Playing an Aerial Game: The New Political Economy of Soccer

  • Richard Giulianotti
Part of the International Political Economy Series book series (IPES)


Association football, otherwise known as soccer, is without question the world’s most popular sport. Globally soccer is played and watched by more people than any other game. While the American professional basketball (NBA) and football/gridiron (NFL) leagues struggle to cultivate a massive European following, soccer has been successfully transplanted into the apparently infertile territory of the United States, resulting in 18 million direct participants (Andrews, 1999). Soccer’s flagship tournament, the World Cup finals, is fast approaching the Olympic Games as sport’s most extravagant mega-event. Soccer constitutes a lingua franca qua body culture to peoples otherwise divided by language, religion or custom. Politically the game has been considered to spark wars in Central America and revolutions in Eastern Europe (Kapuscinski, 1992),1 as well as promote ceasefires and conflict resolutions in Africa (Murray, 1996; Richards, 1997). Yet soccer’s global centrality is most commonly measured in financial terms. Some estimates valued annual soccer-related business at over £250 billion in the year 2001.


Transnational Corporation Premier League Rich Club Satellite Television Champion League 
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© Richard Giulianotti 2005

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  • Richard Giulianotti

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