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Soccer, the Saarland, and statehood: win, loss, and cultural reunification in post-war Europe

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posted on 2023-08-29, 08:53 authored by Alec HurleyAlec Hurley

Football proved to be one of the few areas that fueled West Germany’s ambition to reintegrate Saarland into the fractured post-war republic. Denied participation with the German football federation in the wake of the Second World War, yet unwilling to don French colors, Saarland’s national football team (Saarländische Fußballnationalmannschaft) epitomised the uneasy space embodied by its citizens. Unable to compete in the 1950 World Cup – despite FIFA recognition – Saarland focused instead on dominating the lower French leagues and creating their own tournament. Despite two losses to eventual champions West Germany in the qualifying round of the 1954 World Cup, Saarland’s footballers and their supporters left no doubt as to their cultural and political desire to reunite with the nation that had been denied to them. Studying Saarland and its football team this way, this paper juxtaposes sport, politics, and nationalism within the context of post-WWII German history.



Taylor and Francis


  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)


Hurley, A. S. (2021) 'Soccer, the Saarland, and statehood: win, loss, and cultural reunification in post-war Europe', Sport in Society, 24(11), 1863-1877.

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Cardiff Met Affiliation

  • Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences

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Alec Hurley

Cardiff Met Research Centre/Group

  • Sport Management and Development

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