Football Makes History is a platform to stimulate knowledge creation and circulation across the European continent and beyond and among domains of research, formal and non-formal education and activism.
The platform champions and reflects upon the societal and educational value of the history and heritage of football. To stimulate this, it initiates collaboration and development projects, maintains a global network of organisations, authors and contributors and engages in public debates and activities.
The platform was born out of an initiative by EuroClio, the European Association of History Educators, made possible by the motivation of various individuals and organisations.
One of the authors in the EuroClio project “History that Connects. Teaching Sensitive and Controversial Issues in the countries of former Yugoslavia”, Igor Jovanovic created a lesson plan which tackled the regional socio-political issues of the period 1900-1945, using football, in particular the participation of Yugoslavia in the first World Cup in Uruguay in 1930. The unit “Football and Politics” is part of the book “Once Upon a Time… We Lived Together”.
Football mirroring European history?
As UEFA decided to organise the European Championship of 2020 across the continent, then EuroClio Executive Director Jonathan Even-Zohar sat down at the history teachers’ annual conference in Ohrid to brainstorm with history educators Igor Jovanovic and Chris Rowe. The question that got the creative juices flowing was: “Could we, in 2020, teach the history of the twentieth century through 20 football matches?”.
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Learning from existing practices
At the EuroClio Annual Conference in Belfast in March history educators from all over Europe explored existing practices, such as the Education Pack on the Christmas Truce match played in the First World War, the dialogue work of the Anne Frank House to combat antisemitism and the educational workshops created by the Eintracht Frankfurt Museum. During this meeting many new ideas were suggested and explored.
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Testing, testing, one, two
Most of this group went to Frankfurt in November to work together on actual educational resources and test them with young people, both at the museum of Eintracht Frankfurt as well as in classrooms! Martin Liepach and Igor Jovanovic, took home some interesting homework! With historian Dejan Zec, they created a two-lesson teaching activity called “Tito-Stalin” about the 1952 Olympic match between the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, and tested it in both a Croatian, as well as German classroom situation!
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Co-designing the path forward
In October, powered by the Fare Football People Action Weeks 2017, EuroClio hosted Claudia Krobitzsch, then programme manager at Fare Network, Gijsbert Oonk, Professor of History at Erasmus University Rotterdam, and Karl Lines, then Inclusion and Youth officer at The Football Association (England). The essential framework for a three-year project was envisaged! This was followed by a one-day conference for football historians, history teachers and journalists hosted by Gijsbert Oonk of the Erasmus University Rotterdam.
New Erasmus+ Project Awarded
In September our efforts materialised in a new three-year Erasmus+ Collaborative Partnership Project “Football History for Inclusion”. In that project, EuroClio led a consortium with Eintracht Frankfurt, the Romanian Football Federation, the Anne Frank House, Fare Network and, first Big Ideas Company, and later Evenzo Consultancy. The project created the Football Makes History platform, launched innovative educational resources and ran an effective online campaign during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Football Makes History Online Launched
This very website, along with social media channels, was launched in March 2020. As the world was cascading into lockdowns, our community stepped up to create engaging new online content. To ensure high quality digital presence, Stefano di Pietro joined the platform as Creative Director.
100 Football Lives Online!
One of the central initiatives on our platform is Football Lives. On 7 October 2020, we reached our 100+ life stories, encompassing the place of football in 150 years of European history. They include all kinds of people with different backgrounds, from different homelands and identities, and with different connections to football. There are famous players and famous coaches, but also football people you may never have heard of. There are referees, journalists, administrators – even a humble football fan. Twenty-two of these life stories are of women.
Premiere of Right to Play – a short documentary
On 18 December 2020, we premiered “The Right to Play”, directed by Stefano di Pietro, a truly inspiring story of the Milanese grassroots football team Saint Ambreous. A team made by and for migrants tackling exclusion through football. This is also the ethos of Football Makes History, directing history educators to ways in which football history and heritage can foster social inclusion.
New project initiated!
Building on the new networks created, a new project was envisaged by Jonathan Even-Zohar, Stefano di Pietro and Gijsbert Oonk. The focus is on the potential of football club-school partnerships on the local level. Now, Erasmus University Rotterdam leads the partnership with the Reinwardt Academy, the Eintracht Frankfurt Museum, EuroClio and Fare Network, and Stefano di Pietro’s creative production firm In Media Res, as well as a new partner, ZSTIO2, a secondary school in Katowice, Poland. More milestones will follow… Stay tuned!
The project will be implemented with the financial support of the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union as part of the initiative “Football Makes History: Schools and Football Club Museums Unlocking Local Heritage education”.