Map of migration in Europe over three periods of time.
Map of migration in Europe over three periods of time.

Understanding the history of migration through the lens of Football

Learning how people on the move have shaped football and vice versa

A journey through time with an activity connecting football to migration in 19th and 20th centuries.

International migration through movements of footballers

Migration processes have been taking place for as long as mankind has existed. Accelerated over the last two centuries, migration has played a great role in shaping the history and affected many social phenomena. Football is not an exception: the movement of footballers has been influenced by economic and political condition, as well as the regulations of national and international football. By analyzing four periods of migration, Igor Jovanovic helps us explore the relationship between migration and football.

Developer Igor Jovanovic about the learning activity:

It was a big challenge to make learning activities that will connect football and migration, which will be interesting to students and applicable in teaching no matter in which European country the teacher works.

I tried to connect history teaching, migration, geography and football. I think that teachers could apply the mentioned learning activity in teaching because they connect the teaching of history, migration and football in several interesting ways.

In addition to the above, I have listed several different perspectives on how to learn migration through the lens of football.”

Igor Jovanovic

Connecting football clubs to migration patterns

By using examples of famous football players who moved across borders, students will learn about how migration across Europe has changed since the 19th century. This learning activity focuses on four periods in time: 1815 – 1914; 1914 – 1945; 1945 – 1990; 1990 – today. Students will look at examples of several football clubs to discover the historical explanations of different kinds of migration, learn about the push and pull factors and the impact of Industrial Revolutions and Wars on the movement of people. This is done through multiple group brainstorming sessions and discussions, as well as with help of various exercises and worksheets to consolidate the knowledge.

What to learn from football about migration?

This activity is created for students in their last years of high school, aged 17-19, who have at least some background knowledge about the Industrial Revolution, the First World War, the Second World War, and the Cold War. It can be used to teach about all four periods by spreading the learning activity over two lessons, or focus on only one given period. The lesson plan will be highly beneficial for students who struggle to understand that migration has different types and has existed throughout all history. Teachers can tailor it to their classrooms by selecting examples of football clubs that resonate the most with their students.

Practicing inclusion and understanding

Use this learning activity if you have high school students that:

  • are studying the history and causes of global migration
  • are studying the Industrial Revolution, the First World War, the Second World War and the Cold War
  • would benefit from connecting the concept of migration to a familiar topic of football
  • struggle to understand the types and timeline of migration.

Get the resource

Access and use the educational resource “Understanding the history of migration through the lens of Football” on Historiana. More activities to discuss migration and how migrants are perceived can be found by typing “migration” in the Learning Activities’ search bar on Historiana.

The learning activity has been developed by the Football Makes History team member and history teacher Igor Jovanovic.

Read more on Historiana website

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Map of migration in Europe over three periods of time.
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