University of São Paulo: Multiculturalism of football teams should be highlighted at the 2022 World Cup


Sports practices are directly connected with societal issues, after all, sport is part of them. Thinking about the relations of influence between football and society, journalist Guilherme Freitas produced the book The football teams of the European Union: identity, migration and multiculturalism through the ball , which has just been published by Editora Dialectic.

Guilherme Freitas – Reproduction: Personal collection
The work is an adaptation of his master ‘s thesis entitled The Multicultural Football Teams of the European Union , presented in 2017 at USP’s School of Arts, Sciences and Humanities (EACH). In the research, Freitas analyzed the effects of migratory movements and their impacts on football in European Union countries, such as France, Germany, the Netherlands and Portugal. “Football in these countries is seen as a kind of platform for social mobility. It is a chance to improve their lives, to have more opportunities, since the percentage of young people from an immigrant background who will reach high positions in a company, or with a high educational level, is much lower than the natives. So, there are these relationships between sport and society”, says Guilherme.

Multiculturalism in football should expand in European teams
Of the relations between sport and society that the research analyzes, the practices of racism and xenophobia are present on and off the field. In addition to the verbal aggressions committed by fans against players of immigrant origin, the research identified that football was used in extreme right-wing nationalist discourses as an instrument of opposition to multiculturalism in these countries.

Published five years after the dissertation, the book has updates, such as the positive effect that Egyptian player Mohamed Salah had on reducing religious prejudice in the United Kingdom, especially in his club’s hometown of Liverpool. “He arrived in England and became an idol of the fans. This caused the crowd to decrease Islamophobic chants and, in the Liverpool community itself, complaints of Islamophobia dropped mainly because of him. We see that when the athlete reaches a certain level of admiration, he ends up impacting and influencing social behavior”, he highlights.

The book also has an additional chapter, which gives more space to women’s football. In it, the author emphasizes that the multicultural movement is present in the modality, albeit on a smaller scale. “Women’s football is growing, gaining more space. Today, the games of the women’s team are shown on open TV, the Brazilian Championship, and even the European championships themselves. This impact of multiculturalism on the national teams is already happening, in the last cup there was also an increase in players with this profile”, he says.

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