Foreign-born sportspeople in the Olympics and the Football World Cup: migration, citizenship and nationhood

Gijs van Campenhout, Joost Jansen

Research output: Chapter/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic

Abstract

It is commonly assumed that more and more foreign-born sportspeople are nowadays included in international sports teams. This supposed increase has spurred many (inter)national controversies, as the status of these athletes as ‘true’ representatives of the nation is being questioned. We examine how the number of foreign-born sportspeople in the Olympics and the football World Cup changed, and how these numbers challenge notions of citizenship and nationhood. Taking the questions ‘who belongs to and who can represent the nation’ as a red thread, using a conceptual distinction between formal and moral citizenship, we argue the numbers and diversity of foreign-born sportspeople in national sports teams show some signs of increase in both the Olympics and the football World Cup, but not as dramatically as is often hypothesised. Furthermore, we show that meeting formal eligibility criteria does not automatically translate into being fully accepted as a true member of the nation.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearch Handbook on Sports and Society
EditorsE.C.J. Pike
Place of PublicationCheltenham
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing
Pages227-243
Number of pages424
ISBN (Electronic)9781789903607
ISBN (Print)9781789903591
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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