1st Edition

Football and International Relations under Francoism, 1937–1945

By Juan Antonio Simón Copyright 2025
    160 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book shines a light on the specific role football played in relation to the international relations of the Franco regime in mid-twentieth century Spain.

    In the thirty-five years of the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, sport, and specifically football as the main mass sport, was often used as a tool at the service of the political and diplomatic interests of the regime and this volume analyses how Franco's government, mainly through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, used football as part of its foreign policy strategy to promote the international image of the dictatorship. Prestige international tours and friendly matches, the European successes of Real Madrid CF and of the national team and the organisation of sporting events such as the 1964 European Nations Cup were used as instruments to strengthen the country's geopolitical interests. This book responds to an important bibliographical gap that exists both in relation to research on Franco's regime and to the study of the role that sport played under Franco and in comparison with other totalitarian regimes such as fascism and Nazism.

    Football and International Relations under Francoism, 1937–1975 is an ideal resource for academics in sports history, football history and international relations studies, as well as those with an interest in Spanish history and the study of totalitarianism in Europe. 

    Introduction  1. The Sporting Structure of Franco's Regime and the Role of Football  2. The Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Diplomatic Use of Football  3. The Civil War and the New Football Diplomacy, 1937–1945  4. From Isolationism and Autarchy to Francoist Consolidation, 1945–1959  5. Real Madrid, Ambassador of Franco's Regime  6. The 1960s and the Transformation of the Diplomatic Use of Football, 1960–1975  Conclusion


    Juan Antonio Simón is Lecturer in Sports History at Polytechnic University of Madrid-INEF, where his research focuses on the history of sport in Spain, the links between football and international relations, and the history of mega sports events like the FIFA World Cup and the Olympic Games.