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  • Building Europe with the Ball: Turning Points in the Europeanization of Football, 1905–1995 ed. by Philippe Vonnard, Grégory Quin, Nicolas Bancel
  • Juan Antonio Simón
Vonnard, Philippe, Grégory Quin, and Nicolas Bancel, eds. Building Europe with the Ball: Turning Points in the Europeanization of Football, 1905–1995. Bern: Peter Lang AG, 2016. Pp. 243. Index. $64.95, pb.

As editors of Building Europe with the Ball, Philippe Vonnard, Grégory Quin, and Nicolas Bancel, alongside contributions from a wide range of distinguished sport historians, have created a book that first and foremost aims to deepen the research into the development of football in Europe from 1905 to 1995, incorporating ideas from both long-term and transnational perspectives.

At the same time, this study offers such relevant aspects of analysis as the parallel process between the political construction of Europe and the creation of what could be termed the identity of “footballing Europe” from the 1950s onward, the importance of the creation of networks between football leaders, the origin and development of the various footballing competitions that were founded during this time period, and the role that key organizations such as FIFA and UEFA have played throughout this process.

At a structural level, the book is divided into three parts, which the authors define as three “turning points” in the Europeanization of football. As such, Part I, framed between the 1910s and the 1940s, opens with a text by Paul Dietschy, wherein the author analyzes the important relationships within European football that date to before the outbreak of the First World War. Dietschy argues that, during the Belle Époque, a process of [End Page 388] internationalism became apparent in the world of football. This process was reflected in the first matches that took place between clubs and national sides and also in the fact that the creation of a European competition was being considered. In chapter 2, Grégory Quin brilliantly presents the influence that regional connections have had on European football and, above all, the important role that Central Europe played in the development of football on an international level during the interwar period. In chapter 3, Matthew Taylor tackles the reconsideration of the isolationism of British football from the rest of the continent between 1919 and 1960. Taylor notes the need for the analysis of the numerous networks and personal contacts that existed between managers, players, clubs, and supporters on both sides of the English Channel.

Part II centers its study on the second turning point in the process of football’s Europeanization between the 1930s and 1960s. In Chapter 4, Nicola Sbetti analyzes the relationship between the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) and FIFA after the Second World War. Despite Italy’s fascist past and its role during the war, the former bonds between the FIGC representatives and the leaders of international football played a key role in avoiding their exclusion. Next, in Chapter 5, Xavier Breuil looks at the ruptures and continuities observed after 1945 in Eastern Europe. He examines the importance of competitions such as the Mitropa Cup, the International Cup, and the Balkan Cup, as well as the process of integrating communist countries into continental football competitions, which began in the 1950s. This section concludes with Kevin Tallec Marstons’s interesting research into a little-known subject, the state of the International Youth Tournament. This competition, which began in 1948, became a tool that, in the middle of the Cold War, helped bring about a meeting of East and West.

Part III addresses the study of a key period in the integration of European football into the fabric of society, the 1950s to the 1990s. In Chapter 7, Vonnard analyzes the creation of the men’s European Champion Clubs’ Cup and the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, as well as the important role played by UEFA both in European football and within the process of constructing a European identity from the 1950s onward. In Chapter 8, Manuel Schotté re-examines a well-studied area that links the Bosman Ruling with initiation of relations between European institutions and sporting federations. Through the use of archival material, Schotté demonstrates that, as of the 1960s...


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pp. 388-389
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