1st Edition

The Geopolitical Economy of Football Where Power Meets Politics and Business

Edited By Simon Chadwick, Paul Widdop, Michael M. Goldman Copyright 2025
    352 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    352 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book examines the new geopolitical economy of football, exploring the intersection of money, politics and power in the world’s most popular sport. 

    Against a background of international conflict and the emergence of powerful new state actors in world sport, the book considers how football investments and events have become instruments of soft power and industrial development, and how football plays an increasingly significant role in global politics and international relations. Featuring the work of leading researchers from around the world, and case studies from five continents, the book examines key contemporary issues such as the Gulf States’ interests in European soccer and debates around ‘sportwashing’ and human rights, the global politics of artificial intelligence (AI) in football, and football’s complex relationship with migration and identity in Africa and Latin America. It considers the seismic impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the geopolitics of football; on the shifting landscape of the governance of football in Europe; the rise of Major League Soccer and the ‘Messi effect’, and how the development of China and India into global economic superpowers is reflected in their vision for their domestic football leagues. The book also considers the importance of FIFA and their commercial partners and stakeholders as geopolitical actors on the world stage. 

    This is fascinating reading for anybody with an interest in sport, political economy, international politics, globalisation or development.

    1. Introduction to the Geopolitical Economy of Football

    Simon Chadwick, Paul Widdop and Michael Goldman 

    Part I: Global Issues 

    2. The Geopolitical Economy of Football: Dense Networks, Complex Decisions

    Simon Chadwick and Paul Widdop

    3. Will AI Turn the Football World Upside Down?

    Sascha L. Schmidt and Daniel Lugner

    4. The Complacent Cheerleader in Football’s Nation Branding Process

    Chris Toronyi and Jacqueline Mueller

    5. Image Laundering, Sport Washing and Greenwashing In and Through Football

    Argyro Elisavet Manoli, Ioannis Konstantopoulos and Georgios A. Antonopoulos

    6. Unpacking the Concept of Sportswashing in Elite Men’s Professional Football in England

    Leon Davis and Daniel Plumley

    7. Athlete Activism in Global Football: Taking the Knee

    Laura Bradshaw

    8. Environment, Climate Change, and Football

    Andy Carmichael

    9. How the Ukraine Conflict Affects Russian Football Clubs: The Hostages of Big Politics

    Timur Absalyamov and Mathias Schubert

    10. Why is the Business Model of FC Zenit Unclear to the Sports Management Academicians?: Embraced by Gazprom

    Sergey Altukhov and Veronica Astashkina 

    Part II: Women’s Football 

    11. Europe and Geopolitical Influences on Women’s Football Finance

    Christina Philippou

    12. The Paradox of French Women’s Football

    Lindsay Sarah Krasnoff 

    13. Gender Pay Inequality in African Football: A Pale of Two Halves

    Shane Wafer and Nick Flowers

    14. Exploring the Intersection of Gender and Class in Space: The Case of New Generation Stadiums in Turkey

    İlknur Hacisoftaoğlu and Rahşan İnal 

    Part III: Ownership and Investment 

    15. The Emergence of Multi Club Ownership

    Steve Menary

    16. Re-conceptualising Multi Club Ownership in Football; A New Definition and Typology of MCO

    Michael Anagnostou and Argyro Elisavet Manoli

    17. The Development, Structure, and Operations of the City Football Group

    Abhishek Khajuria

    18. The Benign, Brilliant, and Beautiful Soft Power of Qatar’s Paris Saint-Germain

    Thomas Ross Griffin

    19. Analyzing Unsuccessful Examples of Gulf Ownership and Investment in European Football

    Kristian Coates Ulrichsen

    20. Red Bull’s Investment in German Football: A Game Changer for the Bundesliga?

    Daniel Ziesche

    21. Global Investment and Cultural Traditions

    Raymond Boyle and Richard Haynes

    22. An Overview of the UK Government’s Fan Led Review of Football Governance

    Mark Middling and Christina Philippou

    23. The 3P-Model in Global Football: Creating Value by Combining Passion, Profit, and Politics on Multiple Levels

    Martin Carlsson-Wall and Kai DeMott 

    Part IV: The FIFA World Cup and Tournament Football 

    24. Polycentric Football Tournaments

    Robert Kaspar

    25. A Geopolitical and Economic Analysis of China's Bid for the FIFA World Cup: Going It Alone or Co-hosting

    Ren Huitao and Ma Yang

    26. FIFA World Cup 2026, Soccer’s North American Sporting Legacy

    Vitas Carosella and J Simon Rofe

    27. The USWNT, Nation Branding, Public Diplomacy and the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup: U.S. Against the World

    Yoav Dubinsky

    28. The Digital Symbolic Legacy of the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup in Times of ‘Plague’ and War

    Vitaly Kazakov

    29. The FIFA World Cup Television Broadcasting in Africa through Pay-TV: Shifting Flows

    Gerard A. Akindes

    30. Colombia's Failure to Host the 1986 FIFA World Cup

    Jorge Tovar 

    Part V: Business, Society and Culture 

    31. Football Consumption, Nostalgia and Soft Power: Definitely Maybe!

    Paul Widdop and Simon Chadwick

    32. The Great Game of Football Diplomacy: Australia Versus Wales

    Gavin Price and Stuart Murray

    33. Football, Geopolitics, and Digital Technologies: A Dynamic Nexus Shaping Global Dynamics

    Samir Ceric and Sanchit Mehra

    34. The Supranational Competitive Promise of the Three Seas Initiative in Central Europe

    Olivier Jarosz, Konstantin Kornakov, and Adam Metelski

    35. Football and Forced Migration: Sicily and The Central Mediterranean Route

    Alessio Norrito


    Simon Chadwick is Professor of Sport and Geopolitical Economy at Skema Business School, France. Chadwick’s work focuses on sport’s geopolitical economy. He has worked extensively with some of the most prominent people and organisations in the sport industry, including Formula E and several F1 drivers and teams. 

    Paul Widdop is Reader at the University of Manchester, UK. His research explores social and economic networks around the consumption and production of sport. He has published widely in the areas of sport and culture including articles in the Journal of Consumer CultureCultural SociologyCultural TrendsElectoral Studies, and the Journal of Political Marketing. Widdop serves on the editorial board of several academic journals and is co-founder of the Football Collective, a learned society of academics researching impacts of football on society. 

    Michael M. Goldman is Professor with the Sport Management Program at the University of San Francisco, USA, while also working with the Gordon Institute of Business Science in South Africa. He works with students, managers, and clients to enhance their abilities to acquire, grow, and retain profitable customers and fans.