This short-course analyses football’s relation to the religious world. Too often in the past, football has been defined narrowly as a sort of secular religiosity, with no appreciation of the complex social identities within the sport. This course will explore how religious practice intersects and overlaps with the beautiful game. We will use both a historical framework to highlight the longevity and intricacies of this relationship, and an approach that posits football as an analytical window for examining broader geopolitical and social forces. In particular, we will examine whether football can be viewed as a vehicle for the socio-political integration of marginalised groups into wider society, and the extent to which religious belonging is a facilitator or obstacle for any tensions that arise.
Convenor: Leif Stenberg is Professor of Islamic Studies and the Dean of the Aga Khan University’s Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations (AKU-ISMC), London. His latest research has been on the various intersections between football, religion and social identities.