The Politics of Soviet Football in the 1950s and 60s

November 28th, 2022 · 24 mins 27 secs

About this Episode

On this episode, Sergio talks with Yacov Zohn, football historian and former semi-professional footballer in Russia, France, and the US. Yacov's research into the development of Soviet football sheds light on the immense political pressure placed on the primary USSR team, the Sbornaya, to win each and every game--but ultimately the unrealistic aim to earn gold at the Olympics in 1952 is never realized. Yacov also discusses how Lavrentiy Beria himself was involved in the politics of the sport. The USSR furthermore declined the invitation to compete in the FIFA World Cup, undoubtedly due to concerns from Beria and others about the Soviet team's inability to perform with top teams internationally.

Yacov Zohn is a semi-professional footballer and a PhD candidate in history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His dissertation traces the history of the national Soviet soccer team from its official recognition by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) in 1946 to its tortuous disintegration in the early 1990s. His aim is to elucidate how the narrative of Soviet sports history intersects with the kaleidoscope of competing narratives from nation-states and global sport governing institutions to form a complex mosaic of transnational sports history.

PRODUCER'S NOTE: This episode was recorded on November 10th, 2022 at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago.

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Host/Associate Producer: Sergio Glajar
Associate Producer: Lera Toropin (@earlportion)
Associate Producer: Cullan Bendig (@cullanwithana)
Assistant Producer: Taylor Ham
Assistant Producer: Misha Simanovskyy (@MSimanovskyy)
Social Media Manager: Eliza Fisher
Supervising Producer: Katherine Birch
Recording, Editing, and Sound Design: Michelle Daniel

Music Producer: Charlie Harper (@charlieharpermusic) (Main Theme by Charlie Harper and additional background music by Comfort Fit, Ketsa, Mr. Smith, Eddie Aich, Lame Drivers)

Executive Producer & Creator: Michelle Daniel (@M_S_Daniel)

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