Behind the sparkling facade of beautiful sports games, there are hiding violence, corruption, and manipulation by the most powerful rulers of the 20th century. This paper will try to answer the question of why the Fascist sport was such good propaganda for the regime, taking into account the most significant historical evidence.
From the first days, the Fascist regime headed by Mussolini promoted a healthy lifestyle all over the territory of Italy. Sports facilities were built all over the country: gymnasiums, pools, clubs, various competitions, races, and heats were held (Arnaud and Riordan 33). Moreover, Balilla was created as an organization dedicated to the physical and moral education of youth. One of the organization’s graduates was Giuseppe Meazza, the future captain of the Azurri and world champion.
It was under the Fascist regime that football became a national sport, and players were officially recognized as professionals, which had legalized the underground transfer market (O’Connor-Simpson). A limit was immediately imposed on foreign players; at first, only one foreigner was allowed to enter the field, and later, a total ban was imposed (Teja 168). At the same time, huge work was also done to reorganize the football structures from the Football Federation to the Association of Arbitrators. However, most importantly, a single national championship was created under the Fascist regime.
Overall, the scale of the personality of Mussolini did not correspond to the historical moment. He was a very mundane person, possessing neither a sense of style, nor outstanding talents, nor a decent outlook. Therefore, to succeed in the period of the Fascist regime, it was paramount for him to develop an efficient propaganda strategy to gain the respect and affection of citizens. As a consequence, it was decided to use sport, namely football, as propaganda for the Fascist regime, and this strategy was successful, gaining the support of people.
Arnaud, Pierre, and Jim Riordan. Sport and International Politics: Impact of Fascism and Communism on Sport. Routledge, 2013.
O’Connor-Simpson, Matt. “The Fascists Defile the Beautiful Game: How Mussolini Used Club Football as Propaganda.” Tale of Two Halves, 14 Sept. 2019, https://taleoftwohalves.uk/featured/fascists-defile-beautiful-game-mussolini-used-club-football-propaganda.
Teja, Angela. “Italian Sport and International Relations Under Fascism.” Sport and International Politics. Routledge, 2013. 159-182.
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