North vs South. The Italian football division

Nov 1, 2020

EDU Resources

Football and the long term impact of the second Industrial Revolution

A multimedia activity connecting the performances of football teams and the fame of players to economic inequalities and capitalism.

In this article:


Naples Maradona mural and action-figure

Naples Maradona mural and action-figure.

What football can teach us about capitalism

In less than 6 months, on 17 March 2021, Italy will celebrate 160 years since the country’s unification. In this activity, Peter Bijl helps us look into what were the social and economic consequences of the unification, with a careful look to the economic difference between Northern and Southern regions. Using Italian professional football, and in particular the performance of teams from the wealthier North vis á vis southern teams, students will explore and try to understand inequalities in society and what is capitalism.

Developer Peter Bijl about this activity:

Ever wondered why Juventus or Bayern keep on winning national titles?  It’s not only about having the best squad; it’s about something way deeper. In the world in which we live, the rich only tend to get richer. Within the structures of capitalism, small fish rarely have the chance to become big. That’s why in these lessons, Italian football is a tool to get insight in social and economic structures which not only have not only defined Italy for over a century – but a major part of the society we are living in.

Maradona, Ronaldo, and Italian History

This activity is developed for classrooms dealing with the Second Industrial Revolution and its long term consequences, with the history of Italian Unification, and with the concept of capitalism. It is divided into two parts. The first part focuses on “the North”, and investigates whether teams based in wealthier cities are more likely to win football championships or not, and why. This is done looking in particular at Juventus, and at what happened to the team when Cristiano Ronaldo joined in 2018. This question helps students form an opinion on capitalism, and make connections between this abstract term and its impact on their personal interests. The second part is focused on “the South”, and analyses the impact and long term consequences of the Second Industrial Revolution in regions where industries did not develop. To do so, it uses the example of Naples and Diego Armando Maradona, and why he was (and still is) considered a God in Naples. Both parts make use of images and videos.

A common “football division”

The impact of economic inequalities on a team’s likelihood to win the title is not unique to the Italian case. After having looked into the examples of Ronaldo and Juventus, and of Maradona and Napoli, in fact, students are asked to reflect on similar cases in their own countries, as well as on the roots of other famous football rivalries. For this reason, you can use this activity to promote students’ understanding of the relationship between football and society throughout Europe.

Get the resource

You can find the full activity on The activity was developed by our team member Peter Bijl.

Article Tags:   20th century  |   fans  |   Industrial Revolution  |   social history  |   teaching

RELATED STORIES  You may also be interested in

Mrs Graham: Promoting the Women’s Game

Helen was one of the founding figures of the women’s game. She was a suffragist and a campaigner for women’s rights. She was the first woman to set up the stall for serious women’s football.


Latest Educational Resouces

We. We are the best

We. We are the best

Helping students define nationalism by looking at photos of football matches and reflecting on the main expressions of it in the stadiums.

Equal Pay for Equal Play

Equal Pay for Equal Play

How is the gender pay gap reflected in women’s football and what can be done to change it? How do we help students reflect on this?

Football, Colonialism, and Migration

Football, Colonialism, and Migration

How did football evolve over time in both the Congo and Belgium? How has football (environments) been used beyond playing a sport? This is a learning activity to help students explore these topics.

LATEST POST  You may also be interested in

Formation for Human Rights

Formation for Human Rights

A class of high school history students in Oslo was asked to create an ideal starting XI line-up based on Human Rights. Find out why and how it went.

Share This