Submitting Institution

University of Brighton

Unit of Assessment

Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Medical and Health Sciences: Public Health and Health Services

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Summary of the impact

Our research led to the creation of Football4Peace (F4P), which is a vehicle for conflict resolution and peace building in divided societies. By challenging cultural prejudice F4P has transformed passive citizens into active ambassadors for peace. More than 8,000 children, 595 coaches and many community leaders have participated in F4P projects during the census period, generating political discourse in the community and in governments up to ministerial level. Innovative community relations research in the context of Northern Ireland's peace process led to the development of the F4P initiative. Subsequently it changed the policies of sporting organisations in Israel, Jordan, Palestine, Ireland, South Africa and South Korea.

Underpinning research

An alliance between University of Brighton (UoB) researchers and civil and voluntary institutions established a basis for the evolution of the F4P project in 2001, leading to its roll-out during the next decade through co-operation with governmental agencies, sport governing bodies, NGOs and university partners in an escalating cycle of research, project development/implementation and public policy engagement.

Origins: UoB researchers confirmed the deep-rootedness of nationalistic and sometimes prejudiced football cultures in comparative studies: Hosts and champions (1994, eds. SUGDEN/TOMLINSON); Racism and xenophobia in European football [reference 3.1], which includes a chapter by TOMLINSON/Fleming and; Sport in divided societies (1998, eds. Bairner/SUGDEN). This accumulative research identified both the conservative side of sport, and sport's potential to provide the catalyst for interventions in acute cases of social fracture and cultural conflict.

Mapping: F4P was launched in 2001, initially as an element of the World Sports Peace Project in Ibilin, Israel, in collaboration with the Reverend Geoffrey Whitefield, who was a catalyst for the combination of intervention, evaluation and research that provided the fulcrum for sustained research and project development. As an activity based community relations and reconciliation initiative, F4P generated evaluations and sources for ongoing theorisation. In `Sport and community relations in Northern Ireland and Israel' [3.2], SUGDEN compared cross-national cases. The article demonstrated the core elements of identity building strategies for effective cultural intervention, identifying the primary challenges for sustained development and further implementation of the model.

Critical intervention: F4P was developed on the basis of a distinctive model of values-based coaching anchored in an innovative coaching manual rooted in core values: neutrality, equity/inclusion, respect, trust and responsibility. This symbiotic programme of project development, research/evaluation, and concept building confirmed that sport-based interventions can challenge prejudices in tangible and sustainable ways, facilitating co-existence within targeted regions while at the same time embedding good practice within networks of coaches, teachers and community leaders. These principles and initiatives were then translated into wider spheres of educational/cultural development via the Ripple Effect model [3.3].

Impact expansion: The Ripple Effect model, advancing systematically the insights and ideas of peace education theorist Gavriel Salomon, was then applied in a range of sociopolitical settings. Arguing that sport is intrinsically value-neutral, the model nevertheless shows how, through partnership building and culturally sensitive and pragmatic interventions, positive incremental contributions to peace building can be accomplished. Drawing upon notions of critical pragmatism, left realism and praxis, the approach illustrates the circumstances under which sport can make a difference in the promotion of social justice and human rights in deeply divided societies. F4P expanded its global reach by stimulating and supporting initiatives in other regions of social and political conflict (Ireland, South Africa and Korea). The model has been refined and tested in further research rooted in international collaborations [3.4]. The resulting article, drawing on 30 in-depth interviews with stakeholders and follow-on focus groups across 13 F4P projects, highlights the intricacies and nuances characterising practice and implementation at the local level [3.4]. Further UoB-based adaptations and research initiatives have explored gender dimensions of F4P [3.5] and the persisting patterns of racism in European football culture (BURDSEY and DOIDGE).

Key researchers:

Daniel Burdsey: Lecturer (Sept 2004–31 Aug 2005), Senior Lecturer (Sept 2005–31 Jul 2011), Principal Lecturer (1 Aug 2011–to date).
Jayne Caudwell: Senior Lecturer (Jan 2004–Jan 2012), Principal Lecturer (Feb 2012–to date).
Mark Doidge: Lecturer (Aug 2012–Aug 2013), Research Fellow (Aug 2013-to date).
John Sugden: Reader (Jan 1996–July 1999), Professor of the Sociology of Sport (July 1999–to date), Assistant Head of School (Aug 2012–to date).
Udo Merkel: Senior Lecturer (Nov 1994–31 Aug 2003), Senior Lecturer, (May 2008–to date).
Alan Tomlinson: Lecturer (Sept 1975–Aug 1979), Senior Lecturer (Sept 1979–Dec 1983), Principal Lecturer (Jan 1984–Apr 1991), Reader (May 1991–June 1993), Professor of Leisure Studies (June 1993–to date).

References to the research

[3.1] MERKEL, U. and TOKARSKI, W. eds. (1996) Racism and xenophobia in European football (Aachen, Meyer & Meyer). [Quality validation: edited book of cross-cultural studies based in six countries, generated by the peer-reviewed EU-funded project `The Impact of Euro-racism on Human Mobility — as Reflected in and Resisted Through Sport and Leisure'.]

[3.2] SUGDEN, J. (2005) Sport and community relations in Northern Ireland and Israel. In A. Bairner, ed. Sport and the Irish: histories, identities, issues, Dublin: University College Dublin Press, pp.238-251. [Quality validation: output is a book chapter based on international conference paper.]

[3.3] SUGDEN, J. (2010) Critical left-realism and sport interventions in divided societies. International Review for the Sociology of Sport 45 (3): pp.258-272. [Quality validation: output in leading peer-reviewed journal, based on conference plenary delivered in UTS, Sydney, Australia.]


[3.4] SCHULENKORF, N., SUGDEN, J. and BURDSEY, D. (2013) Sport for development and peace as contested terrain: place, community, ownership. International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, published online 3 September 2013. [Quality validation: output in leading peer-reviewed journal article based on presentations/plenary at international conference, Sydney, Australia.]


[3.5] CAUDWELL, J. (2007) On shifting sands: the complexities of women's and girls' involvement in Football for Peace. In: J. SUGDEN and J. Wallis, eds. Football for peace? The challenges of using sport for co-existence in Israel. Oxford: Aachen, Meyer & Meyer), pp.97-112. [Quality validation: output in collaboratively generated and editorially reviewed book that is reference point for material on F4P.]

Key research grants:

TOMLINSON, EU Human Mobility grant, German Sports University, 1994-96, (UoB allocation circa. £80,000).

SUGDEN, EU Partnership for Peace Grant, `Playing for Peace: Strengthening Community Relations through Football', ENPI/2009/227-857. Partners in the Action University of Brighton, and German Sports University Cologne. 2010-2012, total funding, circa. £450,000 (UoB allocation, circa. £75,000).

DOIDGE, UEFA research grant, 2013-14, (UoB allocation circa. €19,000).

Details of the impact

F4P is rooted in cross-cultural, comparative studies of carefully engineered sporting encounters in culturally, ethnically and religiously divided societies. Its reach over the decade of its development has been into the cultural fissures of Ireland and Israel, and other countries. Its significance lies in the way it reveals how, if carefully managed, sport can foster intercultural understanding and harmony.

Changing the policies of sporting organisations: The Israeli Sports Authority (ISA) has adopted the F4P programme in many different locations. The Nazareth Manager of the British Council confirms that F4P was recognised, in 2012, as the `flagship project' of the Israeli Ministry of Culture and Sport, and that the F4P child-protection training programme has been adopted as policy by the ISA, where previously no such procedures were in place (source 5.1). Support from sports and education policymakers, and evaluative action research reports and reviews, have enabled coaches to independently initiate and plan cross-community activities in football and other sporting arenas. In 2012, ISA and F4P partners agreed that communities themselves would in future own the programme and deliver it independently within their communities. In 2013 a new NGO, Sport Unites, began working with the ISA, inheriting and adapting the F4P model for a broader application beyond football, in the newly named Sport 4 Life project.

The Director of Football Development at the Irish Football Association (IFA) described his experience of F4P as `eye-opening' in relation to values of inclusion, basing the IFA's grassroots programmes `on the values and principles of Football 4 Peace, embedding these values in coaching reaching thousands of children throughout Northern Ireland' (5.2). The Ulster Sports Academy observed in 2013 that: `The University of Brighton maintains the overarching leadership of Football 4 Peace International...It has been the connection to other programmes overseas pioneering the development of the methodology, curriculum and training' (5.3).

The Head of International Relations at The Football Association (England) has observed that F4P shows how `football can be used as a vehicle to bring people and communities together' matching the FA's vision of `using the power of football to build a better future'; its emphasis on `teachable moments' has been adopted at grassroots level by the Derby County (Football Club) Community Trust, for example, to engage disaffiliated youth (5.6).

Social change through intercultural understanding and challenging cultural prejudice: In Israel over 8,000 children from 40 Arab and Jewish communities benefited from F4P. In 2009 Sir Bobby Charlton and the Manchester United Foundation sent coaches out to be trained and to volunteer in Israel. He reported on this as follows: `Using football to bring different people together is an approach that we endorse as part of our community outreach at Manchester United. I am delighted to be extending this philosophy to Israel. It is a privilege to be working with Arab and Jewish youngsters and to be a part of Football 4 Peace project' (5.4). In 2012, over 1,000 children were involved in activities and 230 coaches and community leaders in Israel have been trained, cascading training locally to create a national network. Over 200 volunteer student coaches from the UK have travelled to Israel to work with Jewish and Arab children, alongside volunteers from Germany. Support and mentoring enables 15 locally planned events each year.

The British Council, (5.1) writes: `In 10 years Football 4 Peace reached children, coaches and community leaders throughout Israel and has become the leading cross-community sports project.` In November 2011, the Israeli Sports Minister, Limor Livnat, addressing a public conference of international sports professionals, talked of F4P's work in bringing Jewish and Arab children together with Palestinian and Jordanian children: `In ten years of activity, amazing and wonderful experiences were accomplished and strong ties and friendships were established between children that are different from each other almost on any parameter — language, (ethnic) origin, nationality — but share together their love of football ... one cannot exaggerate the importance of these experiences in reducing stereotypes and fostering good neighbourhood and brotherhood in a place where once ignorance and fear thrived. Thanks to some of our actions we were already able to implement we can already see the results on the ground' (5.5).

Transforming citizens into ambassadors for peace: In 2010, the model was implemented in Palestine (100 children and 8 coaches) and Jordan (300 children and 16 coaches). It has been adopted in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, where the Pilot Programme (`Gateway' project) involved ten schools. Renamed F4P Ireland in 2008, the scheme involved a further 11 schools in the first three years of the full project, with 15 clubs and 60 coaches. In 2013, in collaboration with the University of Ulster and Derry City Council, F4P ran an international residential training camp for 90 participants (5.10, 5.11).

In collaboration with the University of Johannesburg, the F4P model has also been adapted and adopted in South Africa (5.7); in Jordan, a new NGO based on the F4P model was established, working in partnership with the Scouts Association for the development of values-based coach education, and focusing upon relations between indigenous and refugee communities (2011/12). In 2012, the F4P model was adopted in South Korea, by the Peace Culture Institute in Korea (PCIK) and the Korean Sharing Movement (5.7).

Shaping political discourse: The high impact of the project in political debate is evidenced in the F4P Director's invitation to the UK Prime Minister's dinner/reception at 10 Downing Street (December 2009), on the visit of Israel's President Shimon Peres. The profile of our F4P work was further enhanced through the endorsement of the President of the Republic of Ireland Michael D. Higgins when he visited a F4P international training camp in Derry/Londonderry in March 2013, hosted by Football4Peace Ireland as part of the City's programme of events as UK City of Culture 2013. The F4P Project Director has contributed to debate on the security and defence agenda at NATO, in the context of cultural relations, conflict prevention and resolution (5.9). Several film documentaries have been made of the Israel F4P initiatives as well as one focusing on implementation of the model in Ireland; many news/media/press features have reported the projects, including a television feature in Korea (5.8).

Sources to corroborate the impact

5.1 Testimonial available from British Council Manager, Israel confirming that F4P is a flagship project, changing professional practices through the implementation of its methodologies.

5.2 Testimonial available from the Irish Football Association's Football Development Director confirming that values-based coaching derived from F4P has been integrated in programmes throughout Northern Ireland.

5.3 Ulster Sports Academy, University of Ulster, Football 4 Peace Tutor Training Evaluation launched, May 2013. Available at: [Accessed: 8 November 2013.]

5.4 `Another legend hits the Holy Land — Sir Bobby Charlton', (8 July 2009). Available at: [Accessed: 8 November 2013] This includes the quote about the implementation of the programme in Israel.

5.5 Ministry of Culture and Sport's Minister, Israel, speaking at Football Players International Organisation conference. Available at: [Accessed: 8 November 2013]. Translation of the quotation available on request.

5.6 Testimonial available from The Football Association England Head of International Relations, confirming that F4P has brought communities together.

5.7 Testimonial available from University of Johannesburg Professor, confirming that the model has been adopted in South Africa.

5.8 Airang Asia's Heartbeat, After 10 Korean television feature on adoption of F4P in Korea. Available at: [Accessed: 8 November 2013.]

5.9 SDA International Conference Report — Conflict Prevention and Resolution: The Role of Cultural Relations (NATO/EU), (2 March 2010). Available at: [Accessed: 8 November 2013]. This highlights the F4P Director's contribution to debate.

5.10 Justice Associates, Evaluation of the Football4Peace Ireland Project Year 2 Report 2009-2010. Available at: [Accessed: 8 November 2013] This report evidences the development of the project in Ireland including the numbers and impact on those involved.

5.11 Testimonial available from the Football 4 Peace, Ireland Project Manager confirming the impact of the implementation of the project in Ireland.