Theses defended

Futebol, raça e nação em Portugal

Pedro Freitas de Sá Sousa de Almeida

Public Defence date
March 27, 2019
Doctoral Programme
Democracy in the Twenty-first Century
Silvia Rodríguez Maeso
This dissertation stems from the idea that studying football in Portugal helps to understand national contemporary history. A dialogue between social theory and the critical literature on society and sport clarifies how the thesis of racial homogeneity, claimed as a natural state of European nations, is (re)produced in the Portuguese context of football.

Given the limitations which characterise studies on sport, racism and national identity, this research study highlights football's extraordinary capacity to embody racial imagery and national identity. This dissertation explains how the framing of debate in the European context has not encapsulated the idea of race as a marker of europeanness. In this regard, current thesis are challenged by showing a need to problematise the idea of nation from the critical production of race, racism and eurocentrism.

Deconstructing the dominating thesis of racial homogeneity entails the acknowledgement that today's racism arises from centuries of oppression. This acknowledgement requires the abandonment of the hegemonic thesis (within and outside specialised academia) according to which racism is based on the 'prejudices' and 'attitudes' of a minority. Far from being considered an epiphenomenon of the history of western thinking, the notion that race constitutes modernity itself is thus asserted.

By highlighting the way football cultures naturalise the idea that the 'other' has no place within the realms of portugueseness the empirical element of this research study confirms that the nation is not perceived as multi-racial. Moreover, the critical analysis of the narratives around Sport Lisboa e Benfica and Associação Académica de Coimbra reaffirms the strong link between 'nation' and colonial past. Therefore, notwithstanding the formal end of colonialism, the thesis of Portuguese exceptionality is still permanently used.

Besides problematising the narratives which accompany the history of the aforementioned clubs, this empirical study shows that this ideological device is pivotal in understanding the discourses produced and conveyed by the media, thus reinforcing the thesis that the idea of nation cannot be dissociated from race and racism.

Keywords: football; race; racism; nation; Portugal