In this episode, we explore the sociopolitical issue of racism through the lens of football, with some emphasis on French football. This includes the history of pseudo-scientific thinking, its influence on racial discrimination, the problem of enforcing good behavior, and what FIFA might do. In addition we discuss a name change for the podcast, who looks like the Champions League favorites, and a football detective story so convoluted it could only happen in today’s media environment.
Our guest, Thomas Serres, takes a deep dive into Ligue 1 in France, and the political overtones of bigotry directed at fans of the Algerian national team in French society. As in most European countries, racism has been a recurring problem in French football stadiums. It has notably resulted in deadly clashes between antifascist and neo-Nazi groups of PSG fans in the 2000s. At the same time, these clashes have also allowed the growing securitization of ultras and forms of indiscriminate repression. Race has also been a problem at the national level. When the notoriously multiracial French national team faced major defeats, pundits and politicians have often blamed the "mentality" of players of African or North-African origins. In addition, racist discourses have fueled the public space after each major victory of the Algerian national team, as public displays of "Algerianess" were portrayed as a threat to public safety and a form of betrayal.
Thomas Serres has a PhD in political science from the EHESS. He is currently an associated researcher with Développement & Société in Paris and an Adjunct Professor at the University of California-Santa Cruz. His research focuses on the politics of crisis and trans-nationalization in Algeria.
Bassam Haddad is Director of the Middle East Studies Program and Associate Professor at the School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs (SPGIA) at George Mason University.
Samer Abboud is Associate Professor in Global Interdisciplinary Studies at Villanova University who fell in love with the game of football after Alexi Lalas’ 1994 World Cup performance. Up the Reds!
Matt Atteberry is a George Mason alumnus who eats, breathes, and sleeps football. Just don’t ask him to play because he’s clumsier than newborn deer on ice skates. When he’s not complaining about defenders, drawing formations, or looking up obscure facts, he’s reading a book with a cup of coffee. Come on You Spurs.
Future episodes will address a variety of topics, including Women’s Football Matters, MLS Woes, the State of Arab National Teams, and more. Should you have any comments or contributions, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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