Spanish soccer is on top of the world, at international and club
level, with the best teams and a seemingly endless supply of
exciting and stylish players. While the Spanish economy struggles,
its soccer flourishes, deeply embedded throughout Spanish social
and cultural life. But the relationship between soccer, culture and
national identity in Spain is complex. This fascinating, in-depth
study shines new light on Spanish soccer by examining the role this
sport plays in Basque identity, consolidated in Athletic Club of
Bilbao, the century-old soccer club located in the birthplace of
Basque nationalism. Athletic Bilbao has a unique player recruitment
policy, allowing only Basque-born players or those developed at the
youth academies of Basque clubs to play for the team, a policy that
rejects the internationalism of contemporary globalised soccer.
Despite this, the club has never been relegated from the top
division of Spanish football. A particularly tight bond exists
between fans, their club and the players, with Athletic
representing a beacon of Basque national identity. This book is an
ethnography of a soccer culture where origins, nationalism, gender
relations, power and passion, lifecycle events and death rituals
gain new meanings as they become, below and beyond the playing
field, a matter of creative contention and communal affirmation.
Based on unique, in-depth ethnographic research, this book
investigates how a soccer club and soccer fandom affect the life of
a community, interweaving empirical research material with key
contemporary themes in the social sciences, and placing the study
in the wider context of Spanish political and sporting cultures.
Filling a key gap in the literature on contemporary Spain, and on
wider soccer cultures, this book is fascinating reading for anybody
with an interest in sport, anthropology, sociology, political
science, or cultural and gender studies.
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