Historical Social Research

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Katharina Barsch: The Path of European Football. A Level Playing Field for only 90 Minutes [Abstract]

Football in Europe has an apparent trend towards unfairness. This contribution takes a coherent theoretical approach to explain this trend. On that account, it creates a framework on the special characteristics of sport and, in that light, evaluates interventions by European institutions concerning the governance of European football. In a next step, reproductive mechanisms inherent to path dependent processes will be specified within a multi-layered analytical framework. It will be shown that these mechanisms are interspersed throughout the system of European football and foster the trend of unfairness in regard to the relationships between success, money, and power. Empirically statistical evidence will show that football clubs within leagues, on an international level, as well as leagues in comparison to each other are drifting apart in terms of success. Furthermore, an additional qualitative approach will shed light on the mechanisms concerning power and how these influence the rules of the game on an organizational level. All in all it, will be demonstrated that path dependence is inherent to European football and that the European Union has interfered unguidedly in the system of football triggering consequences contrary to its vision of sport.

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