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ISSN 1461-7218

Forced migration, resettlement, and sport: Lessons from the Kabul-Edmonton soccer team



Forced migration is one of the most pressing crises of our lifetime. Of the millions forced to migrate, many come to know the brutality of state-managed migration that habitually denies asylum seekers and places substantive restrictions on refugees who have been resettled. Sociologists of sport and leisure have examined the sporting experiences of refugees through an intersectional lens, foregrounding how displacement and resettlement are differently lived and negotiated across overlapping power structures and markers of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, religion, and legal status. Through a participatory and collective photovoice project, this article explores the experiences of an all-Afghan soccer team that played in a social, co-ed soccer league in the spring of 2022, just after they arrived in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. In photovoice narratives and subsequent interviews, team members underlined many of the barriers they faced as they navigated the formal and informal rules and dominant norms of this seemingly inclusive sports landscape. In doing so, they revealed some of the limits of official discourses of Canadian multiculturism, which rarely accommodate more significant forms of difference, and which reproduce racial and ethnic hierarchies that powerfully discipline newcomers who are encouraged to embrace their precarious status as model minorities.

Keywords: forced migration, resettlement, soccer, ethnicity, Afghanistan.


SCHERER, Jay; AMIRI, Ashraf; ANSELL, Dallas B; NYA, Paul; SPENCER, Nancy LI; HOLT, Nicholas L. Forced migration, resettlement, and sport: Lessons from the Kabul-Edmonton soccer team. International Review for the Sociology of Sport. London, 2024.

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