Submit a Manuscript to the Journal

Ethnic and Racial Studies

For a Special Issue on

Football, Migration and Racism: Global Perspectives

Abstract deadline
31 May 2024

Manuscript deadline
30 November 2024

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Special Issue Editor(s)

John Solomos, Warwick University
[email protected]

Marco Martiniello, National Fund for Scientific Research and University of Liège
[email protected]

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Football, Migration and Racism: Global Perspectives

Football is sometimes seen as a fundamentally aggressive human activity which, by its very nature, encourages tribalism, nationalism, and racism. But it is also seen as an activity that brings communities and peoples of all ethnicities, races, and nationalities closer together. From this perspective football is thus seen by some as a school of respect, inclusion, and antiracism. The reality is less clear-cut and more complex. From a sociological point of view, the world's most popular sport can be seen as a mirror, albeit an often distorting one, of human societies. We can observe some of the social, economic, political, and cultural dynamics that characterize society through the spectacle of football. If racism is present in the world of football, it is because it's present in society at large, and not the other way round. If antiracist practices do exist in football, it's because they exist in society, and not vice versa.


Existing scholarship and research has highlighted four dimensions of racism in football:


First, when we talk about racism in football, we generally focus on the verbal and sometimes physical assaults suffered by players of African heritage, either by fans or by other players. We could list a whole host of racist and antisemitic insults and chants that can be heard in stadiums week after week. We could mention the bananas thrown at certain African players and the monkey chants addressed to them. But these proven facts, some of which are still too often considered to be the expression of football folklore, and therefore tolerated, only cover one - the most visible - part of the everyday realities of racism in football.


It is also important to consider three other dimensions of racism that are present both in the world of professional football and in society in general: racial prejudice, racial ideologies and, finally, a more structural and institutional form of racism.


Racial prejudice is rife not only among certain fans, but also among players, coaches, referees, club managers and federations. For example, African players and players of African descent are sometimes perceived as less disciplined, unable to keep to schedules, less intellectually capable of understanding and absorbing complex tactical principles. Arab players, meanwhile, are sometimes perceived as being particularly aggressive on the pitch and susceptible. Italian players are said to be comedians, and so on. Prejudices of this kind are far from having disappeared.


Such prejudices may be linked to a racist ideology that has been internalized for centuries and reinforced by colonialism. All racist ideologies are based on the idea that humanity is divided into biological and/or cultural groups which reproduce their specific characteristics from generation to generation, and which are called races. What's more this ideology has often placed the so-called white race at the top of a racial hierarchy and asserted its superiority over other races. It has thus served to justify and legitimize slavery, apartheid, colonialism and its alleged civilizing mission. It is still present in society in general, as well as in football, although it is often also vigorously rejected there.


Finally, as in society at large, racism in football also has a structural and institutional dimension. For example, it is still too often taken for granted that the place of racialized people in football is almost exclusively on the pitch as players or in the stands as supporters. In many countries, there are few owners who come from racialised communities. There are also few managers and referees from minority backgrounds. As for the URBSFA, the FIFA and the national football leagues, they are still largely dominated by men form dominant racial and ethnic groups.


The way young players are recruited in Africa and other parts of the globe could also be the subject of more study under the prism of racism. Until recently, the organization of transfers of very young African players to Europe had much in common with human trafficking. Finally, on an international level, the construction of stadiums for the World Cup in Qatar in 2022, which led to the deaths of over 6,500 immigrant workers, shows another facet of racism in professional football. The lives of thousands of Asian and African immigrant workers were sacrificed, reduced to a modern form of slavery, in preparation for an event that is more geopolitical and commercial than simply sporting.


We envision that the papers in this Themed Issue will address one or more of those issues across the planet. Contributions that address the situation in all parts of the globe are welcome, and we also encourage contributions that look across these issues, adopt a comparative perspective or tackle other aspects of this phenomenon.


Submission Instructions

Please submit a 500 word abstract, working title and short bio by 31st May 2024 to [email protected]

Authors will be notified by 12th July 2024 if their abstract has been selected for inclusion in the Themed Issue on Football, Migration and Racism: Global Perspectives.  Selected authors will be invited to submit a full paper (6000 to 9000 words) for external peer review by the Journal.

The submission deadline for full papers is 30th November 2024.

Please direct any questions about the call for papers to Prof John Solomos, Editor in Chief,  or Amanda Eastell-Bleakley, Managing Editor, by email - [email protected]

Instructions for AuthorsSubmit an Article