation and planning.” The paper argues that the I-beam, rivets, and Gadsden flag imagery adorning the new BSFC crest simultaneously pay homage to and obscure the club’s origins. It then situates the “recycling of Steel” within its broader historical context, paying attention to the a) shift away from 1970s North American Soccer League kitsch to a tried-and-tested European aesthetic, b) efforts to grow the Union’s regional presence—and, by extension, revenue opportunities—through the use of BSFC culture, and c) budding interest in discovering the United States’ footballing past. It concludes by examining the implications for future club branding, given the expansion ambitions of MLS.



Blockus, Gary R. “The ‘Steel,’ Soccer-style.” Allentown (PA) Morning Call. October 28, 2015.

“Fans Vote for Bethlehem Steel to Return to Lehigh Valley.” Philadelphia Union. October 27, 2015.



Bios: George N. Kioussis is a historian with a research interest in the globalization and politicization of sport. In 2015, he received his PhD from the University of Texas at Austin, where his dissertation reexamined the idea of American exceptionalism through the lens of the United States Soccer Football Association. He received his MA from Northwestern University and his BA from the Ohio State University. He is currently developing his research on U.S. soccer, dealing extensively with USSF and FIFA archival materials. His work on American athletic diplomacy was recently published in the Journal of Sport History.

Chris Bolsmann is a South African sociologist with a research interest in the social history of sport. He received his PhD in sociology from the University of Warwick in 2006. He completed his MA and BA at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. He has taught at the university level in South Africa, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Among his publications are two edited collections on African football. He is currently working on two book projects: the first on the Corinthian Football Club and the second on identity and soccer in apartheid South Africa.



Lavric, Eva

Talk: “Multilingualism in Football Teams”

Abstract: International football teams can be seen as complex linguistic ecosystems in which players and coaches with different mother tongues and cultural backgrounds interact with each other. In particular, mixed international teams with large numbers of foreign players might seem likely to meet problems caused by language and communication barriers.

The study approaches the language issue from the perspective of a foreign player newly joining an existing team, which works in a language unknown to him and already includes a few other foreign players with different mother tongues. How does the club provide for the linguistic and cultural integration of the newcomer? Do they hire an interpreter for him? Do they systematically provide him with language courses? Will the language skills or non-skills have an impact on his integration within the team and on his actual well-being? Will the  fellow players help the newcomer to assimilate the language? Will they translate for him? What will be the most urgent language needs and the most noticeable shortcomings of a player with linguistic difficulties? Where and how will language barriers manifest? Methodologically, the study draws on participant observation and on an extensive audio and video corpus, as well as on qualitative interviews. It brings about some unexpected findings about the “unmarked language choice” in the club and the language to be taught to the newcomer.

In the context of research conducted about multilingual professional environments, the football study focuses on an area where language does not seem to be at the centre of interest: players are in general not chosen with regard to their language skills. Apart from the integration issue, the corpus will allow us to describe the multifaceted nature of multilingualism as it shows in this scarcely investigated type of domain. We will illustrate the code choice habits, the language shifts and mixes, and the complex yet meaningful patterns of their functioning, describing thus the plurality of language choices that are likely to occur in a multilingual team, as an example of language needs, policies, and practices different from those that have been studied, e.g. in diglossia or business contexts.


Bio: Eva Lavric is a full professor of Romance Linguistics at the University of Innsbruck and director of the Centre for French Studies at Innsbruck University; she formerly worked at the Vienna Business University. She graduated sub auspiciis (with highest honours), was awarded the Elise Richter prize of the German Association of Romance Studies for the best habilitation (= state doctorate) and was honoured with the French “palmes académiques” and “ordre du mérite.” The Romance languages she speaks are French (second L1), Spanish, and Italian; her research areas include (contrastive) semantics, text linguistics, pragmatics, languages for special purposes, language acquisition, and multilingualism—the latter in a whole variety of contexts, ranging from business to language teaching and to sports.



Matthews, Ted

Talk: “Designing Football Rituals for Heightened Fan Experiences”

Abstract: Great football experiences depend not only on the play on field but also on a contextual understanding of the moment, the sense of self in place and of belonging that can lead to highly emotional and meaningful moments.

This paper presents the outcomes of the research project between the Norwegian Football Association and the Oslo School of Architecture and Design during 2015. Using a methodology of research by design, the project had a specific focus on heightening the experience of fans attending national team games at the national stadium. Appropriate theory from social anthropology relating to myth and ritual was operationalized into a new service design model with the aim of orchestrating a new match day experience.

The resulting strategy does this by building a believable contextualizing myth that reflects the reality of the national men’s team. It then “performs” this myth through storytelling, ritual structures, and staged ritual interactions to further engage fans and players in the time leading up to, during, and after the game, with the aim of creating a rich context and a dramatization that would build emotional entrainment toward a state of fan “collective effervescence.”

The paper opens with the argument that national football is a community ritual and as such a reflection and performance of national mood, values, and identity. It will present briefly the service design model that operationalizes the theory. Then it will describe how using the model has resulted in a new aesthetic for match day through a series of interventions at the national arena that include the stadium dressing, the theatrics of player arrival, storytelling within the stadium, and the opening ceremony. Results suggest that orchestrating the match day experience in this way offers innovation in the designing, in “joined-up” experiential planning, and in new aesthetics, from a meta- to detailed level, of the staged football event.


Bio: I am a practicing service designer, international speaker, and trainer currently undertaking a PhD at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design as part of the Centre for Service innovation. The title of the PhD is “Sacred Services: The Sacred and the Ritual as a Material in Service Design” and investigates through a process of research by design how theory relating to ritual and myth can be operationalized in new service development. Working closely with companies from the service sector, the research has developed and investigated the potential of the approach in telecoms, tourism, financial services, and most recently in professional football.



Mauruschat, Ania

Talk: “The Excitement of the Game—Soccer as a Popular Topic for Radio and Radio Art”

Abstract: To experience the pure excitement of a soccer game, you neither need to make a pilgrimage to a stadium nor possess a TV set. Even attending a public viewing is not required. All you need is a radio. Probably nothing else conveys the emotionality of a soccer game as directly as the soundscape in a stadium, the chants, shouts, and comments of the fans and especially the voice of the commentator, reporting from a stadium to the media—live, of course.

One of the most popular shows in German radio is “Heute im Stadion” (Today at the Stadium), the conference circuit of 14 radio stations in Germany. It is broadcast every Saturday for the last 20 minutes of each game of the national football league all over Germany and switches live from stadium to stadium, to wherever something exciting is happening. Up to eight million people actually prefer to listen to soccer this way every weekend instead of watching it.

What probably neither the fans nor the radio people in charge are aware of anymore is that early on, in the 1920s, live broadcast were highly controversial. Actually, it was the Nazis who applied the conference circuit for their propaganda format of the so-called “Weihnachtsringsendung” (Christmas circuit programme) that was broadcast live at Christmas eve from 1940 to 1943, connecting the different fronts and home.

This presentation aims at reconstructing how the aesthetics of radio broadcast of soccer games came about, what the secret of its success is, and how radio artists respond in their works to its magic, aiming at scrutinizing the ideologies conveyed with it but also expressing their love for the “beautiful game” and its heroes.

Bio: Ania Mauruschat (Dipl.-Journ.) received an interdisciplinary diploma in journalism and literature at the University of Munich (Germany). From 2002 to 2012, she worked as editor and author for the cultural radio department of Bayerischer Rundfunk (Munich). From 2012 to 2014 she worked at the University of Basel as a scientific assistant and obtained a scholarship for her cooperation in the development of the interdisciplinary and bi-national research project “Radiophonic Cultures.” Currently she is writing her doctoral thesis on radio art and works as a lecturer at universities and art schools in Switzerland and Germany.



Messerli, Thomas & Di Yu

Talk: “Multimodal Construction of Soccer-Related Humor on Twitter and Instagram”

Abstract: This paper qualitatively analyzes a range of specialized soccer humor channels on Twitter and Instagram and asks (1) what types of soccer-related humor are found in popular social media sites, and (2) how participatory culture is managed therein. In the analyzed posts, the broadcaster, i.e., the “‘followable’ party that makes talk available to recipients” (Draucker, 2015), uses text, images, videos, audios, and GIFs to construct humorous incongruities and invite their followers to laugh with them about a specific target—usually an individual player or a soccer club. In doing so, broadcasters establish involvement in the sense of Tannen (2007), i.e., they use the specific linguistic and non-linguistic materials at their disposal to create and maintain an emotional connection between their followers and themselves.

This connection varies based on how followers are positioned, which in turn depends on the humorous and non-humorous strategies employed in a particular post. More specifically, the technological affordances provided by these social media sites (e.g. attachments, comments, likes, retweet/regram, cross-platform sharing, hashtags, user tagging) allow broadcasters to: (1) recycle, reframe, and repurpose popular internet memes and GIFs, which means that existing humorous material is adopted into the domain of soccer; (2) reframe and repurpose soccer-related GIFs, video clips, and images for humorous purposes; (3) invite or prompt followers to comment and tag other users for the purpose of joking at others’ expense.

The participation role of followers is thus not limited to that of passive recipients: They can also be agents who create humorous content by and for themselves, be it in response to broadcasters’ prompts or with self-instigated comments. In either case, they make use of written text as well as self-generated memes and GIFs. In addition, followers can also invite other users to co-construct further humorous instances. This underlines that humor in this domain, although managed by broadcasters, is a collaborative effort that involves broadcasters, followers, and other users.


Draucker, F. “Participation Structures in Twitter Interaction: Arguing for the ‘Broadcaster’ Role.” Participation in Public and Social Media Interactions. Ed. M. Dynel and J. Chovanec.  Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2015. 49–66.

Tannen, D. Talking Voices: Repetition, Dialogue, and Imagery in Conversational Discourse. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.


Bios: Thomas Messerli is a research and teaching assistant at the University of Basel, where he is writing his doctoral thesis on repetition and humor in telecinematic discourse. He has an MA in Linguistics from the University of Zurich (thesis on the dubbing of humor in the sitcom The Big Bang Theory from English to German) and an MA in Film Studies from the Réseau Cinéma CH (Universities of Zurich and Lausanne, thesis on Hollywood adaptations of Japanese horror films). His current research interests are in telecinematic discourse and in humor research—with a particular focus on the interface between humor and repetition.

Di Yu is a doctoral student in Applied Linguistics at Teachers College, Columbia University. She received her MA in TESOL and Ed.M. in Applied Linguistics from Teachers College. Her research interests include media discourse, political discourse, humor, and the use of multimodal resources in interaction.  



Nuhrat, Yağmur

Talk: “Bodies, Jerseys, and Multiple Masculine Aesthetics through Football in Turkey”

Abstract: This paper discusses differing aesthetics of football jerseys in relation to the bodies they adorn, focusing particularly on Turkey. Footballers are increasingly glorified as depicting a specific version of the perfect male body. The popularization of Cristiano Ronaldo’s dietary and exercise regimen, footballers’ appearance in fashion magazines or advertisements are just a few examples. Jersey designs have, to some extent, conformed to this emphasis by encouraging tighter models over the last few years. It has thus become customary to see well-trained, muscular footballers whose bulging biceps and pecks almost find it difficult to contain themselves underneath snug-fitting shirts.

Besides valorizing the meticulously crafted male athletic body, this particular aesthetic also casts a specific light on the kind of footballer who has a more indulgent relationship with his body—someone who trains less, is on the verge of being overweight, and perhaps banks on skill rather than agility or fitness. In addition, the fit athlete’s relationship to his body and his jersey invites an aesthetically stimulating question in regards to fan bodies that sport exactly the same jerseys. At times composed of children, sometimes of overweight adults or sexually conspicuous young women, fan bodies allow us to observe the reappropriation of the jersey, thereby creating new aesthetics. In addition, fans in Turkey often customize their jerseys, inscribing not only their names but also humorous puns or short slogans on the backside, further contributing to this reappropriation and resignification.

In this talk, I juxtapose the fit male athlete and the out-of-shape male fan vis-à-vis their relations to the same garment. Through this analysis, I critically engage with how different bodies claim or represent the site of football through differing and non-discursive masculine aesthetics. This talk is based on my ethnographic research on football in Turkey, ongoing since 2010.


Bio: Yağmur Nuhrat is a part-time lecturer at the Department of Sociology at Istanbul Bilgi University. She completed her PhD in anthropology at Brown University in 2013. She holds an MA in anthropology (Brown) and a BA in sociology (Boğaziçi University). Her dissertation focuses on fairness in football in Turkey. By studying “unwritten rules,” laws against violence, chants, emotional discourse, and the role of referees, she demonstrates how football actors conceptualize fairness differently from standardizing definitions of fair play. Nuhrat is currently in the process of publishing some this work. In 2014, Nuhrat began a project investigating how different actors negotiate ethics in Istanbul’s traffic.



O’Hara, Michael & Connell Vaughan

Talk: “‘Caveman stuff’: Ireland’s Soccer Struggle with Identity, Style, and Success”

Abstract: In this paper we focus primarily on the Republic of Ireland National Men’s team’s struggle to articulate a coherent style. Where other field and team sports have been instrumentalized in the projects of Irish cultural revival and local identity (Amateur Gaelic Games) and national unity (Rugby Football Union), soccer is from the national perspective traditionally the lesser cousin of the codes. As the only major sport on the island that “respects” the border, soccer in Ireland negotiates the politics of independence in a more immediate way than these other codes. We will argue that the discourse and media rhetoric surrounding soccer in Ireland cultivates a conflicted identity in terms of style, success, and Ireland’s relationship to England. This struggle has produced, for the fan and pundit alike, a dialectic of pride and shame reminiscent of contemporary postcolonial and earlier Catholic pathologies. The unbridled pride of taking a place among the nations of Europe and the World with the “best fans in the World” and “competing with the big boys” (basically, England) is routinely accompanied with the shame and embarrassment of playing “caveman” football on the international stage.

     Outside of Ireland this narrative of a country that peddles a “route one” style is welded to the nation’s soccer identity. This is most evident in the persistent assumptions of “foreign” managers. This fixed conception of style is manifest in a preconceived understanding (both internal and external) that “never questions the commitment of the players” but perceives the importation of a “cultured continental style/philosophy” as beyond the capabilities of Irish soccer. This mix of pride and shame is, we argue, a mark of the ambiguous nature of Ireland’s independent identity and can be seen in general attitudes to performance, professionalism, style, and success.


Bios: Michael O’Hara and Connell Vaughan are founding members of the Aesthetics Research Group at the Graduate School of Creative Arts and Media (GradCAM) at Dublin Institute of Technology. They have published on the idea of the avant-garde in contemporary art, the role of the amateur in the digital age, and the history of Arts funding theory, policy and practice in Ireland and internationally. Like most soccer fans in Ireland they are both supporters of one of England’s “Big Red Clubs.”



Piskurek, Cyprian

Talk: “The Man in the Dugout: The Poetics of the Fictional Football Manager”

Abstract: Although football is a team sport, individuals in the game have always fascinated observers. This is true for individual star players, but also for generic roles like the goalkeeper (as in Peter Handke’s seminal 1970 novel) or the manager. Football managers continue to occupy a special position, as they are on the one hand part of the collective, and on the other hand stand on their own. Managers like Bill Shankly or José Mourinho are as popular as the best-known midfielders, but the men in the dugout are also easily identified as the weakest link in the football hierarchy and are often scapegoated and dismissed when a team does not achieve results.

     It comes as no surprise that fictional representations of the game have frequently focused on football managers, drawing on the potential to anchor stories of a team’s collective onto an individual protagonist. David Peace, for example, has written two of the most serious and important football novels, The Damned Utd. and Red or Dead, as fictional accounts of managers Brian Clough and Bill Shankly; films like A Shot at Glory assign seminal roles to the man in the dugout; and Philip Kerr’s most recent crime fiction series is centred around a manager-turned-detective. True to its historical origins, the figure of the fictional manager emerges in these texts as the middle man between the players on the pitch and the board of directors or club owners; while the other two groups are often caricatured to represent the excesses of football’s hyper-commodification, the manager however is mostly portrayed as an authentic and nostalgic figure, out against the forces of modern football.

     In my presentation, I shall outline a typology of the football manager in contemporary football fiction and explore how this figure generates a form of managerial aesthetics that resonates in these texts.


Bio: Cyprian Piskurek is Lecturer for British Cultural Studies at TU Dortmund University. He has co-edited a volume called Cases of Intervention: The Great Variety of British Cultural Studies (Newcastle upon Tyne, 2013) and has recently completed his dissertation about fictional representations of football fan cultures after the Taylor Report (forthcoming in 2016). Research and teaching interests include Football Fan Cultures, Detective Fiction, Architecture and Culture, and Irish Studies. Since 2012 he has been Vice Dean of Academic Affairs at TU Dortmund’s Faculty of Culture Studies.



Prange, Martine

Talk: “‘The Paradox Of Beauty’: ‘Aestheticization’ and ‘Femininization’ in European (Male and Female) Professional Football”

Abstract: Women’s football is the fastest growing sports in the world with now over 30 million girls and women playing worldwide. In The Netherlands, participation in football by females doubled in the past decade and the professionalization of “the beautiful game” continues, now that Ajax and PSV have stepped in.

In this paper, I present the final results of the Dutch nation-wide research project “From Football Wives to Women’s Football: An Interdisciplinary Research into the Societal Impact of Women’s Football in The Netherlands” (2013-2016). I do so by claiming, first, that women’s professional football in The Netherlands is entangled in a “paradox of beauty,” and, second, that this paradox is now also entering the men’s game (i.e., male professional football in Europe).

I elaborate my claim, first, by explaining the nature of “the paradox of beauty” in detail, based on the results of our empirical research into the professionalization and media representation of women’s football in The Netherlands in light of transnational developments; second, by interpreting this “paradox of beauty” in a philosophical manner by referring to liberal ideas regarding the emancipatory powers of sports and Foucauldian ideas on “bodily discipline”; third, by making a comparative analysis of women’s and men’s football from the perspective of ruling and shifting gender norms in the context of the growing importance of body culture in men’s football. This body culture in men’s football is marked by what I call the tendencies for “aestheticization” and “femininization.”

This analysis leads me to the conclusion that in European football today, both female and male players uproot traditional, heteronormative views of masculinity and femininity when introducing androgynous elements in their play and outlook. However, both professional male and female football risk losing public interest and commercial value by doing so. Women’s football, in The Netherlands and elsewhere, is developing very quickly. But how does the “paradox of beauty” affect its progress? And what does this paradox imply for the future of European football, male and female, at large?


Bio: Martine Prange is principal investigator of the research project “From Football Wives to Women’s Football: An Interdisciplinary Research into the Societal Impact of Women’s Football in The Netherlands,” funded by NWO (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research), the Johan Cruyff Foundation, and Tripledouble Sportmarketing. She was also the  principal investigator of the research project “Girls, play football!,” funded by NWO, Women Win, Atria Kennisinstituut en De Sportbank. She is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Leiden University (The Netherlands) and a former professional football player in The Netherlands, Belgium, and Turkey.


Rasmi, Mahmoud

Talk: Football and Aesthetics: On the Emergence of the Novum

On the 19th of June, 1990, West Germany was winning by one goal to nil against Colombia. In the blink of an eye, the Colombian midfielder Carlos Valderrama passes the ball through five German players leaving Fredy Rincon alone with the goalkeeper to score a goal and lead Colombia through to the second round of the World Cup. I could have mentioned many other football (soccer) examples in which a player creates a whole new space on the midfield out of the blue, leaving his teammate with enough room so as to either score or assist a goal. This example becomes interesting for us when we become aware of the dynamics of play in a football field the boundaries of which are clearly defined beforehand. Even though the boundaries are fixed, the play - even if more often than not it turns out to be predictable - usually presents us with a certain combination of passes that eventually result in a novel outcome, as though the players on the field literally created a new space within the old one through which they could trespass the opposing team’s field and score a goal. In this paper, I will argue that the condition of possibility of the novel, of the novum, is the generation of a radically new space, whereby new possibilities become actualized within the fixed boundaries of the football field. The condition of possibility of the novum, thus, would continuously have us smitten by the system of play, a game which is never selfsame.


Bio: I am currently a Lecturer of Philosophy at the American University of Beirut and the Lebanese American University. In July 2015, I completed my Ph.D. in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Salamanca, Spain. In my Ph.D. dissertation I focus on aesthetics and the philosophy of mythology of the German philosopher Friedrich Schelling arguing for a tautegorical interpretation of the cinematic image taking as an example the films of the Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky. The title of my dissertation is: “Mythopoesis, Aesthetics and Artistic Creation: Towards a Tautegorical Interpretation of the Cinematic Image.” My areas of specialization include aesthetics and philosophy of art, ethics, philosophy and film, Friedrich Schelling, and German Idealism.



Ryall, Emily

Talk: “Good Games as Athletic Beauty: Why Soccer is Rightly Called ‘The Beautiful Game’”

Abstract: Soccer, which I shall call football, is a game that is won or lost on whether a ball is deemed to cross a line. How the goal is scored is irrelevant since the result of a goal-mouth scramble is worth the same as a skilfully executed half-volley in to the top corner. On this basis, there is no logical reason for attaching the term “the beautiful game” to football at all, since every instance of the game could be far from beautiful. Indeed, there have been those (such as Kretchmar, 2005) that have argued that sports that are determined by events (such as golf and tennis), rather than time (such as football and rugby), are aesthetically superior because they allow for a greater number of “skilful interchanges.” Yet, there is nevertheless an argument that the skills required for football allow for a far greater demonstration of beauty than those required for other sports, even the so called “aesthetic sports” of gymnastics, figure skating, and high-board diving. This is due to the types of skills it entails and the space which is given to demonstrate them. Ultimately, the freedom afforded by football and its constitutive rules rightly allow it to be labelled “the beautiful game.”

This paper will consider the notion of beauty in relation to grace, symmetry, athletic excellence, and genius before outlining its application to the game of football. It will take into account Scott Kretchmar’s (2005) notion of “skilful interchange” and argue that there is a far greater capacity for this to be demonstrated in the game of football than in other sports.


Davis, P. “Game Strengths.” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 33 (2006): 50-66.

Kretchmar, R.S. “Game Flaws.” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 32 (2005): 36-48.

Lacerda, T. & S. Mumford. “The Genius in Art and in Sport: A Contribution to the Investigation of Aesthetics of Sport.” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 27 (2010): 182-193.

Ryall, E. “Good Games and Penalty Shoot-Outs.” Sport, Ethics and Philosophy 9 (2015): 205-213.


Bio: Emily Ryall is a Senior Lecturer in the Philosophy of Sport at the University of Gloucestershire, UK. She is former Chair of the British Philosophy of Sport Association and on the editorial board for the Journal of the Philosophy of Sport. She has published papers on a range of issues in the philosophy of sport, including the aesthetics of football, the acceptability of goal-line technology, and the ethics of teamwork. She is the author of the book Critical Thinking for Sports Students and a new 2016 book, Philosophy of Sport: Key Questions.



Saha, Ananya

Talk: “Playing the Field, Performing Nationalism: Looking at the Rites of Passage of Japanese Football through the Lens of Manga and Anime”

Abstract: The role of manga/anime in plotting Japan on the map of international association football is anything but negligible. The initial volume of Captain Tsubasa by Yoichi Takahashi was published in 1981 in the Weekly Shonen Jump. The series is ongoing still and along with it, the position of football as a national sport in Japan prospered over the last two decades. The manga football heroes have not only been assimilated in the mainstream Japanese culture but also gained popularity beyond the national borders. For instance, Tsubasa has been rechristened as Captain Majed in the Arabic version of the anime. In this paper, I propose to look at two manga and an anime series from the sports/football genre. Apart from Captain Tsubasa, they are Hungry Heart or Wild Striker, again by Takahashi, and Whistle by Higuchi Daisuke. Through a close perusal of these texts, I would attempt to address certain issues such as:

1.     Publication and propaganda: The role of manga/anime as apparatuses of cultural hegemony in the popularization of football, initially a foreign sport to Japan.

2.     Performance on and off the field: How the game and the players are represented in these mixed-media texts—hierarchies and “rites of passage,” to borrow Arnold Van Gennep’s term.

3.     Paradox of the sports: How football in these popular cultural edifices is nationalistic, yet transnational simultaneously; hinting at the possibility of an Anderson-esque “imagined community” or a cultural Ethnogenesis.


Bio: I am a PhD scholar at the Centre for English Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University. My area of immediate research interest is the Japanese manga and anime. Other academic proclivities include fan studies, cultural theory, feminism, and new literatures. I am also a cultural columnist for worldanimeclub.org, an international fan portal, and Youth Ki Awaaz, a UN award winning digital media platform.



Schauss, Philip

Talk: “On Stupidity in Football”

Abstract: I propose to examine the correlation between stupidity in football and in the ordinary world. The most obvious place to begin such an enquiry is with the daft answers footballers give to sports journalists’ (often far sillier) questions. In many cases, the answers are stupid because they are nonsensical whichever way one turns them. Other times, they reveal players’ complete and utter detachment from ordinary life. This corresponds, for example, with Erdmann’s 1866 account of stupidity, which he defines as the inability to see matters from another’s point of view. This might be called stubbornness, a brave and beautiful refusal to relent, which is a recognized quality in football, albeit one that can quickly turn into a cause for ridicule.

The line between stupidity and intelligence on the field being so fluid, it is necessary to question any unequivocal pronouncement one way or the other. A good definition of intelligence in football is the ability to “read the game,” that is, the capacity to anticipate events from a teammate or opponent’s point of view, thereby displaying acute spatial awareness. This makes a player who, objectively seen, lacks athleticism seem decisive. The inverse is just as true—a lumbering center-back looks nothing but a donkey. Inconsistent displays of one’s talents are only tolerated in the case of the former, visionary type of player. Beware, however, should the crowd lose patience with such intermittent flashes of talent, admiration quickly turning into scorn.

Specifically, I propose to apply the small body of literature dedicated to the topic of stupidity to football, identifying points of convergence and non-correspondence. As I intend to explain with numerous examples, stupidity is an integral part of the archive of iconic images in football.


Bio: Philip Schauss holds an LLB from the London School of Economics and an LLM from Georgetown University. He is currently a PhD student at the New School for Social Research, where he is writing a thesis on the relationship of conceptions of order and regularity within architecture. As a young boy, living in Madrid, he was made to support the team in white.   



Schreier, Daniel

Talk: “From Karli to Urschrey: The Development of Basel Fan Chants, 1970-2015”

Abstract: This paper is a first and modest attempt to trace the development of fan chants sung during 45 years by supporters of FC Basel. It follows three main objectives: uncovering the sources of songs, correlating general chant development with external events, such as club history and the building of a new stadium, and tracing the usage of local dialect in songs. Starting with the early 1970s and the still locally popular “Karli none Goal” supporters of several generations have now developed a wide spectrum of chants (Mangold & Miozzari 2012). We try to locate some selected sources (recent hits from top of the pops, such as Sweat’s “Na Na Na Hey Hey Hey Goodbye,” 1970, local hymns, such as the “Baslerlied”) or the revival of older songs (Sting’s “Englishman in New York,” which was used as the base for the song “Immr lütr singe” more than 20 years after it first appeared). Whereas Basel supporters have historically been influenced by supporter and song traditions from the motherland of football, England (cf. Morris 1981), or neighboring Germany, the turn to a more Mediterranean-influenced (tifosotype) fan culture with huge choreographies and pyrotechnic materials in the early 1990s led to a rather abrupt change in—and diversification of—chant tradition. This paper tracks the motivation of song selection and their first manifestation in the stadium, including when independent songs with innovative, locally written tunes were first produced. Moreover, I especially focus on the usage of the local Basel dialect, which is now more prominent than it was ten years ago and has seen a remarkable revival.


Mangold, Thilo and Claudio Miozzari. “Lumpenlieder und andere Fiesheiten.” Tageswoche. 2012.

<http://www.tageswoche.ch/de/2012_41/sport/468720/> (accessed December 4, 2015).

Morris, Desmond. The Soccer Tribe. London: Jonathan Cape, 1981.



Stassen, Manfred

Talk: “The Political Aesthetics of Soccer”

Abstract: For most people in the humanities, “political aesthetics” may sound like an oxymoron. And in times of global scandals around soccer associations, what’s political about soccer is anything but aesthetic.

I take my cue from Albert Camus. Most of you know him as an awardee of the Nobel Prize for Literature—and, perhaps, as a journalist for clandestine newspapers during the French Résistance against Nazi Germany in WW II. But he was also an anarcho-syndicalist (in polite bourgeois society one would call him a “libertaire”), and a soccer fan. He has often stated that he owes his moral principles to two collective social institutions: the theater and the soccer team. In his native Algeria, he was the goalkeeper for the University of Algiers Soccer Club, and later in Paris, he gave some of his better known interviews—that made it into the Collective Works—in what is now the stadium of Paris St. Germain.

My elaboration of the subject has two parts : (i) I want to show a rarely demonstrated political side about soccer, when it is at its best. That is its latent, seldom exploited, but always complicite reliance on a certain degree of anarchy; (ii) I want to demonstrate and illustrate the dialectic between the individuality of talent and the collectivity of success, the libertarian (in the French sense of the term) side of the game, and its most aesthetically pleasing.

It will become apparent that the rigorous order inherent in coaching, game plans, and the rules monitored by the referees while necessary, are not sufficient to explain the fascination of the game for the masses.


Bio: Manfred Stassen, Prof. of Letters, has, over 50 years, held numerous academic positions at universities in Germany (Bonn U.), USA (Wesleyan U., New York U., The Johns  Hopkins U.), India (Jawaharlal Nehru U., Pune U., IIT Madras), and Latvia (Lettlands U., Latvian Cultural Academy). For several years, he was Secrétaire des Rencontres Méditerranéennes Albert Camus in Lourmarin/France. He specializes in continental European Philosophy and Comparative Literatures, with publications on Martin Heidegger (1973/2003), German Socialism in the 19th Century (1990), International Foreign Cultural Policy (2002), and Globalization Pre-visited: The Critique of Early Capitalism in Goethe, Balzac, and Marx (forthcoming).  



Stride, Chris

Talk: “Football Culture as Sculpture: An Analysis of the World’s Soccer


Abstract: Monuments that immortalize athletes are an ancient custom. Just as the public’s fascination with sport transcends the ages, so the sculptural representation of its sporting heroes has re-emerged, with deeply traditional, figurative bronze images of contemporary stars bristling outside modern stadia and state-of-the-art arenas, as well as gracing civic locations, cemeteries, commercial premises, and sports museums.

As befits its global popularity, association football has the largest number and the widest distribution of statues amongst ancient or modern sports. Over 300 distinct footballers and 150 anonymous football-playing figures stand across 60 nations. The vast majority have been erected since 1990, echoing historian Eelco Runia, who describes the desire to commemorate as “one of the prime historical phenomena of our time.”

Unlike previous studies of sports statuary, which have concentrated on case studies of a handful of monuments, this paper considers the complete inventory of football statues, examining how these monuments create and celebrate varying local, regional, and national football and culture identities, as much as the subjects they immortalize.

Many Western European statues are club-funded sports marketing projects, with subject choices and images designed to evoke fan nostalgia and boost fan attachment. In Eastern Europe football statues owe much to the regional commemorative cultures around death and remembrance. China’s football statues are mostly anonymous figures, with images that promote football as a team game, a warrior-like pursuit, or the motivation of mastering skills as opposed to opponents. Statues allow modern individuals and groups to construct, reinvent, consolidate, and project their identities by establishing links with their past, displaying the values that society wishes to preserve and celebrate, and hence, by dint of omission, those they wish to forget or ignore.


Runia, Eelco. “Burying the Dead, Creating the Past.” History and Theory 46.3 (2007): 313-325.

Dupré, Judith. Monuments: America’s History in Art and Memory. New York: Random House, 2007.


Bio: Chris Stride is an applied statistician and peripatetic statistics trainer/consultant with an interest in sport history, who is based at the University of Sheffield, UK. For the past 4 years he has researched the development of monuments of sports people under the guise of the Sporting Statues Project, resulting in a sprawling online database (see www.sportingstatues.com), eight academic papers, several magazine articles, and a large and varied portfolio of press coverage, ranging from the New York Times to The Cricket Statistician. Chris and collaborator Ffion Thomas recently completed the project’s final phase, collecting information on statues of footballers from around the world.



Tekin, Burak

Talk: “Displaying Expertise in Virtual Football Gaming Activities”

Abstract: Adopting the principles of ethnomethodology (Garfinkel, 1967) and conversation analysis (Schegloff, 2007), and investigating how interactions situatedly and endogenously unfold, this study looks into the ways in which game-related expertise is claimed, displayed, and enacted by the participants while they get engaged in console-based video gaming activities.

Examining how skillful performance is generated and how expertise is produced in video gaming interactions (see Reeves et al., 2009; Sudnow, 1983), this paper studies the sequential environments of delicate moments (i.e., scoring, conceding or missing a goal, being awarded a penalty or free-kick) in the games, and shows how participants interactionally coordinate and manage their game related actions (see Mondada, 2013). To do so, this study draws upon a corpus containing video recorded naturally occurring interactions of participants while playing console-based football games.

Expertise is situatedly and contingently displayed, not only by masterfully exploiting the game-related features and by dexterously controlling the avatars but also by orienting to succeeding and failing actions in the game. Expert players demonstrate their skills by predicting their successful actions, and by accepting the responsibilities of their unsuccessful actions rather than attributing them to other things (i.e., gaming system, consoles). They also show their expertise by orienting to their opponents’ succeeding and failing actions. For the former, they produce compliments, and for the latter they provide instructions to make them better.

This paper examines the temporal, spatial, and moral features of expertise in virtual football gaming activities, and therefore contributes to the research on human social life.


Garfinkel, H. Studies in Ethnomethodology. NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1967.

Mondada, L. “Coordinating Mobile Action in Real Time: The Timely Organization of Directives in Video Games.” Interaction and Mobility. Ed. P. Haddington et al. Berlin: DeGruyter, 2013.          

Reeves, S., B. Brown, and E. Laurier. “Experts at Play: Understanding Skilled Expertise.” Games and Culture 4 (2009): 205-227.

Schegloff, E. Sequence Organization in Interaction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

Sudnow, D. Pilgrim in the Microworld. New York: Warner Books, 1983.


Bio: Burak S. Tekin is a doctoral candidate in linguistics at the University of Basel. His doctoral project sets out to investigate the social and situated organization of video gaming activities and particularly how the body features in these activities. His research deals with the embodied and technological aspects of social interaction within an ethnomethodological and conversation analytic perspective.



Thomas, Ffion

Talk: “All Things Brighton Beautiful: A Case Study of Stadium Concourse Art”

Abstract: When Brighton & Hove Albion FC played their first game at the American Express Community Stadium in July 2011, it represented the end of a 14-year nightmare. Left homeless when unscrupulous owners sold their Goldstone Ground stadium to developers in 1997 and having spent the intervening period playing in unsuitable venues, traversing the planning permission minefield via a fan-led campaign and funding and constructing the stadium itself, it’s almost an understatement when former club chairman Dick Knight states, “This stadium had a history already before a game had been played in it because of the huge, wonderful battle for it.”

Despite both this and its impressive architecture, as with any new build, the stadium’s box-fresh aesthetic lacked the topophilia-generating ingrained rituals and idiosyncrasies of a long-established, incrementally-developed ground. One of the club’s solutions for cultivating the sense of “home” was to treat the stadium spaces as a literal blank canvas, commissioning paintings, photography, graphic design, and textiles by local artists reflecting themes such as club history, fans’ memories, and the struggle for the stadium. This “Albionising” of space both reinforces club identity and encourages supporters to linger and engage, boosting revenue streams through increased concourse spend, non-matchday tourism visits, and community education outreach opportunities.

This paper will use the artworks at Brighton & Hove Albion in the wider context of sports stadia environments to consider how the inclusion of art can both reflect and contribute to a stadium’s identity. With the landscape of football stadia ever changing and clubs increasingly aware of the importance of engaging fans, the use of art in an otherwise bland concrete shell can serve to both retain the all-important sense of continuity from old to new, and establish a relationship between supporters and these highly significant yet potentially alien spaces.


Bio: Ffion Thomas is a PhD student based at the University of Central Lancashire’s International Football Institute in Preston, England. Her current research considers the motivations, significance, and impact of football clubs moving stadia, and in particular the visual culture associated with such moves. She is a co-instigator of the University of Sheffield’s Sporting Statues Project, which since 2011 has studied the proliferation of statues of sportspeople in the UK and worldwide. The work on this project has been widely disseminated via a free online database, numerous academic papers and articles, and a varied portfolio of press coverage.



Vanhoutte, Kristof K.P.

Talk: “The Importance of Trivial Oppositions: The Narcissism of Minor Differences of Derby-team Fans”


“This city has two great teams—

Liverpool and Liverpool reserves.”

Bill Shankly


When two teams meet to play a game of soccer, both teams want to win. When two teams of the same city meet, the story changes completely. The derby is not just a game like any other. Winning this game, although it has to be done, is not enough. The rivalry between the derby-team fans does not last just 90 minutes but the whole year. In fact, the rivalry has no limit; as one fan says: “I hate them, and I do not use the word ‘hate’ lightly; I wish them ill and want them to be humiliated in every game.”

Much has been speculated on the origins of the derby. Even more has been speculated on the particular nature of specific derbies. Are they caused by religion, politics, social or even continental difference? Although I will not ignore these considerations (they will function well as examples), the talk I propose will confront the derby from a different perspective. In fact, I will not argue for the importance of the big difference(s) between these groups of fans, but for the minor differences (and “big similarities”) of  these specific opposing groups of fans. The origin of this focus on the small differences can be found in Freud’s theory of the “narcissism of minor differences,” which I will, however, slightly revise.

I will argue that what is at stake in these unique games is a subtle interplay between love and hate. Or, said slightly differently, the derby provides a poetics of love and hate, where not so much the hate (which merely serves as “a posteriori” proof for the antagonism it effects/affects) for the adversary, who is different only in an almost ignorable degree, but the love of the fellow-fans functions as the creative aligning act of this type of fandom.


Bio: Kristof K.P. Vanhoutte is Visiting Professor of Philosophy at the Pontifical University Antonianum, Rome, Italy. He obtained his BA and MA in Philosophy at the Higher Institute for Philosophy at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. He studied Spiritual Theology at the Pontifical University Gregoriana and obtained his PhD in Philosophy at the Pontifical University Antonianum. In 2008 he was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities of the University of Edinburgh. In 2010 he was awarded the “European Philosophy from Kant to the Present Prize,” issued by the University of Kentucky.