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An examination of the English Football Association and its isolationist policy during the interwar years. Was this policy a continuation from the imperial days or a reactionary phenomenon due to the international situation of the time?

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An examination of the English Football Association and its isolationist policy during the interwar years. Was this policy a continuation from the imperial days or a reactionary phenomenon due to the international situation of the time? In order to examine the external policy of the English football association (the FA) during the interwar years, we must understand the historical factors that led to this policy. In the first part of this essay I am going to provide an historical background into the interwar period. I then aim to examine the relationship of football and English society during the interwar years. I then aim to examine the relationship of sport and the empire and how sport was used in an imperial context. I am going to couple this with the importance of sport to British ideology and did this importance lead to an isolationist stance for England in particular. I am going to look at the international development of football during the interwar years. I aim to round up by looking at the English football association policy during the interwar years concentrating on the political ramifications of the English F.A's actions during this period, deciding if this was a result of earlier ideologies of sport and race or was it a reaction to the current climate. The period immediately following the First World War was one of great international upheaval, however the British Empire continued to grow. The war spoils from Germany meant the empire had increased in size. ...read more.


This form of argument carried much weight to the British middle classes, who of course had been brought up on the same values. The success of the school system in placing such a high value on the importance of sport could be seen after the Second World War during the period of decolonization once the educated elites took control they saw no reason to change the system they inherited. On to the interwar years, this period was one of isolationism for the British game. After joining FIFA6 in 1906 the F.A enthusiastically withdrew in 1920 over a row regarding matches that some FIFA nations had played against the defeated central powers7, only to rejoin in 1924. However this return was to be short lived with the F.A casting its self outside the international game in 19288. This was down to an argument over the definition of amateur, ending up with England's withdrawal from the Olympic games9. The F.A in the 1920s had presented itself as an isolationist body remaining aloof from alterations to what they considered their game, this form of isolationism relying on the policy 'we leave you alone and you leave us alone' left difficulties which were never fully resolved. The press however noted the international growth of the game, tours of English sides, which had been a formality before 1914, had become serious challenges to English domination of the game. England's first international defeat to Spain in Madrid10 in 1929 was followed by England's victory over Spain in 1931 this was greeted with the headline 'England's Prestige Restored'. ...read more.


Football was elevated to a station where it affected people by the mere routine of the event and the pools were key to this development, millions took interest in the pools even if they had no interest in the games themselves. Even though the F.A could see success in isolation the political aspect could still be seen when the foreign office made it clear that good performances were expected in diplomatically sensitive countries. The ability of the England team to provide good propaganda when playing politically sensitive countries showed the it made sense for the F.A not to join England into the political game of international football in the late 1930s. This isolationist view would continue until after the Second World War even after England's re-entry into FIFA, the F.A bared Chelsea from playing in the first European cup competition in 1956 it was only when under pressure from Sir Matt Busby did the FA relent its grip over English league clubs involvement in cross border football in 1957. In conclusion English football served a political role, which was enhanced by the isolationist policy of the F.A, national pride could be upheld while the team remained unbeaten. The defeats of Italy during the 1930's only confirmed English superiority. This belief that the English were superior to any competition was partly down to the early ascendancy of the English game, developments in the international game during the interwar period passed England by and only the defeat at the hands of the Americans finally awoke the English to the new world order. ...read more.

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