Sport politics

Authored by: Jonathan Grix

The Routledge Handbook of German Politics & Culture

Print publication date:  December  2014
Online publication date:  November  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415686860
eBook ISBN: 9781315747040
Adobe ISBN: 9781317600152


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This chapter looks at the unusually important role that Germany has played in manipulating sport for non-sporting ends. It argues that Germany has played a major role in influencing the manner in which other states have used sport for political aims. The core focus will be on two case studies: an in-depth discussion of the role of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) in fostering the political use of sport; and the more recent example of Germany’s hosting of the 2006 FIFA World Cup. If the 1936 Berlin Olympics are looked upon as the first mega-event in sports history, the GDR can be understood as the first state systematically to exploit (elite) sport for political purposes. In fact, it is fair to suggest that, without the unprecedented global success of GDR athletes, East Germany might never have been recognised as a de jure state in the first place. The second case study deals with the successful leveraging of a major sports event (the 2006 World Cup) to change Germany’s poor national image abroad as a result of the atrocities wrought by the Nazi regime. It is argued that the success of 2006 has influenced a number of other states to bid for and host sports mega-events in order to alter and improve their international image.

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