Moments, Metaphors, Memories: Defining Events in the History of Soccer

International Conference on Moments, Metaphors, Memories: Defining Events in the History of Soccer

Organizers: Soccer & Society and Sport in Society (Taylor & Francis) in collaboration with the University of Central Lancashire

Date: 5 June 2018
Venue: Rhodes House, Oxford

Conference Convenors: Kausik Bandyopadhyay and Souvik Naha

As the most popular mass spectator sport across the world, soccer generates key moments of significance on and off the field, encapsulated in events that create metaphors and memories, with wider social, cultural, psychological, political, commercial and aesthetic implications. Since its inception as a modern game, the history of soccer is replete with events that have changed not only the organization of the sport but also its meanings and impact. The passage from the local to the global, or from the club to the national often opens up transnational spaces which provide a context for studying the events that have ‘defined’ the sport since its codification in the late nineteenth century. Such defining events can include performances on the field of play, decisions taken by various stakeholders associated with the game, accidents and violence among players and fans, invention of supporter cultures, and so on. A study of these events provides an excellent opportunity to understand the evolution of the game from an interdisciplinary and comparative perspective that enriches the potential of writing connected histories in the domain of soccer. It helps us rethink peoples’ perception of soccer as a specific form of popular culture and public memory with deep psycho-social roots, connecting the past, the present and the future of the game’s evolution as part of everyday life. At the same time, explorations into the defining events in soccer can contribute to the debate on the interdependence of events and narratives. An investigation into why some moments were more important than others to certain people could complicate our understanding of the historicity and interpretation of events.

The conference intends to document, identify and analyze some of the defining events in the history of soccer by revisiting the discourses of signification and memorialization of such events that influence society, culture, politics, religion, and commerce. While the history of soccer is too vast a canvas to focus on such key moments in a single event, the conference would attempt to bring together scholars from various backgrounds to reflect upon some of the key moments in the local, regional, national and global histories of soccer from different perspectives with special reference to the World Cup. 

The conference is being organized by Soccer & Society and Sport in Society (Taylor & Francis) in collaboration with the University of Central Lancashire to mark the 20th anniversary of Sport in Society and to commemorate the FIFA World Cup 2018. The papers presented at the conference will be published as a special issue of Soccer & Society and as a book in the Routledge Sport in the Global Society-Contemporary Perspectives series.

Programme Schedule

9.00 – 9.30 a.m. – Registration & Coffee

9.30 – 10.15 a.m. – Keynote Address
Richard Giulianotti – “Football Events, Memories and Globalization: imaging and imagining the global game”

10.15 – 11.45 a.m. – Panel 1 – Events and Developments in Europe
Graham Curry – “Key Moments or Simply Myths: The Making of Modern Football and the Concept of Power”
Philippe Vonnard – “From Mitropa Cup to UEFA Cup: The Establishment of a European Scale in Football”
David Hassan – “Still as Divided as Ever? Northern Ireland, Sport and Identity 20 years after the GFA”

11.45 a.m. - 12.00 noon – Coffee Break

12.00 p.m. – 1.30 p.m. – Panel 2 –Soccer, Gender and Defining Moments
Kath Woodward – “The Gendering of Defining Moments: Heroic Narratives and Pivotal Points in Footballing Memories”
John Hughson – “A Victory for All? Women and the 1966 World Cup”
Jacco van Sterkenburg and Mekan Bataille – “Audience Interpretations of Women’s Football: the Year after the Historic Win of the European Football Championships”

1.30 p.m. – 2.30 p.m. – Lunch for all registered participants

2.30 – 3.30 p.m. – Panel 3 –Memories and Moments from the World Cup
Paul Darby – “Politics, Resistance and Patronage: The African Boycott of the 1966 World Cup and its Ramifications”
Jan Ludvigsen – “Sport-Mega Events and Security: Why the 2018 World Cup constitutes an extraordinarily securitized event?”

3.30 – 3.45 p.m. – Tea Break

3.45 – 4.45 p.m. – Panel 4 – The Maradona Phenomenon India
Kausik Bandyopadhyay and Souvik Naha – “Maradona’s Moments: FIFA World Cup, Argentina and Bengali Fandom”
Boria Majumdar – “Three Days with the Maverick: Why Maradona is Different from the Rest?”

4.45 – 5.00 p.m. – Concluding Remarks – Boria Majumdar

Keynote Address: Richard Giulianotti, Loughborough University

John Hughson, University of Central Lancashire, UK
Boria Majumdar, University of Central Lancashire, UK
David Hassan, University of Ulster at Jordanstown, UK
Paul Darby, University of Ulster at Jordanstown, UK 
Kath Woodward, Open University, UK
Kausik Bandyopadhyay, West Bengal State University, India
Jacco van Sterkenberg, Erasmus University, The Netherlands 
Graham Curry, Tuxford Academy, Nottinghamshire, UK 
Souvik Naha, West Bengal State University, India
Philippe Vonnard, ISCC, Sorbonne University, France
Jan Andre Ludvigsen, Liverpool John Moores University, UK

Free Registration

To register your interest and confirm your attendance, send an email to by Friday 1st June 2018.