1st Edition

Sports Policy and Politics in the Western Balkans

By Marko Begović Copyright 2024
    198 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book examines how states in the post-socialist Western Balkans region have used sport as a policy tool, and how sport in the region has been shaped by politics, history, and culture.

    Looking closely at the intersection of sports policy and politics in the countries of Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, this book explores the roles of sport in nation-building and how sport has been used by regimes looking to establish political legitimacy in the transition from the post-socialist era. It offers a fascinating insight into the way that sport has been co-opted for political purposes, and into the complexities of formulating sports policy and wider public policy in societies in which governance structures may be weak and in which clientelism, corruption, and partisanship pose constant challenges.

    This book is fascinating reading for anybody with an interest in the history and politics of sport, in public policy, or in the history, politics, and culture of the former Yugoslav countries.

    1. Introduction 

    2. A Historical Overview of the Development of Sports Policy and Politics 

    3. Western Balkans: Between Integration and Politicization 

    4. Sports Policy and Politics in Bosnia and Herzegovina 

    5. Sports Policy and Politics in Croatia 

    6. Sports Policy and Politics in Montenegro 

    7. Sports Policy and Politics in Serbia 

    8. Conclusion: Comparison between Sports Policies and Politics within Countries


    Marko Begović is Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Sport in Serbia and Associate Professor in the Faculty of Business Administration and Social Sciences at Molde University College, Norway. He was formerly Director in charge of sport and youth within the Government of Montenegro.

    'In my own quest as an athlete, I didn’t understand dynamics beyond the sport pitch and game that I played. This book gradually introduces to me the complexity of interrelation between different actors, and how this mix of interests reflected on my sport and indirectly on my career. As a sport professional and someone who is managing different sport organizations, I can totally relate to a number of challenges articulated within this book. Discussing with an author, I understood the main motives around his work that could be summarized as the attempt to stimulate discussion on the further development of sport in the Western Balkans, in particular, countries that emerged from ex-Yugoslavia.'

    Mirza TeletovićFormer Professional Basketball Player and President of the Basketball Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Played for six years in the NBA and member of the national basketball team.

    'I know the author from both his sport and policy career, and reading this book, it echoes his numerous presentations and discussions on the development of sport systems and policies successfully integrated into one manuscript. Athletes, especially from the 1990s have been subjects of different pressures, and Begovic rightly articulates these institutional challenges and dominance of politics over the sport.'

    Razija MujanovićFIBA Hall of Fame and Silver Medalist at the 1988 Summer Olympic Games and 1990 FIBA World Cup. After the dissolution of Yugoslavia, Razija competed for the national basketball team of Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

    'In any sport to have success, you have to work extremely hard and Mr. Begović did the same to bring together a piece with an overwhelming quantity of information regarding sport, politics and sports policy. The final result gives an insight into the mentality and upbringing of several Western Balkan nations because all of them take so much pride in competing, whether on the international stage or in their home backyard. Any sport enthusiast or worker can use the knowledge in this book, it is a sport policy encyclopedia.'

    Sonja Vasić, A EuroBasket Most Valuable player, a member of the national team of Serbia, European gold in 2015/2021 and Olympic bronze medalist in 2016. 

    'As a work of capturing policy-making in the countries of the Western Balkans, Begović has done a great job. Besides being informative on the development of sport, the author’s ability to present institutional evolution is exceptional.'

    Mirza DžombaA former Croatian handball player and gold medalist at the 2003 IHF World Championship and 2004 Summer Olympic Games and one of the best right wing players in the history of handball.