Today we are joined by Grégory Quin, maître d’enseignement et de recherche à l’Institut des sciences du sport de l’Université de Lausanne, and he is the author and editor of Des Réseaux et des Hommes: Participation et Contribution de la Suisse à l’Internationalisation du Sport (1912-1972)
(Éditions Alphil-Presses universitaires suisses, 2019). Thanks to funding from the Swiss government, this volume is available as an e-livre for free.
In our conversation we discussed Switzerland’s particular role in world sport, the sportification of skiing in Switzerland, and Ernst Thommen’s position as FIFA mediator, bringing Germany back into global football after World War II.
In Des Réseaux et des Hommes
, Quin joins nine other scholars in a critical examination of Switzerland’s sports history. While Switzerland plays host to many international sports organizations and while Swiss people have been overrepresented in the ranks of international sportocrats, there is still much to know about how Switzerland and Swiss people came to play such an important role in the sports world. This book is divided into two sections. The first part investigates the role of networks (réseau
) that helped to shape Swiss sports. These networks included a range of domestic organizations: sporting, commercial (such as hoteliers), and governmental. They also included international networks, but especially with neighbouring Italy, France, and Germany.
The second half of the book looks at Swiss individuals (hommes
) and their role in what Barbara Keys called the international sporting community (and what Quin et al. call the communauté internationale sportive
.) They uncover a host of Swiss men – inevitably men – who worked in international organizations. Their language skills and their experience negotiating the different levels of Swiss government made them ideal sports bureaucrats. They served groups like the IOC and FIFA for a variety of motives, but also predictably in the service of Swiss notions of diplomacy and soft power.
Each one of these essays in this volume offers enticing insights into the growth of international sport and its ongoing and particular Swiss character.
Keith Rathbone is a lecturer at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. He researches twentieth-century French social and cultural history. His manuscript, entitled Sport and physical culture in Occupied France: Authoritarianism, agency, and everyday life, examines physical education and sports in order to better understand civic life under the dual authoritarian systems of the German Occupation and the Vichy Regime. It will come out with Manchester University Press in 2021. If you have a title to suggest for this podcast, please contact him at email@example.com.