• University of Edinburgh

Football: More than a Game

Explore the role of football in the world today - including finances, clubs, nations and rivalries - with this free online course.

31,733 enrolled on this course

Football: More than a Game
  • Duration6 weeks
  • Weekly study3 hours
  • 100% onlineTry this course for free
  • Extra BenefitsFrom $59Find out more

Explore the world of football (soccer), the money, the rivalries, the trends, the past, the present, the men’s game, the woman’s game and the real issues. Whether you love it, hate it or try to ignore it – join us as we go behind the scenes to examine why football is more than just a game.

From street soccer to multi-million dollar transfers, from the men’s game to the women’s, from the global to the local, from the beaches of Brazil to the fight against poverty this online course looks beyond the pitch, to explore football’s role in society and possibly a community near you.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 3 seconds Football is more than a game. It’s a passion. It’s a universal language and it’s deep rooted in communities.

Skip to 0 minutes and 12 seconds It involves people, players, and enormous amounts of money travelling around the world. We’re standing here inside the National Football Museum of Scotland at Hampden park in the city of Glasgow. Not far from here in 1872, the world’s first international official football match took place between Scotland and England. Other countries, such as China, also have an important part to play and say in the history of world football.

Skip to 0 minutes and 47 seconds Uruguay in 1930 won the very first FIFA World Cup. Wherever you have come from, we will introduce you to key aspects of the global game of football. Where did this come from and where it is going. We have brought together a team of experts from the University, from football, from different stakeholders, who will help to give you a behind the scenes look at the greatest game in the world today. My name is Professor Grant Jarvie. I’m here to warmly welcome you to this course. I’m really excited about working with you as we explore the wonderful and complicated game of football.


  • Week 1

    Football: History, myths and power

    • Welcome

      A warm welcome from the Football course team. Find out more about us and how FutureLearn works in the links below. Then dive right in with the article and discussion on what makes football more than just a game.

    • From folk game to people's passion

      This activity will take you from football's origins to the Olympics and the World Cup.

    • Overview, key terms, readings and next steps

      This final activity provides an overview of what we have covered, some key terms and what we are moving on to next week. You will also find some great football readings.

  • Week 2

    The global spectacle of football

    • Welcome

      Any discussion of football must acknowledge the popularity of the game in many parts of the world. The world does not just play football – it watches it, bets on it, argues about it and spends money it.

    • Global football, FIFA and the Big Five

      We now move on to consider the game to-day and how it has grown into a global spectacle.

    • Overview, key terms, readings and next steps

      This overview pulls together week two and provides you with a short set of readings taken from journal articles.

  • Week 3

    Great football clubs, nations and matches that changed the world

    • Welcome

      It is impossible to cover every great club and rivalry. Nonetheless, in Week 3 we will look at football wealth, rivalry, community, and matches that made a difference.

    • Great football communities, clubs and stadiums

      Ajax Amsterdam are known for creating a great youth system and Barcelona as a wealthy community owned club. Stadiums are part of the infrastructure of footballing cities. Is football good or bad for communities?

    • Great nations, rivalries and matches

      Football may contribute to senses of nationhood and tensions that grow out of historical rivalries. Some matches have helped to bring about change in society. It's Africa's hour was the message from the 2010 World Cup.

    • Overview, key terms, readings and next steps

      This final activity provides an overview of what we have covered, some key terms and what we are moving on to next week.

  • Week 4

    The FIFA World Cup – Who are the champions of the world?

    • Welcome

      Men, women and the homeless have all been football champions of the world. Here we take a closer look at the champions. Who will they be in the future?

    • Women: Champions and the World Cup

      You will learn about the winners and losers, the dominance of the USA and women's experiences in different parts of the world.

    • FIFA, World Cup cities, champions and challenges

      You will learn about the World Cup – South Africa 2010, Brazil 2014 and what about Qatar 2022? Why do cities and countries want to host these major football events?

    • The Homeless World Cup

      Street soccer has been played by generations of children in different countries.

    • Overview, key terms, readings and next steps

      This final activity provides an overview of what we have covered, some key terms and what we are moving on to next week.

  • Week 5

    Football for international development, Drogba diplomacy and peace

    • Welcome

      Football has been increasingly recognised as a tool that can help with international development and diplomacy.

    • Advancing international development through football

      Football has become a vital instrument for hundreds of development programmes run by non-governemental and community-based organisations around the world. Such programmes if well planned can contribute to beneficial social change.

    • Football for hope, peace, health and diplomacy

      A number of projects from around the world see football as a resource for hope. These projects cover a broad spectrum, including coaching programmes, football and HIV support, and football for peace.

    • Test

      A short test of 10 questions on Football: More than a Game.

    • Overview, key terms and next steps

      This final activity provides an overview of what we have covered, some key terms and what we are moving on to next week.

  • Week 6

    Football finances, ownership and review

    • Welcome and congratulations

      We are on the final week. This week will cover the issues of football finance and governance, and provide you with further sources of information. We hope you have enjoyed working with the University of Edinburgh.

    • Football issues and preparation for peer review

      How much will stars of the future be worth?

    • Your 500 word answer to why football is more than a game

      Short writing and peer review exercise - have a go!

    • Overview, key terms, readings and the final steps

      This final activity provides an overview of what we have covered, some key terms and the final steps.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and learn at your own pace. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Understand the importance of concepts to explain football in different countries
  • Understand and explain the role of football within international development
  • Critically examine and understand the use of data and evidence
  • Consider the role of history in explaining trends and change
  • Develop communication, IT and data analysis skills
  • Apply knowledge, skills and understanding to explain why Football is more than a game
  • Develop autonomy, accountability and working with others

Who is the course for?

Is this course only for football experts and fans?

Not at all, everyone is welcome - anybody interested in football and its place in the world. We recommend a broad interest in football as a contemporary phenomenon - you will cover some of the top football clubs, grass-roots football projects, the FIFA World Cup, and the Homeless World Cup.

What resources will I need for this class?

All you need is internet access to join in the discussions and time to work through each week’s content.

Who will you learn with?

Grant is Professor of Sport at the university, comes from an international sporting family and you can find out more by accessing Grant Jarvie at the University of Edinburgh.

Who developed the course?

The University of Edinburgh

Founded in 1583, the University of Edinburgh is one of the world’s top universities and is globally recognised for research, innovation and high-quality teaching.

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