The game of football is known as much for its mass appeal as for its nationbuilding properties. In the case of Italy, just as dictator Benito Mussolini employed the game to promote a distinct sense of national identity, contemporary extreme right-wing parties have proved determined to exploit the popularity of football in order to support their inherently xenophobic views. Hence, this essay reveals the impact of Mussolini’s nationalistic strategies on the development of the beautiful game in Italy, assesses the degree of football’s political manipulation during the country’s more turbulent years until now, and consequently addresses the disturbing, yet overlooked, issue of racism in Italian football.
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