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Where Next? Football’s New Frontiers

Miller, T. (2013) Where Next? Football’s New Frontiers. In: Steen, R., Novick, J. and Richards, H., (eds.) The Cambridge Companion to Football. Cambridge University Press, pp. 274-294.

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Football is more popular than Jesus and John Lennon combined. One in every two living people, we are told, watched the 2010 men’s World Cup on television. More than ever, football is a universal currency, a lingua franca – the common ground of culture. In the words of the prominent U.S. journalist Dave Zirin, ‘Soccer is the great global game: the closest thing we have to a connective cultural tissue that binds our species across national and cultural borders.’ Go anywhere in the world with a ball under your arm or a ripping sporting yarn next to your glass and you’ll never walk, sit or stumble alone.

We are accustomed to such shibboleths about the universal popularity of the game. But are they true of the three countries that account for much of the world’s population, knowledge, armaments, wealth – and sport: the United States, China and India? These are crucial sites for a sport that claims ecumenicism/hegemony. Why have they resisted football’s appealing blandishments and seemingly inexorable march? And what about virtual frontiers – the likely impact of new media technologies on the game’s future? Will football’s geography and means of reception both change markedly as gigantic countries and innovative genres enter the field of play?

Item Type: Book Chapter
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Copyright: 2013 Cambridge University Press
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