Current Projects

Find out more about the projects we are currently researching.

Engagement and integration in European Football

This project aims to examine the engagement of disabled people in European football.

By examining how National Football Associations and elite football clubs engage disabled people through playing, spectating or working in football we seek to develop better service practices.

Funder: Union of European Football Associations (UEFA)

Non-Academic Advisors: Centre for Access to Football in Europe (CAFE), Irish Football Association.

Contacts: Dr P J Kitchin & Stephen Bloomer

Football, Africa and Transnational Migration

This interdisciplinary project, conducted with colleagues at Loughborough University (James Esson) and Utrecht University (Nienke van der Meij), examines how Africa and Africans are embedded in the transnational football marketplace.

It explores a series of questions around how football, and football migration feature in the life making projects of African youth and adult players.

In particular, it interrogates how the game has come to be understood as a resource of hope and a vehicle for mobility (social and transnational). The primary outcome of this research will be a book, under contract with Manchester University Press, to be published in late 2018.

External Academic Collaborators: Loughborough University; Utrecht University

Contacts: Dr Paul Darby

Mapping and identifying child rights issues in the recruitment of young players in football

This project seeks to identify and understand the spectrum of child rights risks connected with player recruitment practices in football globally, by:

  1. mapping the range of relationships that are involved in player recruitment practices in the global football industry
  2. identifying where children’s rights (as described by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child) may be at risk in this process

The project is interdisciplinary in nature, blending perspectives from sociology, human geography, law (children’s rights) and sports policy.


External Collaborators: Loughborough University; University of Liverpool

Contacts: Dr Paul Darby

Sport, Identity and Diplomacy

This interdisciplinary project, conducted with Professor Joseph Maguire at Loughborough University, examines three themes: Anglo-Irish relations; power relations, sporting elites and cultural diplomacy; and, the contemporary sport world and ongoing issues of sportive nationalism.

Taking ‘Ireland’ as its focus, there is an examination of largely unknown aspects of the long-term process by which sport has played a complex role in ‘Irish’ identity and reinforced enmity and friendship between Ireland and the British/English. Specific reference is made to questions of identity, jurisdiction and recognition from the 1920s to the 1960s, including British Empire and Olympic Games.

The project is original in two ways: unpublished archival material is revealed while other known archives are re-examined in light of an innovative theoretical approach that combines a sociology of the present and a history of the past. The primary outcome of this research will be a book, under contract with Routledge, to be published in 2019.

External Academic Collaborator: Loughborough University

Contact: Dr Katie Liston

Sport and Health

This project involves an examination of the ways in which social relations mediate all aspects of the sport-health nexus in non-elite to elite sport. Particular attention is paid to the complexities of outcomes from participation in sport: these being both health compromising and health enhancing.

Through in-depth investigations of a range of sporting contexts, and with a range of athletes, this project focuses on the cultural values displayed towards risk, pain and injury, and on the ways in which these come to be normalised by athletes, coaches and those working within the sports network.

This research has already generated important and original sociological insights into mild traumatic brain injury (concussion) in rugby union that were published in 2016 while further research is ongoing into pain and injury practices in other sports. The work will be published in a number of peer-reviewed publications.

External Academic Collaborators: Loughborough University; Northumbria University; Norwegian School of Sport Sciences

Contact: Dr Katie Liston