It’s springtime in the American Midwest. The playoffs for the NBA title and hockey’s Stanley Cup are moving into the later rounds, and the new baseball season has already produced history-making performances and rising stars. But the students in my sports history class don’t want to talk about any of that. Instead, the subject of sports talk among these red-blooded Americans is . . . the Champions League!
European football, unlike the American variety, is a sport of global reach and increasing popularity. In the weeks ahead, hundreds of millions of fans around the world will watch the final match of the UEFA Champions League and the group stages and knockout rounds of 2012 UEFA European Championship. To mark the occasion, we take a break from our normal slate of interviews to bring together a team of scholars and experts who look at European football in its various dimensions.
In this special double episode, we talk about the economic and business side of soccer with Simon Chadwick and Brad Humphreys, contributor to the blog The Sports Economist. Director of the CIES Football Observatory, Raffaele Poli, discusses the movement of players in the European labor market, while Dàvid Ranc, manager of the research project Football Research in an Enlarged Europe, explains how football fans have responded to the arrival of foreign players to their clubs. We welcome back sociologist Peter Millward, who talks about his work on the club, national, and European identities of soccer fans. Historians Jean Williams and Manfred Zeller speak to us about women’s football in Europe and the history of soccer in Ukraine, one of the co-hosts of Euro 2012. We chat about football shirts with one of the bloggers at the sites Football Shirt Culture.com and Design Football.com. And the BBC’s Tim Vickery offers his views, as a removed but certainly knowledgeable observer, on the Euro tournament and European football’s worldwide appeal. Whether you are also a distant fan, or a supporter of your local club, hopefully you’ll learn something new from this podcast seminar. At the very least, our guests have plenty of suggestions of football books for your summer reading list.
And watch out for another special episode of the podcast, later in the summer, as we’ll gather another team of experts to help us understand the Olympics.