Université de Strasbourg

The Europeanization of sport

The informal Europeanization of sport. Institutional dynamics and social constructions

USIAS Fellow: William Gasparini

Largely Europeanized and sometimes considered as an instrument for European integration, sport is progressively complying with European standards. Although mentioned in literature, the Europeanisation of sport has never been the focus of a thorough sociological study. For sports as well as other domains, this process refers to the elaboration, diffusion and institutionalisation of formal and informal rules, defined first at the European Union level and then incorporated into practices, political speeches and structures and sport organisations at the national level. This research project aims to go beyond the traditional institutional approach of Europe, carrying out a sociological analysis of the various players that constitute what can be called “the Europe of Sport”. It will explore the processes through which these players create an informal Europeanization of sport. In addition to the Europeanization by law, the “social” Europeanization of sport enables the EU to spread new norms without explicitly imposing them, by recommending or encouraging “best practices”. Through literature review and semi-structured interviews, the the project will analyse the connections between speeches of different actors on various issues related to sport and the interests and resources of those actors.

As part of the USIAS Fellowship the following two activities were co-funded:

  • a workshop "Ce que l'Euro 2016 de football nous dit de l'Europe" en juin 2016 (programme)
  • a joint book "Le football des nations" with Editions de la Sorbonne (more information)


In 2015, following this USIAS project, the European Commission awarded William Gasparini a Jean Monnet Chair in Sport Social Science to conduct research and transmit innovative knowledge about sport, Europe and European integration. From 1 September 2015 and for a period of 3 years, the program of Professor W. Gasparini's Chair "European Sports Studies" aims to promote knowledge of the functioning and challenges of the European Sport Area Through educational programs, research and scientific activities on sports practices in Europe, European sports policies, the European comparison and the processes of formal and informal Europeanisation of sports. This project contributes to the construction of a political sociology of sport and its close articulation with research in European political sociology on the causes, characteristics and effects of European integration.

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Investissements d'Avenir