Imperialism and Cultural Identity.. The British Empire and Egypt’s National Sport | Culture

From its beginnings, football was associated with politics and from the beginning represented a form of cultural models that British colonialism sought, intentionally and unintentionally, to spread in all its colonies.

In the context of this relationship between colonialism and sport, the importance of the book “Imperialism, Cultural Identity, and Football… How Did the British Empire Create the Egyptian National Sport?” Explore the social history of the global game, through the memoirs of officials who served in the British colonies, British Army records, FIFA and International Olympic Committee archives, the Royal Engineers and British newspapers.

The author’s book, Christopher Ferraro, focuses on the relationship between British imperialism and football in the continents of Africa and Asia, while many books have dealt with this thorny relationship between colonialism and people, especially football in Latin America.

The title of the book, translated by Walid Rashad and published by the National Translation Center, depicts several concepts, the most important of which is imperialism, the second is cultural identity, and the third is football. The book chronicles imperialism during the Victorian era (1837-1901) when England controlled much of the land and people around the world, and the empire on which the sun never sets was one of the results of the industrial revolution in Europe.

impose a cultural model

It was necessary to manage factories, bring raw materials and market products, which prompted Britain to invade poor countries and turn them into colonies to serve their economy, from Hong Kong to India, from Singapore to New Zealand, from Scotland and Egypt to Zanzibar , and decolonization in order to impose its cultural identity on the colonies in order to influence the population. The local population, in the way that it can be said that England did not only strive for military colonization, but sought to impose one cultural model among all the colonies.

Football was one of the forms of cultural models that the British tried to spread in all the colonies. At first, the English tried to limit the game of football only to them, but the local population quickly learned this, and it turned from a simple game into a tool for political change. Foot played its part in the growth of escalating nationalist movements in most countries of the empire, in such a way that the military conflict turned into a sporting one.

And at a time when the colonies could not oppose Britain with arms, they tried to oppose the British through the green rectangle and beat the colonialists at their game, until the victory over the English in football became one of the national goals that many liberation movements in various colonies aspired to.

Football and identity

The book collects 6 models of colonies on which the English tried to impose their colonial culture by force, intentionally or unintentionally, namely: Hong Kong, India, Zanzibar, New Zealand, Singapore and Egypt. The author gave Egypt a special place during his studies, and tried bring closer the relationship between cultural identity and football. A foot that the Egyptians quickly learned, and noticed that it played an important role in the process of political transformation in Egypt, from 1882 to 1956.

The concern of the British was to work to modernize Egypt by preserving the Suez Canal and turning the Nile land into a fertile colony. The social clubs and teams they founded, such as the Railway and Al-Tarsana teams, which were founded by British workers and still play in the second the league of the Egyptian league.

The trilogy “colonialism, cultural identity and football” was linked to the social and political transformations that Britain witnessed through 4 institutions: schools, universities, the military, factories and religious institutions. As for schools and universities, they are the best witnesses of the cultural and political transformation that followed the match.

Colonialism was interested in the education of the colonist class with the main purpose of forming a class of administrators who would help them in some work. In India and Egypt, the colonial administration sent many Egyptians and Indians to study engineering, law, etc.

Football was played by educated people at that time, among them the Egyptian student Hussein Hegazy who studied engineering and played professionally for several clubs in Victorian England, and Mukhtar Al-Tach and other Egyptians who played football in England, and went outside the walls of the university to the green rectangle to prove their worth in the game.

Export ideas

The book points out that imperial institutions played a major role in the export of British cultural ideas to India, and the first two teams to win the championship were from British Army clubs, and then the game passed to the feet of the Indians, with “Mohin Bagan” being the team the first team of Indian nationals to win the Indian Football Association League founded by the English, other notable winners were “Mohammedan” Sports Club in 1936 and East Bengal Railway in 1944.

Indian Muhammadan Club was founded in 1891 in Calcutta and is one of the oldest football clubs in Asia (Island)

The experiences of Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Zanzibar are slightly different cases compared to India, where the spread of football in these regions was linked to the spread of British secularism and the spread of missionaries and schools developing Western ideas and social clubs also played a role in the growth. the desires of the local population to imitate and simulate the British colonialists.

On the other hand, graduates of schools and colleges grew up in countries that were colonized and joined the British army and held many positions in the colony, but they did not abandon football, so they took it with them to their barracks and camps. .

Although the British did not adopt the idea of ​​mandatory military service, they gave an alternative to push the British into the army, and there was nothing better than football, and this is a manifestation of the relationship between football and politics, which led to the founding of the Military Football Association, and it was also founded alliance of forces. The navy could formally play a match among the ships of the English fleet of glory in all ports throughout the colonies.

Taming the body

The political role of football seems to be clear within the factories and workers’ gatherings, when workers’ protests began as a result of the increase in working hours. This encouraged nascent capitalism to try to subjugate the working class and respond to their demands without leaving the factory, so they took Saturday as a half-day for playing football, as a means of subordinating the runaway body to a disciplined body.

A football team was formed inside the factories, and a factory league was founded, which was won by the Arsenal Watch Factory team, which is the oldest professional club in the world, and still plays today under the name (Arsenal Club), and the railway club, which is now known as Club (Manchester United).

Football also drew its strength from the religious values ​​that prevailed in the Victorian era, as evidenced by the formation of religious movements, mostly a strong Christian movement that emphasized the value of hard work and fair play, and the YMCA formed a football team, and the Sunday Church team was officially played football in the English Premier League, which confirms that religious institutions were mostly present in the game, and moved to a religious reference, and this was repeated in various colonies from India to Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhood had a tendency to gather students and organize football a match between boys.

The game of football moved to several references, and professional teams appeared that charge to play, and this was associated with the formation of stadiums with revolving doors, which led the public to pay admission to watch matches, and this led to the growth of club profits.

The globalization of communication media played a prominent role in the spread of football, which consequently led to the coding of channels for the transmission of matches in various sports leagues, and led to a new cultural transformation related to the appearance of new cafes, which represented a new transformation that deserves study and analysis in various societies.

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