Football talk on Radio 4

With only days to go before football’s world cup kicks off in Brazil, it’s a timely moment to listen to the podcast of Professor Anthony King’s appearance on Radio 4’s Thinking Allowed, discussing his article ‘Why England fails’.

‘Why England Fails’, published in the Journal of Sport in Society, examines the underperformance of the English national football team in comparison with other major European football countries, exploring the institutional factors in English football which have impeded success at the international level.

In discussion with Laurie Taylor, presenter of Thinking Allowed, Prof King identifies causes including England’s record in appointing managers, the role of the media, the centralised nature of the FA and the ‘provincialism’ of English football. He is also brave enough to predict how far he thinks England will go in Rio de Janeiro. The programme, first broadcast on 16 April, is available to listen to or download from the Thinking Allowed website.

Anthony King has published widely on sport, social theory and the military. Although apparently diverse, Anthony King’s research is unified by a concern to address a fundamental sociological question; the problem of collective action. How do humans form and maintain social groups? Although he is interested in developing a theoretical and philosophical answer to this question, his work simultaneously aspires to be historical. Substantively, he is interested in the way in which selected social groups, such as soldiers or football fans, are adapting in the face of globalization. In each case, he is interested in explaining specific kinds of social practice by reference to the wider historical and institutional context.

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