Geoff Hare, Football in France. A cultural history.

Oxford: Berg Publishers, April 2003. 226 pages.
ISBN: 1859736629 softback: £15.99

The cover of 'Football in France' Book Contents :

1 Introduction: studying French football
2 Establishing football in the French national consciousness
3 Towns and cities: a socio-economic geography of French football clubs
4 Fans: a sociology of French club football
5 Coaches: building the successes of French teams
6 Players: les Bleus and French national identity
7 Television: football as spectacle and commodity
8 Chairmen: business, politics, and corruption
9 Conclusions: French exceptionalism vs. commodification

Available through Berg Publishers, now owned by Bloomsbury or through

The Guardian has said: "As part of a series called 'Global Sports Cultures', it is a serious academic study that traces the history of French football from its smalltime, amateur beginnings to the 'commodity' big league football of today, complete with glitzy chairmen and massive corporate sponsorship from big business. ... Hare's book has a leavening of humour, with some splendid vignettes of the great personalities - the austere, philosophical coaches, for example, as much éducateurs and republican philanthropists as simple tracksuited trainers. There is the soft-spoken, humbly born Aimé Jacquet, a national treasure since 1998, or the lean intellectual Arsène Wenger at Highbury, or burly Gérard Houllier, the "humanist and technocrat" at Anfield ... The great ideological conflicts that have marked French history are inscribed into the history of its football culture, as Hare's book shows so well." (Stephen Romer, Guardian Review, 11.10.2003) Click here for full text

Four Four Two (July 2003) has said of the book: "... what has been lacking is the understanding of the culture of the game in France ... Geoff Hare's well-informed study fills that knowledge gap to perfection."
"Be warned: it is not an easy read ... you're as far from Frank Worthington's seminal One Hump or Two as a book about football is likely to take you."

A reviewer in the Journal French Review (October 2004) writes: "a work of impressive erudition, informed by scholarly rigor, wide reading, an intimate understanding of the 'beautiful game' and an obvious love for it. It is a brilliant validation of cultural studies as a discipline. The close 'reading' of French soccer opens a window onto the changing face of French society at large ... in sum, a splendid achievement."

Christopher Thompson in H-France Review [click for full text] says: "Hare's achievement is not just that he covers the important aspects of his subject without sacrificing the book's narrative flow, or that he blends a consideration of broad trends with a deft eye for the telling case study; it is that even as he addresses the various components of the sport's history in France, he continually brings the reader back to his central thesis, one that ties his study of French soccer to a broader historiographical debate. Hare argues that because soccer offers "particular insights into cross-cultural differences, as the sport becomes globalized, and into cross-national divergences that persist" (p. 7), it illuminates the question of "French exceptionalism" from a new perspective. He concludes that French soccer reflects values, priorities, and a social vision that are distinctly French: unlike the sport in other European countries, soccer in France has been shaped over the past century by a comparatively greater attachment of the French to public service values, amateurism, and community control, and by their accompanying rejection of free-market economic solutions. "

Phil Dine (National University of Ireland, Galway) in the Journal of French Studies [UK], 59.1 (2005), pp. 133-134 wrote:
"As convincing in its analysis of French football as a constantly evolving sporting practice as it is in its interrogation of the game as a periodically reconfigured metaphor for national self-belief, Hare's authoritative history deserves to be widely read."

Jean-Marc Lecaudé in New Zealand Journal of French Studies, 26(2) (2005), p.71: "Geoff Hare's book is, to my knowledge, the first and only book in English on the subject. In over two hundred pages, the author gives Anglo-Saxon readers an excellent and concise introduction to the most popular spectator in France. Geoff Hare has had the good idea to compare football in France and in England, thus enabling his English readership (probably more familiar with football in their own country) to get a clearer picture of the major differences in attitude toward sport in general and football in particular in the two countries"

See also review by Andrei S. Markovits in French Politics, Culture and Society, 23(1) (Spring 2005) p. 161, and further review extracts on publisher's page Bloomsbury Publishing

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