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Typology of European Sports Programmes for Welcoming Migrants: Contrasting Political Philosophies


The unprecedented growth in the number of forced migrants in the 2010s was met with varying political responses in European countries. Going beyond the binary dichotomy of hostility and hospitality, this article is based on an innovative methodology for understanding the different political approaches to migration reception and the ways in which migrants were welcomed through sport. Analysis is based on a qualitative inventory of sports programmes (N = 202) in four European countries (England, France, Germany, Italy). Inductively from the above-mentioned objectives, we first typologised “political philosophies” in the use of sport, which are (i) “integration”; (ii) “emancipation”; and (iii) “protection”. Multiple correspondence analysis (MCA) between the criteria for analysing sports programmes reveals oppositions between assimilationist and multiculturalist tendencies, and political or apolitical claims. Finally, based on a hierarchical ascendant classification (HAC), we find three types of sports programmes significantly linked to different host countries: (I) “integrationist” in Germany; (II) “emancipatory” in France and Italy; and (III) “humanitarian” in England. Our results suggest that a political analysis of these sports programmes contributes to a better understanding of how the national contexts of migrant welcome have differed since the “crisis” of the 2010s.

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  1. The research only looked at England and not the whole of the UK because too few sports programmes have been identified (Wales, n = 3, Scotland, n = 3 and Northern Ireland, n = 0).

    We found that in the UK there are many small grassroots organisations offering sports programmes, which we found fairly easily through Amnesty UK’s Football Welcomes map, but that descriptions of the programmes and their objectives are not often accessible, making them unusable for analysis.

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  10. By the migrant reception 'crisis' of the 2010s, we mean the entire decade, as the vast majority of sports programmes were primarily aimed at forced migrants arriving from 2010 onwards and throughout the decade.

  11. To confirm the precision and coherence of coding, one of the authors has independently coded a random sample of 20% of the sports programmes used in the analysis (Table 7 in Appendix). This coding was carried out iteratively, corresponding with the first author when questions arose concerning the categorisation criteria (Stoltz & Taylor, 2017). Clarifying the interpretative reasoning used in the analysis makes it possible to go beyond the subjective effects that are often pervasive in the coding of qualitative data (Armstrong et al., 1997). We obtained a value of κ = 0.855 in the Cohen’s kappa test on the sample’s coding, which shows a “nearly perfect” agreement between the analysts (Landis and Koch, 1977, 165). This text confirms the random judgement-free concordance between the sports programmes and a political philosophy.

  12. We calculated that 28% of the programmes with the main political philosophy of integration as we have defined it display objectives related to “intercultural exchange” and “living together”, and the “coming together of different nationalities”.




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We thank Geneviève Cabagno, Eléa Chiron, Claire Crublet, Anthony Forestier, Noémi Garcia, Stéphane Héas, Lisa Moyon, and Yohann Rech, from the VIPS2 laboratory of the University of Rennes 2 for helpful comments and suggestions.


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Correspondence to Julien Puech.

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See Tables 6, 7, and 8.

Table 6 Analytical table of the first ten sports programmes by variables and modalities resulting from our inventory (total number = 202)
Table 7 Authors’ coding contingency table of political philosophies for a sample of 20% of the sports programmes (N = 51)
Table 8 Variance percentage extracted by MCA according to the dimensions

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Puech, J., Le Yondre, F. & Freedman, J. Typology of European Sports Programmes for Welcoming Migrants: Contrasting Political Philosophies. Int. Migration & Integration 24, 1381–1411 (2023).

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