Soccer: the new Religion


Soccer used as a guideline of morals and ethics. This was the purpose of soccer for the British Empire in the nineteenth century. For the British colonizers, soccer had generally come to be perceived as a sport that taught invaluable moral lessons. It was believed to teach about hardwork, perseverance, obedience to authority, and team loyalty. Perhaps, most importantly, the British viewed soccer as demonstrating what it meant to be manly. The British had this conception that masculinity was being skewed in the Indian society. Therefore, they felt that soccer would teach proper expectations of being a man in the British Empire. 

Schools were started in Indian communities based on this ideology. One specific example of this was the Simla public school. It was started by a man named George Edward Lynch Cotton. In addition to the coursework provided, soccer became a key aspect of the school. Soccer was a desired activity for all Indian youths to participate in. Being such, soccer became organized and children soon were being pushed to play soccer, as well as other sports, competitively. For Cotton specifically, this competition would reinforce those basic British values to the young Indian population (Dimeo 50-51).

As can be seen, soccer became a means to a goal. The British high esteem of soccer led them to actively promote the sport in such a way that soccer and real life were no longer distinguishable. In this manner, it fulfilled the expectation of a civil religion. Morals and social values were established through soccer. In addition, identity was emphasized through the sport. Essentially, to be a part of the British Empire, you had to fulfill a certain set of obligations and expectations. If you failed to live up to the standard, you were denying your identity. In other words, you failed to become a part of the community. With respect to this, soccer was a very serious manner of assimilation for the Indian people.