Without antagonism, there would be no football.  The two teams facing off on a pitch are, by definition, antagonists.  But the significance of antagonism in football has moved far beyond the narrow aim of scoring more goals than your opponents.  It has attained a political and social dimension that transcends the boundaries of the football pitch.  Football, according to David Goldblatt, has “become entwined with every conceivable social identity, and the social divisions that surely follow them.” Religion, economic class, political affiliation, ethnic group; all and many more besides these have provided the bases for antagonisms between football clubs.  Antagonism need not be limited to rivalries between clubs; competing ideologies on the right way to play the game make for a fascinating debate that is evident throughout the history of football. We aim to seek out these antagonisms from around the world and bring you their fascinating stories.

Barrilete Cósmico: Malvinas, Maradona, Argentina & England


The scoreline is familiar, as is the fateful date, but surely the title for this article should be ‘The Hand of God’? Everyone knows that this was the game when England’s brave Three Lions and the hapless officials were slyly deceived by the diminutive Argentine, and thus any retrospective of the game must take this key moment as its starting point? Or perhaps not…the moment we always hark back to, with a characteristic tone of moral indignation, is remembered quite differently outside England.

The Quarter Final game may occupy a similar space in the Argentine collective memory in terms of its significance, but the epithet that is more commonly used in the Southern Cone, invoking the Uruguayan commentator’s interest in cosmology, refers predictably to the ‘other’ moment of otherworldly intervention that day. [Continue Reading]

Futebol Arte vs Futebol Força : the Latin American Football Debate


When we think of Brazilian Football there is a strong tendency to fall back on deep-rooted stereotypes of wider Brazilian society. People speak of Samba Football (whatever that is), carnival and silky skilled players whose joie de vivre shines through above such trifling concerns as winning. Of course there is an element of truth in stereotype. There is an incredible level of flair and invention in the Brazilian game, which has been an ever present throughout its football history.  Unfortunately, however, the panorama is rather more complicated than the stereotypes suggest. [Continue Reading]

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