A football match as a political act

Research Project: A football match as a political act. Football as an instrument for creating federalist concepts and nation-building/state-forming movements in Central Europe after World War I
Researcher: Prof. Dr. Dariusz Wojtaszyn, University of Wrocław, Willy Brandt Center for German and European Studies. The project is realized with the help of a research stay at the Center for Sport Science of the University of Vienna, working area: Social and Contemporary History of Sport.
Aim and Content:
The aim of the project is to examine the origin, mechanisms and effects of political instrumentalisation of sport, on the example of football, in the process of creating federalist concepts, as well as the state or nation-forming process in Central European countries after World War I. One of the key elements of the project is an attempt to show the comprehensive activities undertaken in this part of Europe, inspired mainly by Austria, in order to create Mitteleuropa's concept using the region's most popular sports discipline – football. In this context, the issue of the importance of the inauguration of football contacts (and in their diplomatic background) expressing and becoming a symbol of both political community and existing differences within Central Europe will be stressed. In the course of the project, an analysis will be made of how – thanks to the use of football, commonly considered apolitical – a space has been constructed in which attempts to undertake diplomatic activities have become possible, serving both the realization of current political interests and the construction of the Central European community. The project also aims to show how football relations served – in addition to strictly political activities – also to attempt to deal with the post-war and post-Habsburg reality in the sports sphere and, more broadly, in the social sphere in the countries of the region. The final element of the project is to draw attention to the deteriorating international situation in the 1930s, as a result of which the countries of Central and Central-Eastern Europe lost their international political standing and to the outbreak of the Second World War, which ended the region's premature crystallization. This will allow us to reflect on the beginnings of the division of the continent after the end of the struggle on the frontlines.

Funding: The Bekker programme of the Polish National Agency for Academic Exchange
Key words: sport, football, Central Europe, Mitteleuropa, national identity