United Glasgow Football Club: a study in sport's facilitation of integration
Olivia Booth, Salvator Cusimano, Evan Elise Easton-Calabria, Elisabeth Kühn
Around the world, sport has increasingly been touted as a vehicle for social change by organisations, academics and athletes alike. Contrary to the assumptions of many practitioners, however, research also suggests that sport can serve as a medium for inter-ethnic segregation and conflict (Krouwel et al. 2006). Responding to these various applications of sport, this study asks whether sport can facilitate the integration of refugees and asylum seekers, and seeks to identify the mechanisms through which this may occur. The study examines United Glasgow Football Club (UGFC), a team that competes in an anti-racist football league in Glasgow, Scotland, and is comprised of a mixture of Scottish nationals, refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants. Drawing upon Putnam’s social capital framework, the authors find that UGFC serves as a platform for players to build social bridges and bonds, and its diversity contributes to a feeling of belonging that many team members do not find elsewhere in Glasgow.