To Boycott or Not to Boycott. The 1978 FIFA World Cup in Argentina between Politicization and Depoliticization

By Jean-Gabriel Contamin, Olivier Le Noé


This paper aims to examine the boundaries between politics and sports by using the example of the French boycott campaign against the 1978 FIFA World Cup. It argues against easy links between appeals to boycott and a politicized conception of sport on the one hand, and the rejection of boycott and a depoliticized conception of sport on the other. Instead it highlights a more chiasmatic argumentative logic in which either position must be related not only to the competition between the sides, but also to forms of competition within each side or social subspace, in other words, to a specific configuration and to the precise development of the controversy. In this sense, the boundary between politicization and depoliticization appears to be a resource for the actors rather than a stabilized constraint imposed upon them.
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