Hundreds of millions of people watch World Cup soccer around the world, making it not just a game, but an international arena. “Every soccer game is an amazing story….It’s of such importance in the world today, and it tells us so much about different societies and about the larger society in which we live”, says Laurent Dubois, author of Soccer Empire, in this Duke University Office Hours interview. The soccer field can be a place to express opinions and identity, inspire national support, and make a statement–and depending on which teams are playing, political tensions can unfold dramatically. The sport is so important to fans in Argentina that the government now ensures its citizens the “right to football”, broadcasting games free on television.

Dubois shows how each World Cup soccer game is linked to larger political and economic systems, focusing in particular on the sport’s deep connections with the French empire in North Africa and the Caribbean. In this video from Duke University, he explains how in Algeria, soccer became a way to make a statement against French colonialism. More about the history and politics of soccer on Dubois’s blog, Soccer Politics.