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date: 03 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter offers new ways of conceptualizing the spread of association football across the world from the late nineteenth century. It rejects “diffusion,” a term that implies a unidirectional and uncomplicated journey and disregards the bumps and barriers that football faced and the twisted routes it actually took. Drawing instead on notions of cultural transfer, exchange, and circulation and using examples from Europe, Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Australasia, it argues that the spread of the game was frequently the result of a range of cross-cultural influences. Critiquing the assumed primacy of the British in existing accounts, this chapter also stresses the role of mobile individuals and groups and members of migrant or transnational communities in spreading the game. It suggests that the numerous and contorted paths along which the game traveled complicates the linear explanations of diffusion that have dominated nation-based histories.

Keywords: football, global, spread, diffusion, transnational, movement, circulation, travel

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