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Defence and attack: empire, nation and resistance in inter-war football in Malta

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A nation's politics and socio-cultural identity can sometimes be best considered through the lens of Association Football (soccer). Examining football in the Mediterranean island of Malta in the inter-war years of 1920–1940 this paper focuses its analysis on the phenomenon that is the game of football and the epi-phenomena it provokes and sustains. In the tiny archipelago that constitutes the Maltese islands, the game as it was played and administered in this era had implications for the British colonialists, the refugees that fled Central Europe for Maltese shores and the indigenous Maltese peoples. In these years the game was played out amidst, variously, the island's unique party politics, intra-district rivalries, and historical considerations of reputation and social class. It was also to become integral to the contestations around anti-colonial sentiment and the debates over national identity. The game in Malta was thus a facilitator of both local and global processes and played an understated role in the pursuit of independence. This examination of the specific Maltese context may well shed light upon broader processes within the international game which lies at the intersection of the global and the local.
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Keywords: Malta; colonial; football; inter-war; local and global

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Sport and Education, Brunel University, London, UK 2: Department of Anthropology, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK

Publication date: May 1, 2011

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