The Europeanisation of Romanian football: What do UEFA country coefficients reveal?

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Abstract

After the fall of communist regimes, Central and Eastern European states have been encouraged to Europeanise by aligning to Western standards. Even if politics and economy have been primarily concerned, football has often allowed easier and faster contact to occidental cultures than other facets of the civic society did. From a football club perspective, being Europeanized involves the abilities to establish a constant presence in continental cups, as well as to raise performances to higher, international standards. The game itself has strongly Europeanised over the years, with UEFA transforming its two continental inter-club competitions into iconic brands, ‘pluralizing’ fan attention between domestic leagues and international cups, with the latter ones enjoying increased awareness. While some UEFA member associations have properly mastered the process of Europeanisation, others saw their teams struggle to perform in Europe, which led to the creation of a cleavage between ‘elitist’ and ‘periphery’ countries. Results of Romanian teams in European competitions have fluctuated over the past and a half decade. The purpose of this research is to find out how far Europeanised Romanian football can be currently considered. The research question asks what is the current European dimension of Romanian club football? UEFA Country Coefficients are used as input data for computing statistical observations such as means and standard deviations, which are then compared with a three-levelled center-periphery model designed by Maguire (2001). Results indicate that Romanian football is still far away from the continental ‘center’ status it pretends to have. The Discussions section addresses some of the reasons for this distance. The article tries to fill in a research gap as most Europeanisation studies so far have focused on the hardcore concepts of economics, politics, or law, but rather few on social and cultural alignments, such as football (Pyta, 2005).

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