1st Edition

Regeneration through Sport Football, Sport, and Cultural Modernization in Spain, 1890-1920

By Andrew McFarland Copyright 2023

    This book examines how and why sport in general, and football in particular, entered the country and developed successfully between 1890 and the 1920s, while placing that growth within the context of Spain’s larger historical experience.

    The introduction of sport in the late 19th century permanently changed the day-to-day lives of thousands of Spaniards. Initially, the country’s growing urban middle-classes embraced the new activity as they built community identities and were introduced to it through economic and educational connections to foreigners. To justify this, these proponents argued that the adoption of physical education and sport would physically regenerate the nation. In response, well-rounded sporting communities grew, developed medical arguments, and even debated the activity’s appropriateness for different groups like women. As sport spread, it produced the first football clubs around the turn of the century. Subsequently, in the 1910s and early 1920s, football established the structural institutions, like stadiums, stars, regulatory bodies, and a press, that enabled its rapid expansion as a mass consumer activity in the late 1920s. Regeneration through Sport looks at how this process embedded the sport within the national culture and established itself as a politically neutral activity before the Spanish Second Republic, allowing it to become almost ubiquitous today.

    This book will appeal to researchers, students and scholars alike who are interested in the history of sport, Spain, and European history.

    1. The Context for Reception: Spain’s 19th Century, Regeneracionismo, and Sport’s International Growth 2. Early Growth and Institutions Invested in Sport: First Developments, the ILE, and the FGE from the Late 19th Century to the 1920s 3. The Arguments for Introducing Sport: Nationalism, Physical and Intellectual Benefits, and Evaluating Each Activity 4. Barcelona and Catalonia’s Sport’s Community from the 1890s to 1920: A Case Study of Growth 5. Middle-Class Games: The Introduction and Early Growth of Football from the 1890s to 1910 6. Building the Institutional Bones: Football’s Development from 1910 to the 1920


    Andrew McFarland is an Associate Professor of History at Indiana University Kokomo. He has published numerous articles on the introduction of sport, football, and physical education to Spain and their development from the late nineteenth century through the twenty-first century.