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La professionnalisation du football français : un modèle de dénégation

Abstract : As a professionalized sport activity, top-level football is a means of existence for those who make it their job for a while. As football is based upon a competitive logic, the increase of the opportunities to gain honours — assessed in terms of titles which have been issued by federations since the 20ies — rests on the rationalizing of both the circulation and concentration of the economic and football potential within the clubs. This merchandizing of elite football turns both its economy into an autonomous system and its staff into professionals. Aiming at studying these processes in France, our research highlights that the regulation of the players market has been set up in the interest and under the authority of the French Football League board (Fédération française de football). Therefore, the federal authorities have claimed football to be a social, educational and moral enterprise while acknowledging (more or less explicitly) its being a professional, competitive and commercial activity. All the same, as far as top-level football is concerned, the federal authorities are faced with the recurring risks of having organizing and operating rules enforced upon them from outside and of being deprived of such « a profit-making business » as well as the social positions of power and influence derived from their very ascendancy. Claiming that professionalism is of benefit to all interested parties, they have succeeded in imposing and maintaining this so-called professionalism — which has been endorsed by the state since the late 60ies only by adopting strategies aiming at perpetuating the faith in the legitimacy of the federal control over the professional football economy. To some extent, whether large or not, denying the socio-economic, legal, indeed even competitive conditions which are necessary for the self-regulation of the market has been the means the French Football League board has most resorted to in order to dominate first-rate football. This structuring of professionalism thus explains the growing drift of French football players toward foreign clubs which, indeed, is linked to the lure of gain but is also the product of the misadjustment between their skills acquired in training centres and the state of French football, unfit to enhance the value of the football potential it produces. This structuring of professionalism also accounts for the unusual paradox of French football international results, which have been remarkable with the national team yet trivial for clubs.
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Hassen Slimani. La professionnalisation du football français : un modèle de dénégation. Sociologie. Université de Nantes, 2000. Français. ⟨tel-02561921⟩



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