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Drawing upon the latest research, Mills charts Serbian football’s turbulent history. Since pioneers brought the first footballs to the Balkans at the turn of the twentieth century, the game has been harnessed for political purposes. Despite multiple attempts to establish a stable state in the contested multi-ethnic region, the external boundaries of Serbian football and the Serbian polity have rarely coalesced. Particularly after Yugoslavia’s collapse in 1991, football has reinforced claims to “Serbian” territory in Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro and Kosovo. Inside Serbia’s frontiers, a game marred by crime, violence and political extremism performs a similar function for ethnic minorities. The chapter acknowledges the symbolic importance of Belgrade’s leading clubs and supporters to Serbian national identity and highlights the role of lesser-known teams in disputed regions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave International Handbook of Football and Politics
EditorsJean-Michel De Waele, Suzan Gibril, Ekaterina Gloriozova, Ramón Spaaij
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-78777-0
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-78776-3
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Serbia
  • Football
  • Yugoslavia
  • Soccer
  • Sport
  • Nationalism
  • Nation building
  • Kosovo

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