This paper explores the importance soccer can play in the lives, identities and memories of migrants by drawing on 32 oral history interviews conducted with Italians who settled in Sydney in the 1950s and 1960s. Sport can provide an illuminating lens for analysing the experience of migrants, because not only are sports sites of individual, regional, national and transnational identities, they can also facilitate social inclusion or, conversely, become sites of exclusion. Soccer in Australia is often celebrated as a multicultural game. At the same time, the expressions of the complex histories of migration, colonialism, exploitation and racial and ethnic discrimination that have shaped the game have often been silenced. The interviews show that soccer has been a key site of negotiation, agency and at times resistance for first and second generation migrants. We also argue that, while it is the de-ethnicisation of soccer that has understandably dominated media, political and academic debate, the concern of these migrants in recent years has been mostly with the loss of memory and with the removal of an important history made of shared relationships and bonding experiences.
- association football (soccer)
- Italian migrants