Teaching history through the lens of football

International Day of Education: Celebrating with football history

The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed January 24th as International Day of Education, in celebration of the role of education for peace and development and highlighting how inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong opportunities should be available for all.

EuroClio’s own Football Makes History project keeps inclusive education at the forefront, aiming to help young people explore European history and heritage through the lens of football to tackle social exclusion. We look at issues of racism, gender & sexism, homophobia, migration, poverty & inequality, nationalism, war & peace – all through the lens of the world’s most popular game!

Our project – financed through the Erasmus+ scheme of the European Union –  is now entering its final stages and we are publishing educational resources on a weekly basis. We’d like to seize the opportunity of the International Day of Education to showcase some of the ways our project can benefit you as an educator to teach an inclusive history.

The ready-made and transferable learning activities on European football history are designed to help tackle rising intolerance and engage students in critical thinking. Among others you’ll find lesson plans exploring nationalism and the links to armed conflicts, borders and national identities,  football and identity markers, and economic inequalities – with many more to come!

In addition to these full-fledged lessons plans, we have also added another feature useful to the educator: The Football Lives. These profiles are not your usual hall of fame. While some football lives are heroic and have paved the way for inclusion, democracy and human rights, others have done just the opposite. Take for instance the journey of Alex Villaplane who went from sporting hero, captaining France at the 1930 World Cup, to being executed by firing squad as a war criminal and collaborator with the Nazi occupier in 1994! A traitor to some can of course also be a hero to others. One such figure is Jörg Berger whose footballing career stalled after he refused to sign up as an informer for the East German secret police, Stasi, before later escaping to the West. While celebrating great footballers with interesting backgrounds (hello Zlatan, Maradona, Rapinoe and Özil!), our life stories also point to some of the darker sides of football and football history. Robert Enke committed suicide after years of suffering from depression. Was football partly at fault?

A common feature of all these Football Lives is that they tell a wider story that could feature as part of a history lesson. To help you as an educator, we have included a few “thinking points” to each story.

Have you already used (or plan to use!) some of our lesson plans or life stories in your teaching practice? If so, we’d love to hear from you! (please get in touch with Andreas Holtberget at andreas@euroclio.eu!)

We finally invite you to follow our Football Makes History accounts on social media to get the latest of both news and educational material. Stay tuned also for a number of professional development opportunities that will take place online or on site in the Netherlands, Germany, Romania and the UK this coming Spring. EuroClio’s own webinar series on football history will kick off 28th May!

Educating through football

How the World's most popular sport can help teaching history and fight discrimination

 

Football enjoys a fan base bigger than that of any other team sport, with millions of people passionately following local, national, and international competitions. Thanks to its accessibility (you only need a ball and two goalposts to play), football is played by professionals but also amateurs of every age, religion and social class; although it still appeals primarily to men, more and more women around the world are getting attracted to it, both as players and viewers. The “Football makes History” project, launched in 2018, wants to capitalise on this sport’s popularity and make football’s history and cultural heritage powerful educational tools for the promotion of equality and social inclusion. Funded by the EU Erasmus+ programme, “Football makes History” sees EuroClio co-operating with various partners from the football, heritage and education worlds, involving history educators and youth workers from across Europe. Different initiatives have already been implemented, such as staff training meetings, while the project’s website has recently been launched. Soon, learning activities for formal education and a toolkit for non-formal education will be made available in response to the needs of educators, assessed through an international survey run in early 2019. According to this survey, European educators, both in formal and non-formal education, have often witnessed cases of discrimination (particularly xenophobia), and they believe that football’s history has the potential to foster tolerance and respect. This is also the opinion of Professor Gijsbert Oonk from the History Department of Erasmus University Rotterdam. Professor Oonk, director of the “Sport and Nation” research programme and holder of the Jean Monnet Chair on Migration, Citizenship and Identity, is the Academic Advisor of “Football makes History”. He will show us how football history can help promoting positive values among the younger generations, and will provide us with tips and examples for formal and non-formal educators.

How to include football history in the curriculum

Football history can offer an alternative approach to the teaching of colonialism. Generally, educators support their instruction with world maps showing countries in different colours according to which European state colonised them. Football may offer a less conventional route into the subject that would allow students to be more actively engaged. For example, students could be asked to look at pictures of national football teams and guess where the players and their parents were born. This approach would be very effective in a country like France, whose national team won the 2018 World Cup and was composed by fourteen players of African origin out of twenty-two, connecting the history of colonialism with the history of migrations. Besides the famous French case, there are plenty of examples of teams whose members were born in different countries from the one they play for, as Professor Oonk explains in his inaugural lecture. Including football history in lesson plans about colonialism would allow educators to discuss relevant issues such as integration and citizenship, thus ensuring that the teaching of a complex past phenomenon does not overlook its current implications and long term consequences.

If in the case of colonialism, football history can provide a starting point for the teaching of the past, in other cases it can enrich existing narratives like, for example, the history of the First World War. A series of episodes known as “Christmas truce” occurred in December 1914 along the Western Front. Hostilities had reached a stalemate and during the Christmas week soldiers from opposite sides came out of the trenches and met in no man’s land, fraternised, exchanged gifts and, in some cases, played football. There are various accounts of matches between British and German troops that, although not always accurate and reliable, have persuaded historians that during these unofficial ceasefires enemy soldiers did meet and play football on a few battlefields in the Flanders. Learning about these episodes can help students familiarise themselves with the geography of the conflict and with the reality of life in the trenches. Moreover, the Christmas truce constitutes an example of humanity in the midst of atrocity, and can contribute to promoting peace and mutual understanding.

Although football history includes various episodes of tolerance and solidarity, sometimes such values did not prevail and this sport became characterised by different forms of discrimination, like racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and sexism. Today, it happens both on the terraces during matches when, for example, fans make monkey gestures, and on social media, where the phenomenon is amplified. Fare Network, one of the partners to the Football Makes History project is working hard to report on and combat such occurrences.

1934 World Champions: Italy

Unfortunately, intolerance has long been present in football, but Professor Oonk argues that it should not be downplayed or ignored. Even the most negative episodes from football history have the potential to spark discussion about various topics, such as nationality and identity, while at the same time expanding and deepening student’s comprehension of complex historical phenomena. For example, history educators could integrate the teaching of Italian fascism with the history of Italian football in the 1930s. The country’s national team winner of the World Cup in 1934 included some players who were born in South America from Italian immigrants; nevertheless, nobody questioned their Italian nationality and right to play for Italy. As anti-Semitism grew and racial laws were implemented in 1938, members of the Italian Jewish community who had become prominent in football, such as Renato Sacerdoti, President of AS Roma and architect of the team’ success in the 1930s, were persecuted and arrested, despite remaining very popular among Roma fans. The case of football during Italian fascism is just one example of how educators can use the history of this sport to explore concepts of nationality, identity and loyalty, and to reflect on the discrimination and exclusion of minority groups.

Conclusion

Football history has a lot of untapped potential to promote inclusivity and tolerance by providing positive examples and role models, and by serving as a basis for discussing current topics. Moreover, including football history in the normal history curriculum can help raise students’ interest in the subject, as Professor Oonk’s experience confirms. This is why EuroClio is currently preparing teaching materials for formal and non-formal education, with useful resources soon to be made available on the project’s website. However, as all educational tools, football history has some limitations. First, its use is limited to the teaching of recent history. Although some forms of football already existed, it is during the twentieth century that this sport became as popular as it is today and that its history started to be documented systematically. Moreover, much like films and video games may also fail to capture some pupils’ attention, football history too does not always improve engagement and participation in the classroom because not all students are interested in the sport in first place. Therefore, students preferences should be taken into account by educators before including football history in the curriculum. Done right, however, football history can be a very useful tool to highlight issues of historical importance that are fit for history curricula.

 

Written by Cecilia Biaggi, postdoctoral trainee at EuroClio and a Marie Sklodowska Curie Researcher in the LEaDing Fellows COFUND program at Erasmus University Rotterdam. Cecilia is particularly interested in minorities and nation-building, political history and education. A special thanks also to Professor Gijsbert Oonk for input to this article.

Football Makes History – Needs Assessment

This needs assessment is produced as part of the Football Makes History project.  The overall aim of the Football Makes History project is to contribute to the reduction of the number of people at risk of social exclusion across Europe. The project aims to builds on the rich local cultural heritage of football and its shared history that offers direct access to addressing past and present diversity. In addition, it aims to promote shared values, equality, non-discrimination and social inclusion with an integrated perspective, encompassing and innovating formal and non-formal learning, as well as youth work.

This Needs Assessment visualises the needs and challenges of football history as an educational tool for social inclusion based on an EU-wide survey and on three piloting projects. It identifies working elements that can be used when producing a toolkit and exemplary lessons within the course of this project. In addition, it examines educational programmes that make use of football history, assessing their working elements and identifying improvements needed, as well as potential areas for innovation.

Read the full needs assessment here.

Football Makes History*: Understanding migration and the multicultural society through football

Julia Flegel Project Updates

The 3rd Short-term Joint Staff Training was held from the 01.11-03.11.2019 in Frankfurt, Germany hosted by the Eintracht Frankfurt Museum.

Under the overall goal of enhancing social cohesion and promoting diversity in the educators’ everyday work, 30 participants, school history educators and youth workers, were offered training, expertise and professional development, especially on the topics discrimination and migration in football together with 10 participants of the partner organisations EuroClio, FARE NETWORK and EINTRACHT FRANKFURT MUSEUM.

At first, participants learned about the German Football context via presentations by staff members of the Eintracht Frankfurt Museum, the DFB-Kulturstiftung (DFB-Cultural Foundation) and the head of “Koordinationsstelle für Fanprojekte” (Coordination office for fan projects). The second part of the meeting was dedicated to the development of the Learning Activities, the Toolkit and the Policy Recommendations, as well as story-telling in football – all key deliverables of the Football Makes History Project.

In two time slots, two parallel workshops on the Learning activities formed the core of the three-day training, in which four sample Learning Activities, formal and non-formal, were introduced to the participants, as well as tested out and evaluated by them.

Another highlight of the weekend was the opportunity to attend Eintracht Frankfurt’s 5-1 Bundesliga victory over Bayern Munich at a sold out stadium in Frankfurt. A big thanks to our colleagues at the Eintracht Frankfurt Museum for arranging tickets for everyone!

Veendammer Wind: at the crossroads of history, football, and music

Agustin De Julio Reviews

Veendammer Wind: A football opera, 28-30 June & 4-5 July 2019

The rise and fall of a club and the importance of community

Just outside the city centre of Veendam stands the Langeleegte stadium imposingly, six years after the official bankruptcy and closure of the SC Veendam. The 29th of June 2019, the Langeleegte opened its doors once again for a festive occasion, Veendammer Wind, an opera celebrating the rich history of the club, the tireless engagement of the local community, and their great achievements. Inextricably, it also tells the story of the decline of the Sportclub Veendam, pride of the east of Groningen.

It is impossible though, to reflect on the decline of the club, without considering the social reality of the Veenkoloniën, the area of the east of Groningen of which Veendam serves as unofficial capital. This region is also one of the poorest in the Netherlands. Historically, the Veenkoloniën were hit by adverse economic shocks they could never fully recover from. The decline of the peat industry, and the mechanisation of agriculture left great amounts of manual workers unemployed. Aided by globalisation, industrial production departed to areas with cheaper labour during the last century. The structural damage done to homes and historical buildings in the Veenkoloniën due to gas extraction is the latest in a long list of adverse circumstances for the area. Culturally, this region has seen a marked disconnection with the rich west of the country, and has had revolutionary tendencies well into the 20th century. It is in this context - that of the beleaguered community standing up for what is theirs - that the story of a family trying to save their local club unfolds. The attempts to revive the club through national campaigning and the recruitment of cultural ambassadors is lovingly told, with an emphasis on local stories, and interesting insights on the role of women in traditionally male dominated sports, culminating in an organised women’s team becoming more prominent than the men’s.

Despite some minor pitfalls, this opera reveals the spirit of the east of Groningen. One leaves the Langeleegte with a handful of lessons learnt. Firstly, the opera communicates well that in difficult times, community and solidarity matter. Hard times in this case show the potential for local, community solutions that can bring an entire region together. Secondly, it showcases that despite the many noxious examples of identity being used for divisive and exclusive narratives, it can also be a virtuous thing: young and old, Groningers and not, came together to celebrate a club that bound them to each other. The prominence of the Gronings dialect, both sung and spoken, is a clear indication of the intimate relationship between culture and sport. Stunning performances from the main cast, supporting actors and the Veenkoloniaal Symfonieorkest were worthy of this touching local story.

What does this performance mean for history, citizenship and heritage education?

The Football Makes History[1] project led by EuroClio and its partner organisations aims to tackle social exclusion and discrimination of any type via the use of football history. The rationale behind the project lies on the conviction that football, through its wide appeal, can bring people together and exact great positive societal change. Veendammer Wind shows the richness, breadth and potential of football as a source of inspiration to address these societal problems. Everywhere one looks, there are local histories that could teach valuable lessons, both in the classroom and on the pitch. It also showcases the virtues of multidisciplinarity, and encourages educators not to be afraid to innovate by mixing history with other topics, much like this performance mixes opera with football and history. The past is interwoven with everything around us, and performances like these further make the case for the use of engaging and moving local histories to teach citizenship values and raise awareness of shared heritage amongst Europe’s youth.

Original title Veendammer Wind
Original language Dutch and Gronings
Genre Opera

[1] Project implemented with the financial support of the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union as part of the initiative “Football History for Inclusion – Innovative collaborations of school education and youth through the prism of local football history for social inclusion and diversity”

Written by Agustín De Julio, EuroClio trainee

Football Makes History* : Addressing the Inclusion of National Minorities

Agustin De Julio Project Updates

From the 2nd to the 5th of May, the 2rd Short-Term Staff Training for the Football Makes History project took place in Bucharest, Romania. The Training was organised by the Romanian Football Federation, one of the partners in the Project.

28 enthusiastic developers from all over Europe met in the capital city of Romania for this meeting, which focused on the inclusion of national minorities, both in football and in public life in general. Presentations on this topic, which is of high relevance within the Romanian context, were given by the Florin Sari, CSR Manager of the Romanian Football Federation, and by Ms. Lacziko Eniko Katalin, State Secretary for Interethnic Minorities.

During the meeting, developers presented the topics that they would like to touch upon in the educational material they are creating to each other (such as how to use football and football teams to teach the concept of border, on to promote the integration of refugees). Then, guided by EuroClio and the consortium partners, they dived into their materials, further structuring the activities and defining future steps to be taken.

Materials will continue to be developed during the summer, also by means of piloting throughout Europe. The Consortium and Developers will meet again at the beginning of November 2019 in Frankfurt, Germany, hosted by the Eintracht Frankfurt Museum.

In the coming weeks, we will publish a complete report on the Bucharest Short Term Staff Training: Stay Tuned to know more about the event and its results!

Read here the public report for the Bucharest Short-Term Staff Training.

* Project implemented with the financial support of the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union as part of the initiative “Football History for Inclusion – Innovative collaborations of school education and youth through the prism of local football history for social inclusion and diversity”.

Football Makes History*: Third Transnational Project Meeting in Bucharest

Agustin De Julio Project Updates

The 3rd Transnational Project Meeting for the Football Makes History project took place in Bucharest, Romania on the 6th of May 2019.

The partner organisations: Anne Frank House, EuroClio, Eintracht Frankfurt Museum, Evenzo Consultancy, Fare Network and the Romanian Football Federation, met in order to discuss the development of the project and further develop the strategy to successfully bring the project to fruition.

An evaluation of the Short-Term Staff training that took place from the 2nd -5th of May in Bucharest was performed, and specific intellectual outcomes of the project were discussed. Among them, the results of the survey for the Needs Assessment were analysed, the design of the Policy Recommendations was presented and the tentative design of the Public Awareness Campaigns were addressed.

This meeting will be followed up during the next Transnational Project Meeting, which will take place in Frankfurt am Main, during the 8th and 9th of October, in preparation for the subsequent Short-Term Staff Training, taking place in early November 2019 in Frankfurt.

* Project implemented with the financial support of the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union as part of the initiative “Football History for Inclusion – Innovative collaborations of school education and youth through the prism of local football history for social inclusion and diversity.

Help us Understand and Uncover the Educational Potential of Football History!

Jaco Stoop Project Updates

EuroClio, Fare Network, and their partners in the “Football Makes History” project are looking for your help. The Football Makes History project team will develop educational material for formal and non-formal education, using football as a door-opener to teach issues around social inclusion and anti-discrimination.

We would like to learn more about if and how you face and deal with topics such as inclusion, exclusion, diversity, and discrimination in your work. Do you think materials dealing with football history could offer a way to teach about it? Do you know of existing materials that the project team should be aware of?

Please fill in this anonymous survey. The survey is aimed at educators working in both a formal and non-formal setting; be they classroom teachers, or youth workers at a local football club. It does not matter if you are interested in football and sports or not at all. What matters, is that you are interested in providing quality education to your pupils.

The data collected will be part of a public report that will be compiled and edited by the Anne Frank House. The report will be made available on our project page and elsewhere, and will guide the project team in developing high-quality educational materials that respond to the needs of educators.

Thank you in advance for filling in the survey before Friday 15 March 2019! Please feel free to share it with your colleagues and peers.

Football Makes History

Innovative collaborations of school education and youth through the prism of local football history for social inclusion and diversity

For the latest updates on the Football Makes History project, please consult the dedicated website footballmakeshistory.eu!

About the Project

Some would say history is just one damned thing after the other, that it should be put to rest in the past and that bygones should be bygones. These people are not necessarily wrong, but in an ever-complex world of globalised societies and rising exclusivist identity-politics, the stories we tell ourselves about the past help us define ourselves in the present and orient toward an unpredictable future.

Some would say football is nothing more than 22 people chasing a ball around a pitch for 90 minutes. Also those people are not necessarily wrong, but history is made up of whatever people have come to value, and certainly football - a game played and watched by billions for over 100 years - seems highly valued.

We would say that football history is made up of millions of stories, of individuals and communities, of movements and processes, which can open doors to the conversations we need to have in the present. Players who came from nothing to become international super-stars. Clubs which have been established to foster minority identities and belonging. People who have faced exclusion in a racist and bigoted past.

Our European Football stories, starting with your local neighbourhood club, can not only excite the football and history fans but in particular create a space where those that are marginalised in European societies are included, feel belonging so that everybody can seek active citizenship.

Sport – and particularly football – appeals to millions of Europeans, regardless of their sexual orientation, colour, gender, age, nationality or religion, often becoming a defining factor of identities and communities. The rich local cultural heritage of football and its shared history covering the turbulent 20th century history offers direct access to addressing past and present diversity. In addition, it helps to promote shared values, equality, non-discrimination and social inclusion with an integrated perspective, encompassing and innovating formal and non-formal learning, as well as youth work. This project will see a unique European team, including a Football Federation, a professional Football Club, the renowned Anne Frank House and FARE Network, together with European networks of history educators and youth workers.

Project Aims

The overall aim of the project is to contribute to the reduction of the number of people at risk of social exclusion across Europe by pursuing these specific objectives:

  • Promote diversity, non-discrimination and equality, including gender equality;
  • Innovate formal and non-formal learning leading to social, civic and intercultural competences and critical thinking;
  • Support the professional development of educators and youth workers and build the capacity to develop and implement innovative teaching methods;
  • Engage cultural heritage for all by accessing the histories, memories and legacies residing in football history in transnational perspectives on all levels;
  • Raise public awareness on the role of learning for social inclusion and increase the sharing of innovative practices across the continent.

Expected Outcomes

  • Needs Assessment: The project aims to produce a needs assessment through mapping and analysing existing approaches that use learning about local football history to enhance social inclusion and promote diversity. This output will gather data through local piloting sessions and an international survey, including data from over 300 individuals with from over 30 countries in or neighbouring the European Union. Download the full Needs Assessment here.
  • Toolkit: This output involves a toolkit for using historical and cultural heritage dimensions of football to enhance social inclusion and promote diversity in non-formal settings. The toolkit is a user-friendly and practical collection of 30 exemplar approaches to use and a guidebook on how to use them for youth workers and other educators involved in non-formal education
  • Exemplar Learning Activities: The Exemplar Learning Activities on European Football History for social inclusion and promotion of diversity (also referred to as Handbook) will be made available as an Open Educational Resource and will contain 30 activities that support teachers with dealing with diversity in the classroom, with tackling rising intolerance and with engaging students in an innovative and meaningful manner. See all learning activities on historiana.eu.
  • Policy Recommendations: The Policy Recommendations for Education, Youth, Football and Sport will identify to policy makers in which way the findings of the Needs Assessment either support or contradict existing policies of using football history as a tool within formal and informal education and will make clear what kind and at what level changes are needed. Download the Policy & Action Recommendations here.
  • Public Awareness Campaign: The campaign targets the wider society, urging major bodies in football and education to get behind the campaign and valorising research and educational approaches performed at the local level. In short, the campaign will have five components: a central campaign website, an event package, a short video, liveblogging at peak visibility moments, and ambassadors recruited amongst players who are well-known and support the priorities and objectives of the project. See footballmakeshistory.eu

Latest news

Help us Understand and Uncover the Educational Potential of Football History!


Jaco Stoop
Project Updates


EuroClio, Fare Network, and their partners in the “Football Makes History” project are looking for your help. The Football Makes History project team will develop educational material for formal and non-formal education, using football as a door-opener to teach issues around social inclusion and anti-discrimination. We would like to learn more about if and how you face …


Football Makes History*: Third Transnational Project Meeting in Bucharest


Agustin De Julio
Project Updates


The 3rd Transnational Project Meeting for the Football Makes History project took place in Bucharest, Romania on the 6th of May 2019. The partner organisations: Anne Frank House, EuroClio, Eintracht Frankfurt Museum, Evenzo Consultancy, Fare Network and the Romanian Football Federation, met in order to discuss the development of the project and further develop the …


Veendammer Wind: at the crossroads of history, football, and music


Agustin De Julio
Reviews


Veendammer Wind: A football opera, 28-30 June & 4-5 July 2019 The rise and fall of a club and the importance of community Just outside the city centre of Veendam stands the Langeleegte stadium imposingly, six years after the official bankruptcy and closure of the SC Veendam. The 29th of June 2019, the Langeleegte opened …


Football Makes History*: Understanding migration and the multicultural society through football


Julia Flegel
Project Updates


The 3rd Short-term Joint Staff Training was held from the 01.11-03.11.2019 in Frankfurt, Germany hosted by the Eintracht Frankfurt Museum. Under the overall goal of enhancing social cohesion and promoting diversity in the educators’ everyday work, 30 participants, school history educators and youth workers, were offered training, expertise and professional development, especially on the topics …


Educating through football


How the World’s most popular sport can help teaching history and fight discrimination   Football enjoys a fan base bigger than that of any other team sport, with millions of people passionately following local, national, and international competitions. Thanks to its accessibility (you only need a ball and two goalposts to play), football is played …


Teaching history through the lens of football


International Day of Education: Celebrating with football history The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed January 24th as International Day of Education, in celebration of the role of education for peace and development and highlighting how inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong opportunities should be available for all. EuroClio’s own Football Makes History project …