Football and Gender exclusion Dissertation, 10,000 words




        1.1 Introduction

Football as a sport has long played an integral role in the European, especially British society, which was where its organised league form began in the Victorian age, and it forms an important, exciting and challenging part of the British culture. This dissertation will look at the potential of football in preventing social exclusion in society and the possible role the government can play in improving current sports facilities, and in the creation of opportunities for the young, and generally strengthening the community. The role of the government and state institutions in this regard can range from the promotion of activities aimed at the improvement of health and wellbeing of the local people through the promotion of football as a means of tackling health inequalities, as well as enhancing the career and scholarship chances for the young. Essentially, sport itself can be used as a strategy for the promotion of healthier life styles, and a drug free, emotionally, structured and healthy life style amongst local youth, regardless of their social standing: although football is traditionally a working class sport, its appeal ranges across all social-economic groups.


Up until now, football has been used to support programmes that encourage education and lifelong learning amongst local youth, through competitive projects aimed at closing the skills gap, the improvement of lifelong learning and personal development, by encouraging employment, training and volunteering. Other projects which use football to promote social inclusion have included strategies that tackle social exclusion by using football to prevent and reduce crime and youth offending, as well as promoting respect amongst the local populations and communities by promoting football as a productive use of time. This paper argues that football can also be used to promote equality and to increase participation of the less economically active or wealthy members of society, particularly the younger generation. Equality of access is thus a means of building strong relationships between women and girls, disability groups as well as ethnic and black minority groups.


1.2 Purpose of the report and terms of query


To this end the author would like to use this report as an opportunity to establish good practice at the regional and national level in the context of the EU and Britain which will combat economic discrimination and exclusion of women, gay and lesbian participation in sports activities, and, in this context, specifically football. The reason the author has chosen football as a sport for this paper is its popularity in Europe, particularly Britain, and its immense potential in promoting the general health and well-being of youngsters in society.


The basic nature of sporting activity actually brings about for young people a natural perception of social importance amongst other members of society. Football is, by its very nature, a team sport, and thus it engenders cooperation and collaboration on a group basis by allowing frequent youth interaction at a fundamental level with wider social factions and the community at large.  Furthermore, especially in the context of Britain, football as a sport assumes a position in terms of social and community conditioning that moves beyond the traditional measures one would normally apply (Giulianotti; 2005). In this sense, it is possible to see how participation in football as a sport can result in a variety of benefits not only for individual progression, but also for social processes in society. Football remains a part of the social capital for European societies, since the element of the same is often integral to sport, even if sports players and organisers themselves are unaware of the social function their particular sporting activity is producing (Giulianotti; 2005). Given that the examination of football should include an active analysis of its social role, then in academic terms it is clearly necessary to adopt a wide theoretical basis upon which to found these assertions and conclusions.  Thus, it is vital to assert the initial assumption that any examination of the social role sport plays must assume a relatively interdisciplinary approach to the subject.  Ultimately, the assessment of sports’ social connotations requires the inclusion of the wider context of the social circumstances amongst which the sport has evolved within society.


1.3 Aims and Objectives of the Dissertation:


The overall aim of this research paper is to clearly and comprehensively outline the degree to which social exclusion and football impact upon one another.  Therefore, significant time will be dedicated to offering appraisals and assessments personifying the presence of inherent and engrained social exclusion in football.

The researcher has adopted a fairly broad basis of assessment and, in line with this, issues pertaining to social class, poverty and gender will be given full expression.  In order to achieve a measure of focus and direction, issues such as age and disability race and ethnicity will be excluded from the in-depth analysis.

In addition to outlining how examples of exclusion can be found in football, various techniques and methods, which have attempted to counter such developments at the British and EU level, have also been assessed at length.  Such assessment will therefore include academic assertions in combination with government publications.

The research aims will be focused directly at answering two fundamental research questions, namely:


  1. a) To what extent is social exclusion an issue in football on the basis of poverty, ethnicity, class and gender?


  1. b) What methods and approaches have been and can be in the future undertaken to counter such social exclusion in football?


1.4 To further the examination of the aims above the author has formulated the following aims and objectives


  • To assess the perceptions of the football playing youths between 18-21 years of age about football in terms of their reasons for playing foot ball
  • To assess the contribution football can make to the society, the academic and career potential of the marginalized sections of the youth
  • To assess whether the current state of sports institutions and club based organisations and associations in Britain actually promote sports especially football amongst the less economically fortunate sections of the society
  • The role of football in improving self esteem, the general health and well being of the contemporary youths in the society
  • The role of celebrity football players in enhancing the perception of football as a health and beneficial habit amongst the youth.



2 Literature Review

2.1 General views on football and social exclusion

The discussion below will make an effort to elucidate upon the clear tendency for social exclusion being prevalent in football in the context of Europe and, in particular, Britain However, in order to offer a full and complete appraisal of this issue, it is necessary to detail the literature which offers possible resolutions to the problem. In this regard Wagg (2004) has outlined the manner in which football can cross class and economic divides in a way which offers effective responses to social exclusion. Moreover, various initiatives directed from central government have attempted to utilise the potential of football in a way which directly counters issues pertaining to social exclusion (DCMS; 2001).  In line with general social policy over the last decade, central government has attempted to instil partnership between government agencies and leading football clubs.  For instance, Houlihan and White (2002) have examined the impact of proactive measures by certain football clubs aimed at increasing participation of the local community in a way, which engenders greater understanding of social exclusion and actively combats it.  Everton Football Club is an example of where positive developments have been witnessed in this regard (Houlihan and White; 2002). As such, it is possible to highlight the degree to which government actions have attempted to directly address the issue of exclusion in football.  Although the example of football has achieved relatively greater levels of success compared to other sports, this does not alter the fact that political actors have placed an “emphasis on social objectives and football as a tool for human development” (Houlihan and White, 2002; p. 4). For example, Collins (2004) provides a succinct overview of how social exclusion and football interact.  Furthermore, Polman et al (2004) have outlined how gender issues figure prominently in exclusionary tendencies in football.  Once again, football is used as the prominent example; however, it is also possible to witness gender based exclusion in other sports.  Polman et al (2004) detail examples of such tendencies in golf, rugby and snooker.  Once again, it is determined that effective resolution to such concerns requires the proactive involvement of government in collaboration with grass roots football organisations and clubs.  In many respects, Hargreaves (2000) further personifies issues relating to exclusion, football and gender in a very specific study. Other studies such as Giulianotti (2004), Houlihan (2008) and Horne et al (1999) provide further verification and support for the various assertions outlined above.


2.2 The problem of social exclusion in the society and football

A review of football’s social role and impact presents us with an immediate issue of concern, as, even though for decades in European society there have been a great many initiatives and actions which have aspired to reduce inequality in society, such inequality remains a consistent and persistent feature of British society as it does in much of the developed world (Pierson, 2004).  Ultimately, the primary focus of concern has moved away from material-based poverty to concerns of social exclusion in society, which can occur at a number of levels and for a variety of reasons (Pierson, 2004).

Given that football as a British-made working class sport, and it therefore assumes an intrinsic social role, it would be fair to conclude that issues of concern in wider social functions also have a significant impact in sport.  Indeed, the issue of social exclusion and inherent social inequality is something which has actually received increased academic and political attention in Britain in recent years. Based on this line of thought, social exclusion, in football in particular, not only highlights the degree to which sport and social functions interact at a fundamental level, but also the continuing persistent presence of social exclusion in sport itself.

As suggested above, the issue of social exclusion in football has been the subject of detailed academic examination. Moreover, given the essential social connotations involved in this area of study, political forces have played an increasing role in application of football as a method of addressing social concerns. However, given that issues and concerns which fail to adequately conceptualise the true nature of the problem often direct political actions, then it is in academic discourse that one is to find the real tenets of concern.  It is therefore necessary to provide a full and comprehensive outline of the debates and discussions, which preoccupy academic thinking on the subject of football and social exclusion.

Various academic studies have aimed at highlighting the degree to which exclusion is an essential issue of concern in popular sports like football.  In the seminal work of Collins and Kay (2003) in this regard, it is possible to note that social exclusion is actually endemic in football, and to reduce this there should be an adopt a proactive approach to the problem in a way which highlights the primary issues of concern in a constructive manner.  As such, Collins and Kay (2003) have outlined in detail the degree to which exclusion in football takes place for a variety of reasons.  Naturally, issues pertaining to poverty and exclusion are paramount in this regard.  Thus, exclusion on the basis of economic wealth often occurs in football-based activities when large clubs take over the arrangement of these and their training and participation techniques.  However, the degree to which this impact is felt sometimes differs depending on the football club in question.  For example, football in British society invariably tends to exhibit greater levels of exclusion due to the increased costs of participation compared to other sports like cricket and rugby, although far more people play football than either of those, sometimes elitist, sports.  Such poverty and subsequent exclusion can have a particularly negative and acute impact upon young people.  For example, in a study into child poverty, Collins and Kay (2003) found that 14% of preschool children experienced poverty (as they define it) every year between 1991 and 1996, although the national average was 6.7%.  Building on such studies, Collins and Kay have outlined the degree to which instances of child poverty have a direct impact upon participation in football.  Therefore, the positive development that can be derived from football participation is less prevalent among children who suffer poverty in general.

Having said this, it would be inappropriate to suggest that exclusion in football solely occurs on the basis of material poverty, as a variety of other issues and concerns impact upon exclusion within society in general.  Thus, such impacts are equally felt in football.  For example, Houlihan (2008) has asserted that there is an unequivocal link between football participation and social class.  Using empirical evidence collected from various studies in Nottinghamshire across a broad spectrum of age ranges, Houlihan (2008) outlines how class identification has a direct impact on general sports participation. A variety of quantitative evidence has been used to support such basic assumptions.  For example, using tables as a method of explaining research outcomes, Houlihan (2008; p. 85) has suggested that in 1990 “Adult visits to football centres” amongst the professional and economically sound pool of  people in Nottinghamshire accounted for 40% of the total, whereas unskilled people represented a mere 8%. A number of other indicators such as this are used to highlight the degree to which class and football interact.  Moreover, Houlihan (2008) has demonstrated how this disparity varies from sport to sport and between genders.  Once again, the example of tennis is used to personify the degree to which certain sports enhance class differences more than others.  However, such disparity also occurs in sports such as hockey.  Thus, even though social scientists generally agree that class-based difference is not as protracted in Britain as it once was, it appears that in football participation, significant divisions on the basis of class remain apparent – amongst the participation of young people in local activities, at least. (It could, of course, be argued that the vast majority of professional footballers are from the lower socio-economic classes and that the educated and professional middle-classes are the ones excluded there, but that is a whole other issue!)

2.3 Gender and exclusion in Football

Carrington and McDonald (2001) have offered a rather different perspective upon exclusion in football.  The detailed analysis and assessment provided accounts for exclusion in football on the basis of gender and poverty. Also, while a variety of different measurements and conclusions were provided, (and naturally it is not possible to give detailed reference to all of them here), one such conclusion is worthy of specific mention. It is suggested therein that football engenders exclusionary tendencies across the broad spectrum of class and poverty; however such processes are particularly acute in relation to women.  Moreover, what is interesting to note is that the analysis provided by Carrington and McDonald (2001) moves beyond the ground level of social functions to include professional football. Naturally, the presence of endemic gender exclusion at the professional level filters down through all lower levels in football. However, although the assumptions of Carrington and McDonald (2001) do indicate the seriousness of exclusion in football, Wagg (2004) has suggested that football is the prime example through which to combat social exclusion in the society as far as sports in concerned.  Given that football is a popular sport and tends to transcend issues pertaining to poverty and class, then it can be seen that “football clubs can play a part in tackling social exclusion” (Wagg, 2004; p. 52).

Given the nature of the subject, it is not possible here to compare and contrast the analysis of football class and gender based social exclusion in Britain with other countries.  However, this is deliberate as to do so would extend the reach of the research aims too far. The author has however undertaken a study of the state of social exclusion in terms of football from a European context.

In the context of Article 21 of the Equality Chapter of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, it is possible to note an overall prohibition for discrimination in general based upon race, minority social origin or nationality. When we apply the same policy context to Britain it is possible to note that the potential of football in the policy context of the European Union in an attempt to ensure and convey the presence of human values in the societies of its member states as far as sports is concerned. It is possible to note then the changing meaning and metaphor in the context of sports in the past one decade in terms of how discrimination is viewed. There has been, to this end, an emerging need for action in this regard. Similarly, European and International  Organizations, which have been active in this field, have been more than concerned in ensuring collaboration aimed at formulating a more active approach against discrimination in sports. Much work has been done by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) in order to formulate future policy and incentives aimed at widening participation in sports. It has been noted in recent studies that, despite the presence of these initiatives and polices, football activities across the EU have marked underrepresentation of minorities and immigrants especially in terms of the management and participation for the same in club and football associations, although it would be equally statistically accurate to say that Afro-Caribbean players are over-represented at professional club level compared to their representation in UK society (under 3%). Whilst many of the reasons cited for the same have been said to include geographical isolation in addition to social exclusion, it is unclear whether this is the case, as most ethnic minorities live in cities where there are a great many facilities. Religious, cultural and family responsibilities, however, may lead to exclusion in some groups. This has also been blamed upon the lack of government initiatives in making available sports facilities in certain areas, which is thus responsible for reducing inclusion of such groups in football. To this end it has been proposed that, in the case of the EU, there should be a monitoring of discriminatory incidents in sports, especially during men’s football matches where tempers and egos often run high. This is true for both amateur and professional sports, and even school sports where referee have to put up not only with abuse and aggression from youngsters, but also their parents. It has been reported that most of these incidents are often escalated based upon the negligence and complacence of referees and club officials who prefer to forge a blind eye to such behaviour. Such incidents often happen during youth sports, and it is possible to note that a considerable number of incidents in this regard take place in the context of youth based football ventures. It has also been noted in a comparative EU context, that systematic monitoring of the gender discrimination based incidents within sports only exists in a number of EU member states where legal steps are taken to discourage such exclusion and discrimination. Football has been the focus of most of these studies however, and has been hailed as a good step in strengthening the regulation and enforcement against discriminatory incidents in the same ambit of sports activities.

The European legislative framework, as far as legal documents of European and international sports organizations are concerned, has also had a significant impact upon the UK-based legal anti-discrimination provisions. One clear example of the same is the disciplinary action used and utilized by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), which has in the recent years emerged as the purveyor of good practice in setting up and practicing anti-discrimination measures and promoting clear negative sanctioned imposed fairly and without prejudice in cases of infringement.

The key to preventing social exclusion in sport at the regional, national and local level, especially in the context of football, simply means that the national and local authorities should be encouraged to develop better monitoring mechanisms for sexist or racist incidents and sports discrimination. This is something which would promote close cooperation between sports federations and thus improve the reporting and recording of such incidents to ensure awareness of these issues. There should be procedures on behalf of minorities and the less economically fortunate sections to society to be able to facilitate the lodging of individual complaints based on such discrimination.

Finally, the road to enhancing social inclusion in the field of football would entail, quite simply, the need for raising and reinforcing awareness continually, and thus also improving diversity in the field of football sports and participatory activities. This could be done by any number of methods, and in those outlined and suggested below, which would basically reinforce diversity and awareness in the society and basically help in the realization of the inclusive potential of football:



  • Ensuring and aiming at better and more targeted awareness enhancing activities by sports governing bodies, sports federations and football clubs.


  • Designing diversity programs for the local populations, especially those with fewer financial resources, or those in geographically remote locations, and thus encouraging the participation of girls/women and the less financially fortunate.


  • Removing the barriers for the economically less fortunate in ensuring initiatives to remove barriers to accessing management and professional participatory positions within sporting organizations.


  • To check large football societies and clubs for financial discrimination and gender discrimination regulations and to require them as a matter of policy to elaborate and implement effective equality measures and to do a regular equality audit.


  • On a regional level, EU member states can co-operate with the EU Commission in playing an important role in co-coordinating the exchange of good practice mechanism in the national political contexts of the countries. This has been recommended in a recent Council Framework Decision which discussed and raised the need for combating social exclusion within the national sports policies for the same in the context of 27 EU Member States (out of the 27, it was found that only 16 EU member states took action so far during social exclusion reports in football).


3.1 Research Methods and Methodology


The conclusions from the literature review clearly point to the kind of methodological approach that the research will adopt, and this will be based on a quantitative paradigm. For this, a combination of source material from journals and books has been utilized to form the primary method through which the academic foundations of the research aims and objectives will be met.  Book sources tend to offer an effective overview of the general subject whilst simultaneously detailing specific debates and issues.  Journal articles tend to be less encompassing but nonetheless often provide a very detailed insight into specific areas. Therefore, the comprehensive use of secondary source material from books and journals has been utilized to act as an essential basis upon which the research paper is formulated and enhanced and elucidated upon.  Internet resources will also be used to highlight the role of political actors in relation to social exclusion and football (DCMS, 2010).  Naturally, such source material is subject to a number of concerns relating to bias; however, it is the only method through which accurate appraisal of present and ongoing policy can be offered.


As mentioned above, the main aim of this paper is to explore and acknowledge how the state and the community alike can influence the minds of the younger segments of society to play more football through efforts of sports management, societies or the government to make football a part and parcel of a young person’s social and personal life – this is because of the importance of the psychological influences of self-validation and attachment to a sport and all the multifarious benefits sports participation can bring an individual and society as a  whole. The same concept was elucidated upon through the theory of cultural capital.

The research philosophy for this research was based upon a positivist and interpretive approach. This was done by studying the social movement and trends with in the UK society, especially those required for the development of further knowledge in the subject (Malhotra et al, 2003). When combined with the interpretive approach, this has allowed the author  to build upon a structured methodology which will basically ensure that the initial research questions would be answered and build up towards the impetus for carrying this research (Saunders et al, 2003)

Furthermore, the merits of using a positivist approach combined with an interpretive approach can be discerned from the works of Malhotra et al. (2003) who has suggested that solely using a positivist approach would make the frameworks more restrictive, and thus reduce the researcher’s ability to have a more enhanced perspective or vision of the matter at hand (Kiplinger, 1986).

Saunders et al (2003) also suggests that the combination of an interpretive approach also brings about an ability to further develop an understanding of factors that actually motivate the human mind to behave in a certain way. The author would conclude from these views discussed above that both approaches are relevant to the research paradigm at hand, which means that a positivist approach constructs law-like generalizations based on a structured methodology, but the interpretive approach is likely to bring in the need to highlight and understand by further looking into young people’s insights, emotions and feelings. The approach to research here is mainly phenomenological due to the nature of the research question being all about experiences. To fully answer the research question, the research approach (as further elucidated upon down below) will therefore necessarily be based upon the experiences of these young people, making it necessary to understand the need for a quantitative response upon issues of contemporary importance involving the impact of current conditions of football in UK society.

This research utilizes a more inductive approach in developing precise understanding of the football influence upon the younger generation in order to develop a more precise understanding of the impact of sports appeal upon the socially excluded younger generation of adults. This inductive approach will narrow down the entire observations to a tabular analysis in order to examine the reasons for the popularity of sports, and the psychological and social ramifications of such attitudes, in developing health and community in society. The author has initially carried out secondary research to have a better understanding of the research topic, which means that the suggested recommendations and industrial analyses undertaken before should be used to understand a topic in the light of the situational analyses at hand. This would help to identify the gaps in the current study as well as the current deficiencies in the primary research required to answer the research aim and research questions of this study. The questions have been formulated through the Likert Scale, which would set out a standard of agreeing or disagreeing with particular statement. This will be done through the seven-point rating system, which would be used in conjunction in the Fishbein’s attitude-towards-the-object model (Azjen and Fishbein, 1973) to identify the factors relevant to the study at hand. The author is aware of the fact that there may be an incidence of bias based on systematic errors, self selection bias and extremity bias (Zikmund1997: 196): this is “a bias that occurs because people that feel strongly about a subject are more likely to respond that people who feel indifferent about it”.



3.2 Quantitative and Qualitative Research


The use of both quantitative and qualitative approaches will be undertaken to meet the research aims.  Above all, qualitative assumptions gain greater validity and contextual soundness when they are supported by statistical quantitative data (Punch; 2005).  This combination was briefly utilised in the literature review and thus acts as an example of how further investigation will be undertaken in terms of supporting personal assertions made.


Personal empirical research will also be undertaken as a way of enhancing the academic quality of the research.  This will take the form of investigation into the socio-economic class basis of various football activities in my local area of Canterbury.  This was achieved by sending questionnaires to local football clubs such as Waltham Football Club, Broome Park Golf Club and Sturry Football Club.  Given that Canterbury is a fairly affluent area, relatively speaking, it is expected that empirical research will uncover that participation in football differ depending on class.  In order to achieve sound research processes the assertions and outlines of Gratton and Jones (2004) will be implicitly followed and the guidelines on using questionnaires as provided by Foddy (1994).  Moreover, in order to ensure that the empirical research undertaken does not overreach itself, the sole focus will be placed on class indicators.



3.3 Significance and Justification of research


The above methods are justifiable as they provide the most effective way of encapsulating the broad research aims and objectives.  Secondary source material has been used in conjunction with government publications to outline the major issues and themes at work. Such assessments will then act as an effective foundation for the personal empirical research which will be undertaken. Above all, it is quite obvious, through reference to the large body of academic output on the subject, that social exclusion is an issue of particular concern in football, the British national sport and the most popular participatory team sport too. The methodology suggested also indicates the extent to which a multi-disciplinary approach is essential.  Thus, in academic terms, there is considerable significance for the present research proposal and a strong measure of justification. Moreover, given the social connotations of the proposed research, then it is certainly possible to argue that the proposed research has an importance and relevance that transcends the traditional concepts of football as a sport.  Above all, the unequivocal bond between football and the European society accounts for such importance.

3.4 An explanation of the questions used in the survey: Quantitative research methodology

The survey was based upon the observations in the literature review, which were triangulated towards more precise factors and issues to narrow them down to a specific query in order to elucidate upon, and to deduct from, the analysis the role of football in promoting social inclusion and exclusion. Race and ethnicity were ignored as contexts in this case, and instead more subtle queries  were added in accordingly. The survey was carried out between randomly sampled individuals, and a sample base of 100 people with an equal number males and females: 50 males and 50 females. The use of general sampling made the job of the researcher relatively simple. The first aim of setting up the research instrument was to use control questions, which would ensure the ‘right people’ filled in the survey. These questions were aimed at eliciting the gender and age of the participants and to confirm whether they had a definite connection with football. The next aim would be to elicit a more behavioural query, which would be aimed at finding out how often, and in what way, the respondent played the sport, and whether this was through friends, leagues or school teams, or perhaps other avenues.

Likert scale questions were then used to ensure whether the respondents strongly agreed or disagreed on a scale of seven about various queries involving the role of clubs and organisations in this regard, as well as their perceptions of the health and wealth promoted by such football-based activities, especially in promoting good community relations. The Likert scale was used to test the following value judgements on behalf of the respondents, and the responses were then according processed on the basis of the Fishbein model and the results were accordingly tabulated:


  • I think football is just about playing the sport, nothing else.


  • I think getting involved is easy for anyone to do regardless of his or her finances.


  • I think clubs/organizations in football are friendly to people that want to get involved?


  • I think being involved in a sport such as football, regularly is good for developing a network of friends through the sport.


  • I think playing football is being a part of the community


  • Playing football will increase my chances to get into a good school


  • Playing football will enhance my career chances


  • Those who do not play football or any other sports cannot have a good academic record.



Finally, the respondents were asked if they intended to play football professionally at some point in their life, and the next question based on the Likert scale was aimed at the elicitation of the following value judgements:

  • Football improves self-esteem
  • Football can make a good career financially
  • Football improves health and the general feeling of well being in the youth
  • Football improves a student’s academic performance
  • Many students play football just to get good academic scholarships
  • Football can improve a society’s perception towards a younger person
  • Football can give me a superior place amongst my academic peers
  • I aspire to become like my favourite celebrity football players


Ajzen and Fishbein have not recommended a scale to measure actual behaviour. The 7-point scale was only used to measure the extent to which participants believed they had actively engaged in information collection about foreign universities and programmes. The anchor for the scale was not actively at all – very actively. The rationale was to identify individuals who could give more coherent views about the role of sports (football in particular) in social exclusion.

In this model of questioning, the first step ‘intention’ was defined as the dependent variable and the predictors were input as independent. The second step involved defining ‘behaviour’ as the dependent variable and intention and perceived behavioural control as independent. Ajzen, (2001), recognizes the importance of beliefs in providing cognitive foundations for attitudes, subjective norms and behavioural control. Expectancy-value models postulate that an individual’s attitude toward any object is a function of the strength of his/her beliefs about the object and the individual’s subjective evaluation of those beliefs. The same holds true for subjective norm and behavioural control beliefs. This framework was used to construct items for indirect measurement in the questionnaire. The resulting values helped indicate how well the indirect measures explained the variance in direct measures, and the beliefs and referents, which contributed most to the obtained overall evaluations.


3.5 Possible Limitations of the Methodology


Given that the research objectives aims to offer an encompassing assessment of social exclusion in football, then it may not be possible to go into extensive detail on specific issues.  For example, the research aims to highlight exclusion on the basis of class, poverty and gender.  Therefore, it would be impossible to give each of these four variables completely comprehensive assessment. Moreover, in order to achieve effective focused analysis as far as possible, issues such as age and disability will be excluded.

However, the quantitative research in the form of the questionnaire has focused solely on the issue of class-based exclusion.  Nonetheless, a variety of research-based concerns have been accounted for in ensuring that effective empirical methods are adopted.



Since the youngest respondent was 18, and the oldest was 30, the other age groupings became irrelevant. The total numbers of respondents for this research were 100.The table below shows their frequency distribution with respect to age. ALL respondents played football. It was seen that 25% of the respondents played football three times a month, 50% played less than twice a month, and 25% were irregular players.



It was seen that 64% of respondents were between twenty five to thirty years old. The total numbers of respondents in between twenty four to thirty years old are two hundred and twenty five. Thirty five percent of respondents are in between eighteen to twenty four years old. The total number of respondents in between eighteen to twenty four years old is one hundred and twenty five. As the research is based on youngsters, it was slightly disappointing that the majority response from the youngsters was less than from the older respondents.









Football is just about playing the sport, nothing else

Forty five percent of respondents agreed to these statements. Nineteen percent of respondents strongly agreed, while nine percent of respondents are neither agreed nor disagreed. Seven percent of respondents disagreed, whereas; twenty percent of respondents strongly disagreed with it.


Getting involved is easy for anyone regardless of his or her finances

Thirty five percent of respondents agreed to these statements. Twenty percent of respondents are strongly agreeing, while nineteen percent of respondents are neither agreeing nor disagreeing. Seven percent of respondents disagreed, whereas twenty percent of respondents strongly disagreed with it. The differential arose from a number of people who did not fill in this question.

Thirty seven percent of respondents agreed that clubs in football are friendly to people that want to get involved, and that being involved in a sport such as football regularly is good for developing a network of friends through the sport.

Thirty percent of respondents strongly agreed, while four percent respondents neither agreed nor disagreed. Eighteen percent of respondents disagreed, whereas eleven percent respondents strongly disagreed.



Figure 4.5

Thirty-six percent of respondents strongly agreed that playing football makes people feel a part of the local community, and that playing football will increase their chances to get into a good school. Thirty one percent of respondents agreed, while six percent of respondents were seen to be neither agreeing nor disagreeing. Twenty percent of respondents strongly disagreed, whereas seven percent respondents disagreed.


Forty three percent of respondents agreed that playing football will enhance future career chances and that engaging in football can enhance academic performance. Twenty four percent of respondents strongly agreed, while four percent of respondents were neither agreed nor disagreed. Seventeen percent respondents disagreed, whereas; twelve percent respondents were seen to be strongly disagreeing.




Forty two percent of respondents agreed that football improves self-esteem and that football can make a good career financially; twenty five percent of respondents were seen to be strongly agreeing, while eleven percent of respondents were neither agreeing nor disagreeing. Fourteen percent of respondents were strongly disagreeing, whereas eight percent of respondents were disagreeing.

Forty two percent of respondents were seen to be strongly agreeing to the statements that football improves health and the general feeling of well being in the youth, that football improves a student’s academic performance, and that many students play football just to get good academic scholarships. Thirty percent of respondents were agreeing, while nine percent respondents are neither agreeing nor disagreeing. Ten percent of respondents were strongly disagreeing, whereas nine percent respondents were disagreeing about it.

Thirty one percent strongly agreed to the statements that football can improve society’s perception of a younger person and football can give a superior place amongst academic peers, while nine percent of respondents are neither agreed nor disagreed. Eleven percent of respondents were strongly disagreeing, whereas thirteen percent of respondents were disagreeing about it.


4.2 Summary of Findings


The responses show that people who responded give a higher degree of value to proper arrangements for football to address and try to solve the problem of social exclusion. Some were of the opinion that they feel highly attracted to football as a sport but found it monopolized by clubs, dominant numbers of respondents. As a result, the freedom to play factor can prove to be a very powerful tool infusing football to dispel social exclusion, based on the above primary research anyway. On the other hand, some respondents showed a favorable opinion that government involvement in football promotion could enhance the use of football events to tackle social exclusion.


Similarly, the respondents also showed a favorable response that playing football could promote a sense of community in the young and influence their buying behaviour as well. Another important finding of the survey is that the majority of the respondents showed a favorable response regarding the balance to be struck between making football subject to clubs’ co-operation, and accordingly treating as a free sport and cultural property, thus allowing it to boost the trust factor. This can also happen through creative word of mouth strategies and social networking, for example through email and facebook strategies, and thus stimulating youngsters to play more football for their own good in multifarious ways.


4.3 Limitations of Study

Caution is advised, should this study be generalized to the UK population. Also, the present research is concerned with mainly young people, and not with other segments of UK society. Finally, while it may be argued that some aspects may be general sable, it is recommended that the utility of this research should be confined to understanding decision behaviour of the aforementioned target population.


4.4 Discussion

This study was aimed at investigating the effect of football on social exclusion. Participation in football (and sport generally) can be classed as a factor that can influence children and young person’s lifestyle and eating habits and consequently their bodyweight, which is instrumental in promoting a health in an individual and society.

It should be noted that the biggest source of information about football and its attributes is through the media, and the most influential factor is arguably peer pressure from youngsters’ friends. However, this can be traced back to reason number one because even peer pressure might have promoted a good trend after one of the children/young persons saw the advertisement on television, for example. These direct effects were highlighted by the fact that most youngsters seemed to remember information about the popular “paid” clubs in the area.

The relationship between the numbers of times people play football has a direct effect on their health. For the questionnaire, it was found that most people played football twice a month and this could be a result of their jobs or academic activities, which took up most of their day. This implies that football advertising that was intended for adults will be watched by children and will have an influential role in their lives and ultimately in their choice of career or favourite sports.

However, for this to affect their choices, football must be an activity that is practised repeatedly and continually. In the study, it was found that playing football was the third most time consuming activity after attending school and sleeping for the frequent players. Therefore, football has the potential of becoming the number one leisure activity. This implies that the images such youngsters see of football have a high likelihood of imprinting themselves in the minds of these children.

It seems that positive images of football advertising that is specifically meant for children can have a higher influence on them than just general popularity. This is because it appeals to their preferences through use of their role models and celebrities in football advertising. It brings to life some of their vivid imagination and this will mean that youngsters can identify with (allegedly) positive sports idols like David Beckham.

It can be seen from the analyses above that generally people of all ages in the community prefer to watch and play football as a means of leisure and bonding despite their respective jobs or academic preoccupations. Children of all age groups watch TV everyday. The time variable is important because one can gauge its impact upon the frequency and positivity of football playing in the community. On the other hand, at a younger point of development, teenagers have the abilities to form their own opinions about certain popular sports. This implies that when an advertisement or promotion for football is put across well, they will get interested in sport and physical activity: essential in an age of inactivity, online and digital entertainment, and paranoid parents who drive their kids everywhere. Then there is the impact of expensive football, as perceived by most of the middle-income earners which highlighted the low incidence of the use of sports especially football despite its strong social roots in UK culture.

This is a major factor because when respondents were asked to highlight some of the reasons why they avoided football, the expense of joining a club was cited, despite their declared desire to learn and play football. This is something, which can be countered by governments by their promoting scholarships and youth programmes, which will bring youngsters from all groups in to play football competitively. Football can not only bring an end to social exclusion but also initiate and maintain a trend of healthy lifestyles for all young people and the population in general. Many attribute the lack of interest in football to longer working hours, not having the money to afford football fees and kit etc; others felt that real professional football would entail too many issues, which they had little time for. Many youngsters with financial problems had too many responsibilities and could not take time out to play football. From the results listed above, the personal reasons for not being able to play football varied greatly. The 50 women in 100 people survey also cited the problems of clubs etc and the expense that goes into playing and enjoying football. All in all, one can say that television advertisements should not be the only source of information for people to play football; there should also be scholarships and incentives to promote this sport and make it more popular amongst males and females of all social groups.

The problem, as it occurs in Britain right now, is that there are many instances where certain youngsters fail to take part in active free time activities, preferring instead passive computer-based entertainment. During the survey, very few people admitted that they engage in sporting activities. Generally, a great many youngsters today spend most of their time playing computer games, surfing the Internet and watching television. Playing sports is becoming a less popular way of making friends as people find their “friend” on Face Book and chat software. This could be one reason why cases of obesity in the UK are on the rise: most children seem to adopt sedentary lives and parents seem to accept this perhaps. Parents rarely urge them to be more active – indeed, ‘paranoid parents’ terrified of paedophiles may prefer their children to be at home in their bedroom, safe and sound, even if they are obese – and so many children end up gaining weight and living inactive lifestyles. For the same reasons, the current UK population, although healthy in international terms and with a long life expectancy, has a real problem with inactivity and obesity, and  so further efforts need to be undertaken to prevent this.

There seems definitely to be a link between football and the choices socially excluded young people make about their lifestyle habits. First of all, the playing times adopted by these children give a link between the expense and the way the respondents go about their daily routines. This is because the total number of times football advertisements are displayed is bound to affect young people’s opinions. Football loyalty is also a depiction of the influence of image making of football heroes as the primary source of information about this sport. However, there are some indirect factors which hinder the influence of football like inactive lifestyles: lack of responsibility by parents, perhaps especially the absence of fathers from so many British children’s lives, lack of awareness concerning what constitutes healthy diets, and too much marketing of ‘junk food’ and inactive free-time activities that keep children away from sport.


  1. 1 Conclusions and Recommendations

In conclusion, it is worth noting how football as a social capital and culture in Britain encourages and expresses the phenomenon of social identities in the EU, and especially the UK. The concept of imagined communities can be utilized as a social construct imagined by people who perceive themselves to be a part of that football identity to combat social inclusion, since the concept of a community in football is based entirely on the subjective and mental impressions of people who deem themselves to be a part of it (Anderson, 1983). For example, in the concept of nationhood, a person might feel loyalty when British (or English, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish) sportsmen and women participate in an international championship, for example a World Cup football match, or one during the Olympics.

Great Britain is a football nation: it was British Victorians who created the sport in the way we know it today, though many cultures have played ball games through the centuries. To this end, the UK can be viewed as a community even if there are very few chances that all the members of such a community will actually meet and interact at any point in their lives, the same as for any other nation state. Nonetheless, even such imagined communities may share ideologies, history and interests, one of which is football, the British national sport, and one played – informally at least – by every British schoolboy, and a fair few girls too. The assertion of Anderson of these communities being ‘limited’ and sovereign arises from the fact of how these imagined communities have imagined finite boundaries, which stop them from being merged with other communities. The idea that football unites the British exists as a constant mental concept and their existence tends to flow through human communication. The concepts of words comradeship and fraternity (brotherhood) define such sports communities.

The cognitive premise of how UK football defines nationalism through adopting a modernist or historical discourse by indicating a strong economic and political metaphor can indeed be utilized in the case of the United Kingdom to promote these sports. For the future, football can be promoted via the media (both print and electronic). In fact, a progressive football community cannot reality exist in the modern media age without the existence of a large media presence. It also follows from the above that communities will use the media to reaffirm their existence. In such a way, youngsters will arguably feel a sense of belonging and national identity, even in an age of a lack of social cohesion and mixed communities, where people and groups arguably live more isolate lives within their own micro-communities. Sports are, then, culture – and a culture that can unite, rather than divide. The relationship of nationalism with the media and the internet is also another concept of concern and can be used to bring football back as the link that binds together UK community regardless of social class and race.

The football community in the UK shows how their mannerisms and cultural leanings work towards affirming their identity. Due to the high costs, this has largely been a product of survival despite historical conflicts and the historical resistance with in the UK culture. Football fans remain an individual cultural identity within the United Kingdom as a nation, and especially amongst its constituent nations. This assertion elicits a query as to how culture promotes nationalism and whether nationalism thrives on how we safeguard it as a defence mechanism to “selling out” or losing to other identities. While the author does not want to bring in the dimension of race at this point, it is felt that football should essentially be packaged and promoted now more than ever as something that can go beyond the diameters of an “invented tradition”. Accepting and playing football should now become in the interests of the socially excluded groups, a part of a cognitive process of the human effort to find an identity and to relate to a particular group of people: this will help social cohesion. It may even be promoted as an internal need for psychological validation and acceptance. In the case of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland we see three communities/nations fiercely defending the right not to solely be called British and proudly upholding their identities and asserting them through their cultural actions to validate their imagined and projected images through sports. The British communities have taken up football as one method of defining who they are.

The example of a football community can be stated as that of a stateless nation and thus fits the description of an imagined community, when we apply the concept of nationhood to the concept of football as sports representing eleven nations or eleven named “people” as players. For the same reason, football becomes a matter of global appeal where it emerges as a battle nations fight of superiority enhanced through the tactics of the electronic and print media. Furthermore, sports and national identity become a good way of capitalizing on the popularity of sports and arts. Thus the national sentiments rugby creates as sports for the Welsh and the other nations account for a keenness, which sometimes seems to equal that of religious or political zeal. The current UK football community itself has not evolved out of tradition or a racial linage but also through the social and economic input of settlers from abroad who came in to settle into the area. The fact is that football emerged as an important way of social function and interaction, and ultimately as an expression of identity, and basically a label for the new and old dwellers of UK alike. The author would thus view the use of sports and culture as a means of theorizing the concept of a nation as a communal good working at a more critical interrogation of the representations of a national identity. Sports can also then be viewed as a social capital, and it can seen as being subject to constructive interaction as his work does not note the evolving nature of these so called imaginary boundaries and their reactionary nature.

To this end, it can be seen that images of a nation or a community emerge as their dominant symbols of national class and their distinctiveness from other communities are served through an increased socio-economic commercialization of sports, art and drama, and the “sellers” of these notions are trying to cash in, into a form of cultural capital (Pahl, 2005). Professional football is only one example, however, but amateur interest in this sport is also a result of post-modern contexts in which culture is seen and promoted despite the largely modernist roots of nationalism and the sense of community. Culture creates stereotypes, and while this may be a negative dimension, such stereotypes ultimately define a nation. The building of football communities actually insists upon the existence of a common national culture restricted to national boundaries and not a number of stateless nations. Culture itself is largely product of attitudes that evolve with in a community as a result of language, geography and gender and the individual perceptions of human identities. Furthermore, they go on to show that we cannot view the boundaries of the football communities as inflexible or rigid but a result of often fluid and scattered mini identities as they now emerge in their post-modern discourses, identified as the notions of nationhood and nationalism as being premised in emotion and sentiments. This notion of a collective identity is of course extremely important to the human interest in terms of socially excluded people, as it essentially provides a way forward for the understanding the human need to belong to a certain section of the community.

The concept of social capital becomes important here as a means of promoting a football culture. The decline of the same occurs when there is a fragmentation of face-to-face community interactions due to the forces of globalization and Europeanization, especially for British culture. Essentially football would be more popular if it was a Face Book application today, which is very ironic. Furthermore, another dimension of the football culture is the lingual paradigms and ethnocentrism it seeks to promote which seeks to preserve “accents” and lingual boundaries even within a single language. This stems from the use of different accents and urban colloquialism. One example is the distinct Bradford and Cockney accents and variations of the English language as opposed to the Posh or Queens English accent. But what brings Manchester and Liverpool together for a hearty football match is this sense of community itself in the end regardless of race, money or class, or the way people speak.

All in all, when we view the concept of football from the lens of being validated as a much needed imagined community, one can see the merits of a concept that brings together the idea of being identified with a kind of people and having a sense of belonging and solidarity. The need for making these imagined boundaries and community’s work for the human good in the long run is, of course, through efforts of capturing sustainability and stability in these concepts through positive images of football as a sport for the benefit of the masses and no just a selected few. Another basic tenet of realization is how football can be harnessed as a means of avoiding cultural erosion of a race or a nation. While sports and artistic symbolism can play an abstract role in uniting the people, it can also be become a breeding ground for political and moral ideology.

Finally, when we view these imagined communities apart from the sense of nationalism it is possible to note that the modern advancements of the nineteenth century were once viewed as an end to the sense of promoting sports community pride as individualism highlighted the modernist mood. However, the rebirth of community pride and identity came through what can be labelled as individualized collective action in the form of nationalism which was cultivated in particular during the two world wars and can be exemplified with the Nazi propaganda and German idealism.

The football identity that encompasses a common bond between young people can actually make up the concept of nationhood regardless of money or class, or that of the division between racial or socio-economic groups. If we revisit once again the concept of the UK’s football fan base, there remains amongst the cultural participants and recipients a sense of national identity based on imagined relationships. These emerge as a collective community bond, and yet the former can be seen as more of ‘thin’ communities where there are less strong communal ties. This can be branded as geographically limitless and in need of media attention for the validation of its existence, while taking on a more meta-physical and cognitive discourse. Once we learn to embrace football as a ritual and tradition of our country, we will see that this will generally reflect community behavioral norms and values despite the social exclusion barrier, as well as their notions and perceptions of moral responsibilities, which in turn gave rise to cohesive and collective discourse conducive to the future of the marginalized youth of this nation.


5.2 Reflective Report

The fundamental reason for choosing this topic was that, having searched literature I found that very little research had been conducted with regards to young people and sports in terms of social exclusion. I personally feel attached to this subject due to my interest in and curiosity about sports (and football) myself and the way I have always wondered how sports could promote social good in society. I was brought up with this passion for sports and, coupled with this, my compassion and concern for the socially excluded, the whole problem has now encouraged me to do a complete study in the subject in order to contribute to the existing knowledge about this subject by adding a new point of view.

One limitation to my study, which became obvious to me during my research, was the lack of time. Initially, I wanted to follow a hybrid approach in data collection, which would include interviews and questionnaires. However, later on, due to time and money constraints, I felt that collecting data through only one of these methods (surveys) was possible, while analyzing and tabulating would be more feasible.

I also found it very challenging to gain access to the relevant information required as confidentiality has always been a barrier before researchers. Furthermore, people were less than willing to spare time to answer questions in a social study.

This project was challenging for me and I had to read a lot before hoping to gain the necessary knowledge in the arena of strategic planning, for the benefits of the socially excluded.

Essentially, I feel that this dissertation allowed me to utilize and emphasize upon strategic thinking and creativity in terms of methods, which can be used to reach out to the socially excluded parts of the population, and encouraged to participate in football for their own personal development and stronger community ties.

In terms of my research strategy, I have always believed that slightly enhanced internet research to will get me to the places I want to go, especially when I have been able to gain insights from online management reports and journals for my own personal education before I commence upon a path for research.

In reflection, I will make sure that intrinsic motivation is more rewarding for me in any academic endeavour in future, as I get an inner satisfaction from this work. I believe my work will contribute to the current studies about combating social exclusion in Britain. Football, as I have noted before, has quite a national influence on the mind of the younger generation in the UK. I thus believe that it can be used for their future betterment in terms of education and physical health, as well as the health and well-being of society.







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