Jörn Eiben (Esch)


Football’s Subject. A History of collectively moved Bodies

Soccer is, most probably, the most popular sport in Germany. This, however, has not always been the case. Next to other sports, 'imported' from England, it was particularly football, which was perceived very critically by the contemporaries.

How was this game established in the German Empire between 1875 and 1918? How did 'the Germans' become football players? These are the leading questions of the PhD-project “Football's Subject”.

In 1875, the first publication about soccer was released. Konrad Koch's “Fussball. Regeln des Martino-Katharineums zu Braunschweig” ('Football. Rules of the Martino-Katharineum in Braunschweig') did not only inform the contemporaries about the rules, but Koch also desribed the first targeted attempt of football's introduction in Germany. After 1918, football became – most likely – a mass-phenomeon; thus, it is reasonable to suppose that football was at this point (relatively) accepted.

Following discourse analysis, I will analyse the legitimisation of football as a 'cure' for the 'degenerated Volkskörper' (the people's body) as a process of inscription; an inscription into the contemporary discourse of degeneration. However, I will not stop at an analysis of football's legitimisation on a discursive level, but investigate the effects, discourses about football had on its practitioners. The assumption is that the framework of manuals sheds light on the emergence of a particular subject-form, which can be – with due caution – called “football player”.

In order to prove this assumption, I will not only analyse manuals, but also visual sources. In addition to that, contemporary reports of football matches will provide the closest possible perspective on the practice and training schedules will contribute to an analysis of this particular, historical self-making.

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