In manner in which a game can become

In John Huston’s recent film ‘Escape to Victory’ a football field is used as the battleground for a range of political and
moral issues, thereby highlighting the manner in which a game can become far more than a mere sporting
occasion. The film is centred upon German attempts to prove Hitler’s oft-expressed assertions of racial superiority
through a football match set in 1943 between a carefully selected German side and a scratch Allied team composed
of prisoners of war. Although ‘Escape to Victory’ deals with a fictional situation, there is evidence during the inter-war
period that football, among other forms of sport, was invested with a political significance, especially by regimes like
those in Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy where sports organisations were incorporated into the governmental
system. The resulting politicisation of sport meant that other countries, in which sporting bodies were independent,
could not remain untouched by this trend, particularly when involved in matches against either Germany or Italy, or
in such events as the Olympic Games and World Cup.
In this context, emphasis was placed upon such sports as football in view of its large-scale appeal as a participant
and spectator sport, and during the 1930s the outcome of international football matches came to be interpreted by
governments and the media as a reflection of the quality not only of a country’s soccer skills but also of its sociopolitical
system and overall power. In this manner sport became an integral part of national propaganda machines.
Although this was usually associated with totalitarian regimes, there is evidence of an increased awareness by the
British government of the value of football as part of a wider programme of national advertisement, that is, of
projecting a favourable image of Britain in the wider world


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