The business of football
The business of football

This free course is available to start right now. Review the full course description and key learning outcomes and create an account and enrol if you want a free statement of participation.

Free course

The business of football

1.1 Football globalisation and history

So given the development of football into a global business, how did this start and how did football spread across the globe?

You'll now listen to part of a BBC radio programme, ‘Sport and the British’, presented by Clare Balding, which gives some surprising insights into the development of football from its early roots. The piece provides a particularly fascinating focus on the rise of the game in South America.

Download this audio clip.Audio player: Sport and the British
Skip transcript: Sport and the British

Transcript: Sport and the British

Sport and the British

Clare Balding
Football is the world game and it was Britain who took it to the world, unlike cricket and rugby which was spread by soldiers, civil servants and settlers in British Colonies, football took a different route. It was taken around the world by those who had made Britain the greatest trading nation in the world; by managers, engineers and teachers.
David Goldblatt
In the last 19th Century there are an enormous number of Britons all over Latin America. Now the first things they start playing are polo and cricket. But in the 1870s onward football begins to arrive. And what we see all across Latin America is a process where small groups of Britons begin playing football, very quickly after that the local elite take to that game, because the game as British has an extraordinary social cache about it.
Clare Balding
The genuinely indigenous sides, River Plate was founded in 1901, Independiente and Bocca Juniors in 1905. And British teams, like Southampton, Nottingham Forrest, Everton and Tottenham, came in the first decade of the 20th Century to play exhibition matches against the local sides.
David Goldblatt
I have a quote here from Sam Allen who was the manager of the 1912 touring side Swindon Town who played in Buenos Aires and Montevideo to huge crowds, and he wrote, 'I've never seen such enthusiasm for the game as shown by the two Republics and everywhere one sees the hold it has taken on the people. Boys on the street, on the seashore, down alleys, soldiers on barrack grounds, all have the fever. Across the Rio de la Plata football was also flourishing in Uruguay.
Clare Balding
As in Argentina the game of football had been brought to Uruguay by British teachers and schoolboys, and again its popularity took off.
The Olympics of 1924 and ‘28 were won by Uruguay with Argentina finishing runners up. And the first World Cup held in Uruguay was won by the hosts beating their neighbours Argentina in the final. Since those early days another South American nation has taken over

[Recording of Brazilian commentator]

Clare Balding
Brazil embraced the game at the same time as Argentina and Uruguay, but their adoption of football wasn't so much a result of British political or economic influence, but it was thanks to one sporty young man, Charles Miller.
David Goldblatt
Born in Rio de Janeiro to an English father and a Brazilian mother he organises the first game of known football in the 1890s in Brazil,
And over the next five years Sao Paulo elite society, both Anglo but also Brazilian, goes absolutely wild for football.
Professor Tony Mason
A simple, cheap, but exciting game like football couldn't remain the monopoly of elites for long. In the fast growing South American cities of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Montevideo, Buenos Aires football spread downwards with remarkable speed. Encouraged by local press coverage young male immigrants from Italy and Spain joined or formed clubs to play, to socialise, which soon began to produce a line of pibe de oro, golden boys, stars from the people; Garrincha, Pelé, Maradona, Tévez and Messi,
Clare Balding
The British had introduced football to South America but it very quickly took on its own life and character.
Brazil is the only country to have competed in all of the 19 World Cups staged so far, and with five wins it's the most successful nation in World Cup history. The British may have introduced the game to South America but there's no doubt that between them Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina have turned it into something more beautiful and more successful. Latin America has made football its own.
End transcript: Sport and the British
Copy this transcript to the clipboard
Print this transcript
Sport and the British
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Activity 1 Factors affecting football’s initial globalisation

Allow about 15 minutes

It is interesting to note from the BBC radio clip how football started its global spread. In particular you may not have been aware that football started as an elite game – a contrast perhaps to how many see the game now.

Make some notes on the factors that have provided the impetus for the globalisation of football.

Then post your views into the forum [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]   and look at the answers others have given.

Figure 2 A monumental media event, Brazil’s Luis Fabiano cornered by cameras during the 2010, FIFA World Cup in South Africa
BOF_1_P05

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to university level study, find out more about the types of qualifications we offer, including our entry level Access courses and Certificates.

Not ready for University study then browse over 900 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus