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This travel guide to European football culture is aimed both at long-suffering fans and new followers. It explains what Euro ʼ96 had to do with Brexit, why the Christian cross on the badge of Real Madrid became problematic, if football is really becoming ever more green and something of a “future laboratory” for our society, and how all of Finland is hoping to avoid a selkäsauna – a visit to the sauna – during this European Championship.

For the first time the tournament is taking place in 11 countries. Writers from across Europe explain the continent to us through football. And maybe also the other way around.

Heimspiele book

About the book

Euro 2020 (in 2021) was not what Michel Platini had in mind when he conceived of a European Championship spread across 12 nations. It will be a grand test for the rebirth of football as a spectator sport, or, as the German philosopher, Wolfram Eilenberger, calls it in his exclusive interview, a “laboratory for the future”. There will be fans present, but not as many as hoped for, so this will be a strange tournament. The German word ‘Geisterspiele’ sums up the experience best. ‘Ghost games.’ But in his essay one of the world’s great football writers, David Winner, says that the basics, the infinite web of stories we tell about football, are unchanged. Just that the mediums we consume it through are different. He argues that the game will always endure. But as is shown by the problematic hosts Baku as well as Budapest the old idea of using sport to enhance a government’s image abroad or at home is still being used to great effect. Football has certainly helped shine a light upon the fight against the corrupt regime in Belarus, just as it makes us face hard truths about nationalism in the Balkans.

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If the game itself is fast, sometimes football can also move at too glacial a pace. Nicole Selmer and Gerrit-Jan van Heemst show football’s fight against the ills being done to our environment has begun, but that it still has far to go. Just as the voices in the fight against racism from the footballing establishment grow louder, but their actions still leave much to be desired. Samindra Kunti puts the Black Lives Matter movement into the context of the pandemic through a personal essay about football in a year of crisis. Meanwhile the pernicious effects of Brexit are an inevitable theme, with London hosting the Euro semi-finals and final and three UK nations represented in the tournament. However, first-time participants Finland and North Macedonia would argue against much of this negativity. They want to enjoy themselves, to show there is still a place for romance.

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"Heimspiele" is published by the DFB Cultural Foundation, which implements soccer projects throughout Germany in the fields of art, culture, education, science and international understanding. For the second time after EURO 16 in France and the World Cup in Russia, it is thus offering a profound travel read through European soccer culture for all soccer fans with an interest beyond the pitch.

The travel guide was conceived and edited by the journalists' network n-ost. It was produced in cooperation with the Federal Agency for Civic Education, has 144 pages and is published in 10,000 copies in German and 3,000 in English.

Editors: Nik Afanasjew (German) Jacob Sweetman (English), Design: Philipp Blombach, Picture Editor: Stefan Günther, Illustrations: Paul Waak

 

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