It is generally accepted that sport is one of the most relevant social phenomenon in today’s society. The idea of sport as a pure passion or something to discuss while enjoying a coffee belongs to the past: today, sport is mostly represented and nurtured through the media, which has transformed it into a consumable commodity which is at the same time a cultural product, show business, an educational and socialization instrument and much more. Moreover, sport represents a precious tool for social integration since it expresses the multicultural nature of Western society with all its contradictions.
From this perspective, one of the strongest representations sport has offered – and football in particular – was the victory of the French National Team during the FIFA World Cup in 1998, when the whole French nation identified with the French team, which was known as the “three-Bs team – black, blanc, beur”, and composed of French nationals with different ethnic backgrounds as a result of the social integration policy fostered by the Chirac Government. However, 20 years later, the terrorist attack of November 2015 at the Stade de France, one of the symbols of the 1998 World Cup, represents, according to Stefano Martelli (mentepolitica.it 21/11/2015), the failure of such a policy.
If football is then a significant experience for hundreds of millions of people (supporters and/or practitioners) – a “total social fact” in Marcel Mauss’ words – it is necessary to ask why Italian and European football «have witnessed an escalation in the quantity and type of racist actions which have involved many supporters, players, managers and representatives of football institutions. International organizations and institutions such as the European Union, the UN and the World Bank have stepped in to exhort the Member States to fight this phenomenon by considering it as part of a bigger perspective of the spreading of racist feelings among the public and the rise of xenophobic political parties and movements» (R. Pedretti, 2015). Players such as Mario Balotelli, Angelo Ogbonna and Stefano Osaka represent, thanks to the fame they enjoy, the visible tip of a much bigger and complex phenomenon that moves with difficulty in a world that still struggles to think in terms of integration and equality. The antidiscrimination campaigns run by organizations such as FARE (Football Against Racism in Europe) or initiatives like the Mondiali Antirazzisti (Antiracist World Games) do not seem to be successfully piercing the indifference of distracted ruling classes and heated supporters.
Sport is then a universal practice, but fraught with contradictions: despite being open to players of all origins, genders, social classes, many athletes in Europe are victims of injustice, discriminations, and racist events of different kinds. Despite that, 64% of European citizens consider sport (including competitive sport) as a tool with which to fight every form of discrimination (W. Gasparini, 2012).
The media narratives which tell the stories of successful athletes of foreign origin in Europe make the athletes nonetheless positive examples, and have a great impact both on their original society and on the second generation of migrants in Europe. Beyond the symbolic aspect and the production of meaning – and therefore of consensus – concerning champions and stars, the practice of sport represents a socializing element for citizens of all ages in the communities and neighbourhoods around sport associations (laic or religious). We are more and more aware of the need to fully include sport in the framework of social polices and to define more precisely what instruments can be deployed to make it a useful resource for the integration of citizens of foreign origin and for the fight against social exclusion. Recent examples of inclusion of asylum seekers within local sport associations of the territories where they are hosted seem to confirm such potential.
Pierre Bourdieu, who defined culture as an element that is experienced differently by people belonging to different classes, invited us to consider sport not only as a leisure activity but also as a social practice that – also through body control and body culture – is enacted in different shapes and produces specific effects that reflect the social position of the practitioner, who can then accumulate “cultural capital” (P. Bourdieu, 1978).
Starting with these assumptions, the issue 84 of the journal Africa e Mediterraneo aims to discuss sport as an instrument, practice, and socio-cultural resource which is able to facilitate social integration of migrant citizens and asylum seekers in the hosting countries and to increase the “cultural capital” and the “social capital” among migrants and natives at the local level.
Contributions dealing with the following subjects from different disciplinary approaches are welcome:
– terms and contents in the use of sport as an instrument for integration and fight against social exclusion of asylum seekers and migrants;
– sport practices by refugees and migrants in Europe;
– antidiscrimination campaigns in sport;
– sport as an instrument for social climbing for asylum seekers and migrants;
– debate and representation of sport in the African media;
– sport, racism and inclusion in social media and in the European mainstream media;
– successful examples of athletes from the Global South and their impact on countries of origin and young migrants.
Deadline for submission:
The proposals (max. 400 words) must be submitted no later than March 25th 2016 to the following email addresses firstname.lastname@example.org ; email@example.com.
The editorial committee will examine the proposals. If the proposal is accepted, the complete article with the related abstract (abstract max. 100 words, preferably in English) and a short biography of the author must be submitted by May 25th 2016.
Africa e Mediterraneo is a peer reviewed journal.
The articles and the proposals can be submitted in the following languages: Italian, English and French.