Martin Blasius: Fußball, nationale Repräsentationen und Gesellschaft. Die Fußballnationalmannschaft im Jugoslawien der 1980er Jahre

Martin Blasius
Fußball, nationale Repräsentationen und Gesellschaft. Die Fußballnationalmann-schaft im Jugoslawien der 1980er Jahre
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Blasius, Martin (2015): Fußball, nationale Repräsentationen und Gesellschaft. Die Fußball-nationalmannschaft im Jugoslawien der 1980er Jahre. In: Südosteuropäische Hefte 4 (1), S. 87–126.

Since its introduction to the Yugoslav space, football has always been connected to the main political conflicts. After 1945, the Yugoslav Communists rebuilt sport in their sense, and football as the most important sport was consequently put into service for their state- and nation-building policy. The central symbol was the national team, whose successes represented those of the Yugoslav socialist model. Nevertheless, in contrast to football’s role during the breakup of Yugoslavia, the socialist period itself has been rarely analyzed. Furthermore, football is often used as a tool for analyzing other social phe-nomena (mostly nationalism) and not treated as a socially embedded, but autonomous cultural element with specific internal logics. This article explicitly aims to show the worth of Yugoslav football history as part of a cultural history of sport. Using the examples of the scandal surrounding „the hymn of Luxembourg“ 1983, the legendary victory over Bulgaria in December 1983 and the impressive Yugoslav victory at the U20 World Cup in Chile 1987, the article examines how representations of the national team developed when Yugoslavia more and more slipped into a multiple political, economic, social and „identitarian“ crisis after Tito’s death 1980 and „national“ tensions started to grow within the country. On the one hand, the article deals with the representations that the communists and other actors (mainly the new, “nationalist” generation of fans) produced in the 1980s. On the other hand, it takes a look at the success and failure of such representations in Yugoslav society. It is shown that the national team was an attractive symbol that especially in deep crisis could awake and confirm feelings of identification with socialist Yugoslavia. However, it also becomes clear that the potential of football for political representation is always determined by the historical situation and fundamentally limited by its character as a sport with its own logics.

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