Journal of Global History

Articles

Making football global? FIFA, Europe, and the non-European football world, 1912–74

Paul Dietschy

Université de Franche-Comté, Besançon, France E-mail: paul.dietschy@wanadoo.fr

Abstract

The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) played a major role in the transformation of association football into a global game. Between 1912 and 1974, before the era of rapid economic sports globalization, FIFA officials attempted to extend the boundaries of the football empire by creating the World Cup and trying to convert new parts of the world to the people's game. It was not an easy task since they met with resistance, obstruction, and contestation. They had to revise their Eurocentric way of thinking and be willing to negotiate. Far from being a mere imperialist process, the path to world football consisted of a series of exacting exchanges and mutual misunderstandings, especially with the South American associations. It is not clear that FIFA officials always understood the demands of the developing football world but they were often able to negotiate and adapt their discourses towards non-European national associations and continental confederations. By doing so, they helped to create, if not an equal football world, at least an international world space.

Keywords

  • decolonization;
  • Europe;
  • FIFA;
  • football;
  • Latin America