GU-Q lecture to focus on diversity of national teams in international sports
March 20 2021 10:30 PM
Dr Gijsbert Oonk.
Dr Gijsbert Oonk.

Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q), a Qatar Foundation partner, is hosting Gijsbert Oonk, director of the Sport and Nation Research Programme at Erasmus University Rotterdam, for a discussion of his research on how major sporting events are redefining modern conceptions of national belonging, citizenship and migration.

The lecture, titled 'The FIFA World Cup: Football, Citizenship and National Identity 1930-2022', will take place at 6pm Sunday.

It is part of the Building a Legacy: Qatar FIFA World Cup 2022 research initiative at GU-Q’s Centre for International and Regional Studies (CIRS) exploring the social, political and economic impact of hosting a major global tournament.

International sporting events have given rise to competition for the world’s best players, resulting in teams that are increasingly diverse, and fans who have a host of national identities to cheer for. In his talk, Dr Oonk will take high profile examples of migrant athletes from international sports events to unravel the complexities behind the question of who can or can’t represent a nation on the field, and suggest an alternative conception of citizenship beyond the traditional boundaries of geography or heredity.

“If we as historians look at individuals, we become aware that they have many identities and they shift identities and alliances all the time. Their ‘national’ identity is just one of them,” explained Dr Oonk.

“In 2018 many people at the sub-Sahara continent identified with the French world champions, some of them even argued that ‘Africa’ had won the World Cup and not France. The multi-perspective on national identity, the colonial past, and migration has been seriously underexposed in the domain of history. The study of global sports is a good way to start and debate these issues with students, academics from various disciplines, and politicians,” he added.

Visiting associate professor Dr Danyel Reiche, who is leading the CIRS research initiative, said: “At CIRS, we are using the unique position of GU-Q in a World Cup-hosting country to bring together renowned scholars who study the intersection of sport and society. Dr Oonk's decisive work on migrant athletes and the shifting boundaries of modern-day citizenship is an important contribution to that effort. The inclusive approach of the Qatari men’s football team is an interesting case to study in the realm of sport, citizenship and national belonging.”

Dr Gijsbert Oonk holds the endowed Jean Monnet chair on Europe in Globalising World: Migration, Citizenship and Identity.

Registration for the public webinar is available at


Last updated: March 20 2021 10:42 PM

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