Football is the most popular sport in the world. Top football stars are an example for many young children who are happy to go to the stadium with their parents. The game is played all over the world and in every community there are yards where children draw the field markings for their matches.
At the matches, someone is enjoying the game of football and someone else is trying to work out the correct score prediction to prove that he is an expert in this game.
But both sides are happy to come to the matches and cheer for their favorite teams. Therefore, it is deservedly called the game of millions.
The high popularity of football is also used to attract various attention. This game has a special influence on social institutions.
Let’s take a closer look at real examples of situations where football has been used as a tool to demonstrate political agreements or to reduce social tensions in the world.
Table of Contents
Football As A Tool In Different Political Ideologies
Because football matches are actively watched around the world, it has been used as a tool for political order on numerous occasions. For example, historically it has been used as:
- an element of political propaganda in Italy in 1934-1938 by Mussolini and in 1978 in Argentina by Videla (both countries became World Cup champions at that time and used it as an opportunity to strengthen their image and reduce protest sentiments);
- an element of diplomacy between Iran and the US in 1998 (there was a match between these teams at the World Cup in France, where before the match the players hugged and gifts were exchanged, and the world saw this as a demonstration of friendly sentiment);
- a tool of nationalism in 1996 when South Africa became African football champions and used this as an opportunity for racial reconciliation in the country and social consolidation;
- the tool of integration by Germany in 2006 (for the first time the football team was made up of people of different nationalities, which showed Germany as a country with a more open, diverse, and tolerant society);
- a security tool (in 2010 the Iraqi national football team became the Asian football champions and this led to cohesion in a country where the population had been affected by military and terrorist actions);
- an instrument of culture (in 1995 the Nigerian national team won the African Cup of Nations and became Olympic champions, and the story became interesting for the making of films (the emergence of Nollywood), the emergence of new music (the period of Afrobeat’s popularity) and the development of literature in the country (Soyinka won the Nobel Prize).
As you can see, football does have a huge impact on various world events, and the global value of this game and its influence on people all over the Earth should not be diminished.
Football in Political Propaganda
Even before football was actively used for betting, it was often used for the propaganda element. A striking example was the period of Mussolini’s rule in Italy. Italian football was actively developing at that time, and the country became world champion twice in 1934 and 1938.
Accordingly, these victories were used as a demonstration of national pride and the strength of the Italian regime.
Another major dictator of the time, Hitler, also used football as propaganda. During the Olympic Games in Berlin in 1936, the football tournament was the most interesting of the tournaments.
Hitler’s aim then was to demonstrate the alleged superiority of the Aryans over other nations. However, he failed to achieve the desired effect, because Germany lost to Norway.
Football was actively used as propaganda in the Soviet Union. The local population loved football and predicted the score for matches between themselves. The country’s authorities saw football as an opportunity to promote collectivism and a socialist society.
It was also an opportunity to demonstrate victory over capitalist countries. For example, in 1956 winning the Olympic Games and in 1960 winning the European Championship gave them this opportunity.
Another example of propaganda in football was the World Cup in Qatar in 2022. When the country’s victory was announced, there were many accusations of corruption and human rights violations.
Qatar used the football tournament as a way of improving its image on the international stage and raising its profile not only in the region but also in the world.
As can be seen, football has been actively used as an element of political propaganda for many years.
Football and Political Protests
Football fans are also actively involved in various political demonstrations and actions. At the same time, the fans are often listened to by the authorities and officials.
For example, in Spain, Barcelona fans actively advocated the creation of a separate Catalan state. In Italy, Lazio fans were clear supporters of neo-fascism and racism. In Germany, St Pauli fans were the most left-wing and anti-fascist.
In Latin America, fans opposed the dictatorship and neoliberalism in Argentina. In Brazil, they were often seen protesting against racism and social inequality.
In Egypt, ultras were one of the main activists during the 2011 revolution. At that time they managed to defeat the authoritarian regime of Hosni Mubarak, although they had to face serious opposition from the police
In Ukraine in 2014, fans of Dynamo Kyiv and Metalist Kharkiv united and supported Euromaidan. Many Ukrainian ultras are also involved in direct hostilities against Russia.
Also, many Ukrainian ultras are involved in direct hostilities against russia.
Having analyzed these events, it can be seen that football people quite often become participants in various political processes and are ready to defend their position.
Footballers Who Became Politicians
Football is closely connected with political processes. Many stars of this game at the end of a football career tried to build a political one.
For example, Pele was for 3 years the Minister of Sports in Brazil. He was engaged in the active development of football and other sports in the country. He also fought zealously against the spread of drugs and created various social projects.
During his tenure in the ministry, many stars held senior positions in various regional sports departments (Romario, Bebeto, Zico, and others).
The best footballer of Ukraine Andriy Shevchenko also ran for the Ukrainian parliament in 2012, but he failed to become a deputy.
The winner of the Golden Ball in 1995, George Vera until 2023. George Vera was the President of Liberia until 2023. Such examples are quite a lot.
This shows that the popularity of football players allows them to get a good starting position before political elections. Therefore, football actively influences the lives of even those people who are not fans of football.