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Why Does Soccer Matter in Latin America?

Why does soccer matter in Latin America? Can soccer explain the world? Is soccer part of migration patterns? Why does a game organized in 19th century British universities appeal to people’s free time across the world? Does play matter? Does organizing play into sport make play work? Students at Texas State in the Honors College class Soccer: Local Stories, Global History are exploring these questions with each other and with people in Austin, laying the initial oral history groundwork for how the global sport of futbol gained a strong and democratic foothold in the land of football. Students are asking long-term immigrants and native-born Texans about their first encounters and embrace of organized soccer, trying to get a sense of the trajectories that brought people from all across the world and in a variety of industries to play soccer together almost every Sunday, in some cases, since the mid 1970s. So far, everything from motherhood in Austin to neighborhood life in San Luis Potosi are used to explain the place of soccer in people’s lives.

Honors Soccer Class

Pictured here is the tail-end of a student-led conversation with International Studies scholar and Historian Josh Nadel about his book Futbol!: Why Soccer Matters to Latin America (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2014). Professor Nadel skyped in from Greece, where he and his partner are working with the International Rescue Committee.

The class is being run by John Mckiernan-Gonzalez, director of the Center for the Study of the Southwest.